Should Women Write to Men?

Dear Evan,

I just read your post regarding internet dating. Very interesting points you make and I agree with most of them.

Here is my question: Are men ok with women sending introductory emails to them? I am very confused about this point. In some ways, I see a email hello similar to a come-hither look at a bar, etc. but in other ways it seems very aggressive and therefore a turnoff to most men. I would love your thoughts on this.

Thanks.

Jane

Dear Jane,

Your question brings up two of the most common mistakes that women make in online dating:

1) Waiting for Men to Write to You First
2) Telling Him What You Like About His Profile

First things first:

Men LOVE it when women write to them. It makes their lives so much easier. If you have an attractive photo, interesting essay, and you’re in his target demographic, why WOULDN’T he be excited to hear from you? You may be on his Favorites list but he hasn’t had the opportunity to contact you yet. So yes, Jane, don’t hesitate to contact that guy you’ve been eyeing. There is nothing inherent about initiating an email conversation that screams out “desperate”. However…

Where most women screw up that first email contact is by taking one of two approaches: 1) telling him how great he is, or 2) explaining why you’re great and why he should write back to you.

“But…doesn’t that just about cover it? What else could I possibly say?”

Presuming you’ve had a man write to you before, is it really all that interesting when he tells you that he thinks you’re cute? Is there something particularly energizing in the phrase, “I think we have a lot in common”? Is it really all that intriguing when he explains why he’s a good partner for you, even though you haven’t met? Even if a guy reads your entire profile and respond to one specific line, do you really get excited by a man who says, “I notice you like skiing. I enjoy Breckenridge.”

Nah.

Then why would you write an email like that to a man?

I’m really grateful, Jane, that you made that connection between a first email and a come-hither look at a bar. That is EXACTLY the metaphor I use for private clients in describing the “tone” you want to capture in your initial contact. You’d never hit on a guy at a bar by walking up to him and telling him that he’s cute, he seems nice, and that you’d like to buy him a drink. So why would you write an email that does the same thing?!

If you want to meet a man at a bar, you cross the room, plant yourself eight feet to his diagonal, wait for eye contact and smile. Once you smile, it’s his job to come over. While you might have “made the first move”, you’re still in control, since he has to approach you.

Same thing online.

Emails that tell a man that he’s interesting are dull.
Emails that tell a man that you hope he writes back are weak.
Find the tone that shows that he’d be lucky to have you – and maybe he’ll feel lucky to have you.

It’s a bit counterintuitive, but if your first instinct is to compliment him and explain your value, you’re not demonstrating that you have any value.

Once you put a man on a pedestal, he’s automatically looking down at you.

Once you tell him how great he is, he doesn’t know why he should write back.

So yes, Jane, you should totally write to the guy. But the tone of that email should be flirty, funny, and challenging – the same as the email from a man that gets your attention.

POSTSCRIPT

As to HOW to do something like that, here’s a link to my Finding the One Online program, which spends a full hour explaining how to email people online. Hope it clarifies things a bit.

Join our conversation (49 Comments).
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Comments:

  1. 1
    Loverville

    Evan,

    Can you give an example of what would be an effective e-mail for a woman to write to a man?

    Eg, say you both have a love for adventure travel — you see that he’s been trekking in Nepal, and has visited the Amazon… things you have in common.

    Just wondering!
    Thanks!
    LV

  2. 2
    Joey

    What a STUPID question. What is this, 1956????? Should women write to men?? Oh my god…that must mean a woman is EASY(!) Ha!! For as far as women have come in jobs, money, social status does this question even need to be asked?? If I was a woman, I’d be totally insulted. It’s E-MAIL people, not a marriage proposal, not a trip to Europe, not a boquet of roses. Geez…I can’t believe what a bunch of wusses we’ve become….hey everybody (men and women)…GROW SOME, and GROW UP!!! If you like the person, TELL THEM!! Don’t worry about tone, style, and any of that crap. If honesty scares them off, is that the kind of person you’d really want to be with anyway?? Think, McFly, Think!!! If the person has been on internet dating sites for any time at all, they’ll be grateful to get ANY responses.

