Should You Send a Follow-up Email to Someone To Hasn’t Written You Back?

Dear Evan

1. Should a person send a follow-up email to someone they have written to before and not heard from?
2: What do you think of expressing in one’s profile that you prefer emails to winks?

Thank you so much for your encouragement and help in our searches.

Ynez

Dear Ynez,

Allow me to answer your second question first, because it’s a lot quicker:

No. Don’t express in your profile that you prefer emails to winks. You wanna know why?

1) EVERYBODY prefers emails to winks. So, in essence, you’re saying something as clichéd as “I like to laugh” or “I want a man who’s honest.” It’s a pointless point, and is one that’s bound to be ignored.

2) The fact that he winks instead of taking the time to write to you speaks volumes about him. A wink says either that he’s lazy, he’s illiterate, or, more likely, that he’s winking at 50 people at a time to see who responds to him. He may actually be a decent guy – but he’s a decent guy who is pretty indiscriminate about the women he contacts. Proceed with caution.

3) I just think it’s in poor form to tell anyone what to do. “Nobody over the age of 40! No cheaters or liars! Nobody who has addiction issues!” Feel free to ignore anyone who doesn’t meet your criteria, Ynez – including your desire to be emailed – but please, don’t issue demands in your profile.

Next…

I have two (and maybe even three) answers to your query about sending a follow-up email. One set of rules applies to men, another applies to women. And yes, there’s a logical explanation for this double standard.

Women have the simpler answer. No, you shouldn’t send a follow-up email to a guy if he hasn’t written back. It’s not that it’s impossible that he was busy, or accidentally deleted your email, or had an emotional crisis that caused him to abandon dating for awhile. Rather, it’s that, 99 times out of 100, a guy who doesn’t write back to you is a guy who isn’t attracted to you. If he is attracted to you but is dating other people, he’ll get back to you eventually, without any additional prodding on your part.

Men are faced with a different dilemma. Why are there different rules for men and women? Because women – especially younger women – receive infinitely more emails than men. Think about it: If a guy is doing great, he might get ten emails – and can manage to respond to the three or four attractive women in his inbox. If a woman is doing great, she might get 50 emails, or 150 emails, or 400 emails. Which means that there are definitely some quality guys who don’t get through the first screening process

I remember meeting a woman on Match.com in 2002. We dated for six weeks and I remember asking her about her experience. She told me that she received over 500 emails in her first week. How many guys did she write back to? Five. That’s 495 guys who got silence in return for their emails. This reinforces why women are NOT obliged to write back polite rejection letters AND it reinforces why just because older men want attractive young women, they are unlikely to get a letter back. If she has 500 potential future spouses in the mix, why would she date a guy fifteen years older? She could date a guy that’s just as successful and kind, but closer to her age. And she usually will. Doesn’t mean she’s bad. Just means she has choices. See my blog post “As Valuable as Your Options” if this isn’t clear to you.

But back to my point. … When a man’s dealing with such a competitive atmosphere, he might take a shot at  writing a second or a third time. Plenty of women who are exasperated with the flood of emails delete their entire inbox just to keep things manageable. What they DON’T do, and probably should is HIDE THEIR PROFILES. But as much as the young women complain about all of the awful guys who write to them, they generally refuse to stem the tide by removing themselves or going without a picture. I wrote about this extensively in I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book and think that if your biggest problem is the volume of the “wrong men” writing, it’s really easy to fix. Take down your photo or profile and proactively contact men. Instead of spending half your day deleting profiles of men you’d never consider, you could be talking to one or two decent guys at once. Most women are not afflicted with this problem, but it is a real one, especially for the younger set.

Wait, what was your question again, Ynez? Oh, should you follow up with an email if you’ve been ignored? For you, as a woman, probably not. It wouldn’t cost much to try, but I don’t think the results will be that great. Men are looks-driven and I don’t know many who ignore someone who piques their interest. For men, it’s probably worth it to take a second shot a month down the road. But then again, there are enough quality women that I don’t see why you’d write to the same uninterested ones twice. Eventually, you gotta take a hint.

Or, if you’re like most people, maybe you don’t.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Marc

    Agreed. Guys generally don’t ignore emails from women to whom they’re attracted. If he’s not responding the first time, it’s either because he’s not a paying member and can’t read the email, he’s got too many emails in his inbox and will wait till other prospects dry out to get to yours, or he simply isn’t interested. I’d maybe try an IM, if you really want to give it a second shot. That may get his attention.

