Are You Wasting Your Time With Online Dating?

I’m a big believer in efficiency when it comes to dating.

Most people are… in theory, at least. In practice, however, we have these tendencies to expend a lot of our time and energy on aspects of dating which don’t bring an equivalent level of return for your investment. They’re time sinks that slow you down and cause you no end of stress, anxiety and worry and it only makes dating harder. 

This is especially true when it comes to online dating. In fact, you’re more prone to wasting your time with online dating than you are trying to meet women by making a cold approach at a bar or making small-talk with the cute librarian you ran into at Starbucks.

Y’see, online dating can seem perfect for folks, especially people who have a touch of approach anxiety or hate the bar and club scene but don’t necessarily want to try hitting up strangers at Barnes and Noble. Why do all of that when you can meet women without leaving your house? Flirt to your heart’s content without even bothering to get dressed!

"There's just something magical about hitting on women when I'm not wearing pants."

“There’s just something magical about hitting on women when I’m not wearing pants.”

Unfortunately, as easy as online dating can be, it’s even easier to end up wasting time when you don’t have to. So you want to make sure that you’re not making these incredibly common mistakes.

You’re Using Winks, Flirts, Nudges, Pokes, etc.

Almost every online dating site out there has some form of a low-stakes “hey, so and so wants you to talk to them” notification – often given a cutsey name like “wink” or “flirt” or “send a flower” to make it seem more acceptable.
And frankly, it’s more than a little lazy.

Most dating sites let you set up a profile for free but require that you pay money in order to be able to message people. Some, back in the early days of online dating (lo those dark days of the late 90s and early 00s), were especially evil and would sell a limited number of messages; if you sent out a message and didn’t hear back, well, tough shit Charlie, you just blew a buck (or whatever the per-unit cost was). Winks, nudges, flowers, etc. were intended as a way of trying to get someone to message you, so that you could chat without wasting your hard-earned money. Needless to say, it was kind of an insult even back then; nothing screams romance more than “I’m interested in you but not enough to actually pay to join the site.”

Fortunately most sites seem to have wised up and charge a subscription fee instead, but the vestigal organ that is the “wink” hangs in there like an appendix and does nothing but cause trouble.

Here’s the thing: everybody knows exactly what it means when a guy sends one of these. It’s a way of saying “I know you’re probably not going to write back to me, so please notice me noticing you and do the hard work for me…”

So, kind of like the shy guy in class who keeps looking at you and scrambles to look away whenever you accidentally make eye-contact.

So, kind of like the shy nerd in class who keeps looking at you and freaks out whenever you accidentally make eye-contact.

What Should You Do Instead?

If you’re interested in them, send an email already!

Much like stressing about the opener, the first email is there to get them interested enough to write back. The key is to be short and sweet; the longer the email, the more likely it’s going to seem as though you’re too desperate. And besides… if you’re already assuming that they’re not likely to write back anyway, why are you going to waste even more time writing out a sonnet?

I’m a fan of the dating site email template – less of a form letter and more of a very easily customizable email that you send out in order to save time. I’ve used a longer one in my day, but over the years, I’ve streamlined it down even further. The structure is simple: Greeting, a little about what it is about them from their profile that you like, a question to prompt a response, a little bit about you, and then “I hope to talk to you soon.” Two or three lines for each section. Feel free to write out the “about me” section in advance; it’ll save you time in the long-run and it allows you to fine-tune it rather than hitting “send” and then kicking yourself because you realized you could’ve said something wittier.

So a (very generic) example would be:

“Hey, you seem like you’re cool and I wanted to say “hey.” So… hey!  Your being into $COOL_THING caught my eye… have you ever tried $RELATED_COOL_THING? But I have to know: what’s your ultimate escape from the world when you need a release? If you had a chance, what would you do to wind down after a long week? Awesome book? Planning the perfect museum heist? I’m always looking for a potential partner in crime…

A little about me: I’m $AWESOME_ATTRIBUTES_X, Y and Z… and best of all, I’m modest!

Like I said: you seem like you’re a really interesting person and I’d love to get to know you. Hope to talk to you soon,
YOUR_NAME”

Give it a somewhat offbeat subject line in order to stand out from the crowd  - I’ve always had success with “Pirates are inherently cooler than ninjas” – and send it on its way. It takes slightly longer than hitting “wink” (unless you’re like me and kept two to three variations in a text file that you could copy and paste in as needed…) but it’s also far more likely to get an actual response instead of a silent eye-roll.

You Wait To Long To Ask Them Out

This is possibly the biggest time-waster when it comes to online dating: taking too long to actually ask her out on a date.

Look, I get it. If you’re not the most assertive or confident person, you may not feel comfortable asking somebody out on a date early on. You may be trying to feel things out and get to know them. You may be trying to avoid getting shot down and want to wait until you’re absolutely sure that they’re into you. You may be worried about coming across too strong or looking too interested; after all, the person who’s less invested is in the dominant position, right? Right?

Here’s the problem with that attitude: the longer you wait to actually ask her out, the more likely it is that you’re never actually going to meet her in public. By spending so much time trading emails back and forth, you’re bleeding emotional momentum. That initial rush of interest goes away quickly if you wait too long to actually make your move; they’ll almost always start to assume you’re not that interested in them after all.

Moreover: you’re almost certainly not the only person she’s talking to. If you think she’s attractive, then other people do too… and the longer you take to actually say “hey, I’d love to get a drink with you” or “I’ve had a crazy idea: would you like to go to a sushi-making class?” the more likely someone else will.

What Should You Do Instead

Very simple: ask her out, stupid!

If you’ve been exchanging emails back and forth, then they’re interested in talking to you; take “yes” for an answer and say “You know, I think getting to know someone over drinks is better than just emailing back and forth, don’t you?” 

How do you know when to ask? It’s fairly simple: the magic number is typically when you’ve exchanged 3 or 4 emails. Watch for the length of the reply. Much like talking in person, if they’re writing long emails or asking lots of questions, they’re definitely into you; short, terse responses mean that they’re not quite feeling it.

The best thing about it, though, is that it’s a no-lose situation. If you ask and she says “yes”, then congratulations! Go out and ace that first date. If she says “not yet,” but suggests maybe another time soon? She’s still interested but needs a little more time to be comfortable. She says no? Cool, you don’t need to waste any more time with her; move on and find someone who does want to go out with you.

You’re Talking To Only One Person At A Time

Online dating isn’t like meeting people in real life. Narrowing your focus to only talking to one person - especially if you haven’t even gone on your first date with them – is a mistake.

Even if you’re a confirmed serial monogamist, narrowing your focus to only one person at a time is a mistake. You’re putting all of your metaphorical eggs in one basket and – this is key – making the unwarranted assumption that they’re doing the same. Like I said earlier: if you’re interested in them, odds are that somebody else is too… and your online honey-bunny is talking to them, too. Odds are good that they may well be going on dates, as well; not everybody is going to put all other interactions on hold just because they’re talking with one person or another.

You need to avoid pinning all of your hopes on one person, especially before you’ve met in person. Oneitis crops up in online dating all the time. Getting over-invested in one person is a great recipe for frustration and needless heartbreak.

What You Should Do Instead

If dating is akin to fishing (hence “Plenty o’ Fish”, from the stale platitude “there’re plenty of other fish in the sea…”) then you want to be fishing with dynamite. To abuse the metaphor further, you want to be tossing as much out there as you can and seeing what floats to the top. It’s one thing when you’re meeting women in person – unless you’re a graduate of the Lando Calrissian Player School, then you’re only going to be flirting with one woman at a time.

Graduate studies at Player School include how to avoid scheduling problems...

Graduate studies at Player School include date juggling and how to avoid scheduling errors…

When you’re using an online dating site, you don’t have any such restrictions. You should be talking to as many people as possible – the joys of the text means that you can carry on several different conversations at once with minimal effort. Even if someone seems perfect on paper, you have no idea how well you’re going to work out in person… if you ever get to that stage in the first place. Some people aren’t going to work out. Some people are just going to disappear off the face of the earth with no warning. Even two or three dates isn’t enough to preclude things not working out. Unless you’ve had some form of the relationship talk, don’t be so quick to cut ties with other potential dates. You never know when you might want them back.

You’re Getting Hung Up On the People Who Don’t Respond

Here’s one of the harsh truths about online dating: it’s a numbers game. The people who don’t respond to you are always going to outnumber the people who do. You will spend a lot of time feeling like you’re shouting out into the void or tossing off messages in bottles only to watch them disappear over the horizon without any hope of a response.

This is the reality of 99.999% of people who use OKCupid or Match or Plenty Of Fish or Geek2Geek or Fetlife or ChristianSingles or JDate… really, any dating site (with some notable exceptions). Yes, there are occasionally people who use OKCupid like a sex ATM. They are the exceptions, not the rule. Women have it just as bad as men do – they may get deluged by guys who aren’t their type, but the ones who are never seem to write back.

Welcome to online dating, adjust your expectations accordingly.

Ain't no rage like nerd rage, 'cuz nerds rage at inanimate objects like they give a shit.

Ain’t no rage like nerd rage, ‘cuz nerds rage at inanimate objects like they give a shit.

The problem is letting that deafening silence get to you, letting it make you bitter and resentful. And it’s easy. We all assume we’re the lone exception, that those non-responses are somehow a judgement of us as a person and that everyone else has it better or easier than we do. Sometimes that anger and resentment spills out into your messages to other people – I’ve lost track of the number of  “You won’t talk to me, you must be some BITCH!!! LOL slut!” messages that my female friends have shared with me.

Spending your mental energy angsting about every non-reply you get is a waste of your time. It won’t help you get any more responses; all that will happen is that you’ll get more and more depressed before possibly giving up on online dating altogether.

What You Should Do Instead

Look, there are untold numbers of reasons why people don’t respond to online dating messages… and they don’t necessarily have anything to do with you. They may have taken a break from dating, they may be focused on one person, they may be out of town, too busy with work, or coming off a harsh break-up. You literally never know. Sometimes it’s something fixable – your profile isn’t exciting, your spelling is off… – and sometimes it’s something that you can’t control like reminding them of an ex-boyfriend or using a phrase they hate with the passion of a thousand suns.

So if they don’t respond: forget ‘em. Put your focus where it should be: on the people who are interested in you.

If you want to maximize your responses, you need to find the people who have shown that they’re into you. If someone’s visited your profile, check theirs out and send them a message if they’re your type. Do what you can to bring people to your page. Make sure to use keywords so that people searching for you can find you. Updating your dating profile photo regularly helps keep your profile at the top of searches and on the front page. If the site has quizzes or forums (like OKCupid) get involved in the community.

And above all else: keep moving forward. Improve what you can, where you can. Fine tune your profile, update your photos, and craft the perfect online dating email.

Pay no attention to the people who don’t respond; they’re unimportant and you’re wasting your time with them.

Spend your energy where it counts and you’ll be an online dating master before you know it.

 

Comments

  1. Robjection says:

    "ask her out, stupid!"

    This right here is acronym material. If you can have "YOLO" and "KISS", you can have "AHOS".

  2. Gentleman Horndog says:

    A few other tips I'd like to toss in….

    – Ultra-short emails like "Hey gurl" or "'sup?" are, functionally, identical to winks, pokes, nudges, etc., and every bit as useless. When my girlfriend mentions she's gotten (yet another) of those off of OKC, I can HEAR her eyes rolling.

    – On most sites, buried amongst a useless pile of search options (Seriously? People find it valuable to isolate their search to a brown-haired Virgo between 5'6" and 5'8"? That's a thing?) will be a way to limit your results to people who have logged-in during the past X days. Find it. USE IT. If she hasn't been on in the past week, the chances of her responding to you are pretty grim.

