How to get replies on dating sites Why don't women respond to my online messages?

Swipe Right, our new advice column, tackles the tricky world of online dating. This week: how to get more replies

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Swipe Right: online dating for the real world. Photograph: Celine Loup

Dear Eva,

I’ve been trying online dating for a year or so now. I sent my first message nervously, wondering what reply might come back, and was slightly surprised and disappointed when nothing happened. Now, after messaging 87 different ladies, none of whom have replied either.

I’m entirely stuck. I’m no scattergun, I carefully read every profile before choosing which people to message, then send them a message responding to the information they’ve provided and asking them questions to find out more.

I’ve had friends review my profile and they’re at a loss as to why I’m not getting replies. I did have a short relationship with one person who messaged me first, and she commented that my profile didn’t sound like I actually am, but I’ve no idea how.

My goal is now a nihilistic one: I want to get to 100 people messaged with no reply before quitting for good. Can you help me get a happier ending?

A reader

Hey, you.

First of all: give yourself a break. Hide your profiles, or delete them, for at least a month. Maybe two! Not because you’re never going to meet anyone online, but because you’re focused on counting rejections. This is not the right frame of mind to meet anyone. Would you go to the movies if going to the movies made you feel miserable?

Take a breather and focus on other ways that you enjoy spending your time. The love of your life is not going to slip through your fingers because you weren’t looking for her online for a couple of months, I promise.

When you’re ready to return – which is after you have deleted the spreadsheet where you’re tracking your rejections – it’s time to rethink your profile.

You mentioned in your letter that it doesn’t “sound like I actually am”, and in the profile that you sent me, you write something similar at the end. This is a bit self-defeating. Imagine reading an advertisement for a product you were interested in, with a footnote that read: “Of course, this advertisement doesn’t reflect the product at all.” You wouldn’t buy it.

Here are some tips on how to fine-tune your page:

How to get replies on dating sites Your opening paragraph says what you’re not looking for. Why dont women respond to my online messages Global The Online Dating 201 Why Women Dont Respond Exactly What To Say In A First Message OkTrends

Imagine me coming over to your home. You ask me if I’d like a drink, and I say, “Not coffee! Whatever you do, don’t bring me a cup of coffee! I’m not one of those people who is interested in coffee!” Weird, right? This means you wouldn’t feel excited about getting me a glass of what I do want (double scotch, straight up). You would think I was annoying.

True story: I will not respond to anyone whose profile volunteers what they dislike in other people, even if it’s something that I’m not keen on either, because the volunteering gives me the impression that they are inclined to be negative and judgmental. Which is maybe judgmental of me! But there you go.

How to get replies on dating sites Your profile is too long. Why dont women respond to my online messages Global The Online Dating 201 Why Women Dont Respond Exactly What To Say In A First Message OkTrends

You are a fascinating person with a broad range of interests and accomplishments. You have included them all here. But this isn’t a CV. Think about the real-life parallel: if you met an attractive woman out in the wild (the grocery store), you wouldn’t approach her and deliver an exhaustive autobiographical monologue. You would share just enough information to intrigue her.

Cut the length of your profile in half. Think piquant. Think mysterious. Think that when you meet someone you really like, who really likes you, you will have plenty of time to discuss your hopes and dreams and favorite foods.

How to get replies on dating sites You talk about long-term commitment. Why dont women respond to my online messages Global The Online Dating 201 Why Women Dont Respond Exactly What To Say In A First Message OkTrends

This is a tricky one.

In theory, there is nothing wrong with being honest about what you’re looking for. In truth, there are a lot of women who are also looking for long-term commitment. But keeping in mind the idea that an online profile is like an initial introduction, bringing up a lifelong relationship as a goal on first (online) encounter might scare a lot of people. Omit your future plans here – if you and a potential partner have a future together, you will have plenty of time to bring it up.

How to get replies on dating sites And finally ... Why dont women respond to my online messages Global The Online Dating 201 Why Women Dont Respond Exactly What To Say In A First Message OkTrends

I don’t have details of the messages that you’re sending, but here are some things to consider. Who are the women that you’re writing to? You don’t say, so just in case: if they specifically state that you are outside of their demographic preferences, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back. “I’m special and different!” we all have thought, once in a while, and it’s true – but it’s also true that our specialness and differentness may be hard to convey through a dating app.

You note that you make an effort to read women’s profiles and draft personalized messages; that’s great! But don’t spend too much time over it. One personal question is cute and fun; a list of personal questions can feel like too much work. Remember, you’re just trying to start an exchange, not perform a discursive analysis of a woman’s entire profile. Think conversation starters, not an entire conversation.

“Love is like baseball,” my grandpa used to say to me. “You can get some strikes; you only need one hit.” You don’t need 87 women to respond to you if you’re looking for a long-term relationship, as you say you are. You just need one good one.

Love,

Eva

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