Are there more men or women online at dating sites? How do you break the ice when e-mailing someone new? Match.com's dating expert Dawn Yanek responds to a selection of your questions in this online Q+A.
Debi in Buffalo, New York, asks: Why won't they answer you when you send a wink or an icebreaker? I've tried to start up conversations and they don't seem to want to reply or even take the time to say "no thanks." Any suggestions?
Dawn Yanek: First of all, hang in there! Dating can be difficult online or offline, but there is someone out there who is perfect for you, and that makes all the trials and tribulations worthwhile. Keep that pep talk in mind whenever you feel discouraged — as well as the fact that the person who isn't winking back at you probably isn't The One. But, you ask, what if he is The One and he just doesn't know it yet? Well, if your first impression isn't packing the punch it should, you need to alter your approaches in your icebreaker and your profile.
Let's start with the icebreaker. A general "hi" might make someone smile and then move on. But a unique and specific opening line can fan the flames of interest. Try this exercise: List your top three interests and see which of them mesh with your potential match's. For example, maybe you both love the Yankees, chocolate Labs or plain ol' chocolate. Now, tailor your icebreaker to reflect that, and inject a little playfulness and humor. (After all, dating is supposed to be fun … even if you have to remind yourself of that fact sometimes.) This technique also shows that you've taken the time to read the person's profile and aren't just cut-and-pasting the same introductory e-mail to 20 people you found attractive. It does quite the opposite, in fact -- it says that you like this person for very specific reasons and want to get to know him better.
Next, apply this type of specificity to your profile. You're a "nice girl looking for a guy who you can have fun with"? Yeah, well, who isn't?! Celebrate all that is wonderful about you with a lively, chock-full-of-personality profile, illustrated with photos that capture you living and loving life, and you will find someone who will want to join in on the fun.
Rinea in Syracuse, New York, asks: I have been talking with this guy (e-mail, IM and phone) for three weeks now. How long should I wait to meet the person on the other end?
Dawn Yanek: There is no hard-and-fast rule about when to transition from online flirtation to offline dating. If you like each other, have learned some key information (age, interests, values, general relationship history, e-mail and phone compatibility) and feel as comfortable as possible without having met, go for it. The great thing about online dating is that you can get to know someone, set your own pace and forget so many of the games people play when they meet offline, such as when to call for the first time. After all, you've already been having a relationship of sorts.