4 Tips for online dating emailWhen I began dating after my divorce, I was overwhelmed. I hadn’t dated in 25-years, and online dating was new and scary. I assumed it was for desperate losers. If you’re dating online after a few decades hiatus, you can probably relate.

I soon realized that if I relied on setups, I’d have about two dates a year (if I was lucky), so I bit the bullet and joined an online dating site. I had been a free member for a few weeks, window shopping to make sure I liked who was on the site before jumping in. I held my breath, entered my credit card info, hit “join”, and got to work tackling the 25 emails in my inbox. Help! Should I be polite and answer all the emails or only the real ones (not the pre-scripted icebreakers or canned flirts or the two-word IMs I missed). What should I write? Is it okay to delete an email without responding? If you’ve ever been in online dating email hell, here are 4 tips to help!

4 Tips to Make Sense of Online Dating Emails

1. Thoughtful emails. I answered the well-written, heartfelt emails first. These men took the time and effort to write me, and I felt they deserved a response. If a guy piqued my interest, I’d tell him why. Then I’d leave him with an open-ended question. If you don’t know what to write, choose something resonant from his profile, like travel, and ask him what his favorite trip was and why.

2. Generic emails. What about the poorly written and/or generic emails? You know the emails that have nothing to do with you and everything to do with him? Many men cut and paste these types of emails, mostly because of fear of rejection. What they don’t realize is that they will get rejected by most women because of the cut and paste generic nature of the email. Here’s one I got:

I am a kind educated athletic guy who adores kids and treats that special woman well. I love to play tennis, chess and table tennis. I work in one of the best high schools in NJ. Hope to hear from you.

Um, no reply for generic blah man. I hit delete on these. Feel free to do the same.

3. Flirts and icebreakers. These feel like bad one-liners that a guy might use at a sleazy bar. Lines such as “Hello, Angel. I love your smile. How is it that you haven’t been snatched up yet?” Barf. Delete. But do keep an open mind. Every once in a while, a cute guy with a great profile sends a flirt. So, check out the profile before deleting and writing him off as lazy, passive or slimy.

4. Nice-ish email/not a good match. So what about the guys who wrote a nice enough email, but I felt we were not a good match? Maybe his photos were unattractive, overly sexual, strange, or scary, or there were lots of typos in his profile essay, or he didn’t meet my five must-haves. Here’s an example:

This is “John”. I read your bio and profile and my heart skipped a beat! You are someone I can really relate to on an emotional, intellectual and intimate level. Life is too short to waste on dead end relationships. Please check out my bio, profile and photo asap. If you’d like to meet your potential soulmate and love of your life, shoot me an email. I am ready for a meaningful relationship with the sweet, strong, spicy woman of my dreams!

Notice that he didn’t connect to anything specific in my profile. He says he relates to me on an “an emotional, intellectual and intimate level”, but that doesn’t tell me anything. But because he was so excited about the possibility of me being “the sweet, strong, spicy woman of his dreams”, I felt compelled to reply. I thanked him for writing me, said that he seemed like a nice guy, but I didn’t feel we were a good romantic match. I wished him good luck in his search.

Most of us were taught that it’s rude to ignore or delete an email. But online dating is a brave new world. The old email etiquette rules don’t apply. I hope my tips help you make sense of your online dating inbox. Don’t feel compelled to answer every email. Answer the ones that touched you in some way. Keep your responses light and fun. Always ask a question at the end if you hope for a response.

And don’t just wait for men to email you first. Take control of your love life and search for men who are a good match. I suggest you initiate emails to two potential matches every day until you find a man you want to date. It’s a numbers game, but you’ll have much better results if you take control of your online dating inbox.

What’s the weirdest online dating email you’ve ever received?

If you want to find love this year, there’s nothing like group coaching to keep you accountable and give you dating tools that work. The Last First Date Inner Circle features two monthly topic-based Q & A calls about dating over 40 and a private forum for women to connect and share their experiences. All calls are recorded and transcribed, and you get a free chapter a month of my upcoming book. This month, we learned how to powerfully communicate with men without nagging. Check it out here.

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