There’s a lot to love about online dating. You take the randomness out of trying to meet people, hoping that fate will guide you to THAT ONE SPOT you need to be AT THAT VERY SPECIFIC TIME in order to meet that special someone. If you have approach anxiety when it comes to meeting strangers in person, online dating gives you all the time you need to calm down and send that message. You can be as picky as you like, using various search functions and filters to ensure that you find that 5’9″ tall blonde Farsi speaking Zoroastrian of your dreams. You have total control over the impression you want to deliver, from that perfect photo to the charming and witty dating profile that captures and holds their attention.
Of course, there’s nothing quite so frustrating when you put all of that effort into your profile and start sending out all of those messages… and get thunderous silence in return.
In fact, that’s the reason why so many men1 quit online dating entirely; who wants to expend all of that emotional energy only to get kicked in the metaphorical nuts by that empty inbox every time you log in? Why the hell won’t people write back?
Well, to mangle an old saying: once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times means you’re doing something wrong. Sometimes you have to accept that you’re the only common denominator in all of those people you’re messaging. So it’s time to take a step back and take a hard look at what you may be doing that turns off your potential dates.
It’s A Zombie Profile
She’s hot. She’s single. She hasn’t responded to a single email you ever sent… because you’ve been emailing a digital corpse. One of the risks (for suitably inflated values of “risk”) that you’re going to come across in the world of online dating is the dating site account that’s dead yet still shuffling around: the zombie profile.
It looks for all the world like a normal account, but the person who owns it hasn’t logged on in over three months… and probably never will. Sending messages, winks, pokes, flowers or other signs of interest is the digital equivalent to ringing the doorbell of an abandoned house. You’re just wasting your time.
Zombie profiles litter every dating service – especially ones that rely on paid subscriptions. They may have let their subscription lapse, but never went through the procedure of actually removing their account – something that many dating sites make as difficult as possible in order to artificially inflate their numbers. They may have set up the profile on a lark and forgot about it after moving on when some other social network caught their attention. They may have started dating somebody they met on that very site and just never got around to closing their account or editing their profile to indicate that they’re no longer on the market. Ultimately it doesn’t matter: they’re never going to respond to you, so you may as well quit worrying about ’em.
How Do You Avoid This?
Start filtering for activity level in your searches. Most dating sites allow you to add “Active Within $TIME” to any search string. If the owner of the profile hasn’t logged in within two weeks, the odds are good that you’re looking at a zombie profile. Don’t bother hoping that they’ll notice the “You have a new message!” email and log back in to see who’s been trying to reach them; odds are high that any such emails are either ignored, sent to the spam folder or deleted without being read in the first place.
You may also want to watch out for active profiles by people who don’t actually spend the money to subscribe. Some dating sites will let you post your profile for free, but have to pay extra to actually send messages. These sorts of accounts will have unsubtle clues as to how to reach them elsewhere… and 9 times out of 10, they’re spammers anyway. Don’t waste your time.
You Were Lost In The Churn
Online dating is a seller’s market when it comes to women; they’re going to have a far higher response rate to their profiles then men – most of them unsolicited. Some women will get 10 to 20 new messages per day on dating sites; some may get that many in an hour, especially if there’s a suggestion that she’s looking for sex. When you’re constantly being deluged by strangers wanting to get to know you naked, you’re likely to start paying less and less attention to the actual content of the email. After all, why bother when 99% of them are troglodytes who think that “Yo bitch” is a proper way to start an email or make the immediate leap to “I can’t wate to eat ur puzzy” are appropriate ways to approach a woman you don’t know.
Hell, many of my female friends will delete emails – without reading them – based solely on the subject line because of the sheer volume of mail they receive.
Odds are good that your email got lost in the churn of every other guy out there who was trying to get her attention as well… and suffered the same fate as all the others, consigned to the digital garbage bin.
How Do You Avoid This?
You need to make a point of standing out from the crowd. This means no generic usernames – UTexas09 or Portland77 – or inappropriate ones – anything involving the word Love, Luv or implying that you are the A+ number one master of orgasms. This also means that you need to have an attention-getting subject line to your messages. The most common subject line that women receive is a variation on “Hello”: Hey, Hi, ‘sup, Yo, how YOU doin’, etc. The second most common? “You’re pretty”. The third most common usually involves sex. Avoid *all* of these.
If you want to keep her from automatically reaching for the delete button when your message hits her inbox, you need to grab her attention. A clever, attention-getting subject line – especially one that indicates you actually read her profile, is key. If she talks about sports, mention sports in the title. If you two have a mutual interest in books, put that in the subject!
Failing that, there’s always the Dadaist approach. I’ve always had good responses from “Pirates are inherently better than Ninjas” or “Zombies are superior to Vampires”. Almost never has anything to do with the message I send, but the WTF factor is often enough to at least get the email read… which is half of the battle right there.
- Women usually have the opposite problem: a veritable tsunami of sex-seeking dudes who flood her inbox [↩]