Why Does He Put Me On His Favorites List And Never Write To Me?

clueless girl wearing a red blouse

I belong to a dating website that has “winks” and “hotlists” as features. One thing that confuses me to no end is why a man would wink and/or hotlist me, but never write! On a few occasions, I have written to these men to interact with them, but they have not written back. Some of them still continue to “hotlist” me even weeks later.

What gives?


Dear Sylvia,

Do you have a pantry? Somewhere that you store food that you’re not planning on eating right this second?

That’s what a hot list is for men. A pantry to keep track of all the lovely ladies who may have caught their eyes while browsing.

Being put on a hot list is better than not being put on a hot list, but, in and of itself, the gesture means very little. Essentially, it means “maybe”. You haven’t been eliminated from contention, but there’s no guarantee you’re going to get an email. So don’t take it as some sort of promise ring. In fact, don’t take it as anything.

This is a huge problem with online dating and I only know because I’ve experienced it myself. You go on Match.com, see that you’ve been browsed 518 times, but you’ve only received three emails and five winks. This registers in our brains like this:

510 people just rejected me.

This is not remotely true, but this is how we feel; this is what we believe. We take everything so personally that we never bother to consider the logic of online dating.

Consider that you’ve probably browsed through 500 men — most of whom didn’t interest you. You may have put them on your favorites list. Maybe not. But the point is that you’ve looked at 500 guys and written to none of them. Should each and every one of those guys feel hurt that you browsed them without making contact? I should hope not. Yet this is what we do. It would be like a store owner getting upset when someone window shops but doesn’t buy. Sometimes, we’re just browsing; other times, we’ve got our credit cards out and are geared up to buy. Online dating is filled with browsers and lookie-loos and people who have profiles but are not currently paying for the site. I’m not kidding when I say that this comprises over half of the people online.

So if 50% of the people are not even potential buyers, that leaves 50% of the browsers who are. Factor in that you’re only going to be interested in 10% of that 50%, and, well, who exactly are you missing?

Nothing, I assure you.

But I hear you when you say that you want certain guys to actively write to you. … You stated that you’ve written to them but have gotten no reply. That could mean any number of things, but most likely, it’s that he’s busy with the women who are his “favorite” people on his hot list. And if those women don’t pan out, maybe he’ll work his way down to you. That’s nothing personal. That’s reality. Men think they have options — and they’re going to try to exercise them, from the hottest perfect 10’s on backwards. It’s a shame, but that’s what they do.

Most guys have hot lists with over 100 people on it. They’re completely unwieldy and completely unconsidered. It’s like men are highlighting lines in a particularly riveting textbook that they’ll probably never read again. Because either they a) forget about the women on their hot lists and keep searching for new blood, or b) they plow through those women indiscriminately with winks or form letters.

You see, Sylvia, the dirty little secret is that most of the guys who are disappointing you are not having any success on these sites either.

You want them, they want other women, and around and around we go.

There’s only one way to ensure that this cycle stops.

Do things differently.

Don’t blame men. (even if they suck)

Or Match.com. (even if it’s chaotic)

Or age. (even if it’s unfair to be judged for it)

Or anything else that you can’t fix.

Do something different.

Benjamin Franklin said it best:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

I’ve quoted that in both of my books and I’ve never been more convinced that it’s true.

And if that quote isn’t working for you, how about: “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” ?

If you’re frustrated at online dating, you only have two choices: keep going or quit and hope that you meet your soulmate in “real life”. The latter happens all the time in the movies but not so much when you’re over the bar scene, your friends are all married, and you work ten hours a day in a small office with people you shouldn’t/wouldn’t date.

On the other hand, you can try to make the most of your online dating experience — and you can have FUN doing it. And when I say FUN, I’m not kidding. I’m talking about jumpstarting your love life, being able to choose who YOU want to date and actually dating them.

What’s the secret?…

Do something different.

Try a different website.

