How Can Your 2/2/2 Rule for Online Dating Still Work When Many Don’t Use Email?

online dating still work

I’m writing about your 2/2/2 rule from Finding the One Online. Since you originally came up with it, the online experience has changed significantly when it comes to email. Many people rarely use a desktop and, instead, rely on their phones for most online communication. As a result, email communication has dropped significantly while texting has risen.

I‘ve messaged several men who never use email. So suggesting to them that we communicate that way is awkward for them. Some have tried and it’s very obvious right from the start that they never use email because it doesn’t make sense on a phone on which texting is so much easier and the norm.

As a professional writer, email is right up my alley. But trying to stick to 2/2/2 when the same is not true for many men is difficult to say the least.

So can you update the second part of the 2/2/2 rule to reflect the reality that, for many people these days, email is virtually obsolete?


Thank you, Barbara, for the email, and for the reminder to my readers that, yes, in fact, times change, advice changes, and even things that are called “rules” are really more like “guidelines.”

To recap, for those of you who aren’t aware of the 2/2/2 Rule. It was something I came up with when I was a single guy in the early 2000’s. Most guys were writing one line emails that said, “Hey, you’re hot! Here’s my number. Let’s meet!” and, as a result, struggled mightily with online dating.

I, on the other hand, really enjoyed online dating because I chose to slow down when everyone else was speeding up. While other guys were angling for quick coffee dates and pushing to get laid, I just wrote a few more emails on the dating site, moved to regular email for a few emails, scheduled a phone call and a follow up, and THEN set up a first date. At that point in time — merely a week later — we would feel so comfortable with each other that a first date would feel like a second date.

I told women to apply this principle to online dating in my Finding the One Online program in 2008. By offering templates and a technique that would slow men down and yet make the interaction fun and playful, women could avoid going on all those bad soul-sucking dates with total strangers.

Most of the people who complain about modern dating are complaining about the very methods they’re employing to date: dating apps, texting and social media. My answer to them: STOP DATING THIS WAY.

The 2/2/2 rule (2 emails on the dating site, 2 emails on Gmail, and 2 phone calls before a date) helped so many women that one of my clients suggested I do a TEDx talk about it in 2014. If you have 18 minutes to spare, you can watch it here, as nearly a half million other people already have.

The criticisms — apart from the personal ones about my eyes, hair, ears and voice — were predictable:

“I just want meet as quickly as possible to see if there’s chemistry.”

2/2/2 allows you to build trust, rapport, and excitement over the course of a few days, thereby allowing you to screen out most of the awful, angry, unintelligent men — and, in turn, have better first dates.

If you prefer meet a total stranger who swiped right on your face, good luck with that.

“Guys do all the work. Women only like tall, rich, white guys. Life is unfair.”

Read the YouTube comments on my TEDx Talk and you will hear from lots angry men who put in a lot of energy to online dating with little reward. To some extent, they have a point. It’s really competitive to get the attention of a beautiful woman online. And while they can’t necessarily control their height, weight, age, race, education or income, they can certainly do better with their marketing: namely writing better profiles that attract women and writing better emails to stand out from the crowd. That’s what 2/2/2 is about if you choose to learn how to do it right.

Finally, there’s your criticism, Barbara:

“Nobody emails anymore. It’s all about texting.”

Yes and no.

  • Yes, you’re correct that texting is the dominant form of communication.
  • Yes, it’s true that many people aren’t tethered to their desktops any longer.
  • Yes, it’s true that the millennial generation has a completely different relationship to technology.
  • Yes, it’s true that men like instant gratification. They don’t want to waste time, don’t want to discover you don’t look like your photo, don’t want to wait for sex. Thus, anything that slows them down can send them into a minor tizzy of annoyance.

And yet… And yet…

The concept behind 2/2/2 isn’t really about 2 emails, 2 Gmails and 2 phone calls before a date.

It’s about making a connection BEFORE you meet instead of meeting and hoping to connect.

It’s about going back to a time that most people enjoyed — a time when dating was more personal — a time that it was expected for men to make some sort of effort for women.

Listen, I hold no judgment for anyone who doesn’t like the old way. Takes too much time. Costs too much money. Doesn’t guarantee a great first date.

The problem — as I see it — is that most of the people who complain about modern dating are complaining about the very methods they’re employing to date: dating apps, texting and social media.

My answer to them: STOP DATING THIS WAY.

There are men who will answer a few playful questions on a dating site.
There are men who use email at work and will jump when you offer to send him a photo there.
There are men who will be glad to call you on his commute home.
There are men who will make a plan at the end of the phone call.

The idea is that you make a verbal connection on the dating site by being a great conversationalist, you only give a guy your phone number right if he earns it, and if you do give him your number, you’re better off setting up a specific time for him to call.

My point is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to online dating, but if you’re unhappy doing it one way, you’d be wise to consider another way.

Most people decry the shallow, impersonal approach of swiping and texting. Everybody’s being judged on their photo. Everybody’s got 10-20 text conversations going. Everybody ghosts without a trace.

So what feedback do I get? Change your 2/2/2 rule to accommodate this objectively less intimate way of getting to know someone! Sorry, folks. I may not be able to singlehandedly kill Tinder and texting, but I can certainly encourage you to become less reliant on it — especially when it’s frustrating you.

Moral of the story: 2/2/2 isn’t iron-clad. I don’t give a shit if you exchange five emails on the dating site or if you have one phone call instead of two. The idea is that you make a verbal connection on the dating site by being a great conversationalist, you only give a guy your phone number right if he earns it, and if you do give him your number, you’re better off setting up a specific time for him to call.

If you don’t — if you say it’s impossible – I predict a lot more swiping and texting in your future, all because you insist that you have no choice in the matter.

You do.

Here are a bunch of other women who followed my old-school ideas — and discovered men who would email, call, plan and pay — all because it was fun and in their best interest.

Join our conversation (94 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1
    Sum Guy

    Great advice.   And over about a week…perfect time frame.

    I’m surprised it needs to be said as it is such common sense.     As a guy I want to do this to see if there is some basic compatibility and as you say, it gives us something to talk about on the first date.

    I do wonder about the phone call.   This hasn’t been much a part of my experience as I find it very  awkward to talk to a person over the phone I haven’t met in person.   The visual cues are very important (even when you pick up on them sub-consciously) in a personal conversation.   I do it all the time for work so feel I slip into a formal business persona, blech. 🙂



  2. 2

    Sometimes it’s fun to thrown in the wild card into the dating game. A cute guy messages you asking for a quick meetup and you have coffee next day. Best scenario: It’s a fun way to pass a few hours and you might meet a really nice man who just doesn’t have the skills to write scintillating e-mails and/or texts.

    Having said that, it’s a crapshoot and  the best dates which lead to anything significant in my experience, they ALL had a buildup of steady messaging on either the dating site or in subsequent  e-mails.  A man  who makes the effort to engage with you before the meetup is the kind of man who will be present and engaged during the dates. It really doesn’t take that much time to write up a thoughtful e-mail which expresses an interest in getting to know you. Texting someone is ok, as long as there is the same curiosity in getting to know you. If you can’t be patient enough to get to know someone in this low stakes way, don’t be surprised if you end up on some truly bad dates as you have no way to screen the people you meet beforehand. My bad dates (in the dark pre-Evan ages)  that included little messaging beforehand included, yet are not limited to,   the guy who started crying  about his ex  midway through the date  and showed me a poem he had written about their recent breakup,   the guy who got really pissed i wasn’t spiritual even though my profile clearly states i am an atheist and the ‘single’  guy who kept one of his hands underneath the table only to pick up his fork during the main course, thereby showing off  his shiny wedding ring (‘i am an honest man, i would never take it off for a date’).

