We hosted a live chat with Bev Bacon, author of Meet Me...Don’t Delete Me! Internet Dating: I’ve Made All The Mistakes So You Don’t Have To!
Here, we share the most urgent concerns you raised about proper etiquette when dating online — and her wise answers.
Q: What should a good first email consist of?
Initial email exchanges should be brief and very upbeat. Compliments are always nice. Tell the person why you answered his or her profile. “I thought you had a killer smile,” or “I like the fact that you like to horseback ride.” Brevity is always good. That way, you leave more to talk about in the next one.
Q: If someone contacts you and you’re not interested, do you owe the sender a response?
No, not necessarily. As harsh as that may sound, you really don’t. Realistically, it would be wonderful; however, there may be many reasons why people don’t respond. They may be inundated and not have time; it’s not that they weren’t interested. There may be other reasons.
Q: What are some key ways to improve my profile?
The first thing is a very pleasing, natural photo. Secondly, write a nice, positive headline. Those are the first two things people see. Be honest in your description. Don’t say that you love to play golf if you don’t know what a putter is! Humor is good, too — people like to know if someone has a good sense of humor, so have fun with it.
Q: Why do some people seem to lie about their ages and appearances in their profiles?
I think the main reason is to attract the most prospects possible. We’re unable to make first impressions in person, so we have to do the best we can through a photo and words. However, more people are concerned about honesty than anything else so if you do choose to put in an incorrect age, be prepared for the consequences.
Q: If I email someone and don’t get a response, can I send another email, or would that be a turnoff?
I would definitely email someone a second time, because maybe the person accidentally deleted his or her email, a computer may have crashed (which happened to me once), or the recipient could be on vacation. So let a week go by, then email a simple, polite message saying you would like to touch base and see what happens.
Q: What do you think about men who all of a sudden disappear with no explanation?
Rejection is very difficult for anyone, and sometimes walking away seems simpler to a person because he doesn’t want to say something that would hurt a woman’s feelings. We’d all like to know why someone didn’t call or ask us out again, but sometimes it’s best just to move on.
Q: Is it true that your photo is all anyone really pays attention to?
I wouldn’t say that’s always true; however, it’s the first impression that we have. Men especially are visual creatures, and there’s not much we can do to change that. There are a lot of people who won’t even respond to a profile if it doesn’t have a photo.
Q: How long should I wait to email someone after a date?
If it’s only to say, “Thanks, I had a wonderful evening,” you could do that the very next day. However, I would wait several days before contacting by phone because you don’t want to sound too needy right away.
Q: I’ve been seeing this great girl for a month and I just discovered that her profile is still up. Should I break things off, or can I ask her to take it down?
For most people, one month is really too soon for it to be an exclusive relationship. I would let it go for a little while. However, if this is a really major concern, talk to her about it. Communication is essential in any sort of relationship.
Q: What are the types of questions I should ask to see if there’s a good connection?
When you email, it’s difficult to get a sense if there’s a connection. A lot of times, words can be misinterpreted. So I would strongly suggest talking on the phone — that’s where I feel you get more of a connection. You may find out much more in one phone call than you can in a half-dozen email exchanges. If you are somewhat interested in someone, call him or her up and suggest meeting for coffee. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
Q: Should the guy always provide his phone number first or offer to call her and ask her for her number?
It’s always polite to ask through an email, “Would it be OK to give you my phone number because I would really be interested in talking to you.” That way it doesn’t sound too forward.
Q: How can you get a man to stay interested via email while you are trying to get to know him without losing his interest if he wants to move faster?
A lot of people — not just men — have the attention span of two-year-olds. I recommend at least getting to a phone call after a few email exchanges and go from there.
Q: If we had a really fun time on the first date but there’s no chemistry, should there be a second date?
I feel that a lot of opportunities are missed because someone didn’t feel that immediate chemistry on the first date. Many people feel that if nothing happens in the first five minutes, nothing could ever happen, but the reality is, it usually takes two or three dates before you’re comfortable with someone. People often don’t take the opportunity to do that, and I really think it’s a shame. Once you spend time with someone and get to know who he or she is, you often view someone in a totally different way.
Bev Bacon is the author of Meet Me...Don’t Delete Me! Internet Dating: I’ve Made All The Mistakes So You Don’t Have To!