Get a brand new photo.

Create a one-of-a-kind profile that attracts the right people.

Learn a whole new emailing technique that gets results.
Heck, you can even get FREE dating advice just by signing up here and reading to your heart’s content.

Imagine if you had an amazing photo, amazing essays, and amazing dating skills that allowed you to better understand the opposite sex.

Imagine how powerful you’d be.

Imagine how many options you’d have.

Imagine how little you’d get upset because you knew what was really going on, and how to persevere anyway.

Listen, I didn’t plan to write this entry to mention my services, but every time I get a letter like Sylvia’s, it’s a wake-up call.

There are tons of resources out there for people who want to fall in love. The few people who tap those resources are the ones who get all the best results.

So thank you, Sylvia, for asking a very important question that tons of people want to know the answer to. The short answer would be that men hotlist tons of people so don’t take it personally. But that wouldn’t make for much of a blog post, now would it? 🙂

Thanks for reading and I hope you feel inspired to do something to make those guys want to write back to you today!

Join our conversation (36 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    What are the tons of resources out there for people who want to fall in love? Do you mean dating site A, dating site B and dating site C?

  2. 2
    Evan Marc Katz

    Look at the right side of the page. There are books, CD’s, seminars, and yes, dating sites as well… More to follow…

  3. 3
    Jared Meyer

    Good stuff. No need to justify providing links to your products or services. We encourage you to share your tools with us and expect that you do so – and often – until more and more people realize that you have the stuff that will save them plenty of resources (time, effort, etc.).

  4. 4

    Don’t fret Sylvia. Don’t take it personally. Take advantage of what Evan suggests: new profile, new photos, do some reading about online dating (see Evan’s book) etc. Your success rate will go up.

    But, just as importantly, remember that success with online dating is a lot like looking for your first real job out of college. You send out tons of resumes, and get tons of rejection. Lots and lots of rejection. It happens to everybody!

    As hard as it may be, don’t take rejection too seriously. Do your best, do what Evan suggests, but remember to not let yourself get down.

    In my opinion, handling rejection with a positive outlook is key to having fun with online dating and ultimately to having success with it.

  5. 5

    Hi Evan,
    This topic really struck a chord with me. I have recently decided to use Match.com after a few months break. I have taken the guarantee challenge to actually initiate emails but continue to be frustrated by not getting at least a “not interested” reply! Anyways, I have a couple of questions:
    1: Should a person send a follow-up email to someone they have written to before and not heard from?
    2: What do you think of expressing in ones profile that you prefer emails to winks?
    Thank you so much for your encouragement and help in our searches.

  6. 6

    In reading Ynes’s questions, I had to respond. If you email someone (or call for that matter) and they don’t write you back you aren’t enough of a priority for them. If they wanted to get back they would. I mean, maybe if a few months have passed and you scroll through their profile again you might want to try one more time.

    But one of the WORST things a guy can do to me is constantly harass me. If a guy calls me or emails me once I might not be able to get back to him right away. But every single time he contacts me again without a response from me I get more and more irritated, like he’s invading my boundaries. Finally the guy gets the “psycho” tag in my book and has lost all chance. Chill. Relax.

    And you should say whatever you want to say in your profile about what you REALLY want. The more honest you are in your profile, and with yourself, the closer you are going to get to finding the right one. If you don’t like winks, I don’t see a problem at all in saying that in your profile.

    Good point, Evan, in reminding us that this is supposed to be fun. It’s easy to forget that when you take it so personally. It’s really hard not to take it personally. But remember, these people don’t really know you.

    Happy dating!

  7. 7

    More answers to Ynes’s questions:

    You mentioned that you get frustrated when you write to people, and they don’t give the courtesy of a “not interested” reply. Keep in mind that many women (myself included) get many e-mails a day from guys we’re not interested in — there’s just not enough time in the day to say “no thanks” to everyone.

