I never had any luck with girls in high school, so after graduation, I signed up for OKCupid for the heck of it, and Plenty of Fish a few months later. Two years later, I’m still no better off. What’ll happen is just out-of-the-blue some girl will start messaging me, or I’ll message them and, against all odds, they’ll actually respond. We’ll hit it off, exchange phone numbers, hit it off some more, make plans for a date, and then they’ll disappear on me shortly before we agreed to meet. I’ll never hear from them again.
See, this wouldn’t be so bad if it happened once or twice. In my time on dating sites, I’ve chatted and hit it off with about 20 girls. Every single one of them vanished on me. I’ve never been on a date, aside from the one time I drove an hour out of my, only to find she had stood me up and then ghosted on me.
I know this is totally my fault – 20 girls in a row don’t just disappear for no reason – but I can’t figure out for the life of me what I keep doing wrong. Every single conversation has ended on a good note. Still, I’m obviously screwing up somehow. I’ve always been very shy and socially awkward, something I’m constantly and painfully aware of, but I’m not sure if that’s the issue here or no. Seriously, if I was making some sort of mistake, I’d admit to it and fix it. I just don’t know what that mistake is.
And naturally when this happens, it really hurts. For me especially, as I have a long history of being treated like shit by people. Every time hurts more than the last. I just want it to stop. I want to go on at one successful date at least once in my life.
Do you guys have any idea what I’m doing wrong here?
Daters usually have two reactions when something goes wrong. There are those who blame themselves when things are going wrong, and those that blame everyone else when things are going wrong. I’m going to give you the same advice I would give anyone who believes that 100% of the time 100% of the problem is either on them, or on the people they date: You’re probably wrong. Just like most things in life, reducing things to a black and white or binary view of the world is only going to make solving your problems that much harder. I’m not sure why people do this, but I think part of it has to do with the idea of having One Problem that requires One Solution. Dating, like life, is never that simple.
Lets talk about why people get ghosted on, especially before an actual date. Having not seen what your messages look like, I’ll just guess that if they’re ghosting before a date even happens, they lose interest somewhere between the initial messages and the first date. This leads me to believe that you’re at least mildly attractive, know how to formulate a decent online dating profile, and have a basic command of written English if you can get to the point where you’re messaging. That’s a good start, but what I don’t know is how often you message new people, how long you spend between messaging and setting up a date, and the content of your message. It’s entirely possible you write really long messages, take way to long to set up a date, and your conversations are potentially not good. Or, and just keep your mind open here, you’ve messaged 20 girls who all happen to suck. All of these possibilities could be true so let’s assume the worst is true and go from there.
When it comes to the length of your messages, you want to keep it as short as possible, without sacrificing content. According to some old data, the best message length is somewhere between 200 characters and 2000 characters. Try to find a good middle ground and make sure your messages are concise, not rambling, on topic, don’t feel like an interview, and most importantly leave prompts for responses. You need to have conversation starters in your messages as well as conversation bridges. Things like asking how they’re day/night/weekend or yes/no questions are conversational dead-ends. Asking them to tell you about an experience they had, or your shared interests are a much better way to have great conversations. If they like rock climbing, instead of asking them how much they enjoyed the last time they rock climbed (“It was good. It was a great workout” the end) you can ask them why they got interested in rock climbing, what advice they’d give a beginner, and so on. It doesn’t have to be an essay, just ask them pointed questions about themselves, in under 2000 characters.
From the day that they respond to your first message until you meet should be at max 2 weeks apart, give or take. Anyone who delays longer than that is probably not that serious about meeting you. Alternatively, you shouldn’t be spending more than 2 weeks pursuing someone for a first date especially since the odds are that you’ll be paying for it anyway. “That’s too soon” you might be saying and to that I say, just trust me. Very few people have been on more online dates than me and in my experience, unless a person is currently on vacation or traveling, anyone who wants to push out meeting to 3 weeks, a month, or longer, is wasting your time. If you think it’s still too harsh, just put them on the back-burner and focus on other people if it takes longer than 2 weeks to met.
As for the content of your messages, part of that can be fixed by having a two-week timeline for meeting and also by not writing incredibly long messages as I mentioned above. If you’re sending short, concise messages that are continuing a great conversation you’ll be fine. Beyond that, avoid doing things you wouldn’t do in a normal conversation with a stranger. Don’t get into too much detail about your sexual life, your family life, don’t write them a poem, and don’t start calling them pet names (honey, boo, sweetie, etc.). The number one thing that people do that ruins the chances of having a good conversation on a first date is exhausting all their conversation topics over messages. Message to the point where you’ve established you both want to meet, set a time and place, then meet them. Save your deep conversations for the first date. If they flake on a pre-arranged date, they’re probably not interested if they make no effort to reschedule.
This last point is really important. It’s entirely possible that you’re just encountering people who suck. I know this because you say you messaged 20 people and they ghosted. Would you like for me to get really, really, real with you? Of course you do! From the time I first joined OkCupid, until I discontinued my membership, I messaged THOUSANDS of women. Not dozens, or hundreds, but THOUSANDS of women. I also did this in a city that is where the odds are in favor of single men. There are 230,000 more single women than men in NYC, and yet I would send something like 50-100 first messages A WEEK. I’m not exaggerating here, until I stopped sending first messages, I would send 50 to 100 messages first messages a week. That total doesn’t include second, third, fourth, etc. messages either. If 20 girls responded to one week of messages I considered it a miracle. If 1 of them actually went on a date with me I was absolutely amazed. The cure for encountering crappy people is to increase the amount of people you encounter, so the crappy ones don’t feel like they’re the only ones you meet. If you messaged 20 girls, and they all ghosted then you’ll have a success rate of 0%, which is depressing. But, if you’re messaging 100 people, your odds of meeting at least one of those people improves. 1% is better than 0%.
Online dating is a numbers game, no matter who you are. For straight men, the “numbers” are the number of contact attempts you need to make, while for straight women, it’s the total number of messages that they are inundated with. My advice for you is to of course, follow my advice, but also just work harder at meeting women. 20 conversations that went nowhere is a VERY low number. If you get to 2000 conversations and still no date, then you can start to worry.
Good Luck Out There.