A few posts ago, I gave some advice on how to meet people from the internet and came out of the online dating closet. I’ve been a practicing OKCupider for a bit over a year now and have received a ridiculous amount of messages throughout the past few months. Some messages have been awesome and intrigued me right away. Some were a bit more bland and got lost in the shuffle. And then of course, a few stood out because of how absurd or ridiculous they were. When I first got on the site, I did my best to answer each and every message, even if I had absolutely no interest in the sender. Basically, I thought it was just bad manners to allow a letter to go unanswered. But time passed and the more messages I received, the harder it got to answer them all. Eventually, I began only selecting the more interesting messages from people I might potentially want to date or hang out with, leaving the rest to collect virtual dust until I got that message again: Your mailbox (incoming+sent) is almost full. Soon you’ll stop getting messages! That’s when I know it’s time to let the bygones be bygones and off they go into the trash.
I still feel kinda bad about letting so many of these messages go unanswered. There are many reasons why this happens. It’s not always one simple answer and truth be told, while I can be a bitch as much as the next person in my regular life, i’m actually a pretty nice person on the whole and i’d like to think I make for a decent online dater. (If you don’t believe me, i’ve got references!) So for those who are upset that I didn’t answer back, for those that don’t give a shit, or for others of you who are just now getting into the online dating game, here’s a few reasons why your letters might go unanswered. Advice on how to avoid letter rejectionitis included within each explanation.
1. Your username creeps me out. This is essentially the first impression you’re making on me. When I get an e-mail from OKC, the first thing i’ll see if your username. Make sure it’s something not too over the top. If you reference body parts (e.g. bigblackcock*, ballsdeepstud, etc) or how “hot” you are (e.g. sexypapi69 or something to that effect), I probably won’t want to talk to you. If your username is something too specifically geared toward something that doesn’t interest me at all but is obviously a passion of yours (e.g. dragonwzrdking, gonefishing, anothergoodxtian, etc), I might also not answer. Maybe this is too judgemental of me. Maybe “RonPaulFanboy” has other qualities aside from wanting to constantly fellate his favored presidential candidate**. However, my distaste for RP is too great to get over and as I do need some way to filter out the messages I get, RonPaulFanboy will likely get deleted in favor of someone else.
2. You have absolutely no pictures. This is a no-brainer. Online dating sites allow you, nay, encourage you to post several pictures of yourself in order to give your potential date an idea of what they’re getting themselves in to. I use the allotted 10 image limit that OKCupid gives me to provide others with a good idea of what I look like. Even if you’re just looking to be friends, I still want to know what you look like. If I wanted to hang out with someone whose face I can’t see, i’d call over the gimp.
3. You have nothing interesting to say. Alright, this isn’t necessarily fair. Maybe you just didn’t know what to say or how to say what you wanted to say without sounding creepy, weird, desperate, or some combination of those things. However, just saying “hey” or “sup?” or “hi cutie” or whatever makes the receiver of the message (me, in this example) feel like a. you’re not very creative and b. you don’t like to put in much effort. And if there’s one thing I highly value, it’s someone who puts forth effort. Make a casual mention about something on my profile and/or in one of my pictures. Or come up with a funny icebreaker. Make it so that i’d feel a bit like a jerk if I didn’t somehow respond, even if i’m not necessarily fully interested. There’s always a chance I might become more interested as a result.
4. You lay it on TOO thick. From time to time, I respond to someone who compliments me on my looks via message. But if that’s the only thing you’ve got to say to me (e.g. “Damn honey, you look good!”), my attention span might not last. Some people also just go a little too overboard with their approach. “You with all those curves and me with no breaks!” is just one of several lines that, while appreciated (this shit makes me laugh always), won’t necessarily work on me, and therefore might not work on many others. Also, people claiming they want to sweep me off my feet and show me everything i’ve been missing need not apply. I like my feet firmly planted on the ground. I’m usually looking for an equal to run around with instead. But I guess some people might go for that stuff.
5. I wanted to answer, but couldn’t come up with a clever response in a timely manner. Basically, I read your message and you seemed pretty cool, but then I had to rush to work and decided i’d respond later. Except then I got home and realized I needed to get groceries, so I told myself i’d write when I got home. But then I forgot I didn’t have any clean laundry, so I went to do that, and when I got back online, Facebook and Twitter began vying for my attention and I completely forgot to write to you. And then, a few days passed, maybe weeks, even months, and then I remembered I wanted to write to you but possibly felt embarassed to do so now, after so much time. This is a rare occurrence but it HAS happened. In fact, I just wrote to someone today who seemed like a fun person to hang out with that i’d exchange messages with last May but then completely forgot to follow up with. We’ll see if he responds.
6. You picked a fight with me for absolutely no reason. This has happened. I once had a guy message me to let me know how much he hated Charles Bukowski (after seeing “Ham on Rye” listed as what I was currently reading). He went on to talk about how drunk writers are all overrated hacks (he obviously didn’t know who he was writing to). I entertained his messages for a couple of minutes and then finally got bored and stopped responding. He continued to message me, eventually asking if I was interested in him at all. My jaw dropped to the floor and as I picked it back up, my finger hit the ‘delete’ button.
