Why Doesn’t Online Dating Work For Him?


Name: Akira

I’m a straight guy living in LA and I’ve been on and off Okcupid and other dating apps for the better part of four years. I can’t say I’ve ever had a single ‘long term’ relationship from it at all. I’ve had many dates over the years and have managed to have a few sporadic one night stands and hook ups. In the last year or two since I turned 24 I noticed I’ve been getting better luck with that, but still not enough luck. Not really sure why. I’m now 26 and I’d honestly like to find something that lasts. I don’t really know what is wrong with my strategy, but I’m only able to get a date or two every two months and I message hundreds and hundreds of girls. I try make my messages clever and witty so they stand out. Usually just making some fun observation or a random question. I also try to ask women out within 3-4 email exchanges otherwise it wastes too much time and usually the conversation burns out. Why is there such a low success rate on these sites?

I should tell you that I’m a fairly average looking guy. Most people would probably consider me a 5-7 out of 10 in looks. I’m in a normal weight range but I’m short 5’8″ and partly Italian and Spanish. I’ve always thought that this may be a problem cause I’ve heard that the only guys who have a lot of success on these sites are white, light haired, and usually 6’0″ or taller. Is race and looks really playing such a big factor in this? Do I need to get professional photographs? My pics are taken with my Android phone in good lighting.

Is there any strategy that you could recommend that would help me actually get dates more consistently with women. Should I ask girls out sooner, craft a certain type of message, use quickmatch? Should I consider copy and paste and mass messaging? I really just feel disappointed with the whole online dating experience.
Age: 26
City: Los Angeles
State: CA


There’s only one good online dating strategy. Here it is:

  • Have a great dating profile
  • Know your audience
  • Message people who show initiative first
  • Keep that first intro message short and don’t try to be funny or clever or witty and don’t ask any questions
  • Let your profile convey your personality
  • Exchange no more than 3-4 messages each before you set up a date
  • Get off line as quickly as possible.

That’s it. The one other thing I’ll add, and this might not be what you or many others want to hear, but online dating is not for finding relationships. It’s called online dating for a reason, and that’s because online dating is about getting dates. I’ll be even more provocative and say that if your explicit and sole goal is to find a serious long-term relationship, then avoid online dating all together. The online dating business model is not designed to find people ever lasting love. It is designed to foster the belief that we all have an endless supply of options and can afford to be picky. That way we stay on those sites like some Atlantic City granny who keeps sticking her quarters in the slot machine hoping for those 3 lemons to come across her screen.

You are in LA,  an extremely competitive dating market. On top of that, you are in an age range where the women have the upper hand in terms of options. It does not surprise me that you struggle to get dates, as that is common among men in your age bracket. The women you are communicating with are being bombarded with messages, which means they are going to be extra selective.

I honestly can’t speak to the issue of race when it comes to online dating. I know that OKCupid has written blog posts about it and thrown all this sciencey stuff at people and everybody oohed and ahhed over the data. I’m also white, which means my personal experience on whether or not race plays a factor in all of this is limited to my own. I have heard from many people who aren’t Caucasian that they believe their race has significantly impeded their online dating experience. Since the readership of this column is quite diverse, I’ll encourage readers to share their personal experience on this matter. They can do you far more justice than I could.

Do looks play a part in your response rate? Of course they do. Do you have to be ridiculously good looking to get responses? No. You just have to present yourself in an appealing way and know your audience.  It seems that many people are utterly clueless when it comes to knowing how to write a profile where they come off interesting and engaging. This is how you craft a compelling About Me Summary. That post also covers the type of photos you should use and whether or not you should pay someone to take professional candid shots.

I will add one new tip. Try to include a specific memory or experience in your About Me summary or bio that most people will relate to. I had one client who talked about how popcorn was her favorite comfort food. When I asked her why, she said it was because popcorn reminded her of warm summer nights when she was in high school watching movies on the grass in the park with her friends. I had her choose a specific film to make the memory that much more vivid. She chose Back to The Future. That’s a tangible and somewhat universal experience that people can connect with. It’s always smart to make your profile more “local.” Meaning, pepper it with mentions of things that people in your area or age bracket will recognize, like a restaurant or song or movie. That creates a sense of familiarity.