    1. 2.1
      Stephen Cordova

      Thank you Joey seriously. It’s electronics and the internet, if you don’t like someone block them, they’re not in your house headed for your bedroom, it’s a freaking email or message! Also if a woman likes a man enough to want to talk to him, online, write to that mofo. He probably hasent found you yet and that’s why he hasent said anything to you. In real life it’s a little different, all a man needs in real life is a stare and a smile. Online people are practically hidden so make some noise and call attention to yourself or chances are you’ll never be found.

    2. 2.2
      Tracey

      Joey!

      I could not agree with you more!

       

    3. 2.3
      Neri

      Think, McFly, think! Hahaha, nice

  3. 4
    A-L

    I decided to try Evan’s e-mailing technique but my results were less than thrilling. My response rate plummeted, and I’ve gone back to writing my usual style of e-mail. I never send the generic e-mails we all love to hate, and it’s always individualized to the guy’s profile. I’ve recently decided to try writing in the style of e-mail that I LOVE to receive (I saved the favorite e-mail I’ve ever received) to see if that’ll work but it may be too early too tell. Perhaps getting that sent from a girl sends off the vibe that I’m too interested in him.

    Overall, though, I’d say that the e-mail should truly be your voice, because that’s what they’ll get in your profile, and in all other communications. Helps build truth in advertising, which is always desireable in online dating.

    1. 4.1
      Supporter

      “…I’ve decided to write in the style of e-mail that I LOVE to receive…”
      I’m replying to your comment both to praise you (in your proactive approach) but also to mention that since men and women have different ways to experience life it is perhaps not such a good idea to approach men the way YOU like to be approached.
      For better results your emails should be tailored to men’s minds, unfortunately I can’t be of help there and you’ll have to do a bit more reading on the subject.
      Keep on being proactive.

      1. 4.1.1
        j.

        Easy just say what you are thinking no beating around the bush, men don’t.

  4. 5
    Muffy

    When is this scenario ever going to change? It’s 2009 and we’re still stuck someplace in ancient history. I’m so tired of it being all about the guy. “Position yourself 8 feet and 3 inches from his visibility and see if he notices you” are you kidding me? I don’t care about history….the man is the hunter and the woman is the nester. Right. We are living in a society now where men have sex with each other every day and are frequently more intrigued by each other or themselves in the mirror than they are by a woman. So, if a woman is interested in a man and he doesn’t have the capability or “sac” to appreciate that a woman would approach him then I think he should just stay home with his mirror and admire himself all night. It’s like someone who wouldn’t join any club that would have him as a member. I think it’s pathetic that people still preach that women should wait for a man to approach them. Hey guys! It’s not all about you!! Yuck. Sorry. Rubs me the wrong way. This makes women not even want to date men or look at them for fear that their already over inflated egos might just explode!!!!!

    Muffy´s last blog post…Whats with guys wearing skinny jeans?

  5. 6
    downtowngal

    Evan, I agree w Loverville – can you provide examples? Though I agree w your approach, I’m not sure exactly what you’re getting at here…

    Online dating has really made things more confusing, imho. Since when did creative writing skills become a prerequisite for dating (right up there w fresh breath and neat hair)?

    And at the end of the day, you meet the person and often time he/she seems very different from what’s presented/how you perceived the profile.

  6. 8
    Michael Ejercito

    So, if a woman is interested in a man and he doesnt have the capability or sac to appreciate that a woman would approach him then I think he should just stay home with his mirror and admire himself all night.
    Evan’s advice about Position yourself 8 feet and 3 inches from his visibility and see if he notices you is about control instead of avoiding any offense.

    Control is important to maintain in relationships.

  7. 9
    Cilla

    “Control is important to maintain in relationships.”

    This is why the dating world is so f***ed up right now.

    Appropriate boundaries. Happiness. Personal integrity. Self esteem. Cameraderie. Physical attraction. I thought these were the things important to maintain in relationships…

    The minute you start worrying about who is in control (who has “hand” as George Costanza would say), ironically, you have actually lost control and have given your power to someone else. Planting yourself 8 feet from some guy’s 2:00 and hoping he’ll notice you is pathetically passive. Since many people still feel the need to play this game, it’s one of the reasons I don’t go to bars to meet men. I can’t even begin to say how ugly it can get if you keep worrying about who has the power later in a relationship.

