Relationship Advice

Dating online: six email secrets to success



There’s a fine line between underselling yourself and blowing your own trumpet when it comes to dating online. When trying to spark someone’s interest over email, you’ve got to be fun, engaging and good at creating a rapport, while keeping an element of mystery. But nobody likes a bragger. So how do you maintain this delicate balance?

Follow these dos and don’ts gleaned from thousands of couples matched by eHarmony and move from online relationship to the real deal.

Do: be proactive

Don’t let that classic British reserve hold you back. Accept that dating online will involve some chasing. If you find someone who catches your eye, send an icebreaker or a friendly email. You won’t get anywhere if don’t put yourself out there.

If your match isn’t interested, they either won’t respond or will send you a polite ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’ You can’t take it too personally – he or she hasn’t met you in the flesh! It’s part of the process – your job is to recover quickly, and move on.

Don’t: reveal too much too quickly

Nobody wants to trawl through an essay on your life, either in your profile or via those early emails. The key is to be open and friendly when dating online while still maintaining a bit of mystery.

Share enough to excite and intrigue your potential match, while leaving them wanting more. Follow this rule of thumb: keep profile answers concise and fun. When replying to a match via email, use two-to-three-sentence responses. If in doubt, it helps to draft an email, walk away and return an hour later to review it, edit it and, when satisfied, hit send. This will halt any tendency towards verbal diarrhoea and keep your match on their toes.

Once you’ve caught their interest you can afford to be a bit more creative. Ask thought-provoking questions that will reveal insightful traits. Take the experience of Paul who met his fiancée Stephanie through eHarmony. “The more I read her responses to my questions it was like she was reading my mind!” he explains. “Within 2 days, we exchanged phone numbers.” Just a few simple sentences can stop someone in their tracks.

Do: be honest about yourself

It might be tempting to knock a few years off your age or exaggerate your income when but you’re far more likely to achieve dating success online if you’re open about who you really are. “I recommend eHarmony to all my single friends, but caution them to be completely honest about themselves and the person they are looking for,” says Lynn, who met her husband Roger on the site. By confidently celebrating who you are, you’ll attract matches that will respect you, warts and all.

Expect the same in return from anyone you meet when dating online. If you catch someone in a lie, don’t let it slide. Call the person out on it, report his or her behaviour if it’s detrimental to anyone else, and move on quickly.

Don’t: lead someone on

If you’re not keen, make it tactfully clear as soon as possible. Never lead someone on. If someone contacts you and you’re not interested, be respectful enough to send a short and thoughtful rejection. A considerate “no” is preferable to a thumb-twiddling non-response that leaves the other person feeling they must have done something wrong.

Do: meet up in person ASAP

A potential pitfall of dating online is that people can get lulled into a passive email exchange that lasts for months rather than actually pursuing a date. The danger of this is that you can become emotionally invested in a potential match, only to discover that when you meet in person, the spark isn’t there. Don’t let that happen.

Once a connection is clear, it’s time to take your online dating into reality, even if you have to initiate things. To ease anxiety about a first face-to-face date, keep things simple. Choose a coffee date rather than dinner or drinks. That way, if things go well, you can look forward to your second date. And if there’s nothing between you, you’ve only lost a small amount of time and a few pounds from your wallet.

Don’t: endanger your safety

Your safety should be your top priority when it comes to dating, especially online dating. Never tell anyone personally identifying information like your bank account number. And don’t meet a complete stranger at a remote location by yourself. Trust your instincts. If someone seems too good to be true in email, that person probably is. Instead, keep looking for new

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172 thoughts on “Dating online: six email secrets to success

  1. Ive been on here for over two weeks, Im 45 and the matches they are sending me are 60+,how does that work. I have had many matches sent and only one that I emailed. Not successful but come on, at least send me some decent matches. I thought this was a decent dating site….wrong!!

  2. Hi Elaine,

    Have you checked how important you have said age is to you in your settings? We use a sliding scale for your preferences, and if you say something isn’t important we will send you matches outside of your settings. If you have any queries on how to control your settings, you’ll find lots more info here:

    Hope this helps!

