I stumbled upon this lovely Guardian piece about the all-too-common online dating phenomenon known as The Silence.
After experiencing being ignored a couple of times, it kind of felt that this was just the way it was done. An unwritten code of accepted rudeness that you probably wouldn’t apply in other aspects of your life – unless you were a bit of a turd.
I actually wrote in to Miss Manners asking her opinion about this, because she has long maintained that every invitation you receive, no matter how casual, merits a response. I don’t disagree, but it quickly becomes a strange and frustrating situation when new media outlets, like Facebook and online dating sites, allow people to extend invitations with very little effort (and often very little relevance to the invitee’s actual interests or lifestyle).
My general rule of thumb is that everyone, male or female, should try to be open to at least responding to every initial message that seems like it was sent from a decent human being. If later on, the correspondence starts to fizzle or flop, then it’s OK to let it dwindle or come to a close. But put in practice, that’s an exhausting prospect, and one that I myself wasn’t able to stick to in my single days!
What do y’all think? What’s your etiquette rule of thumb? Realistically, different singles are going to have different patterns, but if you make it your goal to be as interesting and personal and thoughtful and funny and yet brief as possible, you’re more likely to start actual conversations and go on actual dates. And hey, be forward about it: put the actual dating intention in your message, no matter what. Not only is it more efficient than just writing back and forth a bunch, but it’s also likely to get a proper response from true etiquette sticklers like Miss Manners. 🙂
@askvirginia I look at my 26 cats and smile.
In my single days of using online services, I responded to everyone who seemed to have expressed a genuine interest (read: not a robo-form, ad-spawn buy-me’s, or Russian-brides-online etc.). Not everyone was as kind to respond, however, although I’m told that women receive 5-10x the amount of “interested” contacts as do men.
I think that number might actually be higher in some cases! That can kind of explain women’s lack of responses, but still—feels impolite. And at other demographics and age ranges, the whole dynamic shifts and men stop being responsive.
I think demographics has a lot to do with responses, and it would be quite interesting to see analysis of data like that for dating sites…and then cross-compare with Responses: frequency of contact, method(s) of contact, frequency of method(s) used, Age range, gender, geographic origin, etc. My guess is that men & women in their 20s-30s probably have the worst communication track record; 30s-40s, some improvement; 40s-50s, marked improvement; and 50+, probably the most responsive.
You’d think, but the older guys are some of the worst Silence offenders in my (admittedly more anecdotal) experience. I’d so love to see that thorough a study myself… maybe if we co-sponsor it? 🙂
I’m a student of the human psyche and questions like these intrigue me…