    If I write to a guy, and never hear back? That’s him saying “no thanks” right there — what more do you need?

    As Damie says, if you write once, it doesn’t hurt to write once more after a month or so has passed. But no more than that.

    I think it’s fine to write in your profile that you prefer a written-out e-mail to winks — I do that, but I still get lots of winks anyway. I delete 99% of them.

    1. 7.1

      I think when someone is brought up with showing respect and having manners, we have someone write to us (be it match.com or any other site) and I am not on a dating site but if I were and someone wrote to me and seemed interested and I took the time to write back and then never heard-I’d wonder.Did he get the message? Did I say something to offend him and maybe I am in a minority but would want to know what sparked his interest initially and then what caused him to not write again? I’d want to know.I’d want to learn from whatever was the turn off.
      Maybe I a crazy but if he is just wasting my time by writing a longish message why would he do that if he didn’t want to connect.I am talking about my friend who signed on- She is a Harvard graduate- (which prob is meaningless) a well known (in those circles) diplomat and he has the same background. So it isn’t like they are on there just to ‘hook up’ after a few Fosters. Maybe it is unreasonable expectation to think some person is that respectful of another’s time and energy I think your points are valid but personally I don’t think I could take being not responded to for no explanation.

  8. 8

    Well, I must be doing something wrong because I don’t get so many emails from men that I don’t have time to reply! In fact, I make sure to send a reply to everyone that contacts me. Part of it is that I’m in a small area so there really aren’t that many prospects. Another part of it is that golden rule idea- do unto others as you would like done to you (or something like that-I’m not trying to quote the Bible here!) It does seem that I may have to accept this as part of the online dating protocol but it makes for a discouraging experience when there isn’t much activity going on.

    Thank you so much for the responses! It is so appreciated since the “online” experience can feel insulated and lonely at times!!! LV- I started reading your blog yesterday and I can see that it will be quite inspiring and supportive!

  9. 9

    I agree with LV. You can’t expect someone to send a “not interested” reply to everyone who emails them. It’s just not practical, nor necessary.

    On the other hand, there are certain practices that I see a lot of in the online dating world that are downright rude and show a complete lack of common decency. Often they just involve plain laziness or no consideration at all of other people.

    One of the most common offenses I see is women (men probably do it too)who email me, start an email dialogue, give me their phone number, and then never answer the phone or return my call. If they’ve changed their mind about me, that’s fine. Just give me the courtesy of an email offering some kind of excuse (e.g., “sorry, my situation has changed and I don’t have the time to pursue our conversation further.”)

    Also, many times women just “disappear” after an exchange of several emails. They are eagerly writing to you, and then all of a sudden, “poof” they just disappear, never bothering to say anything at all. Again, all they need to do is say “sorry, but things have changed and I don’t have the time to continue our dialogue.” How hard can that be?

    One last complaint. Don’t waste my time emailing me back and forth if you never had any intention of going on a date. There are definitely women out there who don’t have any intention of dating. They just like the chase or attention for ego building reasons, and they are not going to go on a date with anyone. If all you want to do is chat online, let me know up front.

    1. 9.1
      Dave McKay

      Wow! Thank you for this post. What an eye-opener! I just signed up with Match.com yesterday. My wife passed away 7 months ago. She was 56. I am 61. We were married for 29 years and have 4 grown kids. I have no idea what to expect with dating these days.

  10. 10


    Thanks for the fabulous response! This has been a burning question for me and many of my online-dating friends. You’ve answered it thoroughly and then some.

    I’ll work on revising my profile, but my pictures are pretty fabulous (if I must say so myself). I think partly it’s just that I have a sort of Jean Seburg aesthetic and some guys like it and other guys don’t. I don’t take it too personally — it is what it is.

