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online dating advice

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I feel for men in the online dating sphere. Kind of. Generally speaking, I think women are just better with written communication than men are. Not only are we better at it, but we’re also very specific about how we want people to talk to us online. If you’re a woman reading this, then you know how much a simple ellipsis, emoji, or length of text can change the way you interpret a message. Women know how women want to be spoken to online. Men? They kind of don’t. And now, more than ever, with a pandemic happening, most first impressions are being made online. People aren’t flirting and exchanging numbers in their masks at the grocery store (though a guy did ask me out when I had my mask on and it made me laugh). Some perfectly good guys are overlooked because they’re bad at online messaging. Admittedly, there are also some dudes who are just creepy, know exactly what they’re doing when they send those eggplant emojis, and should be blocked. But then there are the guys who are trying their best, and for whom it’s just hard out there. They don’t know how they come off. They don’t know that these DMs often come off the wrong way.

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So you’re a writer? I write a bit.

Men, when you see that a woman does something for a living, do not tell her that you dabble in it, and then proceed to show her those dabblings. Do you know how condescending that is? If she is, for example, a published writer who has written for ten years and is in big magazines, and you say, “Oh yeah I write too” and send her your blog, it feels like you’re saying you and her are the same. You are not.

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Which one are you in the picture?

Understandably, you want to know with whom you’d be meeting up, if things were going to get to that place. We are all visual beings, and want to find our partners attractive. But if you open by asking, “Which one are you in the picture?” it really introduces the fact that you’re possibly only here for her looks.

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Hey I feel so weird online dating…

You make some comment about how strange online dating is and how you felt like a loser making an account and how you can’t believe anybody talked you into this. Maybe you’re trying to relate to her, as she may also find the experience weird. But you’re kind of suggesting that she is weird for online dating because, hello, you’re meeting her online.

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That pic must get you a lot of DMs

She has some photo in which she looks great. Maybe she’s in a bathing suit or something revealing. If she is, then this message becomes worse. You’re just trying to compliment her, but by starting the conversation this way, it makes her feel like you’re just there to be a creep. Also, what is she supposed to say in response to that? I mean, really?

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I’m sure you get so many messages but…

You may find a woman who is so attractive that you instantly know her inbox is flooded with messages every day. Okay. That’s fine. You don’t have to mention that. It instantly undermines your confidence. She won’t be impressed by the fact that you accurately guessed that a lot of men hit her up.

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Can we just talk on the phone?

You may just not be good at online messaging, and want to jump right on a phone call – you shine on phone calls. Well, she’s online dating because she wants the option to chat online before handing out her phone number. So, unfortunately, you have to play ball, and asking to skip this step makes you seem entitled.

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I don’t play games

Maybe you’ve dealt with a lot of game players. You want to be straight forward. You want everyone to say what they think and feel in this interaction. A lot of people can empathize with that desire. But if you come in immediately by saying, “I’m not here to play games” it almost sounds like you’re trying to intimidate the person. She’ll know you aren’t there to play games when you don’t play games.

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Hello beautiful/gorgeous/doll

It’s just not necessary to add the descriptor. You can just say hello. You may even be able to address her by her first name if she’s listed that on her profile. You don’t need to let her know that you find her attractive, by the first hello. She knows you think that, by the fact that you reached out at all. I promise.

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Finally someone hot

While you may be trying to flatter her to let her know she’s a cut above the rest, women don’t really want to accept a compliment if they feel that, by doing so, they’re somehow tearing down other women. And again, they don’t want you commenting on their appearance right out the gates.

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I’m probably quitting this site soon

I used to get this one all of the time. “I was going to cancel my subscription but then I saw you” or “I was going to quit online dating entirely, but then I stumbled upon your profile.” You may think it’s flattering to say, “You’re so gorgeous you literally kept me in the online dating game” but it’s actually just putting a lot of pressure on the person.

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I don’t want to get hurt again

I was always surprised when men would message me this online, so early in a conversation. It’s not like women who are out there hurting men know they’re doing it, or even if they do, well, they’re obviously mean then, and won’t stop just because someone says “Please don’t hurt me.” I mean, where does this message get anybody? Men, you just have to fend for yourselves, and learn how to identify the women who will or won’t hurt you.

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I’d rather not say what I do

Men, it’s better to just come up with some answer to the, “So what do you do?” question, then to state that you don’t want to tell someone what you do. When you do that, she assumes that you do something embarrassing or illegal, or that you’re unemployed. She doesn’t assume you’re rolling in money and don’t want her to dig for gold. In case that’s what you were thinking.

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You seem really insert trait here

You seem really fun. You seem really adventurous. You seem like you have a great sense of humor. You seem really intelligent. You seem so well-traveled. It may seem nice to say these things, but it’s just putting pressure on the person to prove, at every point of the conversation, that she is those things. Let her reveal to you what she is. Don’t project.

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How old is that picture?

Eeeeh…don’t ask that, fellas. You may be asking because you just notice an interesting detail in it that has you wondering what year it’s from. But it always comes off as, “Hey are you actually as young as you say you are? Or are these photos all super old and when I meet you, I’ll be disappointed?”

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I see you’re into X, if you ever need advice…

Ugh. The online dating form of mansplaining! It may seem like you’re taking an interest in her interests by saying, “I see you’re into insert interest here and I’d love to teach you about it,” but it actually just seems like you’re assuming you know more about it than she does. And you haven’t even spoken to her yet.

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