I never thought I would say this, but thank God it's January.
For most of the single souls who spent their holidays ducking and hiding from the endless posts of his and hers jammies and New Year's Eve kisses, every waking day into the first month of the year signals a sense of normalcy (at least for half a second).
I say half a second because within a week or two, the shelves are filled with Valentine's Day chocolates and decorations that seem to casually appear out of nowhere to remind you that you're still very much single.
As February 14 slowly makes its way to the front page of everything, dating sites tend to experience higher volumes of traffic with tons of new profiles created every second.
In addition to all of the newbies, seasoned vets often take this time of the year to update their profiles in the hopes of landing a match even if it's a temporary fling.
Truth be told, dating apps are no different than your average social media page.
Depending on what you choose to post, your followers will surely adore you or count you out. So, whether you're just window-shopping or looking for someone to spend the rest of your life with, here are 11 rules to get you through the never-ending search.
1. Keep an open mind to meeting someone outside of your comfort zone.
If the majority of your exes share some sort of personality trait or career, then maybe it's time to try something else.
Now, don't get me wrong. It's easier to stick to what you know, but you'd be surprised at the outcome when you decide to go on a date with a fitness instructor and you're completely allergic to exercise.
Opposites are known to attract, and you might just hit it off.
2. Keep your personal quote to a minimum.
If you take a second and think about it, why would anyone click your profile and send a message when you literally wrote your entire life story right down to your dog's dying in the 12th grade on the first page?
Leaving a little mystery on your personal statement keeps them wanting more.
If you actually hit it off with one of your followers, you can share the rest of your autobiography on your first date.
3. Be honest about your background.
If you graduated cum laude with a Physics degree, then good for you.
But if you didn't, then I strongly suggest you tell the truth about everything, from your occupation to your hobbies.
Believe it or not, every answer becomes a part of the filter process, which means someone can search for you based on your career or even a taste in music.
4. No camping out.
Keep your site visits to less than an hour a day.
There is absolutely no reason for you to sit there and wait for someone to like your pic and reach out.
For every person who found a buddy within minutes, there are tons of people who went completely unnoticed for days (and in some cases weeks) before grabbing anyone's attention.
5. After the first encounter, keep it cool.
Yes, you may be that lucky person who has to look no further because user no. 8675309 is totally attractive and sounds good on paper, but guess what?
You have to give yourself some time to get to know them and make all sorts of contact before you delete your profile and date them in real life.
6. Be prepared for a disappearing act.
Keep in mind you can be ghosted, blocked and dropped at any given moment.
It should come as no surprise if he or she simply falls off the face of the earth after a two-hour FaceTime session that left you feeling as though you just found your soulmate.
Maybe an old flame started calling again, maybe it's just a case of cold feet or maybe they simply forgot their password and can't be bothered.
In any case, you have to leave a little room for disappointment.
7. A video chat is mandatory and non-negotiable.
First and foremost, you have to confirm you are not being catfished by some old weirdo hiding behind a profile.
And after you've gotten over that small hurdle, "pre-dates" (as I affectionately call them) allow you to break the ice and actually communicate on a more intimate level minus the distractions of a noisy bar or restaurant.
To me, this is a make-or-break moment because if you suddenly feel uncomfortable for any reason, you can always end the conversation and save yourself from an awkward first and last date.
8. Beware of the hookups disguised as "looking for love."
There aren't too many people in the world who actually confess their hidden desire to hit it and run away or possibly hit it a few times and then take off after they block you on Facebook.
9. Anything too easy or eager deserves a step backward.
If they're ready to propose or engage in any type of cyber sex after just a few messages, chances are they're probably doing this with everyone.
If they seem too eager to meet up or send you immediate invites to their home or personal spaces, you may be in for a one-night offer or some random encounter.
So, unless you're totally OK with an intimate first date rendezvous with a stranger, this is usually a red flag.
10. Thou shall not send nudes.
There is no reason under the sun to send nudes to a person you've never met.
After all, they are more or less a stranger to you.
In a world that seems to get smaller by the day, a nudie has the potential to end up in the strangest places including porn sites.
More importantly, if you suddenly decided to cut your ties and move on, your naked pic sent with good intentions can now be used against you.
He or she can inbox your pic to other users on the site or create a fake profile among other kinds of revenge.
11. And last but not least, if you're hitting it off and you're getting to know each other, refrain from digging.
And what is digging, exactly?
Digging is when we look for all sorts of hints, clues and suspects.
Now, don't get me wrong. You are totally free to casually ask them if they're a 100 percent single.
However, you have no grounds to question them about the makeout session posted on their Instagram page from 43 weeks ago.
Because everyone has an ex, everyone has a past, and no one is perfect so unless you came across a recent pic that suggests he or she is lying for any reason, leave it alone for now and get to know them.
Whether we choose to accept it or sit there in deep denial, the objective of joining a dating site is to meet your match and maybe (just maybe) your potential love of your life made a few questionable posts or tweets along the way.
In any case, they may have turned over a new leaf.
Or perhaps they're putting their best foot forward for someone who didn't hear the latest rumor about them at work or school, and using their profile as a clean slate to find you and live happily ever after.