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Dating's new rules

ANNA Coogan looks at the dos and don'ts of dating for the digital generation.

LOOKING for new love in a new year? Well watch out for a new book which is expected to be the highest selling romance self-help book this year. The New Rules: The Dating Dos and Don'ts for The Digital Generation looks at how texting, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and online matchmaking sites have revolutionised the dating landscape. It is a follow-up to the controversial dating bible The Rules -- which was a massive bestseller when first published in 1995. Yep, writers Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider are back with even more provocative advice on how best to attract the man of your dreams.

Rule: Don't Talk to or Text a Guy First

Talking to or texting a guy first may make you feel cool, but essentially you're just getting in the back door, creating a relationship that may never have happened otherwise. He may date you because he is flattered or bored or because you're nice, but he probably isn't truly crazy about you.

Rule: Don't Ask Guys Out by Text, Social Networking, Instant Messenger, or Any Other Way

A woman can be as smart or smarter than a man; she can make the same money or more than a man; she can get a job doing whatever she wants -- but when it comes to dating she cannot be the aggressor without eventually regretting it. Men love a challenge and asking them out destroys the chase -- and while he may say "yes" to be polite, for sex, or out of boredom, he will eventually drop you for the girl he really likes.

Rule: Wait at Least Four Hours to Answer a Guy's First Text and a Minimum of 30 Minutes Thereafter

Four hours is for the youngest set -- for those in college and women in their early to mid-twenties who grew up with texting and Facebook. The older you are the more you should try to wait -- a 30-year-old should wait more like 12 hours, and a 40-plus-year-old should wait a day to reply.

After you do text back, limit the conversation to 15 minutes or 10 total exchanges. This strategy makes him wonder what you are doing, creates anticipation, and forces him to ask you out.

Rule: Don't Answer Texts or Anything after Midnight

Women who hang out in pubs or clubs until 2am usually meet drunks, stragglers, and guys looking for one-night stands. Ditto for texts, calls, instant messaging, and emails after midnight.

Rule: Rarely Write on His Wall and Other Rules for Social Networking Sites

> Never friend a guy you really like first. Friending a guy you like on a social networking site is just like talking to him first.

> Wait 24 to 48 hours to confirm a friend request from a guy you like. Let him think you are busy and running around (which you should be!)

> Rarely write on a guy's wall -- and that includes liking and tagging. Writing on a guy's wall is like broadcasting to the world that you like him.

> Don't always post back if he writes on your wall. Remember, always do the least and/or write less.

> Share as little as possible. Guys should have no idea what you are doing in between dates or who you are doing it with.

> Don't post unflattering photos -- and untag any photos others have posted of you gorging on pizza etc.

Rule: Don't Email a Guy First, and Keep It Brief

Unlike texting, which is by necessity brief and to the point, emailing can be much more dangerous. Some women can write long-winded, diary-like dissertations and frighten a guy off. Even if he asks a really open-ended question, like how things are going at work, treat it like a text message. Just write back, 'Really productive week!' Long emails make it clear that you're not busy.

Rule: Don't Talk Too Much in the First few Weeks

In the first week, a new guy should know only a few facts about you, like where you go to college, or work, and what you like to do for fun. As the relationship progresses, you can tell him a little bit more about yourself, like tidbits about your family and friends.

He should be asking you a lot of questions to get you to talk, not getting bored by long stories. Giving him too much information shows that you are eager or nervous -- and perhaps have not been on many dates lately.

Rule: Let Him Suggest Skype and Visit You More in a Long-Distance Relationship

Skype and FaceTime are glorified phone calls -- not dates. The guy is not taking you out to dinner or really doing anything. His efforts are next to nothing! Don't be flattered if a guy wants to video chat every day for hours. He may just be bored or lonely. Unless he comes to see you -- whether by plane, train or automobile -- every other week, he either has a girlfriend or is just not that interested.

Rule: Don't Write to Guys First, Ignore Winks, and Other Rules for Online Dating

The cardinal rule for online dating is that he writes to you first. You never message him or send him a wink or chat him up first, no matter how perfect or your type he is. As with everything else, it is better to wait for the man to make the first move so you don't have any doubts about how interested he really is.

Rule: Don't Sext or Send a Guy Anything You Wouldn't Want Him to Have If You Break Up

The term 'Sexting' was coined years ago to describe the trend among teenage girls and young women of sending explicit or suggestive messages, photos and videos of themselves scantily clad to guys on their mobiles. Yet anything you send electronically can be saved, forwarded, copied or posted online -- leaving you completely humiliated. Of course, you think, 'He's my boyfriend and would never do anything to hurt me'. That may be true today but what if you have a fight tomorrow?'

Rule: Wait for a Guy to Follow You on Twitter First and Rarely Return Tweets

Celebrities can tweet all they want -- even if they're tweeting about their mundane daily business, people are fascinated. But if you're not famous, you need rules for Twitter. Twitter is designed to give people access and information and Rules Girls have to be careful with this medium of communication.

> Keep your Twitter account protected, meaning you have to approve your followers.

> Don't follow a guy on Twitter unless he follows you first. And even then, wait about 24 to 48 hours to accept his request so you don't seem obsessed with him or Twitter.

> Don't respond to any of his open timeline tweets.

> If he sends you an @ reply, you can respond -- but do so rarely!

> Avoid tweeting every five minutes.

Rule: Next! And Other Rules for Dealing with Rejection

Don't write angry texts, emails, online posts, or tweets. If you send hateful messages, the same guy who said he loved you once could say you are harassing him and threaten to call the police. Your best move is no contact at all. De-friend him, unfollow, delete from contacts -- whatever you need to do. At this point, don't worry that such a move will possibly show that you care too much; in these situations how you are perceived doesn't matter -- it's still the best idea for everyone.

The New Rules; The Dating Dos and Don'ts for The Digital Generation, by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, published by Piatkus, price €18.60