What Consent Looks Like In Online Dating
Dating apps and sites open up a new world of possibilities for their users, but hiding behind a screen can sometimes lead to reduced accountability, a sense of entitlement, and murky boundaries. Some people forget that matching on an app does not automatically mean that the other person gives you permission to do whatever you want.
Navigating the online world of consent and boundaries leads to more gray areas than in-person interactions do, so we’ve compiled a quick guide to make clear what is acceptable and unacceptable.
No nudes, please
Unless it’s been established that the two of you have a spicy connection off the bat and have agreed to send naughty pictures to each other, don't send nudes! Especially dick pics. If this happens to you, feel free to report it to the dating site you’re using. If both parties agree to send risqué shots, then by all means, go ahead. But surprising someone with your genitals? Not cool.
To message, or not to message?
If a match is no longer into you, it’s kind of hard to "read the room" over text. The general rule of thumb is that if the other person has completely ghosted you, you should probably stop messaging them so much. Sure, being ghosted sucks. But it’s also an abuse of consent if you send a continuous barrage of messages that aren’t getting responses. That can get pretty stalker-ish pretty fast.
Find out their intentions off the bat
Many dating sites have the option of letting you choose between different kinds of relationships that you might be looking for while online dating. Usually you can select a relationship, something casual, and a few more choices that are in between.
Don’t hit your match with an explicit proposition if their profile depicts that they’re clearly looking for a serious relationship as opposed to a casual fling. Reading the e-room is paramount in these situations. It might not make you feel like the smoothest player, but it’s your safest bet to talk about what you’re looking for beforehand, so that no one feels uncomfortable.
Don’t try too hard to please people
This applies to those who have trouble setting boundaries, and may be on the receiving end of potential abuses of consent.
Many people confuse people-pleasing and seeking validation with kindness. It’s totally fine to practice kindness, even if it's in response to something hateful. Kindness is your way of being in control and allowing only good energy into your mind and interactions. However, this doesn't mean you should feel bad for rejecting someone who doled out inappropriate advances, insulted you, or made you feel unsafe.
Learn to develop your personal boundaries with friends and families as practice for maintaining boundaries while dating. Remember that standing up for yourself is an indispensable form of self-protection, and a skill we should all develop.