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


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 (183 Comments).
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  1. 41

    @ Zaq, yeah I agree, a large number of men want to casually date or have ONS’s with us “furriners”, if only for bragging rights, especially if we look decent… but a long-term relationship or marriage is another story. All of a sudden people get cautious. What will my friends say? what will my family say? what’s going to happen if we’re at a party and my GF is the only non-Anglo-Saxon person in the room? Meantime, friends and family are offering the guy helpful advice like “OMG are you really dating an (Elbonian)? You better be careful!”
    I’m in the Midwest, YMMV… but this is what I’ve seen — while I’ve been pretty successful at getting responses, first emails and first/second dates, only a few courageous, open-minded men have been able to tell me that they’d had a relationship with someone like me in the past, or were looking for one. And I’m even white… I can pass for one of them until I open my mouth. Pretty sad, but what can I say, life isn’t fair.

  2. 42


    Did you read my examples above of beautiful women struggling to get dates? (the one where I mentioned JDate, etc?) if what u say is true then that shouldn’t be happe Ning but it is. Like I said, life is random

  3. 43


    I love your Beatle example! 🙂 Same could be said to a lesser extent about Paul and Linda. Ok I’m going to go listen to Srgt Pepper now…

  4. 44

    Also wanted to suggest the nerdy guys, if they can be made over. One of my good friends came to the US from India for grad school and stayed. Later, the son of one of her parents’ friends came to the US for grad school, too. On their first meeting as adults  he asked her to marry him and she said no. He was ultra nerdy and had a terrible haircut. She said as much to a mutual friend, who told him. He didn’t take offense at all, but started to get hip. The good thing–he was still the sweetheart, which many nerds are. And then one day he kissed her, and it was all over after that! They’ve been together a looong time and have two kids now. Also, his nerdiness paid off in other ways and he makes a lot of money.

    He did have to be made over,  true. But if you  consider a guys’  make-over potential, with the idea that you’ll be able to help with this (esp if   you’re an American helping him get his bearings on foreign soil), you might find a gem underneath. (Personally, I’ve had a hard  time getting along with Brahmins, have to say.  Can’t imagine suggesting a makeover to a Brahmin. Does that sound awful?)  

  5. 45

    I may not be “as attractive as I think I am” but I’m a heck of a lot better looking than the typical online guy (in my age catagory since i’m 42)  that contacts me. 😛   Gross.   Maybe it’s just the guys in Wisconsin. (shrugs)
    I need to move.   The  nicer looking lads are all late  20’s and just looking for tail – so I know that’s  not  going anywhere.   

  6. 46
    mellie charnalia

    Sorry, Ann, I guess you and I wouldn’t get along as I’m a “Brahmin.” Is it too much to hope to have a thoughtful discussion about this without having to read comments about how I might be fat and ugly, or address comments about Indians/Hindus?
    How about some ideas about actually writing profiles and writing emails–things that have worked for people? Short of getting a boob job because (some) men find big breasts desirable, there’s nothing else I can do about my looks–I had a photographer friend do a whole photo shoot of me all dolled up, and while beauty is subjective, I’ve done what I can to show myself in the best light possible in the pictures. And like I mentioned, my looks certainly didn’t get in my way a few years ago when I was online–so I don’t think it’s that. I have a feeling it has to do with age & I will contemplate fibbing about my age just to see what kind of response I get…..I’m totally realistic that I’m not a model and have written to very average looking dudes–and have been quite aware of making sure I’m not communicating with people “out of my league” so to speak.
    Sayanta, I hear you, girl! Goldie, yeah, life isn’t fair & I’m trying to think through this all while retaining my optimism and trying new tactics. And I cast a very wide net in terms of the “usual” stuff people might not like (i.e. shorter height), but I do exercise some thought in terms of who I want to write to so it’s not some random free for all. And, yes, I look to see the age range and only write if my age is included. ….

  7. 47


    I guess we wouldn’t get along then :-p


    Another thought- what kind of emails are you sending? Our mental states are often communicated in our emails, whether we see it or not. If you’re feeling desperate (I don’t know if you are, I’m just using it as an example), that may be somehow coming across in your interactions. It seems that you’ve set the bar really really low (bc you’ve literally included EVERYBODY in your emails), and that can be akin to desperation. Some guys might be thinking it weird that an attractive educated woman is writing them, for example, if they are high school dropouts who live in their sisters basement. Before you all jump down my throat, I’m not saying those men are not worthy of love, I’m just saying people tend to stick to their own educational background and age when dating.

