There are times that I think that my usage of the English language is somehow a private dialect that only I understand. This feeling is especially in evidence when it comes to corresponding with wimmins of the opposite sex via internet dating services like PlentyOfFish.com.
Proclamations of women in The New Millennium Taking Responsibility for Their Relationships and Sexuality not withstanding. And ignoring that every age is a modern age when it is happening. Women in my particular age group, for the most part, expect the man to make the first move. This applies online too. Usually.
When I send a first contact email I believe it is important to cover three basic areas
1 – Personalize the message with something from their profile. Something —that is— that makes the profile unique. Yes everybody likes to laugh and have fun (honestly women put that in their profile, go figure) so find something that is unique. Their impending trip to Greece, their Cherokee heritage, the town they grew up in or lived in. Something that you can relate to and then briefly relate your interest in that.
2 – Keep it brief, light, casual and fun. And for god’s sake keep the subject matter rated “G”
3 – Express your interest in getting acquainted and ask her to write you back.
As a rough guess about 10% of the women I correspond with via various and sundry dating sites do take the initiative and make the first move send the first email. I have no problem with this, in fact I kind of dig it. But women who contact me first rarely do anything like my first contact email.
They will say something complimentary about my profile and sense of humor but almost never indicate they are looking for a response. And their emails are almost always very brief. Not sure exactly why this is. Fear of rejection? Maybe, but something tells me this is the most they can write being unaccustomed to making the first move. Just a guess mind you. But one based on a bunch of first contact emails received from women.
It used to be that having a picture on your profile was not very common. So I got used to being called rude, shallow or obnoxious when I asked for a picture from a woman who did not have any on her profile. And I can certainly understand why some people would not have a picture on their profile. If you hold some kind of public office, are a school administrator, in law enforcement, married (let’s not go there) or a whole bunch of other legit reasons why it would be bad for you to post a picture on a publicly accessible dating site.
But usually not having a picture on your profile means you are hiding something. Perhaps she is too shy or irrationally fearful of Something Bad Happening if they provide a picture. Sometimes when asked about the lack of photographic evidence they even get defensive.
And lets not even get into the people who sent old pictures that barely resemble themselves. Yeah great that 10 year old picture of you that makes you look like a goddess with spun gold hair is lovely. Put it on your mantle where it belongs, not on your profile.
Take this first contact email from a woman on PlentyOfFish.com.
(The only editing I have done on these messages is to remove identifying information.)
From: XXXX (View Profile)
Subject: a laugh a minute
Sent Date: 7/2/2009 8:38:24 PM
Oh my gosh, I never laughed or enjoyed ready a profile so much! Just had to let you know. Keep up the good work. Have a great evening, look forward to hearing from you. R____
OK she gets bonus points for actually indicating she wants me to write back. But there is no pic on her profile. And I must have been a bit dyspeptic that day because my turn of phrase in response is a bit, ahem, abrupt.
From: SRC_78758 (View Profile)
Subject: RE:a laugh a minute
Sent Date: 7/3/2009 6:19:43 AM
thank you for the nice note R____. Unfortunately I don’t meet women who don’t include pictures with their
profile or send them with their messages
Not exactly rude but not exactly understanding either. I probably should have just written that it was unfortunate she didn’t have a picture on her profile, “could you send one?” Possibly reacting to my lack of tact she gets out a Model 507 Semi-Automatic Snark gun.
From: XXXX (View Profile)
Subject: good luck (Contains Gift)
Sent Date: 7/3/2009 10:03:11 AM
Steve: I do apologize for your confusion, however I was not interested in meeting you. I found alot of of humor in your profile and felt the need to let you know. “Just thought you were funny!” How do you enter a room with that big head. Now I understand why they say many people “hide” behind humor. Have a nice life and good luck in life.I know I will.
Along with the message she sent a “gift” Gifts are just pictures of flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, etc. that can be sent with messages. For some reason which I have not yet figured out, she included a shamrock as a “gift.”