    I agree with Muffy–we’ve taken this whole caveman/hunter thing too far, given the society we now live in. We’ve made men out to be these uncontrollable, need-to-be-in-charge, everything-about-me neanderthals who can’t keep their flies closed, but it’s OK because it’s just biology. Yuck is right.

    I’ve written to plenty of men online, and had a long-term relationship develop out of one email I initiated. But equating sending an email to a come hither look? Isn’t that what the “wink” function is for?

    I say emailing a guy first is no different than buying him a drink–which, by the way, I’ve had plenty of men tell me is an incredible turn on for them. Maybe it’s different as you age? Is it possible that men find it too aggressive to have a 20-something approach them but are OK with a 40-something doing it? If the guy is considerably younger than the woman, does that play a role? I think we are in a very fluid time in the anthropological history of dating, and the rules are constantly changing. Obsessing about control and adhering to hard and fast rules may not work the way it used to… Just my .02.

    1. 9.1
      Stephen Cordova

      Thank you Cilla! This old way of thinking crap only happens in the USA. In other countries like Europe and Japan, Women love being women and they love men being men and they tell you this. In the USA people seem more confused then ever. Get your head out of your ass and act like you have nothing to lose because the only thing you’ll lose is a chance with someone you deiced you didnt like anyway when you meet them.

  8. 10
    Sayanta

    Actually, Evan- I’m glad I came across this post again- a few years ago, I would’ve thought- no way! Let the guys contact me first. Ah, how necessity pushes one out of the comfort zone.

    It’s so funny- reading the online dating posts- because my online experience seems to parallel men’s, for some bizarre reason. I write to guys first, almost always get responses, leading to dates (or at least a phone call from him)- but I almost never get e-mails from dudes first. Just winks. These women who get “100s” of e-mails that I read about, who the heck are they?

  9. 11
    sayanta

    Oh…it’s so funny, I had to find this post because the girls who wrote “The Rules” (No, I’m not an advocate, I just think it’s entertainment) say (surprise!) never never write a guy first.

    I think it would be interesting to compare the women who end up in relationships with guys they e-mailed vs. the ones who got e-mailed first. For me, the ones I’ve e-mailed end up flaking out after a couple of e-mails. At the same time, I have friends who are married to guys they e-mailed first.

    So…what’s been the experience here of the women post-ers?

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      By definition Sayanta, you’re going to have a much higher “success rate” with men who emailed you first because THEY EMAILED YOU FIRST, professing their interest. Any time you reach out and cold call someone, it’s a bit of a crapshoot. But if you’re not receiving emails from men you want, the ONLY things you can do are improve your profile/photos to attract more men and higher quality men, and start writing funny, confident emails to those who interest you. If you write to 10 cute guys and 3 email back, I’d that the venture should be considered a success.

      1. 11.1.1
        Jenn

        Yes, but would they then pursue you as rigorously as if they had emailed you? I think not. Every guy I’ve ever emailed may have replied, but he’s never shown as much interest as men who’ve contacted me first. I want guys who really want me and have the potential to be crazy about me. That doesn’t happen when I make the first move. It never has.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          You have a very limited sample size, Jenn. And you’ve probably never written an email the Finding the One Online way – flirty, funny, confident. Once a guy responds to you, it doesn’t matter who wrote to whom first. I don’t care if you only use half of online dating (which is to say, by not writing to men first), but please don’t tell me that the very thing I’ve been teaching effectively for 10 years doesn’t work. It does. You just haven’t done it.

  10. 12
    A-L

    Sayanta, I’m pretty sure I already told you this, but I e-mailed my guy first.  He’s marrying me.  Does that count as an e-mail success?

  11. 13
    sayanta

    A-L-

    Yeah- I remember that- I was just curious as to what the experience might be for a number of other women as well.