When it comes to sending messages, focus your efforts on the people who demonstrate interest first. Since OKC no longer lets you see who viewed your profile, you’re going to have to sign-up to see who favorited you.  I would drastically cut back on sending out a bunch of messages to random people. That is THE leading cause of frustration among online daters. Just..stop doing that. It’s an absolute waste of time. You don’t have to stop messaging people who don’t initiate contact completely, but you should use this option sparingly. Sending dozens of well crafted messages doesn’t work for most people. That only works for someone who uses something- money, sex, status –  as bait. I can’t tell you how many dating blogs I’ve read where women were like, “So I just get soooooooooooo many emails on dating sites and have sooooooooo many dates” only to find their profiles and see that they’ve used sex as bait. Trust me when I tell you, these people bragging about how many responses they get are leaving something out of the story.

Don’t get caught up in the messaging aspect of the online dating experience. Let your profile speak for you. Use the messages to convey your interest without coming off too invested. Keep the messages simple and brief and don’t ask probing or personal questions. My personal recommendation if someone wishes to engage in extended email banter is to bail. YMMV on that one. I just don’t have time for people who do that. If they aren’t willing to meet relatively quickly, I keep it moving. This is the problem with Tinder and Bumble. Because bios contain such limited info, people get bored quickly or run out of things to say, so they either ghost or click unmatch. You have to make that tiny bit of real estate count by including some basic but pertinent details – age, height, location, job, marital/children status.

You can copy and paste text from one intro message to the next, but you have to include something in each message that demonstrates you read their profile. That’s a must.

Could your profile need work? Possibly. I can’t say for sure until I see it. If you’re finding that you’re just not getting any responses, either from the people you’re messaging or other users, then that’s probably a sign that there’s something wrong with your profile or your messages. You probably should book a session so that I can tell you if there are any red flags. I would say that most people write their profiles in a manner that is counter-intuitive. They use bad primary photos; post awkward  jokes or try too hard in their bio; include no-hook-up type disclaimers, etc. At this point, the profile text is mostly used as a way for people to determine if you and they aren’t compatible and not the opposite. If the photos work for someone, they’ll read the profile to see if there’s anything that gives them pause as well as (if not more so) to determine compatibility.

Most importantly, you need to remember that your online dating experience is not unusual or indicative of there being problems with you. And if the problem is with you, most of those challenges can be fixed with some re-tuning of your photos and profile text.

Online dating isn’t the impossible task most people think it is. It just takes understanding your market and audience and knowing how to promote yourself in a way that is engaging and attractive.



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22 Responses to “Why Doesn’t Online Dating Work For Him?”

  1. Dark Sarcasm Says:

    What I learned about women and online dating from The Differences Between Men and Women Party:

    Women hate and won’t respond to messages that just say ‘Hi’
    Women hate and won’t respond to messages that start with ‘Hey Beautiful’ or makes some other comment about their looks
    Women wish men would read their profile and compose a well written email accordingly.
    BUT…if you ask to many questions about activities they listed in their profile, they don’t like that either.
    They don’t like it if you message them asking ‘What are you doing this weekend?’ Or any other ‘Questions’


    • Yvonne Says:

      I’d say you are mostly right. I do think women like it if you ask about – or mention – something specific in their profile, rather than something vague like, “What are you doing this weekend?” Women generally like it if you seem to be taking a special interest in them and mentioning the things you have in common. “Hey Beautiful” or “What are you doing this weekend?” come across as lazy and generic.

      • Yvonne Says:

        Also, it may seem counter-intuitive not to try to be funny or witty, but humor doesn’t always translate so well in an email with a total stranger. It’s too easy to come across as lame or even offensive.

        • Dark Sarcasm Says:

          The example this woman used was if she mentioned that she liked a particular band in her profile, the guy would give her three songs and ask her which one would be her favorite and why. She didn’t appreciate ‘pop quizzes.’

          • Yvonne Says:

            Hmmm…maybe that’s asking for too much detail in a first message? Keep the initial message personalized but simple, IMO.