    The only part i have had limited experience with is the phone call. I have suggested it for men who live farther away as i wanted to see whether our conversation would be worth a train fare. I can’t say i found anything that i wouldn’t have found out with a few subsequent messages. If you are not a phone person i feel you can skip this last part, but getting to know someone before you meet is a must. Weeding out the time wasters means you have more time and a sunnier attitude  for the nice guys who are worth the investing the time and effort in order to get to know them.


    1. 2.1

      I tend to take my cue from the woman.

      If her response to me and the question she asks back is entirely focused on my message, I’m very likely to ask her to get together in my second email. I figure meeting in person is going to make all the difference for her, might as well not waste time.

      If her response references something in my profile (very rare in 2016), I am more likely to wait till the third email and build something up. The third email is where, in my experience, the woman will stop asking questions back (i.e. “Ask me out or go away.”)

      Then again, I generally like a solid majority of the women I meet. (I generally try to pick profiles that say something interesting.) if I message her, I assume I’m going to like her. Not always right, but whether it’s true has no relationship to number of emails exchanged. So I’m not really the target market for this advice.

  3. 3
    Yet Another Guy

    I met my ex on Match in 1997; therefore, I consider myself to be an on-line dating pioneer. However, things have changed quite a bit in the last two decades. I hold STEM undergraduate and graduate degrees and so does my ex. STEM graduates were disproportionately represented on Match in the nineties. Today, Match is a more mainstream service with a more mainstream membership, many of whom take liberties with their profiles.

    With that said, it did not take long to realize that I had to change my screening process when I re-entered the date pool. I will never meet a woman until I have exchanged enough mail on the site to trust her with my cell number (I am talking about messages of significant length, not text message-size messages). I will then exchange a few texts with her before switching to voice. Any woman who will not switch to voice is written off. I am far less shy on the telephone than I am in person. My philosophy is that if I cannot hold a conversation with a woman on the telephone, I sure as heck cannot hold one with her in person. The women who make it past the hour mark on a voice conversation are the women that I meet.

    1. 3.1

      How do the phone conversations usually go? Do both of you feel immediately at ease or does it take a while before the conversation flows?

      I have only done the phone call a couple of times, as i was reluctant to make a man ill at ease before meeting (some people really don’t like talking to someone they have never met over the phone).

      1. 3.1.1
        Yet Another Guy

        Lately, I have been having at least two telephone conversations with a woman before meeting her. I have learned not to rush into things. I usually spend at least a week getting to know a woman online before meeting. As Evan mentioned, a first date feels more like a second date using this approach. A first date can feel more like a job interview without this groundwork. How many people enjoy going on job interviews? Plus, a guy who is willing to take the time to get to know you a little before meeting you is more likely to be less shallow when it comes to looks. Guys who tend to want to rush to meet you in person want to inspect the merchandise.

        With respect to flow, I am used to talking to women. I grew up with sisters and have daughters. If you want to be happy, you need to target men who grew up in a house full of sisters. There is nothing effeminate about me (I played football and was a gym rat for a large number of years); however, I know women in way that most men who grew up with all brothers do not. Men who have sisters also tend to be kinder than men who do not have sisters.

        1. sophia

          @Yet Another Guy:

          Amen to the “target men who…full of sisters”, I so agree AND agree to the phone call before meeting to see how the conversation flows and even IF it flows.   I come across way too many men who are only able to type ” how was your morning?”, “how was your day?”,   “Hope you’re having a great day” and I am left wondering to myself ” do they really want to get to know me or not?”. Hmmmm.

          Can I ask (to Yet), if you are interested in a woman you “meet” online, do you allow days to go by without any contact? Again, if 2-3 days go by without any contact, I feel the guy’s interest level is low and then MY interest level drops to subzero- without ill intent, just a natural reaction. Sigh…(and I move on!)

          Thanks and I learned something new today: MATCH existed in 1997! ha ha.

        2. Yet Another Giuy


          I attempt to continue the   dialogue on a daily basis until we meet.   If a guy is not communicating with you on a daily basis after the initial contact is made, he is more than likely still in candy store mode.   Guys who are at this stage of online dating should be avoided like the plague by any woman who is looking for a long-term relationship.

          I originally joined Match shortly after it was founded in 1995.   Match was a free service at that point in time. Early members became ” plank owners” when Match started to charge new members for the service. Plank owners did not have to pay for the service.


        3. John


          Would you say that men should not date a woman who doesn’t have any brothers? Would a woman be less kind to men if she had only sisters??




        4. Yet Another Guy


          Women who grow up without brothers can have a difficult time relating to/living with men, especially if their father was absent from their home. However, men are the inferior gender when it comes to emotions and compassion.

  4. 4
    Thea Dunlap

    Great advice since I am still reluctant to sign up for online dating. This will be quite helpful for me 🙂

  5. 5

    After numerous painful and awkward phone conversations, I decided to just email a bit longer unless the guy suggested the phone call.   After about a week of exchanging witty, heartfelt emails, that felt more like a conversation, we met for a ” coffee date ” walking distance from my house.   Coffee morphed into a walk, then appetizers, then a movie.   I am glad I didn’t try and maneuver a phone call prior to meeting, as he later told me he is uncomfortable talking on the phone.   If I had tried to maneuver a phone call, an awkward conversation could have derailed this relationship with my fiance who is a WONDERFUL partner !

    1. 5.1
      Yet Another Guy

      Words cannot begin to describe how much I loathe coffee dates. I would never suggest a coffee date to any woman I actually want to meet. It demonstrates that I am unwilling to make an investment in her, not to mention a lack of creativity. If my date is going to set aside the time to make herself presentable, the least I can do is make an effort to demonstrate that she matters, regardless of the outcome.

      Maybe it is because I am an older man who grew up during a different time, but it appears to me that most young men are clueless when it comes to courting women. If a man takes the time to make every woman that he meets feel special, he will leave each meeting feeling special instead feeling like he wasted his time. There is absolutely nothing like the glow on a woman’s face when she is happy. It makes a man feel good about being a man. It is a feeling that he cannot get from his male friends.

      1. 5.1.1

        Some women prefer coffee dates for first dates. I know I do. It’s casual, it’s low pressure. I’ve also never been a fan of “creative” dates because the thing that I enjoy most probably in the world is conversation. Conversation is the best thing ever for me, more than a fancy restaurant, rock climbing, going to the fair, or riding a tandem bike. If I can have a great conversation in a simple setting like a coffee shop with a guy, that’s something truly special to me.

        I guess my point is, I suppose it would be simply a matter of us not being compatible, but would you respect a woman’s choice to want to go for a coffee date at the expense of your desire to prove to her you think she matters by your definition of it if that was what she truly wanted? To me that is mark of the ultimate gentleman, a man who puts aside his ideas of romance and seeks to woo  the woman in his life by listening to what she finds romantic and special, not insisting on what he believes she ought to find such.



        1. Nissa

          Totally agree, Callie.

        2. Yet Another Guy

          I still would not go on a coffee date because the inverse is also true. If I am going to make an effort to meet a woman, I have set aside precious time to do so. If I am so unsure about my date that I need the convenient out that a coffee date provides, I am not being selective enough before I ask her out. That is why I started using my current screening process. I interview a woman before I meet her, not on my first date with her. I already know that I am going to like her when we meet. The $10K question is will we have physical chemistry. I have had pre-date telephone conversations that have lasted over four hours. I was literally amazed when I looked at the call duration on my cell phone. I finally came to the conclusion that any woman with whom I cannot hold a one-hour telephone conversation is not good date material for me.

        3. Callie

          So you are saying that your personal preference trumps hers (btw not every woman chooses a cafe because it’s an easy out, some of us like it because they are cozy and they enjoy hot beverages). Good to know.

        4. Karen

          I’m with Calie on this – I prefer coffee dates and a walk in the park near my home for first dates.

