When you’re new to online dating, there are many things that seem confusing. You may feel surprised, even overwhelmed when overnight you get 40 winks (and I don’t mean sleep.) after you’ve first posted your pic and profile. Or you may feel wildly giddy when men come out of the woodwork to give you the rush. Then you make a connection with a person you think you’d like to date. You begin emailing and texting with him. It’s fun, it’s light, you’re giving and getting good banter. This goes on for a few days. You thought things were going great and then, suddenly, nada. You never hear from him again.
A man friend of mine who is a seasoned, successful online dater was kind enough to share a wealth of info he’s collected from his two-year online dating experience. Ladies, listen up. It’s real stuff, so definitely take heed.
“Sometimes after several exchanges, I stop texting or emailing with the woman because the energy has left,” T. J. (initials only) revealed to me recently. “Or because I was talking to a few women casually and then one grabbed my attention enough that I wanted to focus on her--and stop talking to the rest.”
T. J. explained that even great texts are limited because the conversation “still has that cyber quality. You want to pay attention to the exact words the person uses, how they talk, because that’s how you transcend the cyber-ness,” he said. Cyber connections he rates low on the totem pole of communication leading to romance. “It’s a low quality connection because you can’t see the person or hear their voice,” he said.
He said it takes effort to read between the lines, so to speak, to see if this is a person you want to meet face to face. “You have to look for subtleties that keep you interested,” he said.
T.J. also allowed that men and women “lie a lot” on line. “You have to meet face to face for the relationship to go anywhere,” he said. “I like to get to that part pretty fast.”
He gave some tips on how long or erudite introductory texts and emails need to be.
“They should be short,” T.J. said. “A few lines at a time. Unless you’re trying to explain something, and then the text can be longer.”
Spelling, he said, in a text, doesn’t count.
“Someone could be terrific in person, but not a great speller when they’re texting,” T.J. said. “Texting is something you do on a phone. You’re abbreviating, using short cuts.”
If you’re writing an actual email, however, he said to use spell check.
When does texting become intrusive? How much is too much?
“There have definitely been women I’ve had to block,” T.J. said. “Texting four, five times a day. Almost immediately they start asking about my past relationships. Am I involved with someone else.” He said he had one woman stalk him to the point where she stole his screen name as her name and “adopted” all his likes and dislikes. That was scary, he said.
He cautioned that sometimes you think a person has stopped being in touch with you because you’re not adept or savvy about how the site interfaces.
“You may miss an IM [Instant Message], or you’re so new to the site, you don’t know how to look in your backroom for a response,” T.J. said. “You think you’ve been dropped.” He said it takes practice to become sophisticated about how the interface of your online service works.
Nobody loves the online experience, T.J. said, because it is, at least at first, so typing oriented and impersonal. On the other hand, he said, it’s fun to look at peoples’ profiles and pictures and window shop. “At best this initial texting and emailing is a buffer. It’s a first step,” he said. “And it is the way people meet and date right now, so we have to get used to it.”
Eve Marx is the author of eight sex books. Her titles include "Whats Your Sexual IQ?," "Flirtspeak: The Sexy Language of Flirtation," "The Goddess Orgasm," and "101 Things You Didnt Know About Sex."