I Have Tried Everything And Online Dating Is Still Not Working!

a woman suffering from an intense headache

Hi Evan. I read what I purchased from you faithfully and followed everything you said. I am a 36-year-old East Indian woman living in New York City. I would say that less than 10% of the people I write to write back to me. No one is really writing to me. I did EVERYTHING you said.

This is incredibly frustrating, especially after I checked your blog and saw that in a question you asked about response rate, ALL these women said that they got at least 50-60% response rate. I write to all kinds of men who are both younger and older, of all races,single and divorced, etc, etc. and I’ve been very, very careful to use all of your tips, and I read your blog faithfully. Why can’t I even get a response? I feel like I’m the ONE outlier who can’t make your tips work for me.

That’s my feedback–it’s not working for me. Is it because I’m Indian? Is it because I’m 36? Is it because I’m in New York City? If you can help, I’d appreciate it. —Mellie


First of all, I want to give you credit. You’re doing something.

If you’re writing to men who state that they’re looking for women 24-32, you can’t be too surprised that they’re not writing back.

Unlike most of the lookie-loos who read free blogs and newsletters and don’t try anything different, you put your money where your mouth is and invested in Finding the One Online. And now you want to know when the payoff is going to come.

I hear ya. And I don’t blame you in the least.

However, there are a few variables that might be affecting your experience…and I’d just like to point them out to you.

Since I don’t know you at all, I’m just going to be objective and theorize why you might not be doing as well as you’d like.

1. You’re not as attractive as you think.

In this famous OkCupid blog post, OkCupid takes great pains to illustrate that while women think that 80% of men are BELOW AVERAGE in attractiveness, men actually have a fair appraisal of women’s attractiveness. And while they still write disproportionately to the best looking 33% of women, normal women still get plenty of attention online. I’m not saying you’re unattractive — I have no idea what you look like — but if you were expecting men to be knocking down your door, take a look at the most attractive women in New York City between the ages of 25-35. I think you’ll see why you’re not getting as much attention.

2. Your age and race do matter.

Not to only have one source, but OkCupid also did a post on race. And what they observed is that yes, in fact, the percentage response that Indian women get from white men is less than they’ll get from men of all other races. It’s not my place to judge, but everyone’s entitled to his/her preferences. Write to more Indian men and your response rate should go up by 15%.

As far as age goes, I think it goes without saying that men prefer younger women if they want to start families. Check out the preferences of the men you’re writing to online instead of just writing to the men you prefer. If you’re writing to men who state that they’re looking for women 24-32, you can’t be too surprised that they’re not writing back. No more than a man who is 55 should be too surprised that you’re not replying to his query.

3. You’re writing to the most attractive men.

According to the aforementioned blog post, the average woman will get a 30% response rate from the most attractive men. The least attractive women get less than a 10% response from the most attractive men. And it makes sense since the most attractive men get 11 times more email than the lower-rated guys.

In reality, failure is the default setting in dating.

The point is, Mellie, you’re dealing with men who are at the top of the dating totem pole — 35-40 year old cute, successful guys in New York City. It’s a seller’s market and they can afford to be choosy.

4. Your expectations are out of whack.

It’s not that you’re wrong for wishing that things came a little bit easier; it’s that you’re hoping for a different reality, which generally is not a good use of your time. In reality, failure is the default setting in dating. I don’t know where you pulled up that women get a 60% response rate — maybe one of my customer testimonials — but the reason I used it is because it’s unusual and impressive. You can’t judge yourself against the best, no more than I judge my writing on this blog against Philip Roth. Give yourself a break, okay?

And if you think YOU’VE got it bad, go check out the numbers for men who are writing to women. It’s pretty much the same, but worse, because the most attractive women receive TWENTY EIGHT times more email than the least attractive women. Talk about fierce competition.

Take a deep breath and realize that this is a process and that all you can do is make the best of it. But that doesn’t mean you’re done yet.