          The same reasons she outlined – one more is this: I watch my diet diligently as a rule – I’m a fitness buff and now especially I’m working on getting in shape for the beach. I go on 1-2 dates a week. If I say something about watching my diet, a lot of guys will freak out thinking that I’m obsessed or they won’t measure up or whatever. It’s not that I don’t enjoy food, I do, but I’d rather have a nice meal on a second or third date.

          Coffee is easy – I can fit it into my daily macros and even split a muffin or avocado toast and I don’t have to even mention my diet.

      2. 5.1.2


      3. 5.1.3

        YOG – I followed his lead and accepted his coffee date for Sunday morning,mand left the rest of the day open in case we hit it off and wanted to extend the date.   Obviously, my fiance didn’t hate coffee dates since he suggested it.   And since that ” coffee date” turned into a full day of activities a 2 year relationship and an engagement, anthem it all went well.   Different strokes for different folks.   When I was in OLD, I would generally follow a guys lead, unless he suggested an hour’s long or extremely expensive activity.    One man tried to impress me by offering expensive tickets to live theater in his very first email to me.   I declined.

        1. SparklingEmerald

          Hour’s should be hours as in several and anthem should be obviously.   Stupid auto correct

      4. 5.1.4

        @Yet Another Guy, Yes! I absolutely  LOVE online dating, meeting people for the first time, getting to know  them, but  I very much  dislike coffee dates! I love the nervousness of meeting someone for the first time and then just having a great time with them 🙂 Honestly I’ve had a great time on all the dates I’ve gone on, and only had one “bad” one. But the funny thing is the bad one is also the funniest and makes the best story, so it’s kinda like one of my favorites was the WORST one XD

        And yes to your screening process as well. I have the same philosophy – long phone calls and great conversation before going on a date, but IF you go on a date, do it right!

      5. 5.1.5

        Totally agree with that. Coffee dates are so not enjoyable to me I’d never accept one. Coffee shops are noisy, smelly, with hipsters on their laptops – i just don’t ever enjoy even being there, not to mention, i like to dress up and do my hair/makeup for a date and to do it for a coffee shop? Nah.

  6. 6

    I definitely agree that phone calls and trying to make things as old school as possible is a good idea if you’re after a quality relationship & want to avoid some of the pitfalls of online dating. The only thing I struggle with is when I know at the end of the phone call there’s no way I want to meet this person (creepy, awkward, says something I know won’t work for me) it can be tricky to let them know that. But I don’t think there’s anyway around that.

    One thing I would say is that having just completing FTOO course in 2016, there are a few things that don’t apply anymore as dating sites are now mostly app based rather than being on websites (with the traditional emailing format with a subject header replaced with the app style of texting). All of the principles still apply, but the poster is right that a few of the things in the program are slightly outdated. I just took the underlying concept and apply it to the current format.

  7. 7

    If you’ve read Have Him At Hello, you know that a lot of men (as per the book) judge a lot based on what information is provided to them on the very first dates, without really putting that information into a context. This makes me hesitant to reveal too much too soon.

    You know, I’d love to know what you guys would LIKE to talk about on these first phone calls. What questions do you want us to ask, and why? For example, I don’t ask about a man’s work anymore, because I’ve heard so many men say that to them, it implies that a woman is digging for info about his income / wealth / lifestyle. I don’t ask much about families because that’s seen as so personal. I usually ask about hobbies or food, but sometimes I get stuck when the man in question won’t elaborate.

    1. 7.1
      Yet Another Guy

      What is the age range of the men with whom you are communicating? Have they previously been married? If so, what was the duration? There is a huge difference between men who bail during the first seven years and those who truly attempt to honor their vows. It takes a lot of work and compromise to make a marriage work, especially after children arrive. Children stress test a marriage.

      My telephone conversations are all over the place. I have been married and have children. Most of the women I meet have been married and have children. I do not have a problem discussing what I do for a living. I do not date down. I tend to date women who are my intellectual equals. I am not afraid of smart women. It is not difficult to hold a conversation with a smart woman.

    2. 7.2

      Hi Nissa

      You asked about questions to ask on the first phone call. I will suggest some subjects that you can form questions around.

      Ask about:

      his favorite color

      foods he enjoys

      vacation spots he has been to or would like to visit

      hobbies and passions

      Why these types of subjects?

      They are light topics that can give you insight to the guys personality, sense of humor or lack thereof without being too personal too quickly.

      The above subjects are also not interview questions, which most guys don’t like.

      I’ve had women ask me about my job, home ownership and if I’d been married two minutes after I’ve introduced myself. I don’t answers those questions directly. I’ll say things like, “I’m a professional underwater basket weaver.” I might say, “I own a home on Mars, but I rent when I’m visiting the Earth.”   We live in an age where many people want to much information immediately. I prefer going slow. Have you ever sat next to someone on an airplane and in a one hour flight, have them regurgitate their entire life story? They tell you they just been divorced, got out of jail last week and recently had a deadly form of cancer removed. Yuck.


    3. 7.3

      Thanks for the replies. Age range for me would be 40 – 50. I’m divorced with no children, but dogs :-). Since I don’t have kids and my family is out of state, I have almost no kid experience. So for me that is not usually a topic of conversation.

      Also my  passion of personal emotional development is not mainstream, so I don’t drop that until after the third date (when I have, I spend the whole date explaining it). I think for me that’s the real problem – a lot of my life is outside the mainstream, and I’m trying to avoid those topics until I know the guy better. When I’m with people I know, we are discussing politics  / Libertarianism vs Capitalism /  personal growth  / the  effects of rate  hikes by the Fed / minimalism vs materialism / Kabbalah / Paleo vs SAD /  which butter is the best (I don’t see the appeal of Kerrygold). You know – things  that are not appropriate for first dates.   I have to be careful not to stun them with things they’ve never thought about.

      I have tried asking about foods but I get answers like “you know, American. Chinese sometimes.” Which I don’t like to ask because I have alternative eating habits, which people assume are weird before people get to know me (I eat  only once a day, and regularly fast, as in no food for 24 – 48 hours). Makes you realize how many events revolve around food, especially dates. Even when I ask about cars or hobbies, I tend to get very short answers.  Men say things like “I went to Mexico two years ago. Awesome waves and the fishing was sweet!” If I ask what movies they like, I get responses like “Fast and Furious Six  had badass cars, it was great”. Which sometimes stuns me into silence, lol.

      Truthfully I’d like the man to pick a few topics of conversation to which I could respond. To me, if the man is not leading the conversation, he’s probably not going to lead the relationship either. I’ll take  word vomit over silence any day. I greatly desire a man who has something !anything! to say. Tell me about your day, your dog you had as a kid, your best friend in high school, the last book you read, a funny commercial you saw, why the DNC is collapsing, why you love your car. And in person, conversation is great.

      And to be honest, the men often enjoy our conversations and think we’re getting along great, only to be disappointed when I meet them and I see within five minutes that there is less than a five in chemistry. Evan’s right that limiting yourself to 8-10 chemistry is a poor idea, but less than five means you are getting the hopes up of a person you’d never accept.

      1. 7.3.1

        Nissa said, “Truthfully I’d like the man to pick a few topics of conversation to which I could  respond. To me, if the man is not leading the conversation, he’s probably not going to lead the relationship either.”

        So true. I am happy to hear your looking for a man that leads the relationship. My point is that if he can’t give you anymore than one word or one sentence answers, he may be quite underdeveloped. It sounds like you’re into personal development and healthy eating. It’s going to take a   more conscious guy to get where you’re coming from.

        1. Nissa

          Aww, thank you John. I love that you saw that. I am looking for someone who is into me – me the person, not my looks or my family name. It’s true that sometimes those answers mean he’s underdeveloped. But it’s also true that sometimes it means he’s been through a hard divorce, or is a little worried about being seen as a moving wallet, or he likes me enough to be a little tongue tied.