    Evan-

    Well…so far it’s been like this- the number of guys who have written me has been…pretty much non-existent. However, I’ve written about…20 guys? About 15 have enthusiastically answered back….the problem? half the time the e-mails end up going back and forth with no actual date of meeting panning out. So…I don’t know, if the guys are actually writing me back, something in my profile must be intriguing them- but just not enough to meet up or e-mail first?

    hmmm….maybe I should stop beginning my profile with a literature quote. 😉

  12. 14
    Karl R

    sayanta said: (#14)
    “I’ve written about…20 guys? About 15 have enthusiastically answered back….the problem? half the time the e-mails end up going back and forth with no actual date of meeting panning out.”

    For every three emails you send out, you’re getting one first date? That’s a much better response rate than most guys achieve. I never came close in online dating.

  13. 15
    sayanta

    Karl…well, not exactly- 15 (maybe I’m a couple short on the numbers)guys responded- four guys made it to the ‘let’s meet up’ level (not the guys I was hoping to get a ‘meet’ with, but that’s Evan’s other post, on liking the people who like you….lol).

    2 of them, I changed my mind about, because, this is going to sound weird, but when I talked to them on phone…I got a very…off vibe about them, and I was getting nervous at the idea of meeting them, which, I strongly believe was more than ‘first’ date jitters.

    The other two…one date with one dude, the other flaked out at the last minute.

    So, 15 guys e-mail back, I get to ‘meet’ level with one. Minus the 2 who I decided not to see, and the one who flaked, there’s 11 that have just disappeared after a couple of e-mails.

    So…maybe I’m being narcissistic here- it’s okay to call me out if that’s the case. lol  Maybe I’m expecting too much- I don’t know. Maybe I should be e-mailing a hundred guys instead of 20- who knows?

    All I know is my friend who is a ’10’ in the looks department e-mailed 30 guys, some of whom never wrote back (????- She’s a friggin’ 10!!), and met her mate after the 31st e-mail. I’m a ‘7’- an ‘8’ when I’m made up, hair blown out- so obviously my numbers need to be higher than hers.;-p

  14. 16
    A-L

    Sayanta,
     
    How many guys are you e-mailing at a time? Are you sending out 20 e-mails a week and then corresponding with 15 that week?  Or are you e-mailing 10 a week and corresponding with 7?  Or a different set of numbers?
     
    When I was doing the online dating thing I found it difficult to have good e-mail with more than 3-5 guys at a time.  Good e-mail qualifying as being able to maintain quick response times, remembering details from the correspondence, etc.  Is it possible that you’re e-mailing with so many guys that they don’t feel a lot of personal attention, and therefore don’t devote enough interest to developing a possible relationship?

  15. 17
    sayanta

    A-L-

    You know…that’s a very good point!

    No, it was about 20 in one week- almost all of the e-mails were “I like your profile. Check mine out if you want.” I know, deeply uncreative. Ironically, the few that I did get ‘creative’ with never wrote back…lol.

    I suppose I’m lucky that I got responses at all, taking your response into consideration.

    I think also…I’m getting put off when guys don’t make any mention about meeting up by the second e-mail. Also…I think I’m like the most recent post-er (‘freeze out’ girl), where I get annoyed if a guy doesn’t respond right away.

    Reading my own post, I think I’ve got serious ADD when it comes to online dating. Great, more issues to work on! :-p

  16. 18
    Selena

    LOL Sayanta! Well, I love you. 🙂

  17. 19
    sayanta

    Thanks Selena! Same here- I just love the good vibes on this blog. 🙂

  18. 20
    BeenthereDonethat

    @ Sayanta
     
    I totally trust my instincts – if I get a weird vibe from the phone conversations, I follow that. OR at any time during the “getting to know someone” phase.
     
    Also, the guys I’ve had the most success with were ones in which we had a lot of talking/emailing before actually meeting were ones where we talked a lot before actually meeting.  Interestingly, these guys – the ones where we did talk for months before our face to face meeting – we are still good friends.  Not that I recommend months, those just happened due to logistics, one guy was leaving the state for a couple of months just as we started to get to know each other and the other guy was super shy.  Anyway, my point is I’ve met people quickly (after one email) and slowly (a couple of months) and the slowly seems to produce a more genuine relationship.  So don’t stress if they don’t move really fast.

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