5. Your profile and first emails aren’t as good as you think.

Just because I got a personal trainer at the gym doesn’t mean I’m going to be on the cover of Men’s Health. Just because I get guitar lessons doesn’t mean I’m going to be performing like Clapton any time soon. And just because you bought Finding the One Online and rewrote your profile and tried my email technique doesn’t necessarily mean that you nailed it. The best way to figure out if you nailed it are your results. If you’re not happy with the results, it sounds to me like there’s more tweaking to do. Try E-Cyrano or my One-on-One Coaching. Just do something different, because right now, you’re too close to the process to be objective about it.

I just listed a few things you can’t change — your age, your looks, your race — but there are many other things you can probably do better.

Please let me know how I can help.

Join our conversation (186 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Evan’s advice is right on, as usual. I would just add: don’t be afraid to keep changing things up. Keep tweaking your   profile and your search criteria. My husband was one of those unusual guys who always had a lot of women writing to him on online dating sites, but that was because he never stopped testing what did and didn’t work. When I met him, he was on the sixth or seventh version of his profile!

    While the average person probably has a lot of potential matches out there, some of us are different in various ways and there will simply be fewer who find us appealing (this was definitely true for me). On the plus side, those who find us appealing, find us REALLY appealing. 🙂 He’s out there- you just might need more time and effort to find. him. Good luck!  

  2. 2

    Guys are visual, they mostly just go by your pics. If you have great pics, then it almost doesn’t even matter what your profile says. So  If you aren’t getting responses it’s mostly cuz they don’t like what they see. Put up some of your cutest pics, not old ones, but ones of you with a cute outfit, make-up and hair done. Update your profile description to something that’s a little playful and not too serious. Then take a tip from Evan’s last post and fudge your age by at least 3-5 years, but only if you can pass for younger, then do a search and click on the profiles of all the guys you are interested in so they see you in their ‘who viewed me’ section. Then just sit back and watch all the emails and winks that come thru from those same guys that ignored you.

    Most guys are  shallow when it comes to online dating, except for the most unattractive guys. So just play to their shallowness. And once you start getting lots of interest just quietly change your age back. They won’t even notice.

    1. 2.1

      When I arrived in San Diego, I didn’t know anybody, so I joined a video dating service.   They had large three ring binders full of profiles.   Your written profile was on the front of the page, and your pictures were on the back side of the page.   The idea was that you read the profile, then decide if you like them, and if you do, turn the page and see the pictures.   I would site there in the are that was much like a library only somewhat dimmer lit, and watch women of all class, average to very beautiful, do the very same thing.   They would take their paper that showed them who has selected them.   They would search for the profile number on the upper right part of the profile, find it and then immediately look at the pictures.   If they liked what they saw, they would turn back to the profile and read it before making a decision.   If they did not like the pictures, they would mark, “NO.”   The ones they liked, they would write down the video number and go watch that.   But the point is, they first went to looks.   If you did not pass muster there, they didn’t even look at your profile.   I saw it time after time after time.   So the fact is, yes, you are right, men do care about looks, but so do women.   Women do care about more things, but that doesn’t mean they care less abut looks.   You first have to pass the attraction test, and then women move to the other things that they care about.   Money, power, charisma, etc…and then over time they make a judgment on personality.   Men are similar except they look fr the looks, don’t care about the stuff in the middle, and move right to judging personality over time.

    2. 2.2

      If I wrote the same about women, which is certainly not less applicable – I would have had plenty of replies accusing me of being sexist!

    3. 2.3

      Great way to start a relationship.   Lying??? Who’s shallow again?

    4. 2.4
      Too ugly to be loved

      I can only imagine what you’d do if a guy you were interested in meet you for the first date and wasn’t as tall as he said he was.

  3. 3

    I, too, have done everything that Evan suggested from his ebooks. And I was having no luck on Match. So I tried another suggestion from Evan which was to try other dating websites. (I’ve tried four different ones over the years.) So far I am having a much better response rate on OkCupid and more messages evolving into conversations. I also noticed in LA that the type of guy on OkCupid is different from the ones on Match. They seem less rigid with their criteria too.

  4. 4

    Also, depending which site you are on, you may be writing to inactive members. Match.com was notorious for having tons of profiles that belonged to individuals who haven’t signed on in months.

