Online dating dilemma

Dear Elana,

I’ve had it with online dating! I was corresponding with one man who seemed promising, but he disappeared after a few email exchanges. I have no idea what happened, but I imagine he met someone else and didn’t have the courtesy to tell me. I’ve sent a few messages to men I’m interested in, but I haven’t heard back from most of them. The emails I get tend to be from men who are young enough to be my son, old enough to be my father, or are just plain creepy. Am I doing something wrong, or is online dating only for the lucky few?

Thanks in advance,

Lost in Cyberspace


Dear Lost,

Online dating is a great way to meet single men – but it’s not magic. You have the opportunity to expand your social circle, but you run into the same kind of guys you meet in the non-digital world. You’ll find the handsome lawyer your co-worker keeps telling you about, the self-obsessed musician you just know you could fix, and the shameless guy at the bar who keeps staring at your legs. They’re all there, glowing and glowering through your computer monitor: the dreamboats, the bores, and the pervs. You’ve got to wade through the pond of frogs to find your prince.

At the end of the day, online dating is a numbers game. According to Walter Hickey, reporter for Business Insider, both men and women tend not to respond to most of the emails they receive on dating sites. On average, women on dating sites respond to emails only 4% of the time, while men respond a little more at 18% of the time. Sure, a witty profile with great photos can increase your success rates, but you still need to be persistent and smart.

Here are some tried and true strategies to increase your dateability online:

First, create a memorable username that describes an aspect of your personality. Don’t include your real name, or any numbers. For example, Sam0207 suggests little effort or creativity, while QuantumMechanic is a clever username for an auto enthusiast who moonlights as an amateur astronomer.  Similarly, Rachel440 will elicit less attention than ItTakes2ToMango for a tropical horticulturist who likes to dance.

Once you’re satisfied with your username, you’re ready to write the text of your profile.

Step 1: Include details that appeal to the senses and connect to your matches emotionally.

Instead of the cliché phrase, “My family and friends are important to me,” try, “Sharing stories on Friday night around the dinner table is one of my favorite traditions. I get a kick out of watching my two-year-old nephew gnaw on a slice of bread while my dog tries to catch all the crumbs. It’s the most peaceful way to start the weekend. I would love to invite you one day.”

Step 2: Keep it light, don’t advertise your flaws or baggage in your dating profile.

Instead of, “I’m a busy professional with limited time to date,” try, “As a pastry chef at a major Cleveland restaurant, my evenings and weekends are filled with pies, tarts, and custards. I’d love meet a guy who I can spoil with delicious brunches while we complete the Times Sunday crossword puzzle together.”

Finally, select photographs of yourself that accurately represent your appearance (on a good day, with soft lighting). Include the following snapshots: a close-up of your face, a full body shot to show your figure, and a couple of images to start a conversation such as vacation photos or hobby shots. A photograph of you playing the clarinet on stage, or skiing down the slopes will elicit more interest than a collection of selfies in your bathroom mirror.

Lastly, don’t give up. If you keep searching, you will find love.