    – The Doc has some articles on how to make your own ad appealing. They're solid, and match my own experience pretty well. Dig them out of the archives (or, y'know, just follow the links that are already in this article, which for some reason I overlooked) and use them. If she finds your ad enticing enough to ping you first, your odds just shot WAY the hell up.

    – Chill. This is fun. If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong — and you're probably not doing it successfully, since angst and frustration tend to come through much more clearly than you think. Go do something else you enjoy, come back when your head's in a better place.

    • I agree with all of this, but I would actually say that ultra-short emails are worse than winks, pokes, nudges, and stars. With the latter, a woman who's interested can reciprocate, and then the ball's back in your court. A "ur pretty" or "hey" puts all of the work on the woman's side of things, which makes it a lot less likely she'll write back.

      Beyond that, there are plenty of decent enough guys winking and poking and rating profiles out there. They may not be coming across as especially assertive, but it's not a bad signal. On the other side of things, a lot of the guys who send super short emails don't have pictures, didn't fill out their profiles, or are on the other side of the country and just looking for sexting partners. I don't think anyone wants to be associated with that crowd.

      • A "ur pretty" or "hey" puts all of the work on the woman's side of things, which makes it a lot less likely she'll write back.

        It doesn't *just* put all the work on the woman's side of things — it sends the message that the woman isn't worth the work. A nudge or a wink is a cue that someone is interested. A "hey" says "I could have sent a longer message but I'm not going to bother."

      • Paul Rivers says:

        "are worse than winks, pokes, nudges, and stars. With the latter, a woman who's interested can reciprocate, and then the ball's back in your court."

        I really think the wink/poke/nudge is highly underrated. A lot of people on the online personals are busy right now, to busy talking with other people, or often just plain know from scanning your profile that they're not interested in you. It seems like it would make a lot more sense to wink back to be considerate and cut down on the guy wasting his time writing something personalized if the girl isn't even interested.

        • For once, you and I agree. I know the Doctor is against it, but some of the better guys I've met online have winked/starred and waited for a response before writing. I didn't really see it as passive, more a sign that he had other things going on and wasn't going to just write to every woman on the site.

          Granted, not all women are as proactive about winking/starring back, so I think a guy who doesn't get a response to one may still want to consider writing.

        • I agree with this too. The only time I ever got annoyed by the wink/nudge thing (I think it was smiles on the site I used) was when a guy would send one, and I'd send one back indicating I'd be happy to hear from him, and he never wrote me a message. Which indicated to me (because this was a pay-per-message service) that he thought I was cute enough that he'd talk to me for free if I paid to talk to him and made the effort of writing the first message, but not enough that he'd do the same for me. Not exactly a flattering impression.

          (And just to note, when I sent a smile first, if the guy sent just a smile back, I recognized that since I'd initiated the interaction, it was totally fair for me to write the first message.)

    • Ray Patterson says:

      "If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong"

      … which is why I can't see myself online dating again. Not fun at all – just time consuming and ultimately frustrating, even when I happened to be following most of the advice the Doctor prescribes above. Most = didn't get far enough to "ask her out, stupid."

  3. The most frustrating aspect of online dating are the people who do reply to you but then suddenly drop off communication. I've pretty much mastered the art of on-line dating like how to message people or asking for a date on the third reply or so. Sometimes life intervens and the other person can't make it. What I can't stand are the people who you message, they reply, you message back, and you never hear from again. I know that its there right and maybe they found somebody better suited for them but its still annoying.

    The other thing I hate are the indecisive people. These are the people who check out your profile after you message them. They don't reply back but every few days or a week or so, they would look at your profile again. One person did this for long enough and often enough that it drove me a bit batty.

    • If someone sends me a good first message, I generally reply whether I'm interested or not. Good messages are so uncommon that I feel like I should recognize the person's effort. That, and I get so many worthless messages ("sup?"), that I reply to as many as I can to avoid OKCupid's dreaded "Replies Very Selectively" label (seriously, I HATE that). In these cases, if the other person's follow-up isn't compelling, I won't reply again.

      Of course, the person could also just be busy or have chose to escalate with someone else. In any case, it's not worth it to let it bother you. Obviously the person who doesn't reply isn't as good of a match as you'd like to think he or she was.

      • If a person isn't really that interested I'd rather get no reply than an A for effort reply. I go online because I'm looking for somebody not because I want to feel like a little kid whose getting a pet on the head for doing a good job on a school report.

        • I don't think many women reply to messages from guys they're not at all interested. You're probably mainly running into some who read your profile and initial message and are on the fence–they see some things they like and some they're not sure they're into. So they figure they'll reply and see how the conversation goes. And sometimes the next message is going to leave them feeling more meh instead of more enthusiastic, or in the meantime they really hit it off with someone else, so they end it there. It seems to be normal etiquette on dating sites to just stop replying when you're no longer interested (which I always felt awkward doing, but it's not just women–I had guys do it to me).

          BTW, about the "indecisive" people, I'd be really uncomfortable with a dating site that let you see who had looked at your profile, when, and how often. I don't think that information is actually helpful to anyone–on the reverse, it can lead to overly focusing on it, like you seem to be. When I was online dating, it wasn't uncommon for me to forget whether I'd looked at a guy's profile or not when doing a new search, and to open it up again. Or if there was a guy I'd been on the fence about, and it showed he'd updated his profile, to check what he'd changed. The fact that a woman has looked at your profile tells you pretty much nothing about how interested she is in you–and if she *is* interested in you, you'll know because she's messaged you back–so I don't see how even checking that information helps you at all. If it's bothering you not knowing the reasons why, just don't look.

          • Philosophically speaking, do you ever think that people are putting too much emphasis on enthusiasm. In real life interest in a conversation often waxes and wanes during the course of it. Very rarely are people completely interested or engaged in a conversation through out it. It seem to me that online dating or even modern dating in general favors people that are fairly good at generating enthusiasm at a fairly superficial level and that people who might make a misstep or two early in the process are doomed towards failure.

            I simply do not get this. I do not get what people are looking for when it comes to anything in dating. My success, such as it is, has been nothing more than series of accidents rather than anything accomplished. It all leads to the same place, that I do not get a second date because the woman did not feel any chemistry. Yet nobody could define chemistry, it all gets the Potter Stewart definition. I do everything possible to generate interest and chemistry and it goes nowhere. Whatever women are looking for in a first date or in many cases simply arousing their interest in the first place is apparently something that I do not have.

          • I don't think women expect to feel super excited by every single word you write. But if they're not feeling even a little enthusiastic about the conversation in general, when you're focusing on the most obvious points of common interest/personality, it seems unlikely they'll magically get emotionally invested later on because of some random detail you reveal. So they cut their losses and focus on the guys they do seem to be hitting it off with better.

            Obviously you're not having that much trouble with enthusiasm in messaging, since you seem to get to the point of meeting up with quite a few women. And by the way, enthusiasm isn't necessarily superficial. Plenty of women I know get enthusiastic about a guy expressing similar values and interests in a genuine way, which is kind of the opposite of superficial.

            Yes, it sucks that you have trouble generating chemistry in person, and that you don't know why. But chemistry really just means romantic and sexual attraction. No, we can't often easily define what makes it happen. But it's ridiculous to suggest that it isn't important for it to be there if a dating relationship is going to be a mutually enjoyable one. You know what kind of relationships you get when a person ignores the fact that they feel no chemistry with you and tries to make a go of it anyway? The kind you had with your ex. Is that what you want again? Seriously, you go on and on about how you want a fun romantic relationship–can you not see the contradiction between that and wanting women to fake romantic interest in you that they're not feeling just so you get the accomplishment of additional dates beyond the first?

            The problem is not that women are being difficult by not waiting and waiting to see if attraction is suddenly going to appear. The problem is that they're not feeling attracted to you in the first place. I know it might feel better to blame them for the problem, but it's completely unreasonable to expect people to continue to date every single guy who seemed "well, just okay" for–how many dates exactly?–until it's valid "enough" that they're not feeling it. Or do you think just you should get this privilege and other guys are out of luck?

            If you honestly feel that your personality is one that it takes people a while to warm up to, then start meeting more women on a casual basis at in-person activities who can get to know you a little before you make a move. If you have a bunch of excuses why you don't want to do that, well fine, but that's your choice. Own it and stop complaining about the normal practices of online dating. You're basically asking women to inconvenience themselves so you don't have to inconvenience yourself by trying methods that might work better for you, which is really rather selfish.

          • There's a certain sort of person who's looking for a marriage-track relationship fairly soon and who has a lot of other requirements who can't really afford to get too hung up on enthusiasm. If finding someone to settle down and have a family with is your main goal and there are also other restrictions and a time limit, sometimes it's necessary to give people who meet those requirements and who have similar goals a good bit of time to show that they'll be what's essentially going to be a good business partner.

            But that's not your situation at all, and it's not a lot of other people's situation, either. I don't think it's too much to ask for people looking for light, romantic, non-committed relationships to expect that kind of enthusiasm. After all, you're looking for a relationship that's primarily about the infatuation phase – fun and spontaneity and romance and new sex. That's pretty much the opposite of work and building, and there's no future there to justify all the effort.

            My definition of chemistry in its extreme form is when I can't decide whether I want to talk to a man all night or have sex with him all night. In a more moderate form, it's when both talking to him and having sex with him sound like fun. No, I can't define what makes it happen, either, but it does exist and it does matter. The relationships I've had without much chemistry have suffered for it – they were a lot more like your dreaded relationship that's full of chores – only in this case, the chores didn't include just housework but also things like remembering to seem interested when the other person talked about their day or not to flinch at an annoying laugh or to give a hug now and then rather than sitting on the other side of the room. Does that sound like the sort of relationship you want?

          • Not especially but at the same time, I feel that a date where I felt the person was alright and that we got along fine if not spectacularly is good enough to justify a second one and seeing how it goes. I ask for a another date about three-fourths of the time. If chemistry involves people wanting to have sex with me even if we don't actually have sex than my problem might be that I'm simply not a person that women want to have sex with. This goes on to Mel's point, a lot of women that I get to know in real life end up liking me but in a platonic sort of way rather than as a potential boyfriend sort of way. Or bluntly I get friend-zoned a lot and I'm not even trying to do the be their friend to become their boyfriend routine. I don't have that level of contact with them. I just get seen platonically.

          • Not especially but at the same time, I feel that a date where I felt the person was alright and that we got along fine if not spectacularly is good enough to justify a second one and seeing how it goes.

            Why? I mean, that's a perfectly reasonable standard for you to have, but I think it's overstepping to have it as a rule for everyone. I suspect you're running into some women who use the same standard but don't agree that you got along fine, and into some others who are either looking for a "BAM!" reaction or who are simply popular enough that they have plenty of dating options among men who they do get along with spectacularly.

            "I just get seen platonically."

            It sounds like you need to work on projecting yourself as a sexual person. You could approach this by working with your therapist and seeing if there are any internal conflicts that are holding this back. You might also consider improv classes or clubs, which people have mentioned before.

            And, yes, I know you've said you don't want to do any more work. But it seems like this is a big stumbling block for you, especially if you're planning to continue dating online.

          • eselle, lets just that I hold this standard because I'm spectacle about the concept of chemistry. If we use your definition of chemistry than I'd say I believe I had chemistry with the majority of my dates because I would have accepted sex from most of them. Not all of them but most of them. So using sex as gage for chemistry is bit useless from my standpoint. Good conversation isn't because I've been on dates with women I'd gladly have a one-night stand with if possible but who I couldn't stand to speak to. Thats why I use good conversation as my gage for chemistry.

            I never really felt a "bam" feeling after any date. My feelings were always something along the lines of "not bad, I find this person attractive, I like being around her" lets see what develops. I felt the "bam" feeling once in my life but that wasn't on a date and I got rejected. Apparently I looked like I died after the rejection according to a friend of mine.

