The fine people at JDate received this email from an active user recently and passed it along for me to give some advice, not just for this user, but for anyone with a similar experience. The email asked the following:


I need some help getting people to respond. I have tried email, IMs, chat rooms, and message boards, yet I have not received any feedback.

I really do not have anyone who can take new pictures of me. The only new thing that has happened to me lately is that I got a new job as a bookkeeper.

I have tried my area, yet there have not been any new people. I also expanded my search to other parts of the country, but I feel that these people are still not interested.

Can anyone help me out?


This is a common question: Why am I not getting attention online? I’d like to break it down into three categories:

  1. The pictures
  2. The profile
  3. The emails


The Pictures

1.  Less Is More

While JDate allows 12 pictures, that doesn’t mean you need to use all of the available slots. Three to five photos will be plenty for someone to get a good idea of what you look like. You don’t want to be dismissed simply because you have one sub-par photo.

2.  Include at Least One Clear “Face” Photo

If you don’t have at least one clear face photo as your main profile picture, your profile will scream, “Hiding something!” You don’t want someone not to click on you because he or she can’t see what you look like at first glance.

3.  Use Solo Pictures

You’re already being compared to others on the site, so do not give someone the chance to compare you to the other people in your own profile. If you’re trying to show that you have friends or are social, just say so!

4.  Have One Photo Where You’re Doing Something Interesting

Many people have no idea what to say in the initial email, so give them something easy to comment about, or “email bait.”

5.  Be Accurate

It happens all the time where you go on a date, and the person looks nothing like his or her photos and profile had indicated. Don’t lie about your looks… enough said.

And the biggest photo myth: Professional photos are frowned upon. Wrong! (Just make sure they are taken in a natural setting.) If you look good, no one will care who took the pictures or whether you paid for them. They’ll just be happy they found someone as good-looking as you are. If you’re having trouble finding a photographer, is a good place to start. I am also happy to give some recommendations depending on your location.


The Profile

1.  Have a Big and Bold Intro, and a Positive Ending

On most of the dating sites, just a few words of your profile are shown… someone needs to actively click on you to see the rest. For that reason, it’s important to make the first sentence memorable in order to catch someone’s attention and make him or her want to click. And your last line is the last thing they will remember, so be sure to end on a positive note.

2.  Ask Questions

Assume the worst: that no one knows what to say to you in an email. For that reason, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to write to you. Just like with the “interesting” picture described above, asking questions in your profile gives them an “in.” Even rhetorical questions work since you are still engaging the person reading your profile.

3.  Check the Length

As a general rule of thumb, just a few sentences is too short, but anything over three paragraphs is much too long. People will simply see the length, think, “I don’t have time to read this,” and click on the next profile. No need to tell your life story. Save it for the date… and even then, use some discretion.

4.  Provide Details and Specifics

With so many people using JDate, you have to differentiate yourself. No one necessarily cares that you like to cook, but they might care if you claim to make the best apple pie on this side of the Mississippi. Let someone    paint a picture of you in his or her mind rather than letting yourself blend into the crowd.


The Emails

Now, find some people who interest you, and start sending those emails. Both men and women should email potential matches.

Here’s to include in the email:

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

As for the length, a few sentences will be enough to get the ball rolling. And no copy/paste form letters!

These tips should give you a better sense of how to use online dating effectively. Best of luck!

Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge and author of acclaimed Love at First Site.  Her work has been seen on NPR, Talk Philly, The Washington Post, and more.  To join her mailing list for tips and events, please join here.
  1. Interesting, but cannot remove the fact that with so many now online on dating sites, everyone’s aspirations are raised. So why respond to the unattractive/overweight/less financially successful if someone ‘better’ may come along tomorrow?

    There are as always ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in any environment, but if you fall into one of the above categories it is a long and lonely ride!

  2. I’ve had email exchanges with a few people that seem to be going somewhere and then they abruptly stop emailing…I’m considered attractive. I’m petite. I have a nice figure. These emails were exchanged just based on profile alone because I didn’t have the right profile photo. Then when I posted the profile pic, the emails stopped. I don’t get it. Very discouraging. Do I bother asking him why?

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