    I would check the last log-in date as well, before sending out new messages. If it’s more than a few days, he may not be using his account anymore.

  5. 5

    Evan I SWEAR I didn’t write this letter – holy s-t this is frightening…

  6. 6

    Oh Mellie, sweetie I hear you – I’m 33 though. Here’s what I think- aside from the profile tweaking it’s just timing. Most of the men who’ve interacted with me online have been Indian or white- my exp has been mixed and I’ve had a LOT of lows with recent highs. This weekend I had a great date with a gorgeous dude who happened to be white- he contacted me first. I’ve contacted non- Indian men before with no luck. Indian men have contacted me and Ive realized they were only looking for pen pals. It’s a mixed bag.

    But like I said there have been a LOT of lows- I do find though that men on OK Cupid are more willing to date different ethnicities. Match men say ‘no pref’ when it comes to race, but they could be writing that bc they don’t want to sound racist.

    I have noticed though, whenever I make my profile as humorous as possible my response rate goes up. Have you tried that? Also, some men just assume we Indian women just date our own so they don’t contact. I made it a point in my profile to state that i date men of all races, and I think that helped a bit.

    1. 6.1

      This is exactly the problem when you state that most men of other races think we only date other Indian people. I think this comes to our disadvantage greatly.

      I currently live in New Orleans and trying to date as an Indian-American woman is downright impossible. I grew up in LA so the out-in-the-open racism is downright disturbing. People are obsessed with my race as if it defines me. It has gravely affected my social life outside of dating as well. I have another year here and I’m depressed. I really just want to get the hell out of here.

  7. 7

    [email protected]: I did wonder if it were you, too. Ha! I work with lots of Indians and have many friends from India. One guy I work with very closely met his wife through a site specifically for Indian dating (she’s American-born, he’s from India). He’s very tall and handsome. 🙂

    I think Indian women are incredibly beautiful, so I find it surprising that more non-Indian men aren’t responding. That said, you don’t want a fetishy kind of guy.   

  8. 8

    I don’t buy that about match-most of the time if I don’t get a response I’ll see that the guy has looked at my profile, which means he’s a member. Also, you can tell which members are inactive bc their pics have a grayish haze over them. Most don’t have that haze ( I picked up this tidbit at another blog)

  9. 9
    Jackie Holness

    I guess you don’t want an arranged marriage…I’m not trying to be funny, but since that is very much a cultural thing for India…I thought I would throw that out there…

    1. 9.1

      Sorry, but this is a really narrow-minded comment.

  10. 10

    I’ve read that ok Cupid article before- just looked at it again. Black and Asian men seem to be the most responsive- white males apparently are the least. I have noticed that on ok Cupid when you click on a typical attractive educated white dude’s profile there will be a caption that says “responds very selectively.” although…I guess it says that on my profile too lol

    But I guess if you’re genuinely looking for lots of responses the best thing into forget about white dudes completely (since they don’t respond to anyone apparently) and stick with men of color

  11. 11
    Shaswata P

    Meghna, you are an Indian and you dont know about Shaadi dotcom and BharatMatrimony dotcom????   

    Those are like cultural cornerstones among Indians…Quite a few of my cousin sisters got married through those sites…

    Best of luck and start searching in the right places


  12. 12

    I’ve been on those Shaswata- this is the thing, being a writer and voracious reader, language is very important to me. And most of those guys can barely write an English sentence, which is weird since most are professionals working in this country. They write emails like they’re texting, and so many have haircuts from 1983 it’s embarrassing.

    And I’m an American born and raised liberal woman who loves the Stones and has had mulberry hair in the past (college past though)I think, from reading her email, it seems that the poster is a little like me. A lot of the men on those two sites are very conservative. It funny, but even my cousins from India have told me, that the way my personality is, I’m better of marrying someone raised in the West as well.