          • I'm not critiquing your personal definition of what's enough chemistry for the second date. I think it's just good to remember that dates don't always look the same from both sides of the interaction, and that the women you're interacting with see dating through their own perspective and may have an equally valid-for-them set of rules.

          • Moving on to the part about projecting sexuality. I stopped seeing my therapist because we kept repeating the same conversation and I felt I wasn't getting anything out of it anymore. After two and half years, it seemed like a good time to stop.

            And yes I'm tired of doing work. I've invested hundreds of hours and a lot of money in self-improvement and it worked to an extent. The idea of spending hundreds of more hours and god knows how much more money into this isn't exactly exciting. I'm not good at projecting sexuality. I've changed my wardrobe, i work out, I'm a good conversationalist, and I move better and it still doesn't across sexual. I just wasn't born with that vibe.

          • Sometimes therapy relationships do need to come to an end. I've certainly ended some. You may want to think about finding a different therapist in the future, since sometimes different people can help with different things. Or not.

            Then that's your decision. There are certainly things I'm not willing to do to help find a partner. But then I think you need to at least try to work on accepting that you've sort of…well…backed yourself into a corner where it may be difficult to meet the caliber of person you want on whichever dating site you use as you currently are. That doesn't mean that you won't, but I think it's a decision that requires a good measure of patience. Deciding that everyone else is being unreasonable for wanting other kinds of relationships or for not having the same standards you do for partners is generally a bad thing to pair with this stance.

          • I really just can't stand this stupid system. It favors people with a different skill set from my own. The things that project sexuality are completely unnatural coming from me. I'm not good at antagonistic flirting, I don't want to engage in it. I don't enjoy it. I've demonstrated enough patience. Its the same thing over and over again. Other people get to sow their wild oats and I don't. I just get this endless struggle.

          • We've previously discussed some other ways to project sexuality that don't involve antagonistic flirting and that seem better suited to your personality and preferences. Have you tried seeing if you might be able to bring any of that stuff out in yourself?

          • A couple other things I want to point out: chemistry isn't just about sexuality. I felt chemistry with each of my boyfriends and a couple of the guys I dated briefly, and I wasn't ready to sleep with any of them after the first date. I found them romantically attractive enough that I was looking forward to seeing them again. I found them sexually attractive enough that I enjoyed looking at them and having them look at me and wasn't uncomfortable with the thought of sex being on the table sometime in the future. None of it had to do with pheromones or antagonistic flirting or overtly projected sexuality (the latter of which, honestly, I'd probably have found overbearing, given that I wasn't going to be ready to sleep with anyone very quickly). If I tried to break it down, the best I could say is it was a combination of 1) their physical appearance fitting my (relatively wide range of) personal tastes, 2) their demeanor showing respectful confidence (overt insecurity was a huge turn-off for me, as was arrogance), 3) finding they had enough to say about topics I was also interested in that we could carry on an enjoyable conversation for an extended period of time, 4) seeing them be passionate about something I could appreciate, even if it wasn't a passion of mine, and 5) getting the vibe from his body language and the way he talked that he was genuinely interested in me and what I had to say.

            I highly doubt I am the only woman out there who isn't looking for obvious sexuality from a guy. But you can't control what any given woman's personal taste in looks will be, and it's very possible for a guy who seems to hit that attraction button in photos to not end up doing it in person. You also can't completely control whether your conversational interests and passions are going to line up with the woman's enough for her to feel an emotional connection over them.

            The two things you can continue to work on are demeanor and showing interest. We've talked before about how your rather deep resentment of people who have had more romantic experience than you and your fears about what the women you date will want from you/not offer you may be affecting both of those things–resentment and anxiety can come across in body language and voice fairly easily, and if you're good at suppressing them, then it's likely you're suppressing your positive emotions too, which means the interest you express may come off as stilted and forced. And I haven't watched the video you posted a while back, but others have repeatedly said they think the way you talk comes across as monotone and unenthusiastic, which could also contribute to you coming across as bored, disaffected, and unengaged, no matter what words you're saying to try to express your interest. It seems to me it's far more likely that those factors are in turn making your dates feel unable to emotionally and romantically engage with you, than that if you were just "sexier" it would fix everything.

            I know you've said you don't think your negative emotions are a problem, and that you don't want to do more speech work. But I think you need to recognize that if you are coming across in a way that by any standard of normal body language reads to the vast majority of people as unengaged, people are not going to feel emotionally engaged by you, and that's totally unreasonable, not them treating you unfairly. They aren't psychic, they can't know how you feel by any means except how you express it (and that may even be a good thing, because if they were psychic, they'd be picking up on all the negative stuff too).

            The second, quick point I wanted to make is that it doesn't matter how attracted you feel to the woman. Chemistry isn't something automatically mutual. It happens all the time that one person feels romantically and/or sexually attracted to another, but the other doesn't feel attracted back. So you can't judge whether your date "should" have felt chemistry with you by how much chemistry you felt with her, and the fact that you felt it with people who didn't feel it back isn't proof that chemistry isn't a thing or that people are doing it wrong.

          • I don’t have the natural flirting tendencies tht most women have…I’m a pretty woman I’ve heard and I’m confident w/myself. Educated…etc. but I don’t like nor want to touch men on a first or second date as in no I don’t touch their shoulder or thigh while sitting at a bar having drinks…so I get asked often during dates fr the guy if I like him. A man doesn’t know I like him until I flat out tell him or he eventually realizes it by my continuing to talk to him or hang out w/him. I can easily prob sleep w/someone but my flirting skills verbally and physically are not of the norm. I haven’t figured out wht issues ur having w/women and dating? I’d like to try and help if I can….

          • Just to point out, if even the women who get to know you across multiple get togethers end up only seeing you platonically, no matter what you do, then you have even less reason to think that just going on a second date with these women who weren't feeling chemistry would bring them around. It indicates the problem is in how you're coming across, and that how much time you're given doesn't actually change that.

          • Then I'm screwed because apparently I just can't project sexually or whatever. I simply have no pheromones and anti-sex appeal. This sucks.

          • Christine says:

            Lee, here is an experiment you could try (below). It's possible that in your conversations in first IRL meetings, your end of the conversations are from the head and not from the heart. Often people who are smart and work in an intellectual field are used to doing this and it can carry over to social situations. You would not necessarily be aware of this.

            When you are meeting with someone who you hope will be attracted to you, find ways to focus mentally on sensual/sensory visualizations that are not overtly sexual while you have your conversations. It should be fun and also give you a sense of expressing your physical attraction without in any way being creepy. Classic male film stars like Cary Grant and Fred Astaire were masters of showing this onscreen.

            Start by noticing specific physical elements of the person and how you might interact. For example, notice the person's hands and try to imagine how soft they would feel if you were holding them in your hands. If the person is not wearing a jacket, imagine the person feels cold and you take off your jacket and wrap it around her shoulders. Imagine brushing her hair out of her eyes on a windy day. Listen to her voice and imagine that she is saying something that makes you laugh (or at least smile unexpectedly). Look at the color of her eyes and try to remember something else that has that exact same color. The more strongly you can visualize, the more it will come across in your body language. People like to be noticed and tend to feel more attracted to people that notice them in caring ways.

            If it were me, I would try this in the next 10-20+ meetings to see what effects I'm feeling and whether there is an effect on the outcomes. Although it's easy to do this, it can take some time to maintain your focus. (Just like when people start to listen to audiobooks, at first they may have to rewind because they weren't used to keeping their focus and they lost their place in the story.)

          • I am going to admit that I have no idea what you mean. If you mean simply imagining things like touching my date's hand or putting my jacket around her if your cold, or brushing her hair out of her eyes; lets just say that my imagination is a bit more vivid than that with the women I date. Keeping it under control so I don't end up sounding like Jeff from Coupling is difficult.

          • Christine says:

            If it's the case that in 1-2-1 meetings you are feeling/imagining strong sexual attraction and the other people are saying they get nothing (platonic/friend/etc.), then there could be a communications problem [message sent /= message received). It would be different if people were indicating that you were making them feel uncomfortable.

            You need to get some external data to find out what's happening if you want to change things. You've indicated that you don't really want to "work" to change things, so without putting in effort, I don't really know what path you could take and I don't really get what you hope to get from responses here.

            If you decide that you do want to put in some "work," then besides learning to put more emotion in your voice, you could try:

            A "date coach" (not sure if that's what they're called)–they observe you on a date and give you feedback. Possibly a friend could do this? Not sure.

            A survey–have a friend recruit a few people to go on short, informal pseudo-dates with you and afterwards give feedback in a structured way.

            Find out if there are speed-dating events where you get feedback. I've heard of this, but don't know much about it.

          • Lee, it isn’t pheromones that create “chemistry’, it is conveying through body language and tone that you are sexually and nonsexually attracted to the person you are with as well as highlighting yourself as a sexual being.
            Don’t just assume that women know you want to have sex with them because a date went fine. I know you think chemistry is BS, but it really is just a socially acceptable way of saying “I want to bang you more than once because I have pants-feel and some early heart feel”

            Eselle and Mel covered why “chemistry” matters, especially for the type of relationship you are looking for. If you don’t want to work on this, then you might have to change your goals from a lighthearted/fun/casual relationship to a more serious one where chemistry will have time to build and she might invest the time because she is looking to the long term.

            Personally, I think you can get the chemistry thing going with minimal work, especially because you can practice with dance, a safe space to show sexual tension because you can act like it is part of the dance routine.

      • Literally every single female on OKCupid has the "Replies Very Selectively" label. I wouldn't worry about that; I just ignore it at this point.

        I feel like it might be useful for OKC to change up whatever algorithm they use to determine what label you get, like maybe making the required ratio higher for men than for women.

        • Gentleman Horndog says:

          Ditto. I interpret "Replies Very Selectively" as "Hi! I'm a woman, and I'm on the Internet!"

        • If OKC really cared about that sort of thing, they'd simply introduce a "spammer" option into the "report this" box. It shouldn't be a bannable offense, but it might be worth telling the male user that they need to stop trying to send one-word messages to every woman in a hundred mile radius.

      • Wait, why is "Replies Very Selectively" a thing to be dreaded? I've never even heard that before.

        • I just hate the thought of discouraging anybody from messaging me who I might actually really be interested in hearing from. It's more of an issue with someone who isn't completely familiar with online dating culture.

          I mean, what more can a red label on the send message button mean than, "STOP! Don't even try it."

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            "I mean, what more can a red label on the send message button mean than, 'STOP! Don't even try it.'"

            Well, it could mean "This woman has been getting spammed by a lot of dudes. Perhaps she might like a friendly non-spam message that doesn't mention her boobs even once."

            Though yeah, I see your point about the potential to put-off newbies.

            Seriously, I just glance right over those anymore.

          • I guess I can see that. But honestly, if I see someone who catches my eye, I just go ahead and message them. People messaging me only helps when I'm feeling lazy and don't want to scroll through the Visitors list.

    • Maybe you said something that pissed/put them off and they didn’t want to chat anymore? I mean, it isn’t like you are friends or anything and they need to explain fading out. It is more like a cold approach conversation dying after a few sentences, isn’t it?

      Not that I know crap about online dating. I tried it for a few months and realized I am absolutely not suited to it, so I am just guessing what might happen.

      • That could be but I tend to be very careful when talking online. Asking about something that they mention in their profile in a polite but inquiring manner shouldn't piss or put them off unless they are ultra-sensitive.

        • Oh, so you are talking about a first message? I thought it was a fade in an ongoing conversation where you might be saying something more substantial (and thus possibly off-putting).

          Although, I would think any opinion, interest or statement can make someone shrug and think, “Meh. Not my cup of tea.” It doesn’t have to be offensive. It can just be something that shows a bad match between strangers. Sort of like a random bar conversation. Even a perpetually bland, chit chat conversation could result in a fade because it is boring, couldn’t it?

