10 Online-Dating Success Tips

Are you receiving fewer winks and messages than you used to? Never fear—here’s how you can turn things around and catch the eye of someone special!

By Bob Strauss

ometimes, the hardest part of online dating is convincing women to write back to you (if you’re a guy who’s just contacted them out of the blue) or getting guys to contact you in the first place (if you’re a gal who’s just posted her profile). It’s hard to define when a “cold streak” starts, but as a rule, if you’ve written to a few dozen women without receiving a single reply — or if you’ve had your profile up for a month and haven’t received so much as a nibble — you might want to consider the following advice.

1. Update your picture.
“Look at your picture from your date’s perspective,” says relationship
“Would you want to date you, based on your photo?”
expert Janice Hoffman. “Would you want to date you, based on your photo? You’d spend an easy $50 on dinner, so why not spend that same money and get a new picture? If you don’t have the cash, ask a friend to take some digital photos and pick a couple of good ones, including a head shot and a full-body shot.”

2. Narrow your focus.
Some job hunters mail out hundreds or thousands of resumes to every single help-wanted ad, whether they’re qualified for the position or not — then wonder why they never hear anything back. In the online-dating world, many guys are guilty of the same behavior, pinging every available female within 500 miles and a 20-year age range. Remember, if you take the time to locate someone truly compatible, the odds of receiving a response shoot way up.

3. Write an engaging email.
“Look at your opening letter to women,” says dating expert Dr. Hu Fleming. “Make sure it’s personal and includes comments specifically about her profile, what you like about it, why you contacted her (other than that picture of her in a bathing suit), and why she should want to get to know you.”

4. Mix it up.
While you’re at it, Dr. Fleming suggests, “Change your tactics. If your opening letter has been factual, make it funny or vice versa. See what works!”

5. Rewrite (and repost) your profile.
Has your profile been up for a while and not getting much play? “Take an objective look,” says dating columnist April Masini. “It’s just like real estate: If a property is on the market too long, people assume there’s something wrong with it. A trick among realtors is to take a property off the market and relist it as a new property.”

6. Dive into the right pool.
While highly targeted sites can be helpful for some people, most of us are better off at least starting in a big pool with lots and lots potential matches. Think about it: “A site that includes the words ‘Sugar Daddy’ might be appropriate if you’re a younger woman
“All business ventures have active spells and cold spells.”
looking to meet older men, but lousy if you want to meet a 30-something male who’s not necessarily a millionaire,” suggests Dr. Fleming.

7. Ease up on your requirements.
Guys are an easily intimidated bunch, so if you go out of your way to specify that your potential date has to be at least six feet tall and make over $100,000 per year, you’re going to receive fewer emails than a gal with less-stringent expectations. By the same token, announcing that you expect to date a “gentleman” with “traditional values” screams one thing to most guys: “Gold-digger!”

8. Hire a dating coach.
This is an extreme step, to be sure, but as Liz Kelly, author of Smart Man Hunting, says, “If you ask your friends to review your profile, they’ll tell you what they think you want to hear, whereas an outsider is paid to help you look great online.” Needless to say, a coach can help you with many of the points above, such as crafting a great profile, posting your most flattering pictures and writing your opening letter.

9. Take a break.
“All business ventures have active spells and cold spells, and so does the process of finding a mate online,” says Wendy Allen, author of How to Survive the Crisis of an Affair. If you’re not getting any responses — or if no one is noticing your profile — “try a spiritual exercise. Visualize an ideal partner, not by looks or money, but by qualities and characteristics.” Let that renewed focus sink in for a while and then get out there again. You might be surprised by who shows up for you to date!”

10. Don’t give up.
As someone who’s done a fair amount of online dating myself, I can testify to the fact that even the worst cold streak — say, 10 or 20 consecutive email messages gone unanswered — is usually followed by an unusual percentage of nibbles (say, 4 out of 8 messages eliciting a positive response). In that way, at least, online dating is a lot like gambling — you have to endure the bad-luck streaks to earn a chance at the jackpot.

Bob Strauss is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives in New York City. He’s also written the Dinosaur guide on, the online information network owned by the New York Times.
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