“I’m quitting this site. Nobody ever writes back.” In online dating, it’s the battle cry of the weary. “Why bother? There’s no one here for me.”
In most cases, this complaint seems to be leveraged against women. It makes sense: women outnumber men on most online dating sites, and women are both messaged more frequently and less likely to respond.
If you find that you’re getting ignored by women, your most powerful tool is understanding why. There are a million different situations that might cause a girl to ignore your e-mail, but when it comes right down to it, there are only three basic reasons girls don’t write back. Here’s how they break down:
The girl is overwhelmed or busy.
If she’s young or conventionally attractive, she’s probably getting tons of messages. It’s also pretty likely that she has a social life. This means she has too many emails and not enough time. While this sounds like a dream to the guy who’d kill for one message, it can be frustrating to weed through twenty-five poorly spelled, creepy, penis-describing e-mails to get to one normal note from a decent prospect. Under this deluge of attention, some women quit checking mail or stop visiting the site entirely, and some respond only selectively to their mail. A good-hearted few respond to everyone — even those who don’t pique their interest — but it’s more likely that if she’s super busy, you just won’t hear back from her. This is where an interest-catching header is useful. Your email may have been world-class, but if it was headlined “HEY,” the busy girl probably just skipped you.
The girl isn’t really interested in dating.
Some women sign up for dating sites looking for attention, not a relationship. This is cheap and unfair, but it happens.
If you’re totally flummoxed as to why anyone would go that far for attention, check out the first thirty pages of any newsstand women’s magazine. Those ads for makeup, beauty products and diet pills sell women on the idea that they’re not good enough. E-mails from strange guys telling them that they are good enough are addicting to women who need the attention.
That’s no excuse — obviously, using dating sites to get compliments is manipulative and scummy. But it happens. Sometimes these sorts of daters do reply initially and respond to flirtatious advances, but then they back off at the suggestion of a date. It’s complicated and selfish, and frankly, so is she, so — no matter how hot she may be — please console yourself with my assurance that you really, really don’t want to date that stripe of woman anyway.
Also under this category fall the dreaded Bots… spammers whose only goal is to lure you into their nefarious cam chats so that they can flirt (and more) for money. They’re often easy to spot, as they usually look like porn stars, haven’t bothered to fill out their profiles, are looking “for sex!”… and spend all of their time online.
The girl isn’t really interested in dating YOU.
Sometimes the girl has read your message, and she is interested in dating. She’s just not interested in dating you.
Rejection sucks, but it happens all the time. (Next time you’re walking down your block, ask yourself how many of the people you pass are people you’d date. 1 in 10? 1 in 25? Those same exacting standards and low odds apply to you.) Online, it’s true that you can search worldwide for your ideal mate, but that doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not she thinks you’re ideal for her.
Sure, it’s possible that she missed your message. But it’s more likely that you’re not her type. It’s also possible that she doesn’t want to date you for reasons that are entirely unrelated to you (her evil ex was also a Scorpio, or she hates clowns and you mentioned in your profile that you juggle). But if she doesn’t get back to you, and you see that she’s online regularly and seems genuinely interested in finding a partner, you have to accept the possibility that she just doesn’t want to date you.
Every once in awhile, I come across a forum or blog posting in which someone demands that the women/heartless wenches/stuck-up expletives on site X, Y or Z must write back and tell everyone who e-mails them whether or not they’re not interested, because it’s rude to ignore messages. (This argument seems to hold water for about five seconds until you realize that it’s also rude to demand a return e-mail from complete and utter strangers.)
There is no doubt that being ignored is frustrated and ego-bruising. But responding to each message saying, “Not interested, but good luck!” only occasionally achieves the intended result, which is getting the gentleman to go his merry way. More often, it garners an unwanted response. Some ask for critiques of their profiles or messages (“But why aren’t you interested?”), some ask if you can just be “friends” (she’s not on a dating site looking for friends, unless she’s made that curious fact explicit in her profile), and some people snap completely and fill your inbox with messages about how fat, hideous and undateable you are anyway. Those responses may sound absurd, but I have received all of them.
Remember that in online dating, as in real life, you’re going to get more No than Yes responses. Consider the reasons that women might have for not responding to you, and attempt to tailor your messages accordingly. (Do you always write to girls who have two college majors and a full-time job? Are you sending messages to women that stopped logging in three weeks ago? Do all of the girls you contact look like Brazilian supermodels?) The people you choose to contact have as much to do with your success rate as the quality of your messages, and figuring out why women have ignored you is the first step in identifying those who won’t.