          • Nope, I'm talking about subsequent messages that are a back and forth that end abruptly.

          • Then something is making them go “Men. Not my cup of tea.” And from the more experienced online daters who replied, the SOP is to fade in that situation.

            I guess it is like turning away or walking away from a conversation IRL. You generally don’t explain why you are ending it. You just end it

          • LOL I meant Meh, not men. Autocorrect sucks :)

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            "Dude, is isdzan suggesting Lee's conversational skills are making women renounce men entirely? Dude … that's just harsh….

            "Oh! 'Meh.' Yeah, that makes WAY more sense."

          • Worst typo EVER. Sorry Lee :(

    • I've been guilty of the first, and have also been on the receiving end of both things.

      I think a lot of the one-and-done messages are from people who are really on the fence but who are trying to be more proactive about writing and responding to people, or from people who are really burned out on online dating and who are on the verge of quitting the site. When I'm on the receiving end of it, I just tend to treat it like I didn't get a message/reply in the first place.

      I don't really get the clicker stalkers, but I think some of them might be voyeurs who aren't really looking to meet people and that others might be forgetful/drunk and not remember why they chose not to respond.

      • Gentleman Horndog says:

        "Oh, hey, her! She looks nice. I've seen her plenty of times. Why haven't I replied to her?"

        *click!*

        "'Looking for a husband to have lots of children with.' Oh, that's right. Next!"

        *one month later*

        "Oh, hey, her! She looks nice…."

    • I've found that sometimes they'll reply if you send another text a week later saying 'how is your week?'. I didn't do it for ages, but I've got a few dates that way.

    • luvs2read says:

      i am very late to the party (30 weeks late looks like) but i'd like to second lee esq's original point. it is frustrating to start a conversation with someone who is then suddenly kidnapped by space aliens. once, and only once, a guy took the time to signal "bye and good luck." (he wished me merry christmas and it was still november.) i thanked him for his note, i have no problem with someone who thinks i'm not the one. god decides who "the one" is so it's not some guy's call anyway. what i do have a problem with is rudeness. just as you (hopefully) wouldn't just turn and walk away from someone you were talking with at a party without saying "see ya," to me it's rude to just disappear into cyber space…

  4. Honestly, I wouldn't reply to a message based on your sample template. First, it doesn't seem genuine. It comes off to me as trying a bit too hard/overeager. If the person's profile had a similar high-energy style, then maybe it'd be ok. Context is important. The tone of template and profile definitely need to match.__Second, more than anything, I'm looking for someone who has read my profile and relates to what I've said. "Your being into $COOL_THING caught my eye… have you ever tried $RELATED_COOL_THING?" is a good start, but it's best to relate your personal experience to said Cool Thing. I need to know that we could maintain a conversation. Following up with a canned conversation starter is very meh. Better to have one well-developed question to let me know you've put some thought into it.__That said, a solid template is worth putting the time into developing. It saves so much time and you can increase your volume, making it easy to test and tweak until you're getting the type of responses you're after. But most importantly, I think it helps keeping you from over-investing in an initial message, which can be painfully obvious to your target and off-putting.

    • I agree with this, you should always give a profile a thorough reading before you respond to it. Even if you are contacted first you should still give a profile a thorough reading.

  5. I…want to find dates on OKCupid but I have reservations. First of all is age; my 33rd birthday (how the hell did that happen) is coming up and as a woman I feel like I have an expired expiration date. I feel as though my chances are significantly lowered because I'm over 25. I don't want to lie about my age but I know I'll be judged for it. So then I think, why even bother? But then as someone who has great difficulties meeting people to begin with AND being an introvert and a geek this is really one of the only ways of meeting new men.
    Should I lie about my age? I wish I didn't have to put it in my profile. I also feel like I'm going to get the, 'why aren't you married, reproducing yet, is there something wrong with you?' question, which I get sometimes when meeting people.

    I'm not sure what my profile should look like because I'm over 30 and not married (and don't want children) and that seems to freak people out.

    • Don't lie. Aside from the fact that lying to get a date is not okay, do you really want to be dating people who wouldn't date you if they knew your real age?

      There's a thread in the forum for looking over profiles, so you could put together something rough and post over there for advice on any part you're unsure about.

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      Your profile should look like the profile of an unmarried 33-year-old woman who doesn't want children. If that freaks people out, let it; those aren't the guys you want to be swapping messages with in the first place. You're not trying to get EVERYBODY to be interested in you; you're trying to get the RIGHT PEOPLE to be interested. Why would you want to be getting messages for guys looking for the mother to their unborn children when you know she will never be you? And if some dickhole sends you an insulting question asking what's wrong with you, press whatever "Ignore" button allows you to keep using the site as though he doesn't exist.

      What's the most awesome thing about you? What are you most proud of? Why is getting into a relationship with you going to be a great time for some lucky fella? That's what your profile should look like. There's no need to lie about your age — just don't apologize for it, either.

      • “What’s the most awesome thing about you? What are you most proud of? Why is getting into a relationship with you going to be a great time for some lucky fella? That’s what your profile should look like. There’s no need to lie about your age — just don’t apologize for it, either.”

        This bears repeating. I used to be a fairly active profile reviewer. You’d be surprised how many people shoot themselves in the foot by blurring into a same-y mess, while not giving any reason someone would want to be with them specifically.

        Browse profiles in your demographic, both male and female. (Especially female. Most guys will read mostly girls’ profiles, so you want to know the things they’ve gotten sick of after the umpteenth time.) Think what sets you apart, and play up why you’d be an awesome addition to someone’s life and what makes you different from the profiles above and below you.

        You’ll also have to change your habits, learn how to be proactive, and grow a thick skin. For all the reasons mentioned in this article. There’s a ton of advice on all these points in this blog, so it’s not like you’ll have to work harder than any other reader.

    • Life isn't a bad anime so your chances of getting a man because your over thirty aren't non-existent. The sexy, older woman is in now so you might even get, some probably very unwanted, attention for men younger than you expected. You don't even have to worry about not wanting children. A lot of men are going to treat that as a sign of relief because they won't have to worry about you moving things in that direction sooner than they want. One key to online dating is not to lie because the goal is a live date and lies quickly become apparent.

      • "they won't have to worry about you moving things in that direction sooner than they want"

        To be honest, statements like that make me a bit wary as someone who doesn't want children. When I say "I don't want kids," a lot of people seem to hear an unspoken "yet" (i.e. "sooner than they want"). It's not just men who might date me who seem to have selective hearing on this issue–my female boss is utterly convinced I cannot possibly really mean it–but it's a little more annoying when you think you're on the same page with someone you're dating and then find out they're hoping the sequel will involve babies despite the very clear spoilers you've given that your epilogue will not involve seeing your child off at Platform 9 3/4.

        • There's also the concern that you're just the time-filler that the person is using until they decide to go find a more proper mate. A childfree person who's looking for something longer-term is not going to be excited about that.

          Though I've found the most common effect of selecting "Doesn't have children, and doesn't want any," is that lots of people who marked, "Has kids," will decide you're their soulmate.

          • Thats a logic failure if I ever saw one. I generally assume that people are basically truthful about these things and if they saw they don't want kids, they don't want kids.

        • I just want to say kudos on the Harry Potter references. I will probably use "my epilogue will not involve seeing my children off at Platform 9 3/4." Although thinking of it that way makes me very, very sad and makes me want to have Muggle-born babies.

    • Same age. Same situation. I don't recommend lying.

      You'll get fewer messages than the 25-year-olds, but lying and then confessing on the first date isn't going to convince someone who wants a young partner. That just wastes both of your time. It's also going to be very off-putting to a guy who's just fine with dating a 33-year-old but who doesn't want to date a dishonest person or someone who's really insecure about her age.

      Your profile should look like a fun description of you, your hobbies, and what's cool about your life. The "Why aren't you married, reproducing yet, is there something wrong with you?" issue is one of the few areas where online dating is easier on people than real life. Most people on the site are in the same situation – either they haven't met the right person yet or they're divorced.

    • Don't worry about your age! My 12-year marriage ended when I was 39, and that's how old I was when I first used OKCupid. I said I was interested in guys ages 35-45, and I got plenty of messages from guys in that range, and both older and younger. I'm not especially gorgeous or amazing or anything. I'm now happily partnered with a guy I met on OKCupid who is 4 years older than I am. There are tons of people of all ages there, at least in my area.

      • Yeah, I'm 37 and my age range is 35-45 too. I sometimes get MUCH younger guys (like 25–WTH!) sending me messages but there are plenty of guys of various ages on OKC.

    • OldBrownSquirrel says:

      You're not necessarily too old. I'm old enough that most women your age wouldn't consider dating me; I sometimes limit my searches to women no more than three years my junior (i.e. not you), since so many women younger than that aren't interested in dating men my age.

      The wants kids / doesn't want kids question seems mostly pitched at those who don't yet have kids. I have two kids from a previous marriage and am not inclined to have more, which muddies things a bit. Many women who "want kids" are interested in having kids of their own and aren't interested in someone who isn't so inclined. Many women who "don't want kids" are interested in living a carefree, childless lifestyle that doesn't include kids from previous relationships. OKC doesn't have an easy way for childless people to specify that they tolerate kids from previous relationships but don't personally want to procreate. I suppose those distinctions are too subtle. The closest they come is "Has kids, but doesn't want more." In practice, I suspect I'm largely limited to dating women who already have kids; that unfortunately narrows an already narrow field dramatically.

      • I really appreciate the feedback from everybody. I admit I have a thing where age is concerned, I'm afraid I've been too influenced by anime/Hollywood who says its the kiss of death for a woman to be over the age of 22. hard to put that to rest.
        Started up the profile and wow, got a 150 hits and quite a few messages. Though most of those are to the tune of, 'wut up, yer pretty, hw r u?' and that drives me crazy. This should be an interesting experience.

  6. Is there a point to saying that the reason people turn you down or don't respond might not have anything to do with you when in all likelihood it has everything to do with you? You're sugarcoating.

    • Because most of the time, it honestly doesn’t. People have lots of other crap going on in their life before you message them, they don’t suddenly enter crap-free zones when you do.

      And as mentioned in the article, the two biggest “faults” you can have are not reading the timing right before asking to meet, and sending uninspiring messages. (Not mentioned in the article: Too-long “thoughtful” messages make someone feel compelled to touch on everything you brought up. This takes effort. They may mean to get back, but it gets put off and put off until eventually it becomes too long.) Both are easily fixable, rather than being a case of “you suck and should not even bother”.

      • "(Not mentioned in the article: Too-long "thoughtful" messages make someone feel compelled to touch on everything you brought up. This takes effort. They may mean to get back, but it gets put off and put off until eventually it becomes too long.)"

        THIS. I am about to move to a new city and I'm actively making connections there before I arrive. The people who write short but interesting emails definitely get responded to before the people who write at great length.

    • I actually think it's much harder to come to terms with the idea that people's reactions to (generic) you may have nothing whatsoever to do with you – meaning not only that you are not the center of the universe, but you have very little control over the situation. "It might not have anything to do with you" is, like, the anti-sugar-coating!

    • I think the distinction might be between it having nothing to do with you at all and with it not being a signal that you're doing anything wrong.

      Sometimes you can have a good profile, good pictures, and send good messages and not get replies from people who you'd normally expect to be interested in you because it turns out that they aren't attracted to blondes, or don't approve of what you do for a living, or think that one of the questions where your opinions don't match is way more important than you thought it was. That does have something to do with you, but it doesn't mean that other people won't be interested in you. Online dating comes with a certain amount of that, and it's good not to let it get too frustrating.