  13. 13
    Shaswata P

    I meant Indian men who have been born and brought up in the US/Canada? AFAIK They also tend to register for the aforementioned sites…but I guess those sites pigeonhole you a lot into a corner regarding what you want in terms of height, earning capacity, profession, skin colour, mother tongue, caste, religion and what not? (father’s occupation ..LOL)

    and speaking about young , just out of college professional Indians who have migrated to the West (almost invariably engineers) ,most of us have not got a clue about attracting girls as huge part of our twenty something years were spent slaying hundreds of thousands of other guys out of competition so that we could edge into those prestigous colleges…..So most do remain clueless about women because of lack of interaction till mid twenties but I have seen a substantial few Indians who have become veritable charmers with women after coming over to the West……

    I have no idea how second and third gen Indians in US interact among themselves when it comes to initiating relationships as I am in a country with very few Indians …I am guessing lack of numbers would pull them close together and which would in turn help the young ones forming romantic relationships when they turn adults??

  14. 14

    Well it’s not as though I have anything against dating men from India (trust me, the Western born Indians are mostly on Match and OkCupid like moi). We just don’t have a lot in common- I understand what you’re saying about competition and school but my male cousins are all married, engineers, and not socially awkward. Most of dates I’ve have with men from India have been so painful because of the sheer level of their social awkwardness with women. And at 33, I’m afraid I don’t have the patience to deal with a grown man who has no idea how to interact with a woman.

    1. 14.1

      OMG I totally agree with this. I’m really tired of my non-Indian friends suggesting I should date someone they know “who is from India.” I take one look at his picture and know right off the bat how it’s going to go.

      Don’t get me wrong. There are some normal guys from India but it’s rare.

  15. 15

    Oh, sorry for the double post Evan, but another issue is that Indian men have very rigid age criteria, almost always 21-29 even if they’re over 30 themselves. The non-Indian men seem to be more lenient in that they’ll at least go up to 35

  16. 16

    From a guy’s experience, the numbers are far worse. Online dating favors attractive women, and then women in general.
    When I first started, I got about a 5 percent response rate: 5 replies for every 100 emails. Of those, maybe 1-2 led to a date. Over the years, the response rate has dropped. It is now at 1-2 percent, maybe less. This applies to all websites. So I need to contact over a thousand women to get to a date. At that point, I am no longer contacting women that really interest me. It is “spray and pray” and when I do get a date, I’m not really interested.
    So I don’t see much hope, but still am on there, because there are only so many options in meeting people out there. I’m doing other things too.
    My numbers seem pretty similar to other guys I know. If they are younger or much better looking, their percentages are better, but honestly, of those guys I know, I wouldn’t even have my sister date them. They are abysmal in ways which I will not get into here.

  17. 17
    Flower White

    I really suggest an interracial dating site. Best of luck to you.  

  18. 18

    When I read a woman’s complaint about getting no responses via online, my first thought is that she’s overweight. And I don’t mean a few pounds overweight.

    There is absolutely no way that an average-looking woman should get only a minimal of attention on online dating sites. I have scoured enough profiles to know that even the ugly or fat women have the gall to outline a laundry list of dating expectations. This is because even fat or ugly women get lots of attention via online, and can therefore be picky.

    1. 18.1

      I have a BMI of 22 and I get precious little response. People have told me they’d die for my figure. Plus I got someone to write my profile. Its just there is too much competition from hot chicks.

      1. 18.1.1

        A lot, if not most guys, have a hard time getting responses and dates from any woman approaching average. They are not just going for the hotter women. My experience has in fact been a lot of guys are willing to lower their standards considerably online. If a woman isn’t getting responses then their is something peculiar going on, whether she is on a dud site with many fake or old profiles, or only messaging very attractive men, or has massive red flags in her profile, or is just very overweight or plain.

        I do think race will play a role. A lot of white guys prefer to date white (and sometimes East Asian) girls. But even then. many those with this preference will likely lower their standards online.

      2. 18.1.2

        I don’t think that’s it. Our entire culture has changed in a relatively short period of time and it seems humans can’t even interact face to face anymore.   And while men are the ones who should be leading, they just don’t know how, or they are too lazy.    They will choose or match on Tinder, and NEVER write.