    Roger/Ynes: 99% of the time I send a reply, even if it’s an auto-reply. Like Ynes, I don’t get SO much email that I don’t have time to hit the send “no thanks” button. To me it’s a courtesy–I don’t expect most other people to respond in kind, but I certainly appreciate it when they do. There have been times when I’ve told men, “I’ve met someone and I’m going to pursue that, but best of luck to you…” only to email them a few months later and say, “Hey, that didn’t work out. Are you still interested?”

    Twice I’ve gone out dates because of this, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I was polite and direct about why I was no longer communicating with them.

    My general rule is: if I email a guy and he doesn’t respond within 2-3 days, I just delete him from my favorites and/or hotlist and move on.

  11. 11

    Hi Ynes,
    The problem with winks is: the guy probably hasn’t subscribed to Match. He’s cheap and hopes that you are a paid subscriber so he doesn’t have to pay. He winks, and if you are a paid subscriber you email back. Basically, there are a lot of cheap men on Match and other for-pay sites who do this. Your best defense is a good offense. Adopt his strategy. Don’t email anyone who doesn’t email you first. Just browse profiles and hotlist or wink at as many as you think are marginally interesting. Wait to see who emails you back. Delete the winks you receive, or wink back but don’t email. I don’t use Match any more, so I don’t know if men now have to pay to reply to emails they receive in response to their winks. I only use the free sites now, since my response rate was so abysmal on Match and eHarmony, I wasn’t getting a good enough return to make it worth paying for any more. I am actually getting much better responses, and more of them, on the free sites. I still just browse and hotlist lots of profiles every couple of weeks. Then I just wait for the emails to come in. This way is much more pleasant, and a lot less work, plus I know the emails I receive are men who are genuinely interested in my profile, & aren’t just replying to me to be polite.

  12. 12

    Sylvia, and all…

    All the points are valid, but have you ever considered that perhaps that dream boy is simply not a member of the website, thus making it a) impossible for him to read your great message to him and b) impossible for him to message you to tell you he’s not a member!

    Sure, most people on these sites ARE paid members, and you could even say, “Why should i bother with someone not serious enough to become a member?” Well, all I know is that I belonged to a website and never became a paid member, and I’m sure women became very frustrated when I would hot list them and never write, or they’d write me and I wouldn’t write back because I couldn’t read it… But the times that the woman sent me an instant message when I was on, sometimes it incredibly paid off. Don’t put the ball totally in his court… If you are interested in him, send him a direct message if your site allows you to do it without someone being a paid member… I had been a non-paying member, and got an IM from a beautiful girl almost 7 months ago who I am glad took it upon herself, because we’re happily together in love… So take a chance… If it’s one more thing for him to ignore, then you’ll really know he’s not the one 🙂

  13. 13

    Interesting topic-

    and many, including Evan, have responded with the same understanding and suggested behaviors I would have.
    Mainly don’t take it to personal, yet do evaluate this in terms of your personal preferences.

    I have been on and offline for many years and had a chance to observe myself and others in this process.

    First of all, if it is not fun, I ‘d recommend not doing it. Dating may be awkward but should not be so painful.

    I’d recommend therapy and counseling or coaching to look at one’s own issues around relationships and self-esteem, image, need for approval and approach.

    I’d also say that being uncomfortable and awkward and maybe having some fear around the process is normal. Evan and others more experienced (I include myself in this group now) can help provide some guidance.

    Think of it as an interesting challenge, like traveling in a foreign land. One get’s more familiar with time and used to the culture.

    What I found interesting was hearing about men who experience women who ‘dissappear’ after seeming very eager and engaging in several solicitous email exchanges.

    I thought this was more a behavior of men (my experience). I think many get caught up in the immediate, and when one of the scouting options becomes potentially viable- they just drop all the others. I agree it is rude behavior and a quick email or call to let one know that you are pursuing a possiblity is all that is needed.

    Sometimes I have said this in as direct a way as possible without rancor, sometimes with humor, because I believe for some it is unconscious and not intended to be malicious. I hope they might learn and not continue this hurtful behavior.