7. I’m kinda-sorta seeing someone. Kinda. I don’t really date monogamously at the moment. Truth be told, I haven’t really found anyone that i’d want to take such a step with (for various reasons). However, there have been moments here and there, very rare and short-lived ones, where I wanted to see where something might go with someone. And so, I might’ve felt a bit strange answering your message at such a time. Obviously I’m still single and none of those situations quite worked out, so the chances that this is the reason your message went unanswered are slim to nil, but it might be true again in the future. You never know.
8. You have absolutely no confidence in yourself. I know this probably sounds mean, but if you don’t think you’re anything special, why should I? No, but seriously, if your first message is loaded with phrases like “I’m really shitty at this”, “I know I don’t have a chance”, or “I’m probably not your type,” well, for one, it’ll make me kinda sad because I’m sure you’re probably a very nice person but are lacking in the self-esteem department. I’m not here to be anyone’s cheerleader though. It’s hard enough to keep my own esteem relatively up (while working against ever becoming too much of an egomaniac) without having to try and let you know how special I think you are. My job is not to massage egos. Figure your shit out, learn your best qualities, embrace who you are, and then get back to me.
9. All your pictures are inconsistent and/or terrible. Some people look different in all of their images. This bothers me to no end. Which one do you REALLY look like? I might still talk to you, but this is always going to bug me to no end. Also, if you’re taking low angle shots of yourself… please… for the love of the gods… STOP! It’s not flattering for anyone. Not anyone.*** I’ve actually been considering lending out my services to people (especially gentlemen) by advising people on which pictures to use in their online dating profiles. Hell, i’ll even take em for you, so long as you quit it with the low angle. Shirtless pics should also be avoided unless it’s a pic of you at the beach/pool/other large body of water and you’re very comfortable/confident in your body (not necessarily that you’re super fit, but that you carry yourself well). Also, pictures of you looking like absolute shit with captions like “Looking like shit after a long night out” or “Exhausted, cranky, looking terrible” should be avoided. Why the fuck do people post bad pictures of themselves? We all have a good side, a perfect angle that captures what we look like and still puts us in the best light. Go with what works. PS. I don’t want to see pics of you in more than one Halloween/theme party costume (unless they’re amazing costumes – dressing in drag isn’t amazing unless you’re actually in the biz of being a drag king/queen FYI). Goofy fact pics should also be kept to a minimum. We might think that’s what you actually normally look like and then we’ll never take you seriously.
10. You are rude. “I wanna fuck u” is not a good icebreaker – unless maybe you’re Ryan Gosling. Also, harassing me by sending constant messages after I failed to respond to the first one is a quick way to get me to completely ignore you. Sometimes I take a while to respond because I want to figure out the right thing to say, or maybe i’ve just been busy, or I might be seeing someone at the time and don’t want to try to date anyone else. Or maybe i’m just not interested. (It’s probably that.) Whatever the case, it’s fine if you send me another message a few days/weeks down the line as a friendly reminder that you messaged me before. Make your intentions known. If you’re writing to ask me out on a date and I didn’t respond and I still don’t, take the hint. If you’re writing because you honestly just want to hang out and don’t expect anything, and you tell me this, I might be more inclined to meet you. Or maybe I will want to go on that date. You really never know. All I do know is that there’s few things that irritate me more about online dating than assholes who want to call me names because I wasn’t interested in them. Get over it, psychos. It’s not cool. I should make a Tumblr reporting you all so no one dates you.****
11. The answers to your questions freak me out. Some people don’t take the question portion too seriously and give a lot of bullshit answers while others try to be as honest and consistent as possible. I don’t always read through people’s questions because, well, I don’t usually have the time or attention span for it. However, sometimes I like to give it a once over. Some red flag answers for me that might cause me to NOT answer you back? Anything that indicates you’re anti-choice/pro-life, extremely religious/religion-oriented (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, whatever – it just doesn’t interest me and will likely cause major conflicts down the line), you don’t believe in evolution, you’re Republican or agree with the Tea Party in any way, you’re racist, you’re sexist… Need I go on? Everyone’s got their hot-button issues and these are mine. Don’t like em? I don’t want to date you.
12. I’m just not interested. Sometimes people just aren’t interested. I’ve sent out messages that went unanswered and lived to tell the tale. They either had one of the above reasons for not answering, had a different reason, or, the main reason – they just weren’t interested. And that’s okay. We’re not always physically, mentally, and/or emotionally attracted to everyone, no matter how nice and good looking and pleasant they might be or appear to others. It happens.
Hope that shed some light into this potentially perplexing problem. Now get out there and date some strangers! I swear it’s good for you.
*I’m not using any actual usernames i’ve seen to protect the quasi-innocent.
**Just joking about this. Kinda. I really don’t like Ron Paul or the kool-aid drinking following he’s got, but i’ll save that for a different post.
***Alright, maybe some porn stars can get away with it, but this is because we’re looking at other body parts most likely and forgot to check out the face.
****Future project? Maybe that’s a little too mean…