  8. 48


    You also might find this interesting

  9. 49

    @Sayanta #12 I am literally laughing my head off on your comments about the way some Indian men write their profiles and also use text speak, it is the biggest turn off but a very fair and true comment.
    I’m an Indian from the UK and I run a singles club for Asian professionals where people meet face-to-face through activity based Asian dating events. I’m not sure what is around in the States but @Mellie if you’re not having much luck online may be it’s time to get out there and find some singles events to meet new people and change your approach completely. You probably have a busy schedule like most professionals but if it’s importantenough…

  10. 50

    Sorry, but hot girls get massive attention. What do they have to do to get male attention ? Put up some decent photos, and well that’s it. Do you think men read profiles when they have to send a 100 emails to get 2 replies ?
    OK, a quick scan. It is possible to screw it up in the profile. Someone I know, in her 40s but still very attractive, tried on line dating. I came across her profile by accident.
    Nothing about her, everything about what she was expecting in a man. You must be educated. You must be fit. You must be above 5ft 10. You must have a full head of hair. You must be able to take me to exotic places, expensive restaurants etc etc. I was shocked. I didn’t realize she was so ugly.

    In the vast majority of cases, women fail on line because they are too unattractive, or set the bar way too high.

  11. 51


    We’ll have to agree to disagree- please reread my post on #20. I’m not going to tote my own looks too much bc obviously I’m going to sound arrogant- but all I’ll say is I get about 500 clicks a week, and a bunch of those men are repeat ‘lookers.’ I’m pretty sure that they’re not doing it bc they think Im hideous. But when I email them (writing a personalized email), no response. And FYI, my profile just describes my personality in humorous anecdotes without stating what I’m looking for in a man. Now, I do get emails, so I’m not going to totally bitch here, but I’m by no means bombarded. And certainly not by men I like ( my weekend date being the exception).

    Some of my girlfriends fit the conventional standards of American beauty and they’re so frustrated by OLD they deleted their profiles. I’ve read their profiles, and they’re great. NOT saying all this just bc they’re my friends. But guys never respond to them. Maybe they’re intimidated by a brain/beauty combo? I’ve heard men say they prefer women not to have both bc a woman like that is more likely to dump them. I don’t know…I’m just saying.

    Age is DEF a factor though- at 25, I got a ton of emails even when I didn’t have a picture up! (explain that!)At 29, which was when I started taking OLD seriously, was when it got harder.

    And out of curiosity, Zaq, do you have a lot of hot female friends? If not, how do you know how much attention a girl is or isn’t getting online? Have hot women TOLD you they get a ton of attention? If so, how do you know they’re telling the truth? People lie all the time to save their egos. And if they tell you they’re dating men they met online, how do you know THEY didn’t contact the men first? Trust me, I’ve CAUGHT other women lying about how much attention they get online or whether they contact men first.

    Lastly, what IS a LOT of attention to you? 100 emails a week? Is someone who gets 3 winks a day and an email every day getting a LOT of attention? Or nothing?

  12. 52
    That East Asian Man

    Dear Mellie.   Yes, sometimes it must seem that everyone else has better luck with online dating.   Of course, that   is simply an illusion.   The reality is that dating (whether online or not) is full of heartache, something that each of us is willing to pursue only because a favorable outcome is so desirable.
    I know that it is only a matter of time before you meet the right man.   There are hundreds of these men in the NYC area today, and many thousands of them elsewhere.   So what accounts for the delay in your meeting him?
    One set of reasons has to do with him.   He may be in another relationship that first needs to end.   Or he may be available, but looking for you elsewhere — perhaps on another online dating website, or at an activity or location that you would find interesting.   Maybe he’s living far away, and needs to follow through on his decision to move to NYC. Or perhaps he first needs to work on something within himself, so that he can deserve you.
    Another set of reasons has to do with you.   Perhaps your online dating profile and photos aren’t depicting the wonderful qualities that you offer in a relationship.   Or maybe you are unduly restricting the focus of your search (for example, by only doing online dating), and you aren’t actively searching for him in all of the amazing things that you enjoy doing with your life.   Or perhaps you first need to work on something within yourself, to be the kind of partner that your man needs in a relationship.
    Your man hasn’t found you yet, which means that he is giving you the gift of time.   Use it wisely, so that you are ready for him when he finds you.

  13. 53
    Shaswata P

    I just want to throw in a question…It seems a lot of older women(above 30-35) are having trouble in online dating which younger women seem to not…Is it because older women are wanting marriage in contrast to younger women and men are simply not marrying because society has disincentivized marriage? Are older online daters less romantic??