          I’m hoping that since I’m in Southern California, the deck is stacked in my favor of finding a man who will flash me a little personality and vulnerability. Fingers crossed 🙂

        2. Yet Another Guy


          That is exactly what I was going to write. Nissa needs to stop believing that a guy will get her when she reveals her true self after a few dates. If Nissa cannot be herself on the first date, she is with the wrong man. She is making the number one mistake that women make when selecting a man; namely, attempting a find one with the right material and then mold him. Nissa, if a man is not exactly what you want from day one, you are with the wrong man.

          Speaking of women holding things back until after a couple of dates, my profile is 100% accurate, and I expect the women that I meet to have profiles that are 100% accurate, including, but not limited to the age on their profiles to match their chronological ages. Women seem to think that it is okay to fib about their age. It is not okay with me. Relationships are based on trust, and trust is earned. If a woman will lie about something as trivial as her age, she will lie about more important things that she believes will affect my desire for her. If a man desires a woman younger than your chronological age, it is a fallacy to assume that he will be okay with you dropping the bomb on him after he gets to know you. I even dislike when women confess to lying about their age in the narrative section of their profiles. That maneuver yields a big fat “next profile” from me.

          The moral of the story is to be true to yourself, and tell the truth from the start. Sure, being open and honest will limit the number of men who find you to be a good match, but you only need to find one who loves you for you. Being you from the start reduces the amount of chaff through which you have to sort.

        3. Emily, the original

          Yet Another Guy,

          If Nissa cannot be herself on the first date, she is with the wrong man.

          Idk. It’ hard to be yourself and be relaxed on a first date, particularly if you really like the person. Then you get nervous and choked up.

      2. 7.3.2

        Darling YAG,

        Yes, you have a valid point. One should always be honest and portray oneself truthfully. But – sometimes (both men and women) have preconceived ideas about what they want that turn out to be not quite true. For example, I told one person that I only ate once a day and he told me that 1) that means you are not an “easy” woman, you are difficult; and 2) he couldn’t be happy with someone who wouldn’t eat when he ate, even if they sat at the table with him.  He also was not willing to try it before he made that proclamation.

        I have another (female) friend who gets upset with me when she wants to drink, if I don’t want to drink with her. I don’t care if she does or doesn’t drink. She however can’t get past her self judgment enough to drink when the person she’s with is not also drinking. Sometimes people’s preconceived ideas about things interfere with the actual experience. So if I’m on a date, and he wants to order a drink, I don’t mention that I don’t drink. I’m not hiding it, but I also don’t want him to feel judged. Half a glass of wine won’t make a difference when he finds out I really prefer iced tea. I often don’t mention that I have a mostly Christian theology, because people often assume it means I have strict literal interpretation of the Bible and go to church weekly. I don’t. I’ve attended  5 kinds of church services, have Wiccan/Buddhist/Atheist/Kabbalist friends. I love learning about all the ways people seek truth. But a lot of people who have had a bad experience with traditional religions have an instinctive horror of anything which sounds like dogma. So I let them experience me as I am, before putting a label on it.

        In my mind, this is less of a thought that men won’t like me the way I am, than the thought that most people don’t know themselves very well. I expect that once I give them a context, like having a few dates, they will be able to make an informed choice.

        Notice that I am not asking the man to change in this instance, I am giving him a chance to reexamine his own ideas about what is important to him. I’ve had more than a few people tell me that “I would not have thought this, but now that I’ve met you, I believe it coming from you”. That kind of trust doesn’t usually happen in the space of a single date, and I think I would be asking for to much, if I did expect that.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          What you are doing is a recipe for you and your eventual spouse living separate lives within the same house. I am speaking from experience. I was with the same women for 19 years. I was 37 years old when we married. I had lived alone for many years. I was pretty much a confirmed bachelor with his own single family home. We had very different eating habits and diets. Over time, we stopped eating together. That led to the cessation of doing other things together, which finally led to separate vacations. At that point, our relationship was on a respirator. We slept in the same bed, but no intimate contact of any kind was shared. Divorce is just a matter of time after a couple reaches that point in their relationship.

        2. Nissa


          I see what you are saying, but that’s why it’s good to share that info while you are boyfriend/girlfriend. It gives them a chance to see if they want to do that for the rest of their lives or not. If not, no harm no foul.

  8. 8

    I’m the original poster. I dated in 2015 before I found Evan and his 2/2/2 rule and after. The rule, and learning how to interpret and apply other advice from him has definitely upped the quality of men I eventually meet for a date.

    Since using 2/2/2 this year, I think only a couple of men I’ve dated have suggested coffee for our first meeting. Another went on a walk with me and that’s all–with no further contact, which was fine with me because he was only interested in talking about himself. All the others took me to dinner, even if it was at a deli or during a happy hour. Most took me to mid-level restaurants and we hung a little after.

    I think this is because after spending time getting to know me, they would have felt awkward just taking me for coffee. They wanted to impress me and also allow us to get to know one another in a more intimate setting than a coffee shop. I say “impress” not because I think I’m better than anyone else, but because the men show up to my house and immediately give off the vibe that they want to make sure I like them. I do everything in my power (using skills I learned from Evan) to help them relax. They always do and we end up having a nice time.

    Recently one man did suggest coffee. Basically he said that was his way of screening women. We never met. Now I’m more selective, a guy who can’t  come pick me up and take me on a real first date, isn’t a guy I want to be with.

    That’s another thing I learned from Evan: In 2015, I’d meet a guy somewhere. Now when one suggests a meetup, I say something like: “You’d rather meet than pick me up at my place?” Each man has always seemed pleasantly surprised when I say that and jumped at the opportunity to come get me–even ones who live almost an hour away. Some have bought me flowers or plants. All but two came to the door immediately. The other two phoned me to tell me they were outside. I just didn’t answer the phone, which forced to pick me up at the door like gentlemen.

    I haven’t had a steady boyfriend this year but my dates have been fun and interesting, even with men I never saw after the first date. This is the most dating I’ve done in my life, including before I got married over twenty years ago.

    I’ve also gone on less dates than I did the year before I found Evan. That’s because 2/2/2 slows down the process and allows me to weed out men who are obviously not for me. Another thing: just recently, I’ve started not getting emotionally invested in men when we’re only just dating, not a committed couple. So I keep messaging two or more new men a day while still in contact with the one I went on date with. I used to stop using dating sites once I starting dating a guy. Now, as Evan suggests, I don’t do that anymore.

    My letter wasn’t about dumping the 2/2/2 rule. I never give my phone number to a man who hasn’t engaged in at least four online conversations. The man who sends only a few words in two or three messages in a row when I’ve clearly provided an opportunity for us to go deeper, gets written off. I tell him why because I refuse to ghost a man I’ve been talking to since I don’t like it when men do it to me: “I don’t continue conversations with men who only reply with a few words.” Often, in reply they will say they do better meeting in person or on the phone. To which I reply, the kind of man I’m looking for is comfortable communicating in writing.

    This is absolutely true. I wouldn’t feel comfortable dating a man who lacked written communication skills. He doesn’t have to be a college grad. He simply has to know how to construct a coherent, intelligent, and reasonably grammatically correct sentence in writing. We all make writing typos and flubs but a string of them is a red flag for me. My view is a man who can’t write well, probably can’t speak well either–I’m not into that kind of guy.

    My suggestion was about not making a big deal about written communication taking place via email when either dating site messaging or phone texting would serve the same purpose. Most of the men I’ve gone on dates with have been okay with using email. But when I man seems to have real potential and the only thing that would cancel him out is the fact that he never uses his phone’s email app, I don’t want to write him off over that.

    1. 8.1

      Hi Barbara:

      You sound as if you are doing an exemplary job at dating, kudos!

      You said that the 2/2/2 rule has slowed down the process of pre selecting the men who go out on a date with you. How much time on average a week do you spend getting to know them by this method and how many dates have you had this year?

