Follow these commandments or I shall smite you. Totally kidding, I hardly ever smite anyone.

1. Thou shall not ever meet for the first time for more than coffee/drinks

(i.e. something that thou could potentially get out of ASAP if thou’s date beith a total creeper). When your potential boyfriend asks you what you want to do, repeat after me: “Let’s plan on meeting for coffee/drinks and we’ll go from there.” This last phrase is key because it gives you the power to maximize the efficiency of your dating time. If this boy has no dating potential get the smallest drink you can (i.e. a shot of espresso…or Patron depending on just how bad the next 20 minutes are going to be), down it, cut your losses and go. However, if the guy turns out to be great, fully execute the “we’ll go from there” clause by having a post-coffee/drink adventure.

2. Thou canst not feel chemistry through a computer screen.

Sadly, you can spend days on end having great online conversation and even video chats with someone only to meet and find that there is no spark whatsoever. Therefore, in order to maximize efficiency, don’t invest much time with the delightful back-and-forth of online messaging. Obviously be thorough in your initial online evaluation to ensure that he is not a wanted felon, but once your determine that he likely has potential, cut to the chase and meet. If you’ve been messaging someone back-and-forth continuously for three or more weeks, it’s time to move on: they’re not looking for a girlfriend; they’re looking for a pen pal.

3. Thou shall be wary of matches with only one picture,

or with pictures where thou is unable to definitively identify him. A birds-eye-view picture of a man on a mountain top, a man in a snow suit and ski mask, what you can only guess is a man wearing a gorilla Halloween costume, and those which only show the back of the man’s head as he presumably stares pensively out towards the horizon, are red flags when not outnumbered by clear pictures. If he does not have at least 2+ pictures that could be used to identify him in a Police line-up, move on. Further, if you find yourself thinking “wow, he looks like a J. Crew model!” Ask yourself: Is it more likely that 1.) A J. Crew model has had to resort to online dating AND you were lucky enough to be matched with him OR 2.) That some loser cut-and-pasted a picture from the J. Crew website to increase his odds of getting chicks?

4. Thou shall “block” liberally

5. Thou shalt not give away personal contact information.

Communication on a first-name-only basis may be hard in the era of modern technology, but it will be harder to get into the witness protection program, so make it happen. That means no g-chatting from your primary account (if your first and last name will appear as the sender), no giving away your home phone number, no Facebook-befriending, etc. I know it’s just killing you not being able to scroll through his countless Facebook albums so that you can judge all of the TFMs (total frat moves) he pulled during undergrad, but if you are good enough at Googling, you won’t need to ask for his last name anyway. (example search: Dan, Public Relations Specialist, Boston, MA…oh, hey LinkedIn!…and you thought that website was only good for sucking up at job interviews, ha!)

6. Thou shall provide his or her own transportation to and from the date.

Unless of course you want this almost-stranger who may or may not be completely insane to know exactly where you live. After all, everyone needs a good stalker-story, right?

7. Thou shall take reasonable precautions to avoid dating a serial killer.

Make sure that your first few datesare in public places: Yes, not meeting at home may seem obvious (ahem, Craigslist Killer),but here are some other red-flag date ideas that often fly under the radar: Hiking: “I swear I didn’t kill her Officer, it was a bear with a knife!” Also, little known trivia fact: the forest is the most commonly chosen place to dispose of murdered bodies. Just sayin’ Sailing/boat ride: 2 words: No. Witnesses. A picnic in a gorgeous little secluded neck of the woods: How does that saying go? …If a girl screams in the woods but nobody hears her… Don’t agree to a last-minute locale-change: So you’ve been good and told at least one or two friends where you are going and who you are meeting on the off-chance that you are never heard from again, when on the way to meet your OKC Romeo he calls and suggests a much more convenient or fun place to meet. You want to seem easy-going and spontaneous, but you don’t want to die, so refuse. By changing the locale at the very last minute he’s banking on the fact that you won’t have time to tell anyone that your plans had changed. The police will spend days toting those poor cadaver dogs around the local Starbucks that you never even went to, and trying to hunt down the guy that you described to your friend as “idk, he seems ok, he’s tall-ish, and he kind of looks like that German guy from that weird action movie in the 80’s…you know the one…” Don’t agree to move to an unplanned secondary location: Above reasoning also applies here. Additionally, moving to a second locale may introduce the suggestion of taking one car. Here’s the thing about cars…they have locks, and trunks. All that it takes to turn a car into a prison is a psychopath with a plan. If you decide to go to a second location, make sure you are familiar with it, tell someone you’re going, and drive separately.

8. Thou shalt not disclose TMI prior to meeting.

Perfect on paper does not always translate to perfect in real life; don’t get so caught up in your deep and meaningful chat convo that you forget you are talking to someone that you don’t actually know at all. Put a hold on any childhood stories, tales of boyfriends past, and explanations of personal life choices until after you have met and established that you are interested in pursuing him. People rarely handle rejection well, so if you decide you’re not interested in seeing him again, it may not bode well for you that you told him about all of your most embarrassing moments…or your PIN number.

9. Thou shall know what she is looking for

Before you make the decision to jump cannon-ball-style into the pool of potential online matches, take time to decide what you are looking for. Take stock of your past relationships and decide what has worked for you as well as what hasn’t. Having a good idea of the kind of person and relationship that you desire will allow you to maximize your efficiency so that you can quickly weed out misfit matches and zero-in on ones with potential.

10. Thou shall be thou! (Translation: Be yourself)

I know it is tricky to condense ALL of your awesomeness into 500 words or less, but it’s a lot easier to do if you leave out all the clichés and unnecessary statements. For example, saying “I like to have fun,” is completely unnecessary- it is assumed. If you absolutely hate having fun however, that may be worth noting. The more genuinely “you” your profile is, the more likely you are to attract matches who actually have potential. Peace be with you and all that.