    • Actually, there's a perfectly high likelihood of people not responding to you for many reasons that have nothing or little to do with you personally:

      -They've already met someone they're devoting their dating energy to, and not really considering anyone else in the meantime.
      -They're currently juggling so many conversations they feel overwhelmed and would only respond to someone who seems like an incredibly perfect fit.
      -(If you haven't checked when they were last online), they haven't been on the site in the while and don't even know you messaged them.

      There are also lots of reasons people turn you down that are about you but not indicating they think you've done something wrong, e.g.,:

      -There's something about your lifestyle that's not compatible with theirs (different religions or political affiliations, interests in children, smoking/non smoking, etc.).
      -You live farther away than they feel comfortable with.
      -They didn't dislike your message or profile, they just weren't digging them enough to want to engage, either. (Most people only respond when they feel overtly positive about the other person; neutral isn't enough.)

      The vast majority of the time, when I didn't respond to a guy, it wasn't because I thought he was a bad or unpleasant person or that he'd screwed up somehow, it was just that he wasn't the right fit for me in some way or another. I think that's what DNL is getting at–it doesn't make sense to take online rejections or non-responses as a direct criticism of you or your approach. (Although, obviously if you message lots of people and absolutely no one ever responses, that suggests your profile or approach need work.)

    • I think it's less sugar coating, and more a way to assuage a bruised ego so you can get over it quicker and move onto the next prospect with roughly the same amount of confidence. Yes, it's probably not the truth-but it's a "kind" lie, one used to shield yourself from a never-ending cycle of despair and self-punishment.

  7. So, re: AHOS, what about for girls who are out of town? I'm talking to one who seems like a good match but lives a couple of hours away, so it's not as simple as writing, "Hey, wanna go do $COOL_THING sometime soon?" What might be a good way of transitioning from chit-chat to meeting IRL?

    • I sometimes date people who live a couple hours away. Generally, the expectation is that you might need to talk a bit more (maybe on the phone or text a bit) before one of you drives to see each other. If you guys are hitting it off after a couple of weeks, mention that you were thinking of driving to her town over the weekend and ask if she wants to do $COOL_THING then. Alternately, if there's a place with decent things to do in between the two of you, you could propose meeting up there.

      She might counter and suggest that it's easier for her to come to where you live, but I think it's polite to at least make the offer to do the driving.

    • Are you willing to go to where she is, or are you thinking it'd need to be something like meeting halfway in between?

      If you're willing to do most of the traveling, so that for her it'd be no more hassle than a local date, I think AHOS applies. You can just say something like, "Hey, I'll have a chance to be in your area on X day (or X weekend, or "next week" if you want to give more flexibility). It's been great talking to you–want to see how it goes in person?" Since she gets to stay on home territory, there's no reason for her to be more hesitant than with a more local guy.

      If you'd need her to do a fair bit of traveling too, I still wouldn't wait long, just broach the subject a little more tentatively so she doesn't feel like you're pressuring her to make a big time commitment. e.g., "I'm really enjoying talking with you and would love to meet up in person. What would you think of getting together in X place sometime?" Which leaves it open ended enough that she can easily say, "Yeah, that'd be great, how's this weekend?" if she's feeling you just as much, or on the other hand, "That'd be great, but since it's a bit of a hike, give me some time to figure out my schedule" or whatever, if she needs that time either to literally figure out her schedule, or to talk to you more to feel sure it's worth the trip.

  8. What is the collective opinion on picture vs. no picture? I've posted my profile for critique multiple places online, and the response back is always very warm and positive, with guys saying things like "I'd totally message you!"…. and yet I still get almost no messages. The best I can figure is that means my pictures are scaring a lot of guys off.

    I've seen some women mention how they don't put up pictures, but instead say they'll send a picture by request or after a little bit of conversation.

    This seems like it'd be a huge hurdle for a lot of people to jump (since looks are such a big deal for guys), but…. well, couldn't get any less messages than I am now, could I? But is hiding your appearance dishonest? Is it even possible to persuade someone you're worth a shot if they don't know what you look like? Can an awesome profile without a picture really measure up?

    • Not putting up a photo will make you not show up in a bunch of searches. People who don’t see you obviously won’t message you.

      There are a bunch of reasons going photoless is a bad sign, but in your specific case it might be an interesting experiment. Take out your photo, continue messaging guys who interest you, see if there’s any change. I’m skeptical, but worst comes to worst you can always put your photos back up.

      (I also suggest, if you haven’t already, going to OKC’s own profile suggestion subforum. It’s a bitch to find, but they have some incredibly bright people there.)

      • Yeah that's one of the places I put up my profile to inspection. The overwhelming response was "Good profile-but dear God, bitch, get a make-over." One particularly insightful guy said he saw through my photos that I did cosplay, and so he'd never message me because girls who cosplay are whores.

        Eh, maybe I just need to wait for the Dr. NL article "How to Date When People Think You're Unattractive."

    • I think that a picture is must. In fact, its better to have multiple pictures and none of those pictures should be explicitly taken to put online because it tends to come across very fake. Ideally you want a couple of pictures by yourself and a couple of you in a group that were taken at different activities. These tend to show you more accurately than pictures just taken for the purpose of putting on your profile.

      Pictures are must because you need to give people some idea of what you look life. When I see a profile without a picture, I think that the person is trying to hide something and that its a sort of a red flag. I refuse to respond to a profile without a picture.

      • But you also probably don't respond to profiles of girls who you find unattractive. So…. six of one, half a dozen of the other…

        I find the whole "don't take pictures explicitly for online, but absolutely have pictures of groups/solo and lots of activities!" Maybe I hang out in weird groups, but with friends, we almost *never* take photos. Even when out doing an enjoyable activity, if pictures are taken, they are done with low-quality camera phones where the lighting is bad, the angle is weird, and unless you're photogenic, you look awful. So how is that supposed to work?…

        • I don't think there's anything wrong with purposely getting some photos taken for online as long as they don't look excessively posed. When I was online dating, I actually had my ex take a few pics specially for that purpose, and later my dad, and I also took some on my own using the timer on my camera so I could set it at a distance and it didn't look like a selfie. I never had "lots" of pics, usually only two or three, enough to give the person a basic idea. If they're going to ignore you because you have three pics and they only respond to people who have at least five, they're probably too picky to be fun to date anyway. :P

          I didn't get as many messages as some women here have talked about, but while I was active I always had at least a few decent conversations going at any given time. And that's despite the fact I don't think I actually photograph that well (in fact, I had one guy I met up with all but admit I was significantly prettier than he'd expected–in a charming way, thankfully). I do think good resolution, good lighting, and good angle are important, though. Surely you have at least one friend or family member with a halfway decent actual camera, who could spend a little while with you snapping a bunch of shots in a setting you're comfortable, that you could then look through and pick the best one?

        • Not necessarily true, I've responded to profiles of people I did not find physical attractive if their profile was interesting and caught my eye. Physical attraction is nice but it isn't everything.

          Its supposed to work because when your really having fun, it shows. Even if your not photogenic and the lighting is bad, it comes across as your authentic self. Selfies tend to always look posed and not that revealing.

        • Agreed with Mel, staged pictures are fine and you're more likely to look your most attractive.

          I would use the same photo you have as your FB photo (yes, I clicked through). It makes you look fun, and in the long term that's more important than initial attractiveness.

          • See, I asked some friends if I should use that picture, and they said no, it's too far away and makes me look chunky. Opinions seem evenly divided on what pictures to use; the exact same picture will cause some people to think I look my best, while others say I look really unfriendly and pissed off. *Face melts from frustration*

          • I can't speak for anyone else's taste, but I can see how that FB photo could count as one of those "can't see the face, but looks intriguing" photos from the OKCupid stats Paul mentioned. It might be worth trying it as an experiment–I definitely think that would be a more successful experiment (especially if you keep a couple of the photos that do show your face in your picture section) than trying no photos at all.

          • Have you tried the OKC photo app? http://www.okcupid.com/mybestface
            I've used it multiple times and am always surprised by the results.

            To me, that picture demonstrates that you're not overweight and you're active, two very important things when you're screening people online.

          • H–how the hell do they think that looks /chunky/? *brain explodes*

            I definitely second the one you have up now, it's super-cute and fun!

          • I wasn't going to say anything, but now that this can of worms has been breached I feel more free to bluntly comment: you're cute. I think any number of your FB photos would be fine for a dating site.

          • I would say use a closer-up picture as your main photo (remember, dudes first impression of you is a tiny avatar picture), but have the farther away pictures in there too.

          • Chunky?

            What in the world?!!!??? You do not look chunky in that picture.

          • Your "friends" are TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!

          • You are cute. You look adorable in the picture. What could be better than a fun-loving woman with PUPPIES!!!!!

            I'll stop now.

          • They're not all terrible. And in fairness, I did ask their opinion-they're just trying to be honest and helpful.

          • I don't think that is an honest or helpful response. It just sounds mean to me. If I thought a friend of mine looked chunky in a picture (and I have helped friends pick out head shots) I would say something like "I don't like that one–you look weird. I like this one better."

    • I think the profiles that have no photo get little to absolutely no interest. Sadly, if you want to connect with people on a dating site you need a profile photo. And the dude who said cosplayers were whores? fuck him so hard. I think wading through a LOT of crappy responses is also just a part of online dating. I visited your FB page and there is nothing wrong with you, you look just fine (er, hoping that's not creepy.)

    • Picture. It'snot dishonest to not provide one, but it's a terrible idea and will drastically reduce your options.

      1. You won't show up in lots of people's searches without one.
      2. A lot of people who don't provide pictures are married, in (non-open) relationships, or only looking for sexting. I don't even read messages from men who don't have pictures up for this reason.
      3. He's eventually going to find out what you look like anyway. I can't imagine it hurting less to be rejected after talking to someone for a few weeks or meeting in person and finding out they didn't like my appearance.

      • *Sigh* I suppose. Guess it's just how it goes for the less-physically-gifted among us.

        • You have any photographers in your circle of acquaintances/friends? They might be able to take some decent quality pictures for you. It is amazing what proper lighting and angles can do, not to mention that a good photographer can really capture the subject’s personality/character

      • Another, more pragmatic point? You're way less likely to awkwardly encounter someone you already know IRL.

        • Is there really still a stigma around online dating, such that it would be particularly awkward? I'd have thought these days it wouldn't be much different from someone you know from work or school seeing you out clubbing or at a bar.

          After all, anyone you encounter on a dating site can't exactly look down on you for… using the exact same service they are. ;)

          • No, there's not. I mean, there's a stigma if your profile is particularly sleazy or pathetic, but just having an online dating profile isn't strange.

            I think what LMM22 might have meant was that having pictures so you can recognize the people you do know on the site might be a benefit, because it means that you don't have any awkward romantic comedy meetups with your arch-nemesis. Obviously, this is a problem that only matters for those of us in small towns.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            "Obviously, this is a problem that only matters for those of us in small towns."

            … or are part of a smaller sub-group within the larger dating population. The local poly community can get a wee bit incestuous at times, and there are some people I would NOT want to see.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            It's rather like running into someone you know at a gay bar back in the 70s and 80s, really.And there are still people who stigmatize online dating. They're fewer in number and tend to be older, but they're still around.

          • I've also heard people of traditional college age question online dating and asking if anyone really did that, with the assumption that someone only goes online as a last resort, so it could depend on your peer group and what you're looking for. I also hear a lot of people in that age group complaining that the people at the bars and parties are only looking to hook-up and not looking for relationships, but maybe they are worried about going online if they hear their peers make fun of people who do.

            Meanwhile, most people I know from 25-50 who are looking to date have an online dating profile at one time or another.

          • I would guess that college students might be less likely to use online dating simply because there are so many opportunities to meet new people in a college environment that they wouldn't feel they need to go online to expand their options. On the other hand, adults who are no longer in college have probably realized just how much harder it is to meet new people (and eligible dates in particular, e.g. in their age range) outside of those school settings that they used to be in, and so are looking toward online dating as a way to fill that void.