      Evan recommends that you go on one pre screened date a week. I wasn’t always able to get that target due to much needed timeouts (after 6-7 first dates that didn’t have the necessary chemistry i need a break as it feels like sensory overload) and travel. Were you happy with the amount of men you have met? Did quality outstrip quantity?  I went on a grand total of 18 first dates. I keep a diary of sorts so it’s easy to tally up. While i am happy with the chances i got at finding someone, the chemistry was often so lacking, i wonder whether i should start a different method in the new year.


      1. 8.1.1

        I don’t no how old you are, Malika but I’m in my mid-fifties. I’m not the woman who has so many  uninitiated-by-me online messages that I don’t know what to do with myself.

        95% of the time, I send the first message. I’m a little OCD so I try not to feed that tendency by keeping count of anything. Still, I’d say I go on two to four dates a month. For me, that’s fine. They are typically quality dates. This year, if the first date hasn’t result in a second and third one, it’s typically been because I didn’t want one.   So I’m good with this number.

        1. Barbara

          P.S. When I say, I go on two to four dates each month, I mean first dates with two to four different men. This is compared to the number of dates I typically had each month before I got married at age thirty: zero.

    2. 8.2

      This raised my eyebrows: “a guy who can’t  come pick me up and take me on a real first date, isn’t a guy I want to be with.”

      This guy wouldn’t go on a real date with a woman I’ve never met.   With all the dating profile misrepresentations, ex-cons, and mental institution escapees online, why would I sign up to spend (Stacy2- cover your eyes)  $50-75   on a stranger?   If we meet a second time, sure, but never the first.   The first time for me is always something casual and light so we can kick each other’s tires  and assess whether more investment is appropriate.   I once went on a first date and ended up spending significant money (like more than $30) on someone I didn’t care for and that really pissed me off.   Never again.   She indulged without consideration and just expected me to take care of her.   That made her totally gross in my eyes.   I guess I could have abruptly cut things off but it seemed a bit rude.

      And a woman who asks a man to come into her house when she doesn’t know him is  just kind of crazy.   There are serious nutjobs online.   It would be a solid yellow or orange flag for me, unless we had a mutual friend or some other kind of assurance.

      1. 8.2.1
        Yet Another Guy

        You are cheap if you think that spending more than $30.00 on a first meeting is expensive. That comment tells me that you are doing the online dating equivalent of blindly throwing darts at a dartboard. I usually spend more double that amount on a cheap first meeting, which is why I fully qualify all of my dates in advance. I have usually Googled and case searched a woman before I meet her because I give her my full name ask her to Google and case search me (I live in a state where court records are automated). You would be surprised at the level of information a woman will share with you after she has determined that you are a man of honor who tells the truth. As I mentioned in other posts, relationships are based on trust, and trust is earned.

        1. ScottH

          dude- I was a little tongue in cheek on the $30 but in any case, yes, i can be cheap and don’t like wasting a dime or a minute on someone who misrepresents herself.   I’ve   been at this for quite a while and do know a thing or two about what I’m doing and have a pretty high 2nd date rate and have been told by more than a few women that I stand out as one of the good ones.   Thanks for your comment.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          I largely agree with YAG – there is no downside to treating each woman like she’s special and being generous with her. Gives you the best chance of a good first date. Holding back doesn’t really serve your greater purposes, anymore than a woman who “dresses down” on her first date so as not to get the guy’s hopes up for having sex. You have ONE chance to make a first impression: that doesn’t mean to spend $200 on a stranger, but it does mean not to count your pennies and treat each stranger as if she is important. YAG gets it.

        3. Callie

          Is it possible you and Scott are at two different income levels? What is “cheap” for you isn’t for everyone. And surely everyone deserves to date, not just the well off yes?

        4. Callie

          Oh never mind. I was wrong about my Scott theory.

          Though I am still curious, YAG, if you make allowances for men who are not as well off as yourself. Would you say  the goal is more to demonstrate a willingness to put your best foot forward, not spending a specific dollar amount?

        5. Yet Another Guy


          I can assure you that I am not wealthy. I earn a good living, but I also pay child support, so, yes, dating is a luxury.

          There is no excuse for being cheap on a date. If a guy has to pinch pennies because his dates are truly like boxes of chocolates, then he needs to do a better job of qualifying his dates. As I mentioned above, I usually know a woman’s last name before we meet. Heck, I usually know where she works. I build trust based on open and honest communication from the start. Women are usually amazed by how open I am during our exchanges. Most women my age can smell game a mile away.

        6. Callie

          I guess we are in different worlds then because spending 30$ on someone in my circle would be a definite expense to them. I think you have spent so much time in your world that you don’t understand that not everyone earns at the same level (even with familial obligations). That there are people who live under the poverty line and so on. And that such people still do deserve to experience the joy of dating, even if it’s not the expensive version you suggest.

          As to the rest of your explanation about your dates, on that we agree. I think it makes more sense to take a bit more time before meeting up, get to know a person a bit, rather than trying to just date as many as you can. But again I am not speaking as Scott here. My point wasn’t to suggest that someone with the means still date cheaply. I am speaking as me, as someone who’s social circle includes those who struggle to make ends meet despite working several jobs. $30 is a lot for them, and if they spent that on a date that would be a big deal relative to their personal financial worth.

          I assume you agree that  the amount spent on another person  is about actual value, not literal.

        7. Barbara

          You’re a classy guy, YAG.

          Many men could learn from your example. But I will say, women of my generation and our daughters and granddaughters have been guilty of settling for less than guys like you have to offer. Evan is showing us the light.

          Thanks for your insight.

        8. judy

          I once met a man in real life who did not want to spend $30 on me and instead invited me to lunch prepared by him in his home – we had talked about 15 minutes.   It struck me as unreal behaviour and I declined his invitation.

          Checking back with a mutual friend, (who does not have much of an income at the moment but who is decent), he said, hey, he can buy you a meal can’t he if he’s working?

          Correct, at least as far as I’m concerned.

          If a man behaves properly and does invite her out for a meal, and the date is not good, at least it sets the stage for respect and a pattern for her to expect in another relationship.   And naturally, the woman should at the very least expression appreciation.





      2. 8.2.2
        Emily, the original


        I’m with you. The first date should be a quick meet-n-great that gives both parties an easy out or … the possibility for more if things go well. Planning a long, expensive date with someone you have never met face to face could set both parties up for hours of a wasted evening.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          The question, Emily, is whether you ENJOY dating with quick meet-n-greets? Do you have a lot of good connections? Are you excited to meet guys? Do you really like the dating process with 45 minute coffee interviews? If so, keep doing what you’re doing. If not, my 2/2/2 rule (and Yet Another Guy’s mode of communication – getting to know someone for a week BEFORE the date to build up trust, rapport, and anticipation), in my opinion, is a far more enjoyable option.

        2. Emily, the original

          I’m not knocking your advice, but, actually, yes, I do enjoy a shorter first date. The last one I had was with a man I had already met face to face (briefly). He wanted to make it a whole evening but I suggested lunch and was glad I did. It’s less pressure and more relaxed, and spending 2 hours was more than enough.

      3. 8.2.3


        For me, it’s never about how much money a man spends on a date. LikE Evan says, it’s about his effort.

        As I mentioned in my first comment, I’ve gone to a deli for a first date and a happy hour with appetizers as the meal In both cases, I got the impression the men could have afforded more expensive venues but I didn’t refuse to go on a date because of that. Same with the man who walked on the park with me. That was actually a nice idea. His self absorbtion is what spoiled it.

        Another man drove 45 minutrs to take me to a free art show and dinner at the House of Blues because his job had given him coupons for there. We had a nice tome.   On our second date, he took me to a indie movie at a local art institute. Afterward, he asked if I was hungry. I was but I could tell he didn’t have much money left after buying the movie tickets   (at his suggestion, we’d left the movie early because it was confusing). Since he didn’t know the area and vaguely wondered where we could go, I suggested the nearby Chipolte. He was clearly relived because he could afford it. On date three, he made us a simple dinner at his house and made sure to have a brand of wine I like.