  2. 2
    Natalie

    I agree about not sending a second email. If he is interested, he will email you back after the first one. Not sending a second one means you can still have your dignity and pride. Also, I would try not taking it personally when people don’t respond. As Evan said, there are so many people online. In my experience, people online are also flaky. The ananimity of the Internet makes it easier to disappear without a trace than say, if you had met someone in person. You can’t take each person that doesn’t get back to you as a personal affront because you never know what is going on in someones life. If a guy emails me numerous times after no response from me, quite frankly, it makes me glad I didn’t respond because it makes them appear desperate. As far as the winks, I wouldnt be so hard on the guys. If you respond to his wink with an email, you should get an email back in return.

  3. 3
    Roger

    I don’t think it can hurt for a woman to follow up with a 2nd email. But, they should wait at least a few weeks. And, if they get no response after the second one, they should give up.

  4. 4
    J

    Just an honest question – Are there really that many people out there who would reply to an email of someone if they went to their profile, before responding to initial contact, if that person didn’t have a picture posted? Please note, I didn’t ask if many men would reply without a picture (of the girl who wrote to them or Winked). I am female, and I don’t respond to people who don’t post a photo, either.

    Same goes for when perusing profiles to either find someone to write to or hope I hear from him.

    The one time I broke my personal rule on this, I never saw him – because he said he couldn’t post it because he was a forensic profiler and he wouldn’t want criminals to be able to find him. Maybe that was true, maybe it wasn’t. He was also the one who contacted me six months after a phone call and didn’t remember he had already corresponded and spoken with me and then disappeared without a word previously.

    As to hiding it – the profile – if getting the wrong responses = no one can read it if you hide it. Therefore, if you do email a man or wink at him, and he goes to see who you are, then he gets a notice that that member has hidden their profile, changed their member name or is no longer on the site. Can’t reply to someone with a hidden profile. This is the case on Match.com anyhow.

    And popping in and out frequently – visible, non-visible trying to guess when he might write back makes you look indecisive and flaky. And you would still get people writing that you might not want to hear from during the “Visible” periods : )

    Yes, women could contact the men they want to hear from – but as several of you have pointed out, if a man wants something or someone, then he usually goes for it. It is easy to think if you haven’t already heard from “Him” whoever him is (the one or ones that really caught your eye) that maybe he saw you and wasn’t interested enough to write.

    I don’t know how many men write or wink back if a woman initiates contact (though some state in their profiles that they would welcome such), but it has been my experience that you rarely get a reply of any kind if you make the first move. Maybe I have tried to date out of my league or something else was going on (or not), but it did serve to reinforce my theory that I have a better chance of connecting with someone if he chose to invest in me a touch first.

    If I were super hot, with bodacious boobs, I do suspect some of these guys might have replied. So that goes both ways too. In each case, I wrote a headline that was original (I hope) and had something to do with something very specific in their profile and to them and was clever (at least, I hope so) and tailored the email to the guy.

    So women also get the “silent”, i.e, no acknowledgment treatment too. And later on, men drop off the face of the earth with no word too.

    Makes you appreciate the people who go the extra mile and put in more effort all the more. And isn’t that the kind of person who would most likely do the same with you in a relationship too?

    I agree with Evan and the previous posters about not emailing a couple or so times if no reply. Though I think this would be true for a guy too. I don’t think he should have to email a girl several times before he says, she isn’t that into me. I deserve someone who really is, who is excited to hear from me, and responds in turn and in kind – whether to email, text message, or phone call. Not saying call for call or totally email for email in terms of same number on both sides – but who makes a concerted effort back. Certainly some effort at least in reply.

  5. 5
    Mark

    I’m gay and on Match.com, so here’s a nice gay man’s perspective:

    If they don’t respond, move on. Trust me, gay men are the pickiest people on the planet. Don’t waste time waiting, find the real one.

  6. 7
    AO

    What if he did email you back after your first email, but hasn’t responded to the 2nd email you sent in response to his email? It makes me wonder if maybe I offended him in someway…

  7. 8
    Darc

    I’ve always wondered why women get more emails than men too… Maybe it’s because men only think with their dicks. LOL!

    My question: How do you peek a woman’s interest? I mean, there are probably more attractive men online than there are ugly men, so what are women looking for in terms of looks?