    Best wishes,
    eHarmony Advice

  3. I’ve had mixed fortunes on this site. During my previous membership periods, I did go on a few dates, two of which led to short relationships and then another led to friendship. Nowadays there are sadly a lot more timewasters on here i.e people who accept your initial eharmony chat request when you send a mail then never respond. Don’t know what is going on there?! I still think it’s a good time to pick up the phone and speak before meeting – you can often get a good indication of how conversation may (or may not!) flow during the physical date.

  4. This may indeed just be the view of a male in his 50′s, but at my age I have a lot of history and experience of life, not all good of course, otherwise i wouldn’t be here saying this. However, taking time to get to know someone a little better first, before meeting does help i find. My matches are similar in they have a story to tell, and there is nothing wrong in finding out where you both are coming from in that regard before meeting. Maybe age and experience makes us more cautious in general , but contrary to the advice if you tell someone something they don’t like before you meet them, then there is nothing lost, a little disappointment yes, perhaps. But, you don’t make a real emotional investment as you would having known someone in person for an amount of time, who then drops the bombshell on you, which we all know is very painful. On balance it is a comfort thing, you know when the tome is right to meet.

  5. After alot of communications with what i thought seemed a nice guy i was cut dead maybe cos i had been to honest open and friendly and too full on don’t fall into the trap of giving away too much too soon that i did ha ha cos you never know that one person u opened up to could have been your soulmate given the time and patience

  6. Caroline
    22 June 2012 13:29

    Was he David, 46 Portsmouth?????

  7. Just joined and a bit worried after reading alot of negative comments I am trying to be positive but agree some people are nothing like their photographs and I’m always shocked that they think it wont be noticed when they walk towards you on a first date.I came on this site because I thought it had a good reputation but I’ll just have to wait and see she said hopefully.

  8. Please can you help me I have not had one message or interest and my subscription is now nearly expired I had such high hopes for this website

    awaiting your reply

    kind regards Anne Aston

  9. Hi Anne,

    Thanks for your comments. We’re sorry you haven’t had the eHarmony experience you were hoping for, but there are lots of ways to increase the amount of communication you get, and we’ll run through a few below. You can also get more advice in the ‘Using eHarmony’ section of this site.

    - Make sure your profile is complete and a true reflection of you. Some people will put generic answers to their profile questions, so the best way to stand out is to be detailed and put lots of examples. For example, if you are talking about a hobby you enjoy, don’t just say what that hobby is but add what it brings to your life. Get a friend to check over your profile – a second pair of eyes always helps. Additionally, make sure it is a positive view of yourself – long lists of what you’re not looking for, or what you don’t like, can be off putting.

    - Have a full gallery of photos on your profile, with a wide range of photos – close ups, you with friends, you doing something you love. Make sure each one is you looking your confident best.

    - Use Guided Communication or eHarmony Mail rather than Icebreakers to communicate with your matches. If they see you’ve gone to the trouble to really communicate with them, they may be more likely to respond.

    Finally, we understand that eHarmony isn’t for everyone. If you genuinely don’t want to continue your subscription with us, please make sure your auto-renew is turned off so you aren’t charged again.

    Best wishes,
    eHarmony Advice

  10. Yes ladies, please be honest.
    I’ve been on here about a month now, and as far as I can see a lot of women in their 50′s understate their age by about 10 years. You aren’t going to fool anyone, and it’ll only lead to disappointment. Better to be honest, we’d all like to be 10 or 20 years younger than we are but if you’re 55 years old and looking for a 40 year old partner your unlikely to be successful so why waste your time?

  11. Hi, like a lot of people above im finding the lack of response very frustrating. Can anyone tell me how you can tell if someone is a fully paid member or not. it doesnt seem right that as a paid member we are matched with someone who is unable to respond!