        Because of the consistent effort he made, even though he never spent a lot of money, I never felt he was cheap.

        I can tell when a man is using our first date like it’s a test drive. That’s a total turn off for me..


        1. ScottH

          Barbara- I agree that it’s not about how much money is spent.   I have found that meeting  for happy hour at a nice restaurant is very effective- classy environment and not a significant expense, and an easy out if desired.   My point is that even if you spend a week or two getting to know someone via email and phone, you don’t even know if they look anything like their pictures.   I’ve met enough women who don’t look like their pics and also aren’t what they make themselves out to be or what I think they might be.   In those cases, it’s unpleasant to spend time (more than an hour) with them and it’s added insult to spend money on them.     Also as was stated earlier, some people just aren’t good on the phone or might not be so good on email either.   I’ve been pretty good at finding out the background on women I’ve been chatting with.   Nothing is real until you lay eyes on each other and decide whether you want to make more effort on them.   That’s what the 2nd date is for, IMO.

        2. Barbara


          It seems we just approach dating differently. As I stated previously, I get to know men before I meet them by using the 2/2/2. rule. I agree with you that you don’t ultimately know what a person’s like without meeting them face-to-face. In addition, before each date, I mentally determine that my date and I–equally–are going to have a good time, no matter if a second date happens or not.

          Like you, I’ve been disappointed when men don’t look like their photos. But they are still people. So I still can respect them as such. When a man is not physically or socially who I hoped he would be, I stick to my original short-term goal: While I am out with this person, I’m going to enjoy myself and he is going to enjoy himself too.

          So I don’t spend the date checking the time, my phone, or looking for the nearest exit. I show interest in him, because I am interested in him. To me, every human interaction is an opportunity for my own personal growth and enjoyment. Also, my way of being is to want the people in my environment to feel comfortable and happy as well. This is always in the back of my mind, whether I’m on a date or not.

          This is why, even when I don’t want to see a man again after one or a few dates, or he doesn’t want to see me again, I still come away from the experience with something of value and having (mostly) had a good time and I maintain the hope that he did as well.

        3. ScottH

          Barbara- I agree that we approach dating differently.   I also disagree that you can “get to know somebody before you meet them” using 2/2/2.   You won’t “know” a somebody until you’ve dated them for a while, quite a while.   You use 2/2/2 to determine whether you want to meet them and then discover if you want to find out more.   Evan sometimes shows a graphic that says that first dates are for having fun, you’ll figure the rest out later.   I agree with that.   I’ll add that they should be easy too but then it wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t easy.


      4. 8.2.4

        After going on many many first dates with different guys, I can see a correlation between income, how long they’ve been dating around and their fun level to a place they pick for a first date. Most guys are actually picking a nice bar/lounge for happy hour drinks and for me it’s a perfect first date place. I usually order one glass of $5 happy hour wine/beer, most guys would suggest to order appetizers and another drink.

        I don’t think I met one guy online who suggested a dinner for a first date or an expensive place but some told me that they don’t want to pay for dinner for someone they don’t know, so they will not invite me for dinner. Even though I agree with that, this comment didn’t give them any points and I was feeling meh about them before we even met, so it never progressed to a second date.

        All coffee dates were declined right away, I don’t see it as anything romantic and I think it’s beyond cheap but maybe it will work for some.

        I could see if a man is generous in general by how they behave when you order something, if they offer something else, if they offer to walk you to your car, if they accept my offer to pay, et cetera. There were guys who looked scared when I opened a menu or would say “we don’t need anything else” to a waiter without asking me first or accepted $6 for my beer – those did not get a second date and some wondered why.  


        I don’t know what demographic are you talking about but if a guy who lives in LA and in his 40’s sees $30 as an expense, he probably should not date and focus on other problems in his life.

  9. 9


    I personally wouldn’t ask much during a phone call. The phone call is more to build rapport and weed out clear issues, like if he’s rude, asks about sex (if that bothers you), can’t hold a conversation, says creepy/stalker things (I speak from experience..). It’s a bit much if a woman you’ve never met and may never meet starts asking you really serious questions about  your career & family in your first offline interaction over the phone. I think keep it light, fun & interesting. See if you can laugh together, if you’re looking for someone extraverted, does he seem extraverted, does he seem to have a good sense of humour (assuming that matters to you). It’s just about putting a voice to a name and seeing if they’re open to putting in enough effort to actually call you.

    It’s important to trust your gut, too. I spoke to a guy who was fantastic on the site, was really nice & fun & interesting on the phone, but did mention his ex and the recency of his breakup a couple of times. I let it slide, then went on a first date where he talked about her ad nauseum. So $80 later (he picked the restaurant and wanted to split the bill), I left feeling like I’d just spent 2 hours being his counsellor!!

    You would likely know something about his work/level of education from the site anyway?

  10. 10

    P.S. Another new thing I’m doing is not solely relying on dating sites. I work at home and enjoy my alone time without feeling lonely. So I could easily cocoon.

    But recently, I’ve started going to one event per week that I would find interesting and that could potentially have men I’d like to get to know in attendance. That way, even if I don’t meet a guy, I’ve had a good time.

    So far, I haven’t met men to date but I feel that taking this initiative increases my odds and expands me as an individual. Most times I go alone because I can’t get my female friends to go with me. This has taken me out of my comfort zone of never going out by myself. I’ve attended a play, a lecture, a documentary showing, a small Rock/Blues concert and more. It’s all been good.

  11. 11

    PPS: These events–including the play and documentary–worked with my plan because they included a discussion and/or schmoozing period. As I said, I met no men for dating but I enjoyed myself anyway.

  12. 12

    PPPS: When I ask a man wouldn’t he rather take me out, I say it playfully and flirtatiously and usually address him by name: “Jim, you’d rather meet than pick me up at my place?”   I think one reason they’re not offended by the question is because I ask it in fun, not as a put down.

    1. 12.1

      I wanted to ask about this. Are you not nervous getting into a car with a stranger you’ve never met in person before? Do you take any precautions? I ask  this sincerely as I’m uber careful and sometimes think maybe too much so. Would love to hear what it is you do to stay  safe etc.

      1. 12.1.1

        Callie and Marika

        Callie, If I met a man in church, in a bar, in the checkout line in a grocery store or anywhere, and I had never met him before, he’d be just as much a stranger as a man I met online. In fact, using the 2/2/2 rule, there’s a good chance I’ll know more about the man I met online than the one I met by chance off line.

        I’m also a firm believer in intuition. If I get a bad vibe from a man, in messages or on the phone, I don’t continue to interact with him. So I never meet him.

        At this point, since starting to date in late 2014, I have never been creeped out on a date by a man I met online. And I’ve gone on so many dates, I’ve lost count. Only three of the men I’ve dated have gone on to become boyfriends. A couple have said something rude (not sexual just impolite). None have made me feel unsafe in their presence.

        Marika, I have no problem asking a man about his line of work, his marriage, etc. in a message or on the phone. I’m not being prying. It’s just basic “getting to know you” stuff. Considering that we’re on a dating site, I’d be leery of a man who feels uncomfortable talking about these very basic matters  once we’ve shared a few  meaningful messages back and forth.

        I don’t come right out and ask “Do you have a job/are you self-sufficient? Are you married? Are you over your ex? Why haven’t you ever been married?” But, just as, before we meet in person, men naturally work these kinds of questions into a conversation with me, I do the same with them.

        I feel uncomfortable when a man presents these questions like he’s drilling me. And I don’t usually drill men. I make such questions an organic part of our conversation.

        I want to know these things before I meet a man, not after. Depending on his answers, I might decide I don’t want to meet him at all.