  8. 9
    Elana

    I wanted to add my two cents because I’m female and I’ve actually had really good luck sending a follow-up email to an original email that I never got a response to. I’ve done this twice with guys who I was emailing back and forth with, and then it dropped off (so in both cases they did respond to my first email). Both guys I ended up going on several great dates with. I used to never email someone again who didn’t email back, but the more I’ve been doing online dating, the more confidence I’ve gotten with my photos and email/profile-writing skills, and I just figured, what do I have to lose? So both guys I sent a flirty email along the lines of “so you seem like a really cute, great guy, and I’m sure you’re busy sifting through a gazillion emails from lovely ladies, but if it’s not too late, I’d like to throw my hat into the ring.” I got responses from both guys right away, and it turns out they had pretty good excuses for not emailing me back in the first place (being really busy, not being sure I was interested, etc). So in some cases, the follow-up email does work.

  9. 10
    Sayanta

    Elana-

    Just curious- did they ever explain why they suddenly ‘dropped off’? I hate it when they do that- but I really can’t complain, since I’ve done it to guys myself. :-(

  10. 11
    starthrower68

    Ah it is a cursed thing to be less than a perfect woman. Methinks I shall get thee to a nunnery….

  11. 12
    Ms. D

    So what about he e-mails you, you respond, and then radio silence? I mean HE expressed interest, so it wasn’t a lack of attractiveness or charm in the profile. And I THOUGHT my e-mail was consistent with my profile? I did realize very quickly after sending the e-mail that I said that my only pic at the time was a “couple” of years old…my bad, it is 1 1/2 years old (I mean, JFC, I’m 27, it can’t be that old or I’d have been an obvious teenager!), but thought I had remedied any potential issues with that by quickly uploading a new pic with the caption “November travels around the world”. WTF?

  12. 13
    Karl R

    Ms. D asked: (#12)
    “So what about he e-mails you, you respond, and then radio silence?”

    He’s pursuing a more serious relationship with someone else.

    To give you a (more transparent) example:
    A couple months ago a new lady showed up in my yoga class. Over the course of the next few weeks I made a point of introducing myself to her, making small talk and casually flirting with her. She had every reason to believe I was interested in her. (Because I was.)

    During that same period of time, one of my dance partners broke up with her boyfriend. I’ve known this woman for a year, we dance and flirt regularly, and we’ve become good friends. Suddenly we’re both available at the same time. A month after her breakup, I let her know that I was interested in pursuing an exclusive relationship with her.

    Under the circumstances, the lady from yoga didn’t stand a chance. She didn’t do anything wrong. It wasn’t a level playing field. Even if she’s as amazing as this dance partner, I didn’t have enough time to discover that.

    The lady from yoga is not completely in the dark. I’ve “just happened” to have a couple conversations with a couple friends in my yoga class where she could easily overhear. She knows that I’m dating someone else.

    Your situation is probably identical to the lady in my yoga class. The only difference is that you weren’t informed of what else was going on.

    It’s possible to do everything correctly and still not get the man. But if you do everything correctly, you will manage to get one sooner than if you just fumble around randomly.

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  15. 14
    Laverie

    Karl R is one of the Male Voices of Reason on this blog and the reason I signed in to tell him so. I thank you and truly appreciate reading your words.
    Women should move on when a man does not pursue nor chase. I’m online dating after a icky breakup. Took five months off to study myself and bone up on dating. Using all of Evans advice I bought the book Why He Disappeared it’s very wise. Taking my time vetting men it feels good I’m not nervous about dating anymore.
    Karl, this quote is the best!
    “It’s possible to do everything correctly and still not get the man. But if you do everything correctly, you will manage to get one sooner than if you just fumble around randomly.”

  16. 15
    Ames

    Omg–I thought I was the only one who hid my profile! I’m not the hottest girl–honest guyfriends have said I’m a 7 which seems accurate. I’ve had emails anywhere from artifically affectionate in the first mail to guys wanting a cuckholdry situation to all things in between. Hiding a profile can allow a woman to cherry pick only the men she wants to talk to. Just don’t take it personally when they don’t all respond. Why wouldn’t she want to stop the flood of emails? While it may inflate her ego it can make it really hard to focus on the good eggs. My only warning is to expand your search a bit farther from your ultimate preferences lest you lose out on some super guys who aren’t in perfect packaging.

  17. 16
    ADW

    “I remember meeting a woman on Match.com in 2002. We dated for six weeks and I remember asking her about her experience. She told me that she received over 500 emails in her first week. How many guys did she write back to? Five. That’s 495 guys who got silence in return for their emails. This reinforces why women are NOT obliged to write back polite rejection letters…”
    They wouldn’t get that many if they would do some of the work, too. Plus there would be few enough that she COULD have actually written back. This is a problem partly created by women, so she WAS obliged to it, in spite of numbers. Several hundred of those 500 guys who sent e-mails probably poured their hearts and souls into it.