  12. This website is no different to any other bog standard dating website, just full of fake people who are seeking that Mr. Perfect that doesn’t exist. But then I’m ready to give up the love chase all together and just accept that the dream of settling down and having the family I’ve always wanted isn’t going to happen. 35 years old and I have never had a girlfriend/partner. On the net I never know what to say/type or ask, and in person it’s always been the same. To be honest, the hardest thing to accept is that my time has passed and I am now too old for the dreams I once had to come true. For some people, it just isn’t meant to be.

  13. Im a member and after 1 day I thought god what have i paid for? and after 1 week im still saying the same thing. I have had 2 people accept a chat who dont reply and absolutely no response from now over 45 matches most of whom just do not appeal to me at all.For those that I searched for myself and are again very limited – there is no reply. Also Im from Scotland and the membership here appears to be extremely limited – that should be pointed out before you take our money. I am hugely disappointed – i have sent messages galore with no reply. I would never recommend this website. Look at all these negative comments guys – you really have to try and improve this. Dont waste our time and hopes – tell us if someone cannot reply – or would that percentage embarass you.?

  14. I’m shocked by how many bad comments I have just read. I used this site a few years ago went on a few dates, all were good with the exception of one and then met someone who I was in a relationship with for over two years.

    Now single again I rejoined two weeks ago. Majority of the matches I’m sent I can see potential in. I get a variety of responses from ice breakers to people wanting to jump straight to email. I have communicated with over 14 people to different degrees and am still getting to know a handful before accepting any date offers.

    So with this said I would urge anyone who is not getting the experience they expected to take control. Use the sites resources, there’s plenty! Put yourself out there and take a chance and if all else fails politely ask someone who it didn’t work out with for their “feedback”. This is a good site and felt that it deserved a good review from an experienced user.

  15. I’ve successfully used several dating sited over the years, and enjoyed the experience, but e harmony has produced the most disappointing selection….only one person I wanted to contact (then no reply) The photos seem to be dire, come on guys, you expect us girls to look our best! I have wasted my time and money here – very disappointed.

  16. Girls, don’t expect the boys to do all the chasing! In my experience on this site, they will often wait for us to make the first move. If I’m interested, I make the first move and usually get a response.

  17. folks, come on, you have to speculate to accumulate! I am methodical about it – check my matches every day, send a smile or an icebreaker to those I like, archive the ones I don’t – and make sure I respond promptly to anyone who contacts me. And therefore, I’m getting results. How would you approach looking for a new job online? If you saw a job you liked would you expect the job site to contact you? Of course not!

  18. I want to cancel my information, please urgently.

  19. Hello Mria,

    To deal with any account issues, please call our Customer Care team on 0800 028 0308. They’ll be happy to help you.

    Best wishes,
    eHarmony Advice

  20. Not impressed by this internet dating site. The matches are not matches – they are just single guys. Half of them don’t even have any photos and if they do, they are really dodgy and I am sure there are plenty of porkies about ages too! I mean, not everyone takes a fab photo (any myself included), but make the effort and not with a rubbish photo 2 mega pixel job – and if you say you are 45, why do you look 60? I find it all very hard to believe – call me skeptical. I don’t expect Prince Charming to rock up in threes, but really??? Another thing that rankles is how little attention men are giving to their spelling, grammar and content!! How can you expect to spark any interest when you can’t even spell your own home town correctly? Maybe because it’s not your home town??? Also, if you set a distance of 60 miles, why am I getting matches from 180 miles away? Also, I do not like the fact that if you close a match (obviously because you don’t want any further attention either communication or them looking at your profile), then why can they still see YOU (unless they close you?) So basically they can still be updated on your photos and any amendments to profile even though you are not interest? Hmmm something is definitely not right here. Will not be recommending to anyone and BTW, can I get a refund?

  21. Hello Lucy,

    Thanks for your message. To discuss your match settings and account, please call our Customer Care team on 0800 028 0308.

    Best wishes,
    eHarmony Advice

  22. A question to the guys out there – has a woman ever made the first move on Eharmony? I’ve got to Eh Mail with a couple, and exchanged questions with a few but I’ve always been the one to initiate communication.

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