Adventures in Online Dating, Volume 3

Week 4 in Online Dating Bootcamp was a jam-packed session. We have so much information to cover in such a short period of time that I’m sure I talk a mile a minute. But everyone was in attendance and – thru the miracle of modern technology – was able to look at my desktop as we searched thru the men on Joanna’s favorites list..

And, in no time, the entire class learned that the goal of your first email is not to issue a compliment or find some shared interest – but simply to make the other person smile.

Here’s what Joanna had to say about it…

The entire class learned that the goal of your first email is not to issue a compliment or find some shared interest — but simply to make the other person smile.

During Week 4, Evan taught us a couple of techniques for writing initial emails to people on our favorites list. The first method, called “opinion openers”, was pretty self explanatory — you write and offer up your observation about something (from NPR to Gaddafi to the Da Vinci Code). Instead of stating a fact (“I like biking, too!”) that leads nowhere, you get an opportunity to start a conversation. The second method was called “fun fiction”. You choose something written in a profile and apply it to yourself in a fake way. Not easy! Evan said that the element of surprise is what will make the reader laugh (and hopefully respond). He illustrated the technique, using a profile comment about a man who “liked Mexican and Italian food and could cook it too”. The fun fiction email then became “My patented chimichanga parmesan recipe was rejected by Taco Bell!” There’s a little more to it, but you get the point.


Finally, I had a way to write to more people, since most profiles are generic and don’t give you a lot of good material with which to work. I decided to make my first feeble attempt with fun fiction. I chose one of my favorite guys, and picked the phrase “girl next door” out of his profile. I wrote that it is tough being the girl next door to him – we don’t have front porches these days, so he can’t be out there catching the aroma of the brownies I have cooking in the oven. Plus, there was that dodgy association with Hugh Hefner. 🙂 I closed confidently, as Evan recommended.

Guess what?

He wrote back the same day, said he liked my email/profile/pictures (thanks/thanks/thanks Evan) and by the way, if I was curious, he liked his brownies without nuts.

It worked!

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  1. 1
    Curly Girl

    Very good stuff! But how does this work if you’re just a dullard, looking for another dullard? I know lots of nice folks who would be/are great in relationship but can’t do the clever wordsmithing thing, don’t take great photos, etc. In other words, they are not new-media-friendly.

    (I’m not a dullard myself, of course. Just thinking more broadly about online dating and how “media values” are affecting relationships.)

  2. 2
    Mikko Kemppe - Relationship Coach

    Great advice!
    @ Curly Girl, I think it is tough luck out there for the nice dullards in the on-line dating world, and I think Evan’s response would be that they should just step up their game and learn more and maybe take one of his courses or at the very least atleast subscribe to his e-mail list. I don’t think that would be a bad idea.

  3. 3

    I am always clever (see, wasn’t that funny?), but I wish I’d gone the making-things-up-so-blatantly-they-know-you’re-kidding route when I was online dating.

    Though, this would work well in a variety of contexts where you’re interacting with people you don’t know well (say, the local chapter of your alum club).

  4. 4
    Evan Marc Katz


    I would suggest a headline that says “Dullard Seek Dullard for Lifetime of Boredom and Unstimulating Conversation”.

    Then again, that might be read as sarcastic, thus undermining the dullard claim. Damn.

    Anyway, my “technique” for writing first emails isn’t really brain surgery – it’s only asking people to express their personality in writing. As you’ve probably noticed, you tend to state facts in your emails: “you like golf…I like golf”, which isn’t nearly as interesting as your OPINION on golf:

    “Perhaps if we moved all the homeless people to golf courses, we could solve the housing crisis. Of course, that would put a bunch of greenskeepers out of business…”

    Make ’em laugh, make ’em think, always leave ’em wanting more…


  5. 5

    This is good stuff…I like it!
    And Curly I agree with you- the people that aren’t new media friendly, and don’t have active social lives are kinda SOL unless they change something about themselves.

  6. 6

    Well, apparently not everyone gets the “fun fiction” kind of response…I just tried it and got this back, “I see what you did there…you took things that I find interesting and blended them all together as a joke. How droll.”

  7. 7

    As to Leah’s post – that’s terrific! You’ve just weeded out a humorless fellow. Would you want to spend the rest of your life with a man who couldn’t share a laugh with you?

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