Win The Online Waiting Game!

If you’re constantly checking your Inbox for the latest replies and first-time introductions, try these helpful hints to better manage your online dating email anxiety.

By Chelsea Kaplan

t’s been days since you made contact with that cutie you’ve been eyeing online, but despite hitting the “send” button what seems like ages ago, you’ve yet to receive so much as an “out of office” auto-reply. Is this a blow-off, or is your crush just super-busy? Has this person relocated to a country where email is prohibited — or possibly turned off
Women also tend to be more unwilling to be the pursuer.
by the fact that you have a cat? All this email anxiety is enough to make you head straight for the freezer and begin a meaningful relationship with both Ben and Jerry.

But before you make a move your love life (or waistline) could later regret, consider this advice from Lori Gorshow, president and dating coach for Dating Made Simple. Below, she offers tips on how to best handle the anxiety online daters sometimes feel when you’re waiting for an email reply — and how long you should really wait before moving on to the next prospect.

Remember that men and women approach online dating differently
Before you jump to conclusions as to what the object of your affection’s silence truly implies, keep in mind that women and men generally communicate quite differently online. It’s unlikely that the course of action you’d choose in this situation is identical to the one preferred by person you’ve just emailed. For example, Gorshow notes that women tend to be more reserved than men when sending out and responding to emails. “Women also tend to be more unwilling to be the pursuer,” she adds, cautioning men to avoid assuming that a woman’s not interested just because she hasn’t immediately replied back. Men, on the other hand, generally feel that online dating is a numbers game; as a result, they usually send out a lot of winks or emails, Gorshow explains. “However, most men won’t follow up if they get inundated with responses to their initial emails or if they start dating someone,” she says. “So if a woman initiates contact with a man and doesn’t hear from him in a timely manner, but suddenly gets an email from him weeks later, chances are he started dating someone, it didn’t work out, and now he’s back on the market again.”

Resist the temptation to obsessively check your messages
When it comes to online dating, patience is a virtue — and having a lack of it might unintentionally send the wrong message to someone you’re hoping to impress. It’s understandable that your eagerness for a response makes you want to hit “refresh” every minute or so, but Gorshow strongly recommends avoiding this behavior, if possible. “Your online dating activities are easy to check,” she explains. “If you are frequently online, others can see your status and you could appear to be insincere, desperate, or seem like a player — even though you’re just eagerly anticipating an email from someone.” Be careful, Gorshow warns: “Your constant online presence could make people resist reaching out to
When it comes to online dating, patience is a virtue.
you or even cause someone you’ve met and are still in the early stages of dating to cut off all communication with you.”

Know when to move on
I hate to break it to you, but if you haven’t heard from someone within five days, it’s probably safe to assume that you won’t hear from that person at all. However, Gorshow says there are a few legit reasons other than lack of interest that could explain why someone might not have contacted you — the most plausible one being computer-related problems. In order to rule out this possibility, Gorshow advises checking to see if the object of your affection has recently signed in, saying that “a person who hasn’t been online in a month is most likely dating off-line and is a waste of your time and energy.” If you haven’t gotten a reply after a week of waiting, Gorshow says it’s completely fine to send a second email to you let your crush know why you’re worth a second look. “Assertiveness can be alluring as long as you’re always courteous and don’t write something that is sexually suggestive, aggressive or demanding,” she notes. If you still haven’t gotten a response after sending a second email within 7-10 days, move on. “There are too many good catches online to waste your time on someone who is not responsive,” Gorshow advises. And look at it this way: if someone you like isn’t responsive online, it’s a good indication of how he or she might act when you’re off-line.

Re-evaluate your communication habits, too
You know all too well how excruciating the waiting game is, so maintain some good online dating karma by responding to others’ introductory communiqués promptly. If someone contacts or winks at you and seems to have potential, resist the urge to play games or adhere to an arbitrary waiting period to respond. If you’d like to chat with someone, respond within one to three days, Gorshow recommends, cautioning that waiting too long can give the impression that you’re not seriously looking to meet new people. And if there’s no way you can see a future with this person, send a quick response saying, “Thanks for the interest, but right now, I’m otherwise occupied.” It’s easy, quick, polite — and there’s no need to explain that “occupied” means checking out other profiles until you find the real Mr. or Ms. Right.

Chelsea Kaplan is deputy editor of and regularly appears as a guest on XM Radio’s “Broad Minded.” Her blog, “I’m Somebody’s Mother?” can be found at
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