Written for Soulmatch

Dating Q&A #19:

Dating Etiquette: Answering Personal Questions

When talking to men I meet for the first time on Personals, I find they often ask extremely personal questions about my sexual and dating past, like how many sexual partners I’ve had and what I like. How do I object to answering these questions without making him mad? – Elizabeth S., 25, Long Beach, California

David Wygant answers: Wow, men can really be childish at times. This information is none of their business on the first email. I would ignore these man-boys and send them an email asking them if they are interested in a relationship or just sex. I would then write in the email that you have no problem sharing personal information, but these types of questions are for much later in a relationship. I would not worry about offending them; I actually find these men very offensive and think that they need to grow up. You want to find a man who respects you. When a man contacts you with the above questions, please feel free to email him my above response. I would also not waste time with guys who have no manners. There are many men online and some are still cavemen and have not learned manners. This is all part of the weeding out process. Date the guys with class and style – you will be much happier and fulfilled.

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. answers: You can simply say, “I think that’s a little too personal for this stage in the relationship.” Then, bring up a subject that’s more comfortable: “Have you seen a good move (or read a good book) lately?” If you have an idea of what you want to talk about before you begin the conversation, you’ll be able to switch topics when you need to, without sounding too uncooperative.

You’ll also find out if the man is interested in anything about you except your sexual history and tastes. Patterns are set very early in the communication between couples. While a negative pattern can be corrected, it’s easier if you are conscious of what you’re creating in the first place. Focus on developing mutual interests and keeping the communication flowing and equitable, and when you find the man with whom you are truly compatible, you’ll already have positive patterns in place.

The Insightful Dater answers: Regardless of the topic, you always have a right to place a boundary and remain in your comfort zone. All sorts of topics can be charged for people, from family to finances, so you have to set a pace for the discussion with which you are comfortable. Two other things: If these are the first questions, you should probably take it as a sign of what is a priority on their end and move on to others if that doesn’t jive with your priorities. Secondly, if you like someone and they like you but the discussion goes into these details too soon for you, they should respect that you like to know what someone’s favorite cuisine and favorite music are before you get into intimate details on past sexual partners.