        1. Barbara

          P.S.  Another basic question: “Why did you get a divorced?” If I hear a lot of complaining about an ex wife without the man taking personal responsibility–if only for the fact that he made a poor choice in marrying her–I’m out. If it turns out he has a pattern of cheating, I’m out.   If he says negative things about women in general, I’m out.  These are things I want to know before I waste my time going on a date with him.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          It’s tough to be me, isn’t it, Barbara? Fighting with people who are ruled by fear, mistrust and disappointment. Stay strong. You have reality (and effectiveness) on your side.

      2. 12.1.2

        I have never been picked up by a man in the car and been driven to the location of our date. As i live in the capital city where everything is nearby and most people get from  A to  B by bike, it’s not seen as something you do.

        What did happen once is that the man offered to drive me home after a very pleasant date. It was obvious he wasn’t angling for an invite to the apartment, he just wanted to make sure I arrived home safe. (i would otherwise have had to run to one of the last trams home). I accepted the invitation and we had a  fun conversation as he found, lost and then found the way back to my house. It was thoughtful and sweet that he made that extra effort and i would recommend that women would accept the proposal, if she felt he was a guy to be trusted.

        1. Callie

          See the driving home after a very pleasant date makes more sense to me, and makes my very cautious self feel safer. It’s the being picked up before I’ve met the person in person that makes me nervous. So I totally get the end part of the date drive.

          It seems to me a lot of people are okay with being picked up though, so I really want to figure out how I could be more okay with it. What red flags people see in phone chats or messaging etc. Or maybe I should just not worry about it so much. But I really do like to work on my flaws, and definitely a fear of strangers is one of them.

      3. 12.1.3

        I can’t imagine ever getting into a car with a near-stranger. I think this whole “men pick you up” thing worked well   back in the day when a guy next door would pick you up from your parents’ house when you were both in your early 20-ies and everybody knew everybody and he was expected to drop you off at 10 or something. You know, 1960 stuff. Nowadays, absolutely-freaking-not. I don’t want to be a missing person report. Not that it comes up a lot in NYC where everybody takes taxis/uber or subway, but if i lived in suburbs i would always drive myself.

      4. 12.1.4

        Uh just for the record I was sincere in my question, not being passive aggressive. I think it’s unkind, Evan, to say she is fighting with me (or I with her). I acknowledged my fear, I asked how she overcame it so that I might learn something. I didn’t do any of this  to be belittled by you and told I was being aggressive. I mean . . . if you want people to grow and change would you not encourage people asking for advice to conquer their  fear that you consider irrational? I was going to follow up asking if she could describe her  “gut instinct” and what might give her a bad vibe.  Is that wrong of me? Are you going to accuse me of “fighting” again?

        Also I would like to reiterate, though I kind of assumed everyone here knew this by now as I’ve mentioned it a few times, . . . I’m in a very happy relationship, and all previous relationships I’ve had have been wonderful too. I have no bad exes, in fact I’m basically friends with all of them so this whole I must be posting because I have been through some kind of disappointment is frustrating. I was asking because in my dating history I have been extremely cautious (you would say too cautious, Evan) and I wanted to find out what I could have done better, and should I ever be in the situation again how I could improve. Why do we always assume here that when people stick up for others or ask questions that it must reflect some deeper issues other than the words literally being written down? Why must there always be an assumption of subtext? (also I do find it amusing you tell Barbara she has effectiveness on her side thereby implying I do not yet I’m the one who’s been in a three year relationship . . . I mean I must be doing something right . . . )

        Anyway . . . thank you Barbara for your answer, though I would love it if you could describe a bit more detail especially about the bad vibe thing. What kind of red flags are such for you. Only if you want to of course.

        1. Barbara

          First, thanks Evan, for your reply. I can’t describe how much your advice has revolutionized the way I think about men and my dating life in general, which sucked before I found you.

          Callie, gut instinct isn’t something I can really describe. It’s that funny feeling, that little voice that tells you something isn’t right. We all have it. In modern times, we’ve been conditioned to ignore it. But it’s primal and its purpose is to keep us safe. So I’ve retaught myself to follow it instead of brushing it off as if it’s nothing. It’s always better safe than sorry.

          If , based on our online interaction, I get a feeling a guy is creepy, he never makes it to a phone call. There are lots of scammers online, out to dupe daters–men and women–out of their money. You can Google how these scams work. I’ve become really good at spotting scammers, clicking on “Report,” then blocking them. This ability comes from paying attention to online patterns. And, as I said, trusting my gut.

        2. Callie

          Barbara – yes, sorry, I wasn’t clear, I know what gut instinct is, I was more curious whether you could speak to things that sparked it. If that was even possible (I know sometimes such things are not really quantifiable). Ditto about what behaviour gave you bad vibes. So things like “never making it to a phone call”. Is that them never actually calling even after agreeing to? Or making excuses? I could definitely see that someone not wanting to talk on the phone would be a bad sign. Do you have any other such quantifiable examples?

          (thanks again! 🙂 )

  13. 13

    P.S. Callie. Since you asked, here are basic scammer patterns I’ve noticed from firsthand experience.

    1. Illogical syntax. Their writing is nowhere near the way native English speakers write. They use commas instead of periods. They don’t capitalize. They use weird wording and words.

    2. Their profile essays sound generic, as if they could be written by and to anybody. These profile essays and messages to you are also effusive. They are looking for a “beautiful, soulful, women to love forever”, etc.

    3. They don’t mention local destinations. If they do, they betray a lack of personal of knowledge of them (e.g. they say a location is on the “west side” when it’s actually on the east side). They do this because all they’ve actually done is Googled your location and tried to make it seem like they’ve been there.

    4. They only have one photo and it could have been taken anywhere–not in a specific location that you know. Or it’s obviously taken in a foreign country or a city that’s not yours.

    5. If they have more than one photo, which is rare, they are taken at such angles or distances that you can’t tell if its the same person in each of them.

    6. They don’t face the camera in photos. Or their photo look like a model’s magazine spread. Lately, I’ve noticed very plain photos–probably lifted off of Facebook to look authentic.

    6. They are away on business and therefore are never available to meet you in person.

    7. If you get to the phone stage, their phone line is always breaking up even though they say they are nearby. (In fact, they are calling from scammer havens like Russia or Nigeria). They have an excuse for why they have a foreign accent, such as “I’ve traveled around the world since childhood.”

    8. Too soon to make sense, they tell you they are in love with you and want to spend the rest of their lives with you.

    In the early stages of dating, I fell victim to some of these types. But I soon wised up. Now I can spot a scammer a mile away.

    The endgame, which, fortunately I’ve never experienced: They have some terrible business guffaw that requires lots of money right now. If you wire it to them, they will pay you back immediately. When you pay up, they disappear.

    1. 13.1

      This is all excellent practical advice! It should be in every FAQ for every online dating website in my opinion. Thank you for this!

      1. 13.1.1

        You’re welcome, Callie.

        Two more things I thought of:

        When they respond to your replies to them, they’ve totally forgotten the preceding correspondence. So they talk to you as if you’ve never replied. This is because you are one of several women they are trying to scam at once.

        Also, they say they are near you   but they are obviously in a different time zone. (e.g. They say they are out in the yard “gardening” when it’s 11 p.m your time)

      2. 13.1.2


        I feel funny writing about this topic so much. But since you said it’s helpful, I don’t want to withhold the information. Noticing these details has become second nature for me. Here’s another:

        Scammers use “Dear” a lot. While American men just might not realize that some women are turned off by terms of endearment offered by total strangers (i.e. “Hello gorgeous” or “Hi beautiful”), scammers will call you “Dear” in their first message to you and all the ones that follow. Even after you tell them yout name, they won’t use it. They’ll call you “Dear” instead and repeatedly, including in the same message

        1. Callie

          This is really great stuff (I wish I had more to say than just repeating that btw 🙂 ). I like the attention to the subtle details and how small things can actually mean really big things. I wonder if there’s a site online that has similar advice, because if not I feel like you need to create a post on this and have it out there for people’s edification.

