Friday, November 27, 2009

When You Email Her for the First Time

Emailing someone on an online dating site can be intimidating. Here are a few tips to ease your way:

Do not refer to her as “angel,” “cutie” or “cutie pie” before you are officially dating (and even then the “cutie pie” should be a teasing sort of reference). Do I actually have to explain why? Apparently I do because I have received several such emails. Would you really walk up to a woman in a bar and say “Hey, cutie pie” without expecting to get a drink thrown in your face? I think not. I *know* you think I’m attractive. You wouldn’t have contacted me if you didn’t. No need to point this out. And it is presumptuous to call someone you don’t know by a pet name. This should be obvious, and I’m hoping that is to you. Also *some* women find it demeaning ever to be referred to in any way that sounds infantilizing (cutie) or dehumanizing (angel).

And once you know her name, don’t call her by a nickname unless that’s the way she signs her emails. Not sure why people feel the need to call me Liz when I never refer to myself that way.

Use paragraphing. It’s hard to read without it and looks lazy not to.

Don’t use obscure references or obscure online abbreviations unless you know she’ll get them.

Don’t say “You seem interesting. Check out my profile and let me know.” There’s nothing wrong with not saying a lot about yourself in this initial email--after all, she *can* read your profile, but you need to give her some indication why you thought *she* sounded interesting and what you think that the two of you have in common. This shows you actually read her profile and didn’t just think she was cute and email her like you did a couple dozen other women that day. Ask a question or two about a hobby she mentioned in her profile or a band she likes, etc. It makes it harder not to respond to an email when you’re being asked questions, and it makes the job of writing an email back easier when she has something to respond to. No need to make the email long. Even a few sentences are fine if you hit the marks I’ve mentioned.

I would err on the side of caution and not mention meeting up (even for the casual coffee) in the first email. I’m sure it’s fine for many women, but for some, it’s a little much. If she’s the kind that wants to meet right away, she’ll ask you in her email response to you.

Pace the frequency and length of your emails to hers. Don’t write a second email until you’ve heard back from her. You do not need to send her an email reminding her that you wrote her and haven’t heard back. If she’s interested, she’ll respond without being prompted.

Keep in mind that, though you might not be getting many emails or winks, she is undoubtedly getting a ton of them, especially if you live in an area where the single men outnumber the single women. So give her some slack if she takes longer in getting back to you than you think she “should” (a week is not unreasonable). And remember that this means your email (and your profile) have heavy competition and you need to do what you can to stand out (in a non-creepy way, of course)--connect with one of her passions in your email: e.g., mention that you, like her, also love Heidegger and could never date someone who didn’t get him--a philosophy major will be compelled to respond to that. (I would and I don’t even love Heidegger.)

On Tuesday: Talking on the Phone

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