If you've recently split from your partner and are about to dip your toe into the dating pool once again, you may be surprised at how technology has changed it. Texting, online dating, and social networking sites have made old-fashioned dating seem, well, outdated.

In order to navigate the rules of courtship, follow these tips.

Online Dating

It's increasingly common for individuals to meet their future spouse online, but proceed with caution, taking extra care to keep safe.

"Online dating is on the rise because it's easy," says Laurie Davis, founder of eflirtexpert.com. "You don't have to get dressed to go out, you can sit in your pj's and surf the Net."

Online dating can be "rife with pitfalls," says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things that Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media.)

"You need to know what cues to watch for in a person's profile, and in email conversations," she says. "You also should know how to protect yourself from fraud and how to safely meet face-to-face."

Never disclose any personal information about yourself,such as where you work or your last name, until after you've had a couple of dates.

When out on a date with someone you've connected with online, take extra precautions at first, says Davis. Lock your phone when you leave the table so all your digital data will be protected. And, she advises, never update your status on a social networking site such as Facebook, or change it, when you've had a little too much to drink.

If you do connect with someone online, and the relationship starts to develop, meet the person's friends and have him meet yours, says Tessina. "Do a lot of group activities together," she says. "A con artist may fool you one-on-one, but will have a harder time in a group." And, she says, you'll get to see various aspects of your date's personality when you share challenging group activities.


Basic etiquette is crucial when it comes to dating and texting, says Natasha Burton, co-author of The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags: Relationship Warning Signs You Totally Spotted But Chose to Ignore.

Texting can be a great way to communicate, but when you text instead of call, it pushes people apart, Burton says. "Text messages are typically up for interpretation," she says. "It becomes a situation where when a woman gets a text from a guy she is dating, she'll go back to her friends and they will try to figure out what the guy meant."

It's tempting to substitute texting for talking, but you'll get more out of talking to each other. To get the new guy in your life to understand that you'd like to speak more often by phone than by texting, Burton recommends that you tell him something along the lines of, "I love getting these cute text messages from you but I also like speaking to you on the phone...I love the sound of your voice." He will hopefully get the hint and start picking up the phone to place a call, not send a text, to you.

Social Networking

Use Facebook and other social networking sites with care, Burton says. It's okay to look up someone online just to check out that what he says is true. But don't really peruse every part of his profile, going through all his online photo albums, for instance,  until you've been together awhile. "Doing so creates an intimacy that is just not there," Burton says. "It's all too easy to do, but it's important to keep these interactions sparing at first."

And don't put too much stock in a guy's decision not to post on Facebook that he's "in a relationship," Burton says. While a woman may interpret a lack of interest in declaring that he's in a relationship as a sign that he does not love her, this may not be the case at all.  Many guys just don't necessarily want to put up a lot of personal information on Facebook.

Flirting on a social networking site is perfectly all right, Davis says. "But on Facebook, do it with a message or an instant message," she advises. "Otherwise everyone can see it."

If you're not sure whether to post something or not, you probably shouldn't, Davis says. "When in doubt, don't post," she advises.