        • That reminds me of one of my online dates. He was the son of one of the families that contracted with the maid service I worked at in college. I didn’t recognize him until 1/2 way in.

          Then I remembered the sleazy comments because he didn’t think we spoke English and the sorry state of his room and bathroom *shudder* Needless to say he did not recognize me.

          There was no 2nd date

          • Ugh, not cool. I got messages from someone who bullied me in high school, who did recognize me, and from the father of one of my childhood classmates, who didn't.

            Thankfully, I recognized both of them and no awkward dates were had.

          • Ick. Funny thing is in Rom-Com world the first scenario would be a movie plot on the “ugly duckling” theme, which is why mistaking media for reality is a bad idea. In real life it would be awful.

            The second, had you gone on a date, would have been so cringeworthy I an internally flinching.

          • Some people I've told that story to do mistake media for reality and think it's really cute.

            Um, no. He claims to not even remember being an asshole to me for about 5 years straight.

          • http://replygif.net/i/1149.gif

            Uggggh that's awful.

    • Agreed with what everyone above says. I have trouble believing there are even many guys with good intentions who'll message women without photos. Even as a woman, to me a profile without a photo always suggested "I'm hiding something" and was an automatic no.

      Honestly, I still think your biggest problem with your photos is not that no photo would work, but you haven't found a good main one with the right combination of looking friendly, having a good angle, and allowing a good thumbnail.

      • Gentleman Horndog says:

        For my dating pool, what they have to hide may be "I'd rather not have an awkward conversation with somebody I know in real-life who stumbled across my photo and wants to know why my husband and I are on a dating site."

        Which I don't think is a concern for most folks.

        My concern when I don't see a photo isn't necessarily that she's not attractive, but that she's convinced herself she's unattractive. Bitter experience has taught me that kind of insecurity doesn't go away over time; very much the opposite.

        If I find the rest of the profile appealing, I'll gladly give a less-than-great photo the benefit of the doubt. It's not like my pics are studio quality, either.

        • I can see that as being a somewhat reasonable concern. Same with people who are open about fetishes. But, yeah, I think that's a fairly small group of people in the online dating pool. The single guys who go on about how they can't have a picture because of their high profile careers make me break out a skeptical hippo face, since I don't think anyone they know will actually judge them for having a dating profile.

      • I have messaged women without photos, if their profile is interesting – because the most crucial factor in this game is whether the women is interested in the man (which is rare). So if I got a reply back I would probably want to see a photo at some point. It's not necessarily a case of something to hide if they don't have a photo.

        But I agree with the above, you're going to show up in a lot fewer searches if you don't have a photo. I haven't seen pictures of the OP, but remember that men find the vast majority of women attractive so some men will find you attractive.

    • Dr_NerdLove says:

      A picture is mandatory. Just about everyone will pass on a profile with no photo.

    • I struggled with this question at first as well, as I have fairly low body image. I eventually talked myself into it by reasoning that the point of all of this was to meet people and why bother hiding what they were (in the best case scenario) eventually going to see anyway? I'd rather not only know that someone shares my interests and passions, but also that they're okay with me as a physical being. That way your initial interactions with people you meet online don't come with a built-in fear of "But what will they say when they see what I look like?" In addition to all of the other legit pro-photo reasons other commenters have mentioned, with photos, I have the comfort of knowing that anyone electing to talk to me online doesn't have demanding physical standards of which I must be fearful of failing.

    • Underwoodfive says:

      I'm inclined to agree that a photo is a must. I've actually NOT responded to girls without photos in their profiles. Once, a person sans profile photo included a link to a photo (she was cute, too) and I was still ill-inclined to respond (add on to the fact that her message was kind of off-putting).

      It just kind of comes off like you're trying to hide something. Or just generally suspicious. I wouldn't be inclined to trust it.

  9. Meyer N Gaines says:

    What’s sucky about online dating is that it permits people (well, women mostly) to screen people based on a very superficial set of characteristics (photogenic, white or black, tall, fit, high income, etc).

    I’ve considered trying out online dating, but I decided against it because I’m probably the least photogenic person you’ll ever meet. I look ten times worse in photos than in person, and my friends can confirm this. In addition to this, I’m from an undesirable race, and most women will screen me out on that alone.

    Finally, quite a few women on online dating sites look like the “before” pictures in weight loss ads. While I certainly don’t mind a woman with some extra pounds, I’m not really interested in obese women.

    • Wouldn’t you be doing the same, though? At least from what you have said before, I can’t see you having women who are browner than you in the search criteria, you wouldn’t have anyone heavy, and I am going to hazard a guess that you’d screen on education.

      • Meyer N Gaines says:

        Nah, I don’t care about color or education. As far as weight, I’m fine with most body types as long as the woman isn’t obese (which is getting harder to come by these days, admittedly).

        • I'm giving you a very hard look when you say that weight is the only objective factor you care about. Would you date (seriously date, not just try to sleep with) a woman your age who had several children? A woman in her 40s? A woman who hadn't finished high school?

          Your complaint about online dating seems to be primarily that someone might use traits you're insecure about to screen you out. Yes, that might happen. But as someone who's used online dating, you would not be writing a polite, tailored message to every woman on the site – and when you made your choices, you'd be using some criteria that those women would say aren't fair ways to judge them because they're superficial.

        • Got to say I am somewhat skeptical about this statement because you regularly natter on about “HB10s” and “high status mates”. I just don’t see you messaging a dark skinned woman with a high school or less education, much less that same woman if she had kids or was 30+.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Which there isn't anything wrong with per se. You're allowed to use whatever criteria you like — just own that shit. And don't, you know, whine about other people being "superficial" when your own standards are based mostly on conventional definitions of beauty. (And it's not exactly a requirement, but when you can't measure up to whatever yardstick you're using to evaluate others, that's an uphill climb right there.)

          • Meyer N Gaines says:

            Haha, I keep the last part in mind. That's why I said I don't mind someone with some extra pounds. Because I have a few myself, and I know how hard it is to lose weight.

          • Exactly, GH. Set whatever criteria you like. What you are attracted to is what it is, but don’t go all hypocrite if other people have standards that exclude you. Everyone can seek whatever they want in a partner.

        • In addition to the comments above, I'd point out that you obviously have an overly broad definition of "obese", including many body types not totally skinny, if you're going to claim it's hard to come by anyone who's not. You've mentioned before that you live in California. The current stats for the normal definition of obesity are less than 1/4 of the state population. And actually decreased slightly in the last three years. And I highly suspect are even less among people your age (early 20s) given that people tend to put on weight more as they get older. Which means the vast majority of the women you "come by" these days are not obese, and if you really were fine with "most body types", you wouldn't have to eliminate very many.

          Source: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

    • This just rings with self-pity. I see non-Asian women with Asian men all the time.

    • Wait, so, you think it sucks that online dating allows people to screen others based on superficial characteristics, but you don't see anything sucky about *you* screening women based on their appearance?

      I mean, I don't think either is sucky. I think a woman who isn't going to date you based on your looks, your race, your height, or your income isn't going to date you whether she meets you online or in person, and at least online you give women a chance to find out more about you than what you look like without having to go to the effort of making an in-person approach. It's just kind of ridiculous to complain about people being "permitted" to screen others on characteristics that you yourself expect to be permitted to screen by. And even more ridiculous to claim it's mostly women doing this. I have heard–from the guys themselves–that most guys won't even bother clicking on a woman's profile unless they find her main photo appealing.

      If you really feel insecure about how you look in photos vs. real life, okay, though I bet you could get a couple decent photos with a little time and help. But deciding not to bother trying because of your race doesn't really make sense (because it's not like women can't tell what color your skin is in person too) and so what if "quite a few" women aren't the body type you'd like? There are other women with other body types; I'm not seeing how it's difficult to scroll past the ones who don't catch your fancy, like every other guy does.

    • The hypocrisy of you saying you don't do online dating because women are superficial and racist, while also slamming the fact that a lot of women look "obese" and like "before picture in weight loss ads" is stunning.

    • "What's sucky about online dating is that it permits people (well, women mostly) to screen people based on a very superficial set of characteristics (photogenic, white or black, tall, fit, high income, etc).
      ….
      Finally, quite a few women on online dating sites look like the "before" pictures in weight loss ads. While I certainly don't mind a woman with some extra pounds, I'm not really interested in obese women."

      lolwtfahahahaha

    • Everyone's said it, but I'll say it too: saying that you're so put upon because women get to reject you based on their criteria and then turning around and pointing out a characteristic you use to reject women makes you a hypocrite. And not realizing the meaning of what you're posting before you post it? Well, I'll leave it there.

  10. Everyone using online dating is assessing using those sorts of criteria. For consideration, I suggest comparing your first paragraph to your last one. Let's not go gendering this.

  11. Neil_Jung says:

    Oh, for those halcyon days of $1.00 per message sent — that was the system on Nerve / Salon / The Onion personals back when Mrs. Jung and I opened up our relationship nine years ago.

    The difference between a low barrier to entry and zero barrier to entry (or unlimited messages for a monthly subscription fee) is nearly infinite. Back then, I would gladly spend $1.00 to send a well-crafted, well-targeted message, knowing that it wasn't going to be but a drop in an ocean of copy-and-paste twaddle. I had significantly better results under that system, and Mrs. Jung's inbox had an infinitely better signal-to-noise ratio as well. It was better for pretty much everyone — except the online dating companies themselves, alas, which is why it went the way of the dodo.

    • Oh, I used Nerve for a few months. Actually met a guy who I dated for a couple of years that way.

      I liked the system too. I didn't get any "hi" messages at all, and I got a lot fewer from people who were way out of my age range or otherwise not very compatible. And, when I did get one from someone who didn't really seem like he matched up or from a guy who seemed too young or something, I was a lot more inclined to actually read it because I wasn't as likely to believe he just spammed everyone who he'd be willing to have sex with.

    • Yeah, when I was online dating (10+ years back) the only site I used had a pay-per-message system, and I suspect that's at least part of the reason I got much fewer spammy or offensive messages (or photos!) than I hear other people talking about. But I can see, on the other hand, there could be people you would hit it off with you aren't sure enough from your profile to think it worth the money, but would have given you a shot if it was free, so there are upsides and downsides.

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      I had good luck with Nerve-based personals back in the day, but last time I tried my luck there (a few years ago), it felt like they no longer had the critical mass of users needed to make it feel like I was likely to find anybody.

    • Paul Rivers says:

      "The difference between a low barrier to entry and zero barrier to entry (or unlimited messages for a monthly subscription fee) is nearly infinite."

      +1

  12. Thereal McCoy says:

    "the person who’s less invested is in the dominant position, right?"

    Heh. And then you play that game with the person who hates games and they write you off.
    Look, I know you don't want to get too invested bc Mr./Ms. Perfect might vanish into the ether, but there is something known as "laying a foundation", which means, pay enough attention to Mr./Ms. Right to keep them interested in you. You can have as many irons in the fire as you want, but you have to keep them all hot.

  13. hobbesiean says:

    Honestly I've found out that no matter what Online dating site you use, geography seems to matter most of all. If you are in a very rural area it really isn't worth your time to pay the subscription price because there just aren't going to be enough people for you to message. That's part of what killed my enthusiasm for the site, due to the fact that a new, interesting person would show up, be inundated with messages, and then either get a big "Rarely replies" red button or simply delete her account.. If there had been a vast wealth of people I wanted to send messages to I probably would have happily paid the monthly fee, but as it stood it took less than a month to message everyone I wanted to and for nothing much to come from it.

    I'm also notorious for that whole "Don't know when to actually suggest going out" I either do it too early, or too late, and I have screwed up a few opportunities that way. it doesn't help that I have no Cell reception at my house, so texting and talking on the phone is basically no possible unless I want to drive 5-10 miles to find reception.

