Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

Just got off the phone with a client who wanted to know why he hadn’t heard back from this woman he’d written to online. He showed me the email correspondence and it was promising. Relatively lengthy, honest, meaty emails. But upon closer inspection, I saw a few glitches that told the whole story. And this is why I’m sharing it with you.

The woman sucked all the fun out of flirting.

This is REAL common, by the way. Yes, online dating can be a bit of a slog, a chore, a job, but that doesn’t mean that you should treat it that way. Just because you’re seeking a real relationship doesn’t entitle you to an interrogation regarding his past, his present, and his future intentions. Even an innocuous line like “So why is a seemingly great, successful guy like you still single?” can be read as an insult as much as a compliment. Ladies, for your own sake, lighten up! The part before the date is where you’re supposed to charm and dazzle us, not bring us down with tales of romantic fantasies dashed.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

The guy took the bait and played serious as well.

Hasn’t everybody, at some point, had an email conversation that went awry? A simple dialogue that got all messed up due to the computer’s inability to convey tone, warmth, sarcasm and eye contact? If you’re gonna talk about something serious, face it, you’d probably be better off in person than laying it out there in Outlook. Yet we do it all the time, and we wonder why people don’t get the message. So if one party wants to talk about something weighty – the other party would be well served to recommend a phone number exchange. Writing back a serious missive to a serious missive is like playing tennis with a lead ball – it may be possible, but you’ll be hard pressed to get it off the ground.

Despite his best intentions, he proved to be just like all the other guys.

So my client wrote her an email addressing her concerns about why he’s still single and told her that he was going out of town for the next two weeks. He told her he’d contact her upon his return. It seemed to him to be a sincere and responsible reply. What he didn’t factor in was that a) she had given him her regular email address and he was still writing to her on the website (which is a bit impersonal) and that b) he told her he was going to be out of town, so why would she write back to him?

Thus, a week after his return, he’s asking me what he did wrong and why she didn’t write back. And I’m telling him that she’s waiting for HIM to write to her. And the thought didn’t even occur to him. Not at all. He never bothered to put himself in her shoes – waiting for him to return from his trip, wondering why he hasn’t emailed. All he was wondering was why she hadn’t emailed him.

These communication breakdowns happen ALL THE TIME with online dating. And the only way to fight through them is to be vigilant about your integrity.

Let’s have a few rules about this, shall we?


1) You say you’re going to call, then call. No ifs, ands or buts. If, for some reason, you can’t make the call, then call in advance or immediately afterwards to apologize. Don’t just sweep it under the rug like it never happened.

2) It’s okay to disappear when you’re emailing on site – it’s not okay to disappear after a few dates. A simple email claiming that it’s just not a long-term match should suffice.

3) If there’s someone that you like but find yourself getting serious with someone else, tell the TRUTH. “Sorry I’ve been out of touch, but it looks like things are progressing with someone else. I have no idea what the future holds, but if it doesn’t work out, I hope I can still call you in the future. And if you’re taken at that point, well, it’s my loss. Good luck in your search.” It may not be pleasant to receive such email, but it’s hard to hold it against someone who has the tact and class to be honest.

Needless to say, this is all Golden Rule stuff, but it always bears mentioning. It’s so much easier to be judgmental of others than it is to shine the light on our own behavior. Just imagine if everyone followed the Golden Rule online; these sites wouldn’t be half-bad, would they?