          • ATWYSingle Says:

            As I’ve said before, if she found him attractive/was actually interested in dating anyone/wasn’t insanely picky, his pop quiz wouldn’t have bothered her. She would have happily responded to him.

  2. Beta Male Says:

    I don’t get the “don’t ask any questions” part. Like others said generic questions like “how was your weekend,” or “what are you doing this weekend” doesn’t work but no questions at all just doesn’t leave any room for conversation. From my personal experience when I sent messages without questions no one responded because there was no room opening for starting a conversation. However, the choice of question has to be picked wisely.

    Knowing your audience is the most important piece of advice you have given. No one appeals to everyone but it is hard and humbling to realize that your appeal is limited to a handful of people. The people who are likely to respond are your audience and no amount of clever response tactics are likely to change that.

    • ATWYSingle Says:

      “Hey there. Liked your profile. I totally agree that the Sopranos finale was epic. Take a look at my profile and drop a line back if you’d like to chat.”

      An initial message like that is enough to prompt a conversation. The reason to avoid questions is that many people will respond just to be polite and you’ll end up being ghosted after two messages. You want them to ask you a question. That’s how you’ll know they liked your profile. If, in their first response, they don’t ask a question then it’s highly likely they’re not very interested in chatting with you.

      • Beta Male Says:

        I never thought of it that way. Thank you, although with Tinder in particular there is not even enough in either the profiles or in the pictures to even offer something to start an organic conversation. That’s been a major source of frustration for me when I spend time messaging people from Tinder.

  3. sandra Says:

    To the LW,
    Spanish and Italian are white. You are not a minority. Race should not be an issue unless you are writing to women who prefer non-white men.

    • ATWYSingle Says:

      What his ethnic background is and how he presents are two different things. Fact: all white people are racist to some degree. There’s hundreds of years of de-programming to be done before a white person – with a straight face – can say they aren’t racist.

      Last week a black man on OKCupid emailed me and said I could pass for a light-skinned black woman. He then referred to me as an “octaroon” because he genuinely believed I was mixed race. Multiple times in the past few years men have asked me my ethnicity. Neither offend me because Italians (specifically Sicilians) are a genetically mixed ethnicity and so more than likely there is more in my DNA than Italian and Irish. When Italians came here, we were not immediately classified as white. We were non-white or, in some places, black. So, if his skin and features are not traditionally white, it’s totally possible people think he’s a person of color.

      • BobsYourUncle Says:

        Holy shit, step away form the fringes of the internet.

        “All white people are racist” and need to be deprogrammed??? … news flash all cultures are racist to some degree. Spend some time with some elderly Chinese. Chris Rock has a great bit on old black men. This neo-marxist BS that everything is a power struggle. Starting to turn this blog from good advice into a BS social justice wankfest.

        Ok, now back to the topic at hand. Other than offensive messages it doesn’t much matter what you write. We need to stop thinking that you can grab a woman’s attention by wooing her with your prose. The reason she didn’t respond is not because your message wasn’t good enough. She didn’t respond because she was not interested. Probably by your pictures, and to a lessor degree by what you wrote. No fault of you, just people have their preferences. Yeah I know, women get so many messages .. blah blah blah .. you need to stand out .. blah blah blah. Most of these messages are crap. If she likes what you look like she’ll respond. OkCupid Trends did a great posting basically saying the vast majority of women think the vast majority of men are below average looks-wise. While the opposite is true for men. So don’t take it personally as a man.

        On another note, the advice to not send cold call messages but to only send messages to those who show interest is a bit self contradictory. If we all did that no one would every contact anyone. Just sit back waiting for someone to show interest.

        Men have some self respect. Stop buying into the BS that you need to win her over. She needs to win you over too. This dating thing is a two way street. IF you send a note and no response, move on. If you get a response that sucks (she’s not doing her part to interact with you) move on. Trust me she’s not the one who got away. She’s the pixels on your phone, and that is all until you meet. And even there its a crap shoot.

        • Parenting Says:

          I partly agree with you. Certainly no one should spend time second guessing themselves over online communication. For all you know, the woman is married and just there for the attention. That said, of course verbal communication matters. Yes, you can win a woman over with wit (not every woman every time but some). I mean really, duh!