    While the format is much more friendly to my very very introverted personality and doesn't stress my anxiety issues nearly as badly as cold approaches.. I realized i was never going to get anywhere with that.

  14. I've done all these things correctly, get a bunch of dates off OKC… lots of first dates, but very few second dates and no 3rd dates. Any tips for that in a follow-up?

    for my first messages i just tend to do an off-beat question

  15. fraulein77 says:

    Alot of the data on online dating sites is corrupt. Subscribers who have cancelled their subscriptions still show up on the database. If the data had more integrity then the sites would be more effective. Also, users who have been inactive for more than 3 months should be deleted. However, online dating sites use tactics to keep you single so you will keep paying the membership for as long as possible. Free dating sites don't do the data cleanup well either and in their case, there are alot more fakers or people who aren't as serious as those active users on the paid sites.

  16. In a word: Yes.

  17. I have been dating this guy for about 2 1/2 months, I asked him if he wants to b exclusive and all he said he is just dating me. How much longer should I give him? But I think he doesn't want to be exclusive, what does that mean for me? Need help cuz I really like the guys

  18. I do ask for the date within 3 to 4 messages (or my backup: phone number), but they keep dropping off right after. Darn this online dating stuff.

  19. luvstoread says:

    i agree with LeeEsq · from 30 weeks ago. it is frustrating to start a conversation with someone who is then suddenly kidnapped by space aliens. once, and only once, a guy took the time to signal "bye and good luck." (he wished me merry christmas and it was still november.) i thanked him for his note, i have no problem with someone who thinks i'm not the one. god decides who "the one" is so it's not some jerk's call anyway. what i do have a problem with is rudeness. just as you (hopefully) wouldn't just turn and walk away from someone you were talking with at a party without saying "see ya," to me it's rude to just disappear into cyber space.

  20. G. Thompson says:

    One should keep in mind that a lot of the folks who date online tend to lean a bit heavily on the flaky side, that is, are not intent on meeting anyone in person, but prefer to collect profiles. Don't take it personal, just understand that some folks like to fish and throw it right back into the river. Not all, but some. Keep it moving…

  21. "So if they don’t respond: forget ‘em. Put your focus where it should be: on the people who are interested in you." You're making assumptions that there are people interested in me. You also assume everyone lives in a major metropolitan area. You say everyone gets ignored more than they get responses, but what if you only get ignored? What if you don't live in NY or LA or Chicago and there aren't a near infinite number of other potential people out there? What if you've sent messages to every one of the 137 women within 50 miles who are on an online dating site, and they all ignored you? wait for new ones to join? Yeah, did that for 5 years.
    Have women friends review and improve your profile? did that.
    Have friends take pictures of you that look good? did that.
    Be more physically attractive? gym membership, in good shape, well groomed, nice clothes, good looking etc. did that. I could look like Robert fucking Patinson and it wouldn't make any fucking difference.
    try different sort profile description? Did that 100 times.
    try every kind of message except for the clearly rude and vulgar sort? did that.
    OKC says average response rate from first messages from male to female is 0.27% Why is mine orders of magnitude less? and then usually to say they're not interested or they are interested, but don't write back a second time?
    Online dating may not be bullshit for everyone, but it is for me and those few of us with Milhouse van Houten syndrome.

  22. Gentleman Horndog says:

    This sounds like a good place to mention:

    A pic that leaves out your face is a bad pic. Body shots are fine, as long as they include your face. Pics are for your face. Not your abs. Definitely not your dick. NEVER your dick. Face. FAAAAAACE.

  23. There have been some stories of men mailing pictures of their penis to women they are trying to pick up online. If this is true, I really can't understand why anybody would think it would be a good idea. A lot of men who date online seem to think that the best strategy is to come across with maximum bravado and they seem to do these really machismo things that alternatively disgust and scare women. Its like a really strange and distorted version of what PUA technique, only in a way that would disturb actual PUA.

  24. Oh my GOD, the last time I was on OKCupid I got a serious offer to fist me and that's when I decided to bail on OKCupid for a while (actually the offer was a last straw after a long list of offensive straws). Been thinking about going back but I get reaaaaallyyyy sick of the stupid. kinda like wading through fifty kinds of shit before you find a potential date.

  25. The only way I've managed to keep my sanity on online dating websites is to reply back to spammers explaining to them that they're not just not getting laid but they're making it difficult for others to get laid. When the signal-to-noise is low and the noise you get is often uber-creepy, it's really hard to try to go back online.

    Here's where I disagree with DNL, btw. If your message is pre-canned, it's going to be obvious to everyone involved. That goes double if the part you're personalizing is formulaic to boot. If you can't manage to compose three or four sentences that show that you've read my profile and put five minutes into writing an actual email, I'm not going to even consider seriously replying to you. (I stick pretty strongly to that rule. What sucks is that there are some people who spam me who I might have been interested in had they taken the time to message me properly.) I get that there's tons of people out there and that you're messaging lots of them, but the less personalized the email, the more likely it is that you're not interested in *me*.

  26. The most plausible explanation I've heard for this behavior is that it screens for women who either want penis pictures or whose boundaries aren't the best and who won't reject a man for sending them. It still doesn't excuse something that's very rude (for goodness sake, it's not like it's hard to ask someone, "Hey, I just took some sexy pictures of myself. Want a look?") but I can understand why predatory people tend to do it.

  27. Paul Rivers says:

    "There have been some stories of men mailing pictures of their penis to women they are trying to pick up online. If this is true, I really can't understand why anybody would think it would be a good idea."

    Women tend to talk about things in dating when they don't work, but not say anything when they do work.

    Women have strongly said that headless ab shots never work – but the okcupid article I posted above says that actually they work very well.

    Women have strongly stated that they need to see your face, but again it seems like that's not a problem per the article above.

    Women have said that sending dick pics doesn't work, but…

    I mean I don't know if it works or not. But you gotta figure, if it's really a regular thing, it's gotta be working with someone. Women who get a pic like that and write back "come over at 9pm" don't come onto forums to talk about it, you know?

  28. Paul Rivers says:

    "Pics are for your face. Not your abs."

    I think the article above was actually pretty good, but as often the case (here in the comments), often the advice given is the opposite of what actually works. When something works – the person responds. When something doesn't work – the person complains to everyone about it. Thing is, something that works 90% of the time will still get that 10% of the people complaining.

    OkCupid – The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/the-4-big-myths

    MYTH 1 – It’s better to smile
    "Men’s photos are most effective when they look away from the camera and don’t smile"

    MYTH 2 – The MySpace Angle Is Busted
    In terms of getting new messages, the MySpace shot is the single most effective photo type for women. We at first thought this was just because, typically, you can kind of see down the girl’s shirt with the camera at that angle—indeed, that seems to be the point of shot in the first place—so we excluded all cleavage-showing shots from the pool and ran the numbers again. No change: it’s still the best shot; better, in fact, than straight-up boob pics (more on those later). Weird.

    MYTH 3 – Guys should keep their shirts on
    Of course, there is some self-selection here: the guys showing off their abs are the ones with abs worth showing, and naturally the best bodies get lots of messages. So we can’t recommend this photo tactic to every man. But, contrary to everything you read about profile pictures, if you’re a guy with a nice body, it’s actually better to take off your shirt than to leave it on.

    …An interesting caveat here is that a six-pack does seem to have a short shelf life: the effectiveness of the “abs pic” decreases sharply with age.

    MYTH 4 – Make sure your face is showing
    That page reads differently now because we found that all other things being equal whether you show your face really doesn’t affect your messages at all.

  29. Thereal McCoy says:

    "Pics are for your face. Not your abs."

    I love how guys who get around this with beach pictures. "This is me having fun in the sun, and totally not an excuse to show off my hot bod."

  30. I'm not sure abotu myth three because whats a good body and a bad body is really subjective. I work out frequently and it has given my body quite a bit of muscle hardness but I'm also covered with hair and don't have six pack abs. So my body isn't bad but it isn't the classical defintion of good either.

    Whats the MySpae shot?

  31. I think you're missing the context. From that article: "not showing your face can in fact be a positive, as long as you substitute in something unusual, sexy, or mysterious enough to make people want to talk to you."

    They aren't saying that shots just showing a close up of a usually-clothed body part without your face get just as much interest as pics of your face, which is what GH was emphasizing. They're saying that pics with an interesting angle, that show something intriguing about you, wide shots that show your whole body in some kind of action or interesting setting where your face is obscured/too distant to see, etc. As per the examples they give of good "not showing face" pics.

  32. I don't think GH is making a stand against shirtless pics, just saying that shirtless pics should have a face in them as well. I strongly agree, and would add that the picture shouldn't be taken in a bathroom.

  33. That's an angle women tend to use. It's the selfie that's taken with the camera held high, so that the woman is looking up at the camera.

  34. Dr_NerdLove says:

    It's the selfie taken by holding the camera at arms length from an angle over your head, looking up.Usually accompanied by duck face.It's popular because it's an attractive angle, minimizes double chins and – for women – maximizes cleavage.

  35. My brother has a theory that people who do this are trying to invoke the law of averages. If you ask enough people if that want to have sex than somebody is going to say yes. He thinks that the member shot works on the same principle. Eventually, somebody is going to find it endearing. I find this premise dubious and even if somebody did find it charming, I'd really be worried about meeting them but its a theory.

  36. Neil_Jung says:

    There may be some who operate on this principle, but overall I think this gives the cock-shot brigade too much credit. I think that to the extent that there is a thought process at all behind it, it's something like "man, I would love it if a woman sent me unsolicited nudes, and every guy I know feels the same way — so surely women feel the same way too."

  37. Or basically, you and my brother have the same theory. My reading comprehension isn't the best these days.

  38. I suspect there's also a significant number of people who do that sort of thing and don't actually expect or even really hope for a response–they just get off on knowing they've probably made a bunch of women uncomfortable. (Kind of like guys who go around exposing themselves in public, or hollering crude comments when they drive by a woman.)

  39. I've heard a theory that the guys who send package shots are doing it because they themselves would be turned on by a girl displaying her naked "package," as it were. So they are literally treating another person the way they want to be treated…. they think naked pictures are fun and arousing, and so automatically assume the other person will find them fun as well.

    Of course the only way this theory holds water is if the guy is rather dumb and has very limited experience on the Internet, but still possible.

  40. If you want a shirtless pic than a pic taken on a beach or at swimming pool is pretty good location for one.

  41. Paul Rivers says:

    He wrote "Pics are for your face. Not your abs."

    Whether he's taking a stance or not, the okcupid data says that headless shirtless pics in fact do get responses, more responses in fact than non-shirtless pics.

    The okcupid article doesn't address bathroom shots, but since everyone claimed shirtless ab shots wouldn't get responses but in reality they did, I would bet bathroom shots are the same way…

  42. Thereal McCoy says:

    Word. The unsolicited cock shot is a form of street harassment.

  43. I don't really mind the beach/pool shots. The point of most pictures is to show what you look like and what's going on in your life, and if you actually have a hot bod and occasionally like to hang out by the water, I'd say go for it.

    My issue with the headless bathroom pictures isn't so much what they're showing as what they're hiding (it's hard to feel connected to someone without seeing a face picture) and what they're telling me about their lives (may not be single, apparently doesn't have any hobbies besides working on those abs, really needs to clean the toilet).

  44. Thereal McCoy says:

    I'm not saying I mind them, just that the disingenuousness amuses the crap out of me.

  45. Gentleman Horndog says:

    It's tough to hit the sweet spot in terms of message length and effort. For guys, online dating is very much a numbers game; the odds of any one person responding to your message are not good, so you have to roll those dice quite a few times. But spamming-out an obviously canned message isn't appealing, and hand-crafting the perfect ten-paragraph two thousand word introductory message is creepy in its own right AND gobbles up a huge chunk of time.