          (and please don’t feel pressure to keep writing about this, but if you don’t mind it’s really awesome. Do you have any thoughts on guys who aren’t scammers? Like just guys who might be users or bad dudes or whatever? What small giveaways do they do?)

          (again only if you feel like continuing this conversation, we all have our real lives to focus on too I realise 🙂 )

        2. sophia

          Callie, a lot of “this” (practical, useful advice from Barbara) can be summed up by saying the person (male OR female) should be trustWORTHY from the get-go. Listening to your gut means not making excuses in your head, but paying attention to the little “twitch” inside you that softly says something is amiss.

          Most women (until they learn the lesson) ignore that little twitch and let their excuses rule. Mistake…..

          I listen to my gut these days and it is NEVER wrong and I mean NEVER.

        3. sandra

          They also often claim to have an advanced degree when the writing ability indicates otherwise.

          Another indicator is they may not fit the demographic of the city or area where they claim to live.

          You will just notice a lot of inconsistencies, along with the flowery language and endless compliments about how they are in awe of your beauty.

    2. 13.2

      Barbara, I would add that they always seem to have an island in the sun somewhere or go on very exotic holidays – great if that is true but then follow up with, they’re watching the bucks.

      Well ho hum.

  14. 14

    Sophia – yes indeed.   I met a man on online dating and at a certain stage in the date, yes, my gut was saying, get out of here.

    To keep my cool and exit politely, I told him I had to leave and did.

    Incidentally, this works in all situations.   If it just feels wrong, it IS and you don’t always need logic to explain what your heart feels.

  15. 15


    I agree with you about instinct. The thing is scammers are very good at what they do. They prey on women and men who are vulnerable. As a newly separated women leaving a marriage that had lasted two decades, I had no clue about dating and I was sort of desperate to find love. Plus, I’m naturally trusting. So I was the perfect victim. After being burned a few times, I started noticing the patterns I listed. That didn’t happen overnight.

    I wish someone had listed some of these signs for me back then. It would have saved me time and the heartache that came from thinking I was forming a connection with a man only to discover he was all smoke and mirrors.

    Another thing to add to the list: Scammers often claim they are widowers or single dads. Of course some men really are. It’s a matter of recognizing the patterns.

    1. 15.1

      Except that…..well, often there is no shortcut to learning and wisdom- it’s all part of the process of growing up (never ending, likely) and we, hopefully(!) , pick up other invaluable lessons along the way!

      Yeah, maybe we could be a little “smarter” earlier in our lives, but nah….gotta learn just by living! Can only read about it to a certain extent- living it is a different story, so don’t kid yourself into thinking a lot of time and heartache would have been saved, really!   It’s okay, it’s meant to be that way, I believe.




  16. 16

    I cannot FATHOM not conversing with someone over the phone before meeting online. I need to like your voice and I need to pick up how you are when you don’t have time to think about your response (which both texting and email gives you).   Plus, my time is precious so if I am meeting you, I need to really WANT to and I would like to reduce the chances of wasting my time.   Personally, it doesn’t matter if it’s the 2/2/2 method, as long as you give it time for some form of minor buildup before meeting, you’re good to go. And that only happens imo if you converse enough and at least one conversation on the phone. I have met people online that were great through texts but couldn’t hold a conversation to save their lives. While I am not online anymore due to me currently being with someone, I don’t see how people meet without even hearing the other person’s voice.

  17. 17

    I would like to give major props to YAG here! His insights are spot on.

    I am 38, divorced without children. I’ve dated what feels like every single man in the 35-52ish age range in my area that have not rushed to meet within 24 hours and have not suggested a coffee date (I fully agree on the job interview feeling….and they are just plain dull).

    I have dated in two styles – a numbers game (collect as many matches and schedule as many quick drink dates) as well as vetting men using some variation of the 2/2/2 rule. I’ve had more success with 2/2/2 but it is painful when I have gone through a more extensive vetting process only to have things not work.

    I have been exclusively dating a man since October. We communicated for about a week before meeting. So far, things have gone shockingly well. I’ve leaned back. I’ve mirrored. I have let him choose me. There was one misunderstanding that I did not handle well. He graciously granted me a mulligan. I knew I needed to acknowledge his grace, and I verbalized my gratitude (yeah I used my words instead of running away and choosing to be hurt! Go me! Lol!).

    I am staying the course with this very new relationship. I’m optimistic for the first time in several years. And it feels really f*cking good.

  18. 18

    This is interesting.   I recently had been communicating with a “high value” woman on Match.   After a week of emailing on the site, I asked her to meet and she asked if we could talk first so of course, I accepted.   I gave her my number and she called without texting first to arrange the time or give me a heads-up, which I thought was inconsiderate, especially considering that I was semi-drunk when she called and not at my best.   At the end of the call, I suggested that we meet at a nice bar that is convenient to both of us and she asked if we could meet at Starbucks.   I immediately thought of the conversations here and then accepted her counter-offer, thinking about how awkward it would have been to decline or counter her offer.   No, just go with it.   Be easy.   Maybe it will be like an interview but what choice do I have?   See where it goes.   And to think about having a proper “date” for the first meeting just seems so inappropriate.

    As far as liking someone’s voice- I once talked to a woman before meeting and did not like her voice and I’m a very voice conscious person.   I thought her voice was very strange but met her anyway and we ended up dating for 6 months.   She was very nice and just happened to have a weird voice.

    It seems that a lot of  what is espoused here is quite rigid.

    1. 18.1

      Oh you poor baby. She asked if you guys could talk on the phone and she CALLED you! How unreasonable! She definitely should have assumed you’d be sloshed. How could she.

      Also, she DECLINED your idea and made her own suggestion!?!?!?! What kind of woman is she?!?!?!

      1. 18.1.1

        I’m wondering what kind of woman YOU are.   Certainly not one I would waste another second on.

        1. Katie

          A kind, smart, empathetic one. Thanks for asking lovie.

        2. ScottH

          note to self:   never engage the trolls

  19. 19

    BOOM, Great post…. I am in my middle 60’s and have doing this same thing with online dating. I don’t call them rules, but they help me navigate online dating and serve as my compass from  lessons learned…

  20. 20

    Yet another guy. Only four hours on the phone? Why don’t make it twelve and sell away the whole store why you’re at it. And after a week of chatting you already  «like » her. Aren’t you moving a little fast old school? Do these babes even find you physcalley attractive, I wonder. You ask her out after a couple of emails, and a short phone call to sat up the date. Then you make her comfortable by opening doors and pulling out her chair and keeping your hands to your self. Yes, she may be smart over the Bell but does she light up every time she sees your face, does she produdly take your arm while you walk down the street? You won’t know that before you’ll meet. And having a lot of sisters is all good, but haven’t you notice what women say they want and what they actually respond two are two different things all together? And coffee is fine for a first date. Don’t make them think you don’t have any mojo and need to buy her affaction.

    1. 20.1
      Yet Another Guy


      I can assure you that women find me to be physically attractive. Granted, not all woman find me to be physically attractive, but enough do that I know I am a reasonably attractive man.

      You are not going to change my mind on the coffee date. For me, that is complete waste of time. I only have a telephone conversation with a fraction of the women with whom I exchange messages, and I only meet a small fraction of the women with whom I have a telephone conversation because I only agree to meet when I believe we could have a fun date. I do not need a love connection, but I also do want to feel like I need to run for the door in the first five minutes. For me, it is not about buying a woman’s affection as it is about not wasting time, emotional energy, and resources. I have met the better part of 100 women in person in a little over two years (I slowed down significantly in my second year). It is usually me that does not desire a second date (yes, I am very selective, but everyone should be selective). I met 40 of those women in the first three months of dating, many of which were horrible dates. That is why I instituted my screening process, which I was surprised to discover had a name. However, arriving at a 2/2/2 rule-like screening process is pretty much common sense after a man has been on a bunch of less than ideal dates.

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