    It is true that later, if a situation doesn’t pan out, it is easier to renew the conversation left off if one has been kind and communicative.

    When a man has just ‘dissappeared’ and then recontacts me months or years later, I am less likely to be eager or excited. In fact I am downright wary because his behavior has shown lack of consideration. I have at times given this ‘suitor’ another chance and then had the exact same thing occur. Rude – ridiculous and potentially hurtful. I don’t let it get to me.

    2 strikes and they are for sure out.

    Interestingly I see some of these same men cruising continually. They don’t seem so successful and their selfish focus may be one reason. No innder substance may be another.

    So I don’t worry about the ‘rejects’ or the rejected and find that being direct, humorous, and yet caring has been a good approach. I can feel I act with integrity.

    Many have thanked my for just sending a quick, kind, email reply saying I am not interested and good luck or that I am giving time to see what develops with one man (or more! : ) ).

    I think so many could use lessons in communication and etiquette and so Even, Christian Carter, and others have very good advice.

    Also, about favoriting… I sometimes favorite profiles I find interesting and amusing even if not actively interested in the particular person. Sometimes I realize dating this person would be impractical. These profiles may help me to discern what I prefer, rethink how I’d express that and I can also later share this with others.

    I have learned LOTS about men – or at least how many men like to present and think of themselves.

    I also favorite female profiles that I like and have learned lots about women. I have become able to place myself as distinct among them-

    This can be a very interesting learning experience and place for research.

    Keep an open mind and heart, and if you get tired- take a break!

    Good luck,

  14. 14


    Another very distinct possibility is that the guys who “wink” or “hotlist” are not paid subscribers and don’t have the ability to write back. About the only thing you can do is to wink back and hotlist them. If they’re really interested, they may actually subscribe.

    Working on your profile/pictures is one way to get them really interested.

  15. 15

    Evan Marc Katz wrote:
    >Get a brand new photo.

    Speaking of puzzling common behaviour on dating sites, I am often surprised by the dreadful, unflattering, grainy, indistinct photos so many people attach to their profiles, especially women looking for men, since everybody knows that in mate selection, human males are extremely responsive to visual stimuli. Not to say women don’t care about physical appearance in assessing men, but for men it’s even more fundamental and is the starting point for any further exploration of relationship possibility.

    In other words, a crappy picture will badly hurt anybody’s chances on a dating site regardless of gender, but for women it’s an utter death knell for their prospects, and in my view spending time to get the best, most attractive possible picture for their profile should be a top priority for women, even though it’s also very important for men. A man might be able to make up for a mediocre picture with exceptional textual content in his profile, but a women’s profile will never even be glanced at if the picture is bad.

    There are no doubt evolutionary and cultural reasons for this male visual bias, and it doesn’t mean men are superficial or see women only as sex objects or anything like that. An interesting recent study using eye-tracking technology found that men spend much more time looking at women’s faces than women do looking at men’s faces. Women pay more attention to the body in forming their overall impression of a man’s physical appearance, according to the study.

    My impression is that this male visual filter is very much a first-pass system that mainly influences who a man will initiate any form of contact with, or respond to if the woman initiates contact. So if a woman can find and upload a single image showing her face alone in its most flattering aspect, that’s really all she needs to get past this filter. Full-body swimsuit or kinky leather outfit photos in a woman’s profile are of relatively minor importance compared to one good picture showing her face to the best possible advantage. A pretty face is really all a woman needs to get a foot in the door, so to speak, and avoid being eliminated by the male visual filter’s instant and powerful decrees.

    That’s my secret tip to women on dating sites — what do you think, Evan, based on your deep experience and learning in the realm of online dating?