    I suspect you're exactly right: Doc's message is better than a pure-canned spam message, but it's still just a Mad Lib. A better approach would be to not have a precise template you <ctrl>-V into place, but a general outline that you can use as a guide when you write the whole thing from scratch each time.

    "Hi there. Here's me commenting on something I found appealing about your profile. Here's me commenting on a shared interest we apparently have, and here's my take on it. Here's a question related to either a common interest or something I found particularly interesting in your profile; have you ever noticed that you're more likely to reply if a message asks you a question? Anyway, perhaps we could share some common first-date activity that your profile has led me to believe you might enjoy."

    Fast but personal. And now I'm free to move on to the next ad.

  46. Yeah, that's definitely a better format. I know that men are messaging a dozen women at once, but the more canned the message, the more I feel like I'm just part of their daily quota.

  47. Neil_Jung says:

    My response rate suffered when OKC abandoned the subject line in favor of displaying the first "x" number of characters from the message itself. Because I struggle with prolix tendencies, I've really had to force myself to get to the point, because you have maybe seven words to hook them into actually opening your message.

  48. That seems disturbingly plausible.

  49. Yeah… that seems overly optimistic to me. I mean, maybe the guy would enjoy getting naked pictures, but we learn when we're toddlers not to expose our genitals to strangers. You have to be incredibly clueless not to realize sending a naked pic to someone you've never talked to and who's indicated no interest in receiving one is hugely inappropriate, outside of maybe sites specifically dedicated to finding casual sex partners rather than dating in general.

  50. The silly thing is, the equivilalent would be getting an unsolicited close up of a vagina, not a sexy naked shot or a picture of boobs – which honestly would be equally gross to most dudes.

  51. That's part of the reason I think it's likely most of those guys are trolling, not naive.

  52. This might be something to come to the forums with. People sometimes post profiles and copy-paste messages there and ask for comments.

  53. I second eselle. Post a couple examples in the forum for feedback. And people can help even more if you post a link to your profile too, because it doesn't matter how great a message is if women click through to your profile and something there turns them off.

  54. Wendy's response to my comment below is a good example.

    If you're still not getting replies then you need to a) work on making yourself/your profile more attractive and perhaps b) lower your standards. My rule is that if you wouldn't think of approaching a woman IRL, then you shouldn't be messaging her.

  55. Thank God for all of this

  56. Paul Rivers says:

    "and – for women – maximizes cleavage."

    Actually, if you read the article, the cleavage seems to be irrelevant –

    "In terms of getting new messages, the MySpace shot is the single most effective photo type for women. We at first thought this was just because, typically, you can kind of see down the girl’s shirt with the camera at that angle—indeed, that seems to be the point of shot in the first place—so we excluded all cleavage-showing shots from the pool and ran the numbers again. No change: it’s still the best shot; better, in fact, than straight-up boob pics (more on those later).

    Weird."

  57. Finding a socially acceptable way to display one's attributes isn't disingenuous, it's socially cognizant.

  58. I agree with this suggestion, although I've always had a problem with people using the term "standards" as opposed to "preferences" when discussing potential dates. I think "standard" implies an objective assessment of quality, and therefore, "lowering standards" suggests looking for people of less intrinsic worth. If we're referring to settling for people with glaring personality flaws (e.g., selfishness, bigotry, etc.), that may be appropriate, but usually we're referring to things like appearance/body type or educational background. I know that's not what kyidvand meant, but it's a pet peeve.

  59. Paul Rivers says:

    "They aren't saying that shots just showing a close up of a usually-clothed body part without your face get just as much interest as pics of your face"

    You quoted irrelevant context.

    "showing a close up of a usually-clothed body part" – is myth #3 (Guys should keep their shirts on). The author says "After weeks of sorting through pictures, I started calling these guys headless horsemen." The article does pointedly say that those pics get a lot more responses, and in no way mentions anything about interesting angles, activities, settings, etc.

    The part you quoted about pics with interesting activities is part of myth #4 – a totally and completely different myth altogether called "Make sure your face is showing". They're saying you don't need to show your face if your activities are interesting.

  60. OK, this is me being my statistician skeptic self, but I inherently distrust corporate research, especially research from a company whose users need to fail to remain users. I mean, does OKCupid have a vested interest in pairing people off ASAP or keeping them on the site, yet active, as long as possible?

    Not to mention their sampling methodology or not reporting the response rate…

    EDIT: OK read the "methods section". Effectiveness for women's photos was messages received, anyone see an issue with that? For men, it was messages replied to…..but no categorization for the contents of the message, anyone see an issue with that?

    Then there was the excluding all the too attractive and unattractive from the sample….with the sampling frame defined by….the author? Monkeys? Aliens? Anyone see a possible design bias here?

    I hate seeing my passion and profession abused this way :( A pretty graph doesn't make it true

  61. I've read the base article. Although there's a reference to "headless horsemen" there's no indication that the data they used was restricted to men who didn't show their faces. The descriptions used in the graphs were "showing off abs" and "showing off muscles." No study was done on headless horsemen versus guys who posted shots that had both a head and a chest. If one was done, I strongly suspect the latter would be more popular. And that's all GH advised.

    Hell, my personal recommendation would be that if a guy has an especially nice body, he probably should try to include a picture that shows it off. But that picture should have a face in it.

  62. Women also say that men in overcoats flashing them is a turn off, but there are men who continue to do this–does that mean it must be "working" for someone? Women say that they feel harassed when guys shout crude sexual comments while driving by–do you honestly think some guys get dates by doing this and that's why they keep doing it?

    Seriously, your logic here is astounding. You're working from the premise that the only reason guys ever do anything sexual is to get a positive response from a woman. There's plenty of data showing plenty of men do sexual things at least some of the time because they enjoy getting a negative response too. Because making someone else feel uncomfortable makes them feel powerful and in control, or because they have a humiliation fetish, or a dozen other reasons.

    Not to mention–women have strongly said that headless ab shots never work? Actually, the person who argued against those here was a *guy*, not a woman. If you're going to complain about him making an "inaccurate" statement, can you manage to do that without turning it into "women say things that are inaccurate"? It's a rather incredibly big leap to go from "one guy" to "women". Is it really so hard for you to disagree with anyone here without blaming it on some flaw women have?

  63. Paul Rivers says:

    My main point was about…the other topic. But anyways.

    To more fully quote GH –
    "Body shots are fine, as long as they include your face. Pics are for your face. Not your abs."

    It is at the least it incorrect to say "Not your abs." At best "Pics are for your face, and your abs" would be far more accurate.

    I agree that the okcupid article is ambiguous, but I disagree with you that the pic "should" have a face in it. I suspect a profile with one pic with a face in it, and another pic with the "headless horsemen" pose would not suffer in any way.

    I'm not sure about an entire profile without a face in it…that seems like it would probably be different.

  64. "I agree that the okcupid article is ambiguous, but I disagree with you that the pic "should" have a face in it. I suspect a profile with one pic with a face in it, and another pic with the "headless horsemen" pose would not suffer in any way."

    I would suppose that would be fine, but I can't say I've seen many profiles with that combination. The whole point of the headless horseman shot is to keep the face out of it. Dudes who have a face shot in their main picture and who want to show off their bodies in a secondary one have a beach shot or a selfie with a head in it.

    I will also say that, from one woman's viewpoint, a head-and-chest shot is almost always sexier than a just-chest shot.

  65. Also, the OK cupid article had crap methods. "Success" for women was getting a message, which isn't exactly what many would call success. For men it was getting a reply to a message, so it would include all negative messages. Then there was the screening out what someone determined to be the too attractive and the unattractive based on some unknown criteria judged by some unknown panel of people.

    Garbage methods=garbage results, even if you put it on a pretty bar chart

  66. YES ME TOO ARGH RESEARCH METHODS PLEASE

  67. Er, Paul, the line of GH's that you disagreed with (and quoted) was "Pics are for your face" and came from a comment where he emphasized, "A pic that leaves out your face is a bad pic. Body shots are fine, as long as they include your face."

    So strangely enough, I assumed you were referring to the point in the OK Cupid article where it talks about the myth that… you need your face in the pic.

    GH said body shots are fine *as long as they include your face*. In your summary of the "keep your shirt on" myth, you said nothing about body shots without a face, only that shots with shirt off are fine.

    Maybe if you hadn't quoted all the "myths" from the article when only one was apparently relevant to your point, and had actually highlighted the one line from that myth that addressed what you were disagreeing with, it would be easier for other people to follow your point.

    Also, by the way, the data they took appears to have simply looked at "guys showing off muscles" without controlling for faces being in the picture. So they don't actually offer any data on whether women care whether a body shot shows the face, only that showing muscles in one context or another isn't inherently a problem. In other words, you have no more data to prove that your position (that body shots without face are fine) is right than GH has for his position (that body shots should have a face), and your opinion isn't inherently more valid than anyone else's.

  68. Paul Rivers says:

    It seems pretty obvious that the basis for your other comment that motivation in attacking it is that you don't like it.

    You critize okcupid for corporate interests, not seeming to know that it's a free site. You claim that they "don't report the response rate" – on a subject that doesn't *have* a response rate. You also seem to have started your critizing far before you even got to the "sampling methods" part of the article.

    Some of your critisms are better than others, but most of them just seem to be nitpicking.

    If your point is that their article is not 100% statistically valid – well, you're right. But NOTHING is. Actually, let me correct that – nothing that's considered morally acceptable or technilogically possible is. In order to get 100% valid results, you would have to randomly select people, then have a camera follow them around 24/7 – but a camera that they didn't know about, that was invisible both to them and to the other people. Some sort of invisible camera that floated through walls and watched them every second to see how their dating life went.

    The only thing you can know with 100% accuracy (even with an acceptable margin of error) while studying dating is that you cannot know anything with anything with any degree of accuracy (in studying dating). *All* studies suffer from problems like you describe.

    It's even recently been statistically shown that asking people to fill out a survey about their dating / sex life will get different results based on how close the researcher is sitting to the person taking the survey – someone taking a survey in a closed room reports different results than someone taking a survey with the researcher just outside, vs with the researcher unable to see their answers but in the same room and watching them. It's not at all difficult to see that what they write in a survey often does not represent their real life either.

    I await anything from you that has better methods, on the topic of dating and/or sex. I mean seriously, there's simply no completely valid data on the topic. All you have to argue with is ancedotal evidence vs rough descriptions from surveys/data/etc.

  69. Paul Rivers says:

    That is a whole lot of drama when what I basically said was "probably because very occasionally this works for someone".

    I didn't say those might not also be reasons.

    However, it's completely absurd that you would try to claim that it's "men" saying that ab shots don't work. That's not even reasonable. Guys repeating that what women have been telling them must be true doesn't make it something guys are promoting.

    I said that –
    "Women tend to talk about things in dating when they don't work, but not say anything when they do work."

    This is simply a description of how the conversation works. It's the same dynamic as how, frankly, mostly guys do not go online to talk about the really good things they want and their positive relationship. They mostly go online to either complain, or look for ideas about why something isn't working. Or how people tell stories from their vacations usually talk about things that are unusual, or went wrong – they rarely talk spend 20 minutes talking about how things were enjoyable but uneventful.

    Women often strongly state what they believe they're **supposed** to like/dislike. Many of these are in fact accurate. Other ones are not. If that makes your head hurt – well,. welcome to trying to parse dating advice as a guy…though actually, women have the same issue with trying to parse dating advice for them as well, what they're "supposed to do" seems to be rife with just as much hypocrisy / actually good advice. And of course – different women often simply like different things. Which is what happens with abs – the women who don't like abs say they don't, the women who do don't come online to argue with the other group.

  70. AngelCakes says:

    Actually, the article states that showing cleavage does have quite a substantial effect overall (especially for older women), it's just not significant when talking about the subset of "myspace angle" pictures

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