      • EANx Says:

        All white people are racist? Nice way to paint with a broad brush. Plenty of white people have spent years overseas working with disadvantaged cultures (think missionaries, Peace Corps, USAID, etc). Next time someone says “all women are …” You have no room to object.

        • BTownGirl Says:

          Agree. Speaking for myself as a white Jew, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what racism is, does, and how to avoid being a bigot. That anyone would suggest otherwise is beyond insulting.

    • Nia Says:

      Actually, it pains me to say this, but my parents (and their parents) don’t consider Italians and Spanish (from Spain) people “white”. They would never come out and say this, but stray remarks make it clear that only people who are English, Dutch, or Western/Northern European make the grade as “white.” Urk. So, just sayin’

      • sandra Says:

        Well, they are white whether they like it or not. Anglo-Saxon no, white/caucasian, yes.

      • Parenting Says:

        I had a recent discussion about this. A surprisingly small section of Europe is considered “White” or as “White Culture” by the White Nationalists. I think its just the Anglo-Saxons (excluding the Irish), Dutch and maybe the Scandinavians. Everyone else has turn in their European card and leave Europe immediately.

      • Rainsparrow Says:

        I have no idea why Nia’s comment was downvoted, she just described the prevailing attitude in her family, she didn’t even say she agreed with the sentiment. My SO is Northern Italian-American and his grandfather disowned one of his Aunts for marrying an olive skinned man from Spain because he didn’t consider him White. He is probably spinning in his grave knowing his grandson is living with an African-American woman.

        As for some of you commenters that pat yourselves on the back for your enlightened lack of racism, I’m offended by some of the things you say as well, and as matter of fact I was offended by things said on this thread, I just hate getting into this discussion, so I don’t post.

        • fuzzilla Says:

          Yeah, people were awfully quick to dismiss Moxie’s point about racism as super radical rather than just common sense observation.

  4. Craig Says:

    Well I met my wife on Match.com at the age of 37, and I know several other couples who met online. So I’ll have to respectfully disagree that it won’t work for that purpose. It may not work for everyone, but it certainly does for some. One can’t possibly give up in their 20s. The search is just getting started at that point in life.

    That said, the OP’s assertion that he’s struggling online is puzzling to me. He in fact states he’s had many dates online. That’s actually a resounding success. The whole point of it is to get dates and see if it leads somewhere. Most won’t, which is completely normal. If he believes he’s supposed to be guaranteed a wife within a few years of doing it, then the only problem is with his unrealistic expectations. Finding “the one” is a struggle offline too. It is often a game of playing the law of averages. The more you put yourself out there, the more likely your odds become of finding it. Where online dating comes in is it puts you out there in front of far more people than simply relying on whom you meet in person alone. So simply keep at it until you hit the jackpot.

    Lastly, being a person or color and/or a short male definitely makes it harder to succeed in the dating game. Anyone who claims otherwise is either naive or delusional. It’s a fact of life in the world we live in. Let’s be honest: tall Caucasian males, and slender Caucasian females are the top of the food chain in the (distorted) viewpoint of most people. That won’t change in our lifetimes. Okay, fine – so now what for the rest of us? Here’s the secret – not everyone feels that way. There are plenty of gorgeous people out there that are willing to love someone other than that. The key to success is to seek them out. Know your target audience. The only way to find them is to keep trying – they will reveal themselves among the pack. No matter what you are, there’s someone out there whom you’ll be attracted to who’s likewise looking for someone just like you. That was my story – the brown dude who married the hot Asian chick.

    And no Moxie, not every white person is racist to a degree. No one is born that way – they are taught it. And some were never taught it. I can personally attest to the fact that I’m close with quite a few Caucasians I’ve known for decades that don’t have a racist bone in their body. It’s quite a wonderful thing to behold and is hopefully our future.

  5. Brahman Says:

    Your a 26 year old male in LA, focus your time on improving yourself (career, interests/hobbies) instead of this – in a few more years you’ll discover that dating will be a lot easier. As moxie said, you’re at an age range right now where women have the upper hand…wait a few until it flips in your favor

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