    Anyways reading about the experiences of some here makes for a eerie similarity to the Dharmic view of Samsara:

    The more you experience the more resistance you tend to develop towards experiences and yet still the more you want to experience  

  14. 54


    I never trust what women say they want or do in dating. It is action that counts. But you only need to look at the OKCupid research, or look up freakonomics to see that having analysed thousands of OLD interactions, and used objective third party assessment of peoples level of attraction, men overwhelmingly contact the most attractive. This is actual measurable data.

    However, the same research showed that although men would contact the less attractive as well (if not at the same frequency) the women were pretty much ONLY contacting the top guys.
    This ties in with most of the comments made by men on this blog.

    It is far more likely that a women is being too picky, than that she isn’t attractive enough. I met an Indian woman about three weeks ago, who was wearing a sari. Very attractive. Unfortunately she pulled out of the social group I met her at. Was she afraid she didn’t fit in ? If so her fears were  ill-founded.

  15. 55

    That East Asian Man

    I always feel so good after reading your comments- do you have a blog?

  16. 56

    Sayanta@47: I meant Brahmin guys–should have been  clearer.  I went out with two, at different times back when I was dating (one was long distance, for a full year).  It was like I was supposed to worship and take care of them because I was clearly so beneath them. Couldn’t get into it. Especially the constant babble about  Orientalism and the disdainful jokes about how stupid white people are. That said, so many of the Brahmin guys I’ve known  seemed to have a thing for blondes anyway, so I don’t know why these guys were going out with me. I wasn’t going to change my hair color for them!!!      

  17. 57

    @48 Thanks Sayanta for the link, but LOL I think that “10 reasons why I’d be a perfect girlfriend” list is a little too much. With the exception of #3, the list describes my Shetland Sheepdog to a T. It paints a portrait of someone too clingy, too incapable of having a life outside of her boyfriend. IMO.
    @ Zaq: I don’t think men read profiles, I know they do. You know how? – because I received emails with specific questions about something in my profile. I’ll admit that they’ll probably look at photos first, and then, if they like the photos, they’ll go ahead and read the profile, otherwise they won’t bother. But seriously, men have to read that stuff, unless they want to be left forever wondering why they only get two replies to their 100 emails. You know how many emails I got in my six months of OLD, that consisted entirely of “Hi”, “Your hot”, “How are you”? – cannot tell you, I lost count. Know how many of those I replied to? ZERO. Because, what do you say to that? “Hi”, “Thanks”, “Good, thanks”, and then the conversation is pretty much over. Men who ask specific questions about something specific in a woman’s profile, put themselves miles ahead of the competition. Same probably goes for women, because I always emailed people with specific questions, and had no problem getting responses. (sometimes I emailed people that later turned out to be dead wrong for me, but that’s another story.)

  18. 58

    Sayanta@51: It’s really hard to know why something doesn’t happen. And it’s very frustrating. In trying to figure out why I  think we usually blame  the so-called “deficiency” that we feel most vulnerable about. But maybe we’re not right to do that. About the online dating email issue, it could be that a lot more people are coupled up by 29 and so that’s why the number of emails change. That might not be a bad thing, though. How many of those 100 emails at 25 were anything more than young guys  looking to play around? I’d say that getting married  or finding a partner after all of that craziness goes away is a good thing. People in their 30s are saner, they know themselves better, they’re more established on a career track. And they’re more selective.  So once you get it, it’s better. (NPR had a broadcast about the recent Pew Center stats about marriage, and this was a suggested takeaway. Today, Donna Reed would likely be older, working, in an egalitarian partnership, and a person of color.)

    This older-wiser-better kind of courtship is not the way our parents did it, maybe, but it’s the way people are doing it  today. So you’re on the cutting edge.   🙂

    No roadmap, though. 🙁

  19. 59

    I second the motion for That East Asian Man to start a blog if he hasn’t already, and share the link with us if possible! Your comments are amazing, thanks!!

  20. 60

    I don’t know, I disagree with your assessment of that list. A few might be a bit much, and it is generic, but I think it has the right idea. I think a creative, intelligent woman could take the ‘essence’ of that list and play with it to suit her values and personality.
    Good points, sometimes the answer is there is no answer. I hear you about the coupling at 29 thing though…I think that was a big factor. But at that point, I had so much going on in my life (not good stuff) that it would have been a bad time for me to be in a relationship anyway.

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