    2. 18.2

      my experience as a moderately attractive (I’d give myself a 6-7), fit and slender (sadly quite flat chested) woman of 38 is that it is likely that her age is the main factor.   I’ve been online dating for two years now and interest has waned a lot since I was 36, sadly for our op. I no longer email attractive men and I now seek out men of 5’9 or less. A good income and education is still a must, though.   

      One concern – my profile does indicate I am an attorney and I’m thinking about removing that, because I have gotten feedback in the past from men who have an unfortunate stereotype of female attorneys ( they will comment how I don’t seem like an attorney type; read, not pushy or bitchy).   But, with attorney friends who have been married multiple times, I   really I think it’s more age and attractive ness , perhaps the big old Never Married descriptor on the profile.   :-(.   Wish it would just say single!     

      My my older friend  

      1. 18.2.1

        Sorry my post cut off.   To add, my older friends who have lived in NYC say that dating is notoriously terrible for 30something and older women.   The successful men of NYC have their pick of 20 something’s.  

        1. Too ugly to be loved

          They probably should have tried giving more guys a chance 10 years ago. Just saying.

      2. 18.2.2

        As a guy, I would suggest you drop the “attorney” description from your profile; in your age group, it’s probably hurting you more often than helping.   Age probably hurts you with any guy who wants to marry and have children; otherwise, I’d think not quite as much, though it won’t get any better   (and likely will get worse) as time goes by (sorry to have to say that, but it’s reality) . One bit of good news for you; contrary to popular myth, not all guys are obsessed with big boobs (or the lack thereof), so don’t be self-conscious about that. It sounds like you’re giving some average-looking guys a chance, and there might be a pretty good one somewhere, who thinks you are a prize!

        1. Josie

          Thanks for the feedback. I have dated quite a few men since my post above. Currently I’m dating a guy I find a bit questionable    but I’m giving him one more date. I’m concerned because he fudged his age on his profile (just a couple years but he still fibbed) , indicated he preferred women up to 35, and there’s a few more yellow flags for me.   I will probably change my profile to eliminate my profession from my profile, though.

  19. 19

    I’m also an Indian woman and I could literally go out on a date every night of the week with guys who are mostly my type from online.   Because that doesn’t really make me all that happy, dating a ton is hard, I try to be selective and go out when I’m a little more interested.   So I’m not sure what the poster is doing.   My cousin is even a little overweight (as in 20 lbs) and was complaining that no one responded to her.   I reviewed her profile added more fun pictures and generally updated her profile to sound more fun and spunky (but all true).   I.e. she wrote too much about her job and wrote shopping was her hobby (snooze and rarely will a man share that interest). Instead I highlighted some of her more guy friendly hobbies such as hiking and politics.   Soon after she got a lot more contacts.   Most guys who contact me write about things on my profile that they too like as in our favorite sports teams and snow sports.   That’s just my two cents.   Believe me I wish everyone I contacted responded.   They don’t, but I still get enough.   Just wish in person there was chemistry.

  20. 20

    K- Interesting, I’m sure that’s been a problem with me- I just don’t have guy-friendly interests, so the guys who write me are usually the artsy types, and there are only so many of those. Sports and politics are not in my vocab.

    And to all those men who insist that women who are fat don’t get attention, and women who aren’t do, well, I’m a size 2 and I’ve had major online lows. Also, two beautiful thin girlfriends who are on JDate never get responses to their e-mails. A pretty blond white woman who’s 30 was on Good Morning America a few months ago said she hasn’t had a date in five years. On one of Evan’s posts, a matchmaker commented in saying that she had two beautiful charming, nice clients in their 20s that no one showed interest in, and more average looking women got lots of interest. A woman I know from work is 75 pounds overweight, has a harelip (not to be mean, I’m just making an observation) just married a cute wall street guy she met online with the most gorgeous eyes I’ve ever seen.

    Why am I mentioning these random things? I guess to prove that lifes sometimes very random and there’s not always an explanation for these things..

    1. 20.1
      Michael Ejercito

      From my own Match.com profile, I notice profiles of women which have existed for at least seven years, who are still active.

      1. 20.1.1
        Too ugly to be loved

        Some just like the attention. Others are too picky.

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