    Oh, by the way, I am a heterosexual male humanoid myself, and that is the basis of my authority on this question. And in all my comments above, keep in mind that it’s mainly a question of relative priority and the weight given to various factors that differentiates men and women in the matter at hand, rather than any sort of vast quasi-metaphysical divide between the sexes rendering them mutually unfathomable to each other in the “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” kind of way. I personally am convinced that men and women are absolutely and unshakeably Earthlings first and foremost, and much more alike than different, which makes the differences all the more fascinating and compelling.

  16. 16

    “In other words, a crappy picture will badly hurt anybody’s chances on a dating site regardless of gender, but for women it’s an utter death knell for their prospects”

    I agree- I know that most men who contacted me had not read my profile, or they are in blatant denial of the differences and distinctions that would render them unsuitable and vice versa. On querying, most would admit that the photo is what caught their eye and provoked their desire to seek contact.

    Yes, research supports men’s visual preferences in general. More experienced and particular men will look beyond to assess other qualities after that.

    For myself and many women- we are attracted by visual appearance too, but I have checked and confirmed that many will be quite considerate and give badly photoed men a chance if they
    1. appear at least decently groomed
    2. do not come across as psycho killers
    3. do not seem too hostile or angry – read dangerous

    and especially if they come across intheir profile with qualities or interests that seem attractive to the particular woman

    this is no excuse to continue to post quick and badly taken photos- dark photos with frowns and just back from the bar looks.

    If you come across both as attractive, considerate and caring of your own appearance, and have many more redeeming and distinguishing qualities (intelligence- literacy- and humor that is demonstrated) you will for sure stand out!

    Confidence and humility-(kind eyes) as shown in your photos and revealed in your words will help.

  17. 17

    Great site, Evan.

    Regarding this post and the concept of “winks”, I often just “wink” to a girl who has been inactive for a long time just because it’s a time waster to write an email. For example, if someone has been inactive for 3 weeks, I’ll just wink to get their attention. If someone has been active within the last week, I almost always write an email.

    And not to brag, but I do pretty well online, and think your advice is generally solid. I could get 2 coffee meetings a day every day of the week if I wanted to. The only problem is scheduling them all in!

  18. 18

    Favorites or Hot List is like a Bookmark, when you are using the Search function. It means you caught someone’s attention. I would add to Favorites a woman that I find interesting, but that has as the Lowest acceptable wage of her date set at 75,000 per year, when I am under 35,000 because many women view men as “success objects” and her profile says that I do not “measure up.”

    What I check is the feature “Who’s viewed me,” since it means a woman actually clicked my profile to read it. Often they will get turned off when they read that I think “Sermon on the mount” is saying not to marry a divorcee’. But at least she looked, and to her, I will send an e-mail.

  19. 19

    I really don’t see how these suggestions are going to help her if she is already attempting to date online. New pictures don’t make you a 10. A new profile doesn’t make you a “10”. And apparently, as even Evan said, that is what men priortize. And why whould she or any woman want to be with a man that didn’t make it with the “10” but is giving her a “7” a go because he has no other options. If this is really what men do, then it becomes all that much harder to have faith that there are still good men out there.

  20. 20

    JerseyGirl, the good ones are out there as well as the not-so-good ones. I have read a number of your posts and find them to be quite real.

    I think what EMK conveyed to Sylvia is that by trying a different approach, that will enable her to be more selective. Selective to the point of attracting men who she would like to date.

    You have your criteria for a partner as do I. What appeals to me may/not appeal to you (other than the fact that we are members of the same gender).

    Presently I am at the in-between dating stage and could sure jump on the bandwagon of going slightly insane. Instead I am convincing myself that this break will help me to further reflect my criteria. Last week I made some significant changes on my profile and the results have been amazing. I have received more emails than ever. And I credit that to actually reading and attempting to learn from what Evan writes.

    Jersey, don’t let it get you down. You are the one in control of those who put a reference number in front of a profile/photograph….a person that he does not even know. Furthermore you cannot be everything to everyone. Only a select few and hopefully the select ONE in the not too distant future. Chin up, JG.

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