  18. 17
    Jenn

    I really find it extremely difficult to believe that one woman received 500 emails in a week!!  There is no way that is true…if she was that amazing then why is she on a dating site?  She would just have to walk outside her front door and guys would flock to hershe is lying thru her teeth!
    As for the guys initiating contact and then disappearing…they are assholes!  Why play with people’s minds and get their hopes up and waste their time??  You can date more than one person before deciding which one you wanna be exclusive with! That guy that played the yoga girl was a jerk…he conveniently let her overhear that he was dating someone else??  Are you in junior high??  Now that woman is left wondering why you bothered flirting in the first place?  Why couldn’t you have dated both women and then make the decision of who u wanted to be ur girlfriend?  GUYS, STOP WASTING OUR TIME AND PLAYING WITH OUR MINDS!!

  19. 18
    neatz

    Right,
     
    This cute guy crossed the road to say hello and gave me his card, I cant remember if he said call me? anyway what did it for me is that he stroked my hand, and it wooed me.
    I went to his website fell inlove with his Art and a picture of him, which is amazing and sent him an email, singing his praise, and he never replied!, I realised that he’d have this effect on most females, whom its possible that he would stop them also in the street too.
     
    I don’t like rejection like the best of us, dejavu here, however, its not even about rejection its about common decency, if you invite someone to contact you and you don’t reply? that is rude, I don’t have B.O. so what could the reason be another female? obviously, someone younger! slimmer, I just wish he’d dropped me a line, out of common decency.
     
    Still, lots of fish in the sea I guess, Artists hey! and their muses waiting in a line queuing up , well not me! aster la vista….I might even do a sit up!

  20. 19
    Ann

    Elana, thank you but your response gives women false hope. It seems (and I could be wrong) that those men you followed up with DID end up going on a few dates with you but ultimately it didn’t work out because they were never interested in a relationship with you.  Yes it hurts but it’s usually best to not follow up because it seems too eager and the ones that respond are doing so usually out of boredom.  The exceptions are IMHO if you are just online dating for fun (I am not) or if this guy is an actual friend or a friend of a friend, just to clear the air. The non response after a few long emails thing happened to me recently and though a few friends told me to follow up with him I chose not to because a) we have never met and therefore he cannot be rejecting me, he’s just rejecting a few random photos (guys I HAVE met tell me I look much prettier in person and my friends agree, I’m just not photogenic, and I know women that practically post glamour shots that are shockingly not representative of what they look like in person) and emails and sentences I typed in a few emails and b) we live 5 hours apart.  I’ll never see this guy and even if I did I doubt he’ll even recognize me. We women need to maintain our diginity. Yes, DO show interest and be enthusiastic when he is reciprocating but when he drifts away, we should disappear as well. :-)

  21. 20
    Ashley

    I’ve got a related question that maybe Evan or another guy can answer. What if the guy has written back a few times and you’ve started to have a conversation, and the guy just stopped writing back all of a sudden? Did he decide LATER he wasn’t attracted? Did I say something wrong? And in this situition, is it still better to not send a follow up email?? Ugh, this is why online dating blows.
     
    Any advice would be great 

  22. 21
    Henriette

    @Ashley20 – I’m not a guy but I can assure you that in online dating ~ just as in “real life dating” ~ it’s impossible to know what another person is thinking.  Maybe this correspondant didn’t like something you wrote; maybe he met someone (online or in real life) whom he found more appealing and decided to stop pursuing you in order to pursue her;  maybe he thought you were nice but not so wonderful that he wanted to continue to be in contact with you; maybe his mother just died… 
    We can’t know why a guy disappears with no warning but we CAN take this as a sign that he wasn’t the right person for us and keep moving on.

  23. 22
    Dekla

    I think all this is theorical bullshit and people, both men and women, try to follow some unwritten books of how to date or approach the other person online. There are no rules, except those that you create in your mind. If you like someone you approach whatever it is a her or his. The other person will go back to you anyway. On the other hand, this “I am the woman and the man should make the first move” is pure bullshit. Both men and women have become lazy in reaching the other, I do admit that women make it difficult because they want to look like sluts. Which is also bullshit because women want more sex than men sometimes. This social interactivity sicks me.

  24. 23
    JustMe

    Jenn #17
    Please…the majority of women on dating sites play nonstop with the men that contact them. Countless men initiate contact with women and they never receive a reply. Stop whining, get off your pedestal, and grow up.

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