Correct me if I’m wrong but why would you contact someone and say “looking forward to hearing from you” on a dating site if you were not interested in (eventually) meeting? It doesn’t seem unreasonable or egotistical to think that a meeting is an eventual goal here. Also the “hide behind humor” line, huh?
I immediately hit the reply button and start hammering out the beginning of a nice little flame. I thought better, twice and finally just let it sit while I pondered the advisability of even responding in the first place. Like a doofus I did. But I constructed a (fairly) reasoned and reasonable response.
From: SRC_78758 (View Profile)
Subject: RE:good luck
Sent Date: 7/3/2009 7:59:10 PM
Ummmm, I think that you have just demonstrated that the root of
misunderstanding is assumption.
Granted I assumed that you were interested in me. But then that is a fairly safe assumption in that this is a DATING site and about 90% of the women who contact me do exactly what you have done: compliment me on my profile and
indicate that they hope to hear from me. Very few indicate a desire to go out, meet, get acquainted or otherwise start the dating process. Just like your email.
On rare occasions I have sent an email in praise of a profile that I find
unusually entertaining. When I am not interested I am careful to explicitly
indicate that. A phrase like “though I don’t think we are a good match, I
thought your profile… bla bla bla” helps a lot as there is no way to judge
intent. Especially as your email seems to indicate that you were indeed interested.
Your return email seemed awfully harsh for such a simple misunderstanding. Could it be that you were interested and my comment about pictures upset you somehow? I don’t think that it matters
at this point.
Thinking on this brief exchange it seems obvious that there are two things you may find handy if you do any amount of online dating: a thicker skin and a forgiving heart
Maybe, maybe, I could have apologized for my abrupt comment on her lack of photographic evidence. And possibly left off the last paragraph. But really I don’t owe this woman a thing. In fact I would have been much better off just replying with a brief “thank you, best of luck.”
Internet email flame wars are rarely productive. As her final response so aptly illustrates.
From: XXXX (View Profile)
Subject: RE:RE:good luck
Sent Date: 7/3/2009 8:44:44 PM
Sweetie, if you have been contacted a whopping 90% in the same way, I am not the one that needs to develope a thicker skin. I simply delivered a compliment. I found alot of humor in it nothing more. I apologize if I in some way damaged your ego or your feeble attempt at trying to degrade ME. Sounds to me like you have been bruised a few times. I feel your pain, but will not take on the hate of all women. I do however find it sad that you cannot accept a compliment without thinking there is another reason. Dude, you need to get over yourself. I was being nice.WE HAVE
NOTHING IN COMMON. You are the one with the problem, not me!
So now it becomes obvious. I noticed and called her on her glaring profile omission, her lack of a picture, and she did not care for it. In the least.
As a sanity check I sent the whole email thread (completely unedited) to a friend. She has experience with internet dating, and is also a therapist specializing in family/relationship issues. She’s pretty damn smart and has a bullshit filter like no one I have ever met before. This is her response.
OK, I have to comment on this Bi-atch’s responses to you. You nailed it; she didn’t like being confronted about her lack of a photo and her–shall we say rather enthusiastic and intense–initial INTEREST (yes sir, you did hear me say “interest”) in you was checked into the proverbial slap-down motel by a very adroit man who is clear about what he will do and not do. Women hate it when you can get over on us this way and especially when we cannot charm you with our wily ways without a photo. […]
She’s an asshole. And very sensitive. My suggestion (unsolicited, of course) to you is to not notice these things next time and to keep your acute observations to yourself. Yes, she’s a bitch. Yes, she has no photo (and in this day and age, there is no excuse except for self-esteem, weight issues or other pesky physical attraction-type things to bar posting a photo. As we both know.). Yes, she was hoping to reel you in with her stunning intellect and charm. But you can learn to say “thank you so much” like the good little Southern belle we know we all can be and move on with your highly accurate and painfully precise observations kept to yourself.
Keep me posted on the antics. It’s pretty entertaining.
So she basically agrees with me on her response to my “no pictures, not meeting” response. And also reinforces my belated second thoughts on the wisdom of replying in the way that I did.
My conclusions? Simple.
– People don’t like it when you call them on their bullshit
– Calling people on their bullshit is non-productive
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