Online Dating E-mail Etiquette – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (week 33)

In almost every aspect of life, we go after the things we want.  Not happy in a job?  Search for a new one.  Some recent weight gain getting you down?  Up the ante during your workouts.  Why is it, then, that in dating, we think happiness will just find us?  It’s as if we think we have a sign on our foreheads flashing, “Single and ready to mingle.”  Unfortunately, that’s just not how it works.  In online dating, writing a great profile is only half the battle.  To really be successful, you have to be proactive and e-mail people of interest.

First of all, when searching for a potential mate, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Try not to be too picky.  In the long run, will it really matter if someone is 5’8 vs. 5’9?
  1. Update your search periodically to include new people.  Maybe Mr. or Ms. Right lives just five miles outside of your search radius.
  1. Change how you sort your matches.  Try sorting by newest members first, people last online, age, people closest to you, etc.

Now that you’ve found some potential matches, it’s time to send an e-mail.  And women, it’s important for you to e-mail potential matches, too.  Many women think that e-mailing a potential mate might make them lose the upper hand at the get-go or seem less feminine.  Not true.  Again, we need to go for what we want in life, and it starts here.  Also, many people don’t take point number 2 above to heart, and their search criteria may not catch you.  So if you don’t send the first e-mail, that perfect match you’ve noticed may never find you.  And remember… I e-mailed Jeremy first, and seeing as how he’s sitting in the other room of our condo eating popcorn as I type this, I’d say I made out pretty well.

As for what to include in the e-mail, it’s actually pretty simple:

  1. Something about his/her profile that caught your attention;
  2. Something about you and how it relates to him/her; and
  3. A question (to end the e-mail).

In terms of length, a few sentences are enough to get the ball rolling.  No one wants to read your novel after a long day of work.  And no form letters!  It’s very clear when people copy and paste the same e-mail from person to person.  That’s a surefire way to get zero responses.

Now that we know the rules, let’s look at a couple of sample e-mails that work:

Welcome to DC!  Where were you before moving here?  I actually moved here from the West Coast myself, so I think I have the best of the two worlds – a taste for both good wine and historical monuments.

I can help you with the difference between a note and a chord if you’ll tell me something about aeronautics and space.  What exactly do you do in the field?

Looking forward to hearing from you,


And I thought I had a lot of degrees…  Congratulations on getting your doctoral degree.  What’s next?  A Nobel Prize?  haha  I really appreciate when people value education as much as I do.  I got my PhD in Physics before moving here three months ago.

Now for the fun stuff… it looks like we both love food.  I just went to Graffiato the other day, and I liked it a lot.  Do you have a #1 place that I have to try here? 


In the end, you can’t win the lottery unless you play, so you might as well try your hand at the lottery of love to see what it has in store.  Now, go forth and e-mail!

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.

This article was also posted in JMag, the online magazine for

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