Online Courtship: six email do’s & don’ts


The following are some practical do’s and don’ts that, when put into practice, can exponentially increase your chances of long-term dating success.

Do: Play the game
Like it or not, dating is a game. In order to be successful, you’ve got to play to win. That means accepting that part of the courtship process is a chase. Just as your potential match will want to chase you, you can also chase him or her. How? When you find someone whose profile catches your eye, send a flirty wink, an enticing icebreaker, or a friendly email. If that person responds, the game is on. Have fun playing!

If that person is not interested, he or she either won’t respond at all or will send you a polite “thanks, but no thanks”. Either way, don’t let the rejection bench you. It’s part of the process. Your job is to recover quickly, get back out there, and always play to win.

Don’t: Divulge too much too soon
Nobody wants to read a long-winded thesis on you and your life, either in your online profile or via those initial email exchanges. Quite honestly, it’s overwhelming and a total turnoff. That’s why it’s essential during the getting-to-know-you process to be open and friendly while still maintaining a sense of mystery.

Share enough information about yourself to excite, entice, and/or intrigue your potential match, while still leaving him or her wanting more. Not sure how to accomplish this? Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: Keep your profile answers short, succinct, and sassy. When responding to your match via email, use two-to-three-sentence responses to any particular subject. When in doubt, follow this simple exercise: after drafting your email, save it, and then walk away from the computer. Return an hour later to review, edit, and, when satisfied, hit send! That way, you avoid unnecessary emotional or verbal diarrhea and also keep your potential match interested.

Do: represent yourself fairly
While it’s far too easy and commonplace to misrepresent yourself online (shaving off a few years from your age, exaggerating your income, showcasing decades-old photos), you’re far more likely to achieve dating success online if you’re open and honest about who you really are. By unapologetically celebrating who you are, both online and via email, you show your potential match how to appreciate and treat you, warts and all.

And just as you should always represent yourself fairly, expect the same in return from anyone you meet online. If and when you catch someone in a lie, call that person out on it, report his or her behavior if it’s dangerous or detrimental to anyone else, and move on as quickly as possible.

Don’t: lead someone on
If you’re not interested in someone, be honest as soon as possible. Definitely do not leave anyone hanging, waiting for an email response from you that you never intend to send. Instead, always be polite, kind, and courteous. If someone contacts you and you’re not interested, be respectful enough to send a short, succinct, and thoughtful rejection. If you start communicating with someone only to discover that you lose interest, that person, too, deserves to be let down easily rather than ignored. Think of it this way: A considerate “no” is preferable to an inconsiderate nonresponse that leaves the other person wondering what he or she did wrong.

Do: Initiate an in-person encounter as soon as you feel ready
One of the potential pitfalls of online dating is that people sometimes get lulled into a passive email exchange that lasts for months rather than pursuing an in-person encounter. The danger is that you run the risk of becoming emotionally invested in a potential match, only to discover that when you meet face-to-face, things fizzle. Don’t let that happen to you.

Once a comfortable rapport has been established, it’s time to take your online courtship into reality, even if that means you’re the one initiating it. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Remember, dating is a game of give and take. To ease any anxiety about a first face-to-face date, keep things simple. Opt for an afternoon coffee date rather than dinner, drinks, or any other after-dark activity. That way, if things go well, you have a longer second date to look forward to. And if things fizzle, you’ve only wasted an hour of your time and a few dollars from your wallet.

Don’t: Endanger your personal safety
Your personal safety should be your number one priority when it comes to dating, especially online dating. Never give away personally identifying information, and never agree to meet a complete stranger in an unknown location by yourself. If someone seems too good to be true in email, that person probably is. Trust your gut and practice good judgment. Your safety and well-being are far more important than trying to please a virtual stranger by doing something that feels risky or otherwise unsafe.

Online dating can be an excellent resource in your dating arsenal. By following the above do’s and don’ts, you greatly increase your chances of future relationship success. Above all else, be yourself, have fun, and play to win.

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