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I want to out on dates, not sit at home and write emails
February 25, 2011 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Online dating question for the women of Metafilter : if a guy asks you out in the first email, do you automatically assume that he's a player, a creep, or otherwise undesirable? What if you email him first, and he asks you out in his first reply?

So here's the deal. I've done online dating multiple times (mostly OkCupid), and each time I wind up leaving after a month or so. I feel like most online dating sites aren't really centered around getting people to meet each other; they exist as a way to get people to write emails. Lots and lots and lots of emails. This wouldn't bother me so much, except I've found very little correlation between compatibility-over-email and compatibility-in-person. Which means all that time spent writing emails is essentially wasted; you get false negatives and false positives all over the place. And it can take A LOT of time. This is usually what makes me leave.

I'm thinking about getting on OkCupid again, but this time around, just asking women out in the first email -- or if they email me first, asking them out in my first reply. A woman's profile gives me basically all the information I need to decide whether or not I should give her a couple hours of my time.

So, here are some things you should assume about the guy doing the emailing:
1) He's reasonably attractive
2) He has a good profile, funny in all the right places
3) He wrote you a solid email. Good grammar, spelling, etc.
4) Basically, he's the kind of guy you would email back if he didn't ask you out in the first email.

I've actually tried Craigslist before, and generally like the way it's oriented towards actually meeting people. If someone responds to your ad, the emailing stage is basically just a matter of ironing out the details. However, Craigslist is irritating and primitive, and doesn't have the same quality userbase as OkCupid. I really like the idea behind howaboutwe.com, but it's not really big in my area (SF) yet.

So what do you think? Is there a good way to approach this? What if I put a line in my profile explaining that I'm not that into email? What if I explain inside the email itself? Is there any way to do this and not come off as a player? I'm definitely not at a point in my life where I'm looking for one-night-stands; I'm just wanting to cut through some of the BS of online dating.
posted by Sloop John B to Human Relations (48 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would not want to be asked out on the first email, especially if I had not initiated the conversation. I would think "Why does he want to go out with me? He doesn't even know me!" and assume you had bad intentions. However, after 2-3 emails I'd be more than happy to be asked out, if the conversation had been interesting and I thought we had something in common.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:46 AM on February 25, 2011 [15 favorites]


Not a woman, but a retired veteran of the online dating scene: I too got tired of all the constant email back-and-forth. However, even as a dude, I'd be a little taken aback by an immediate first email that was an invitation to a meeting - that would imply that the asker was making the invite based only on a reading of my profile and a view of my picture.

I staked out a kind of middle ground: after a reasonable number of emails, say two or three, I'd figure out whether to ask for a meeting or to cut my losses and move on. You get the minimal get-to-know-you chitchat out of the way, but don't get into the "what I did today" level of e-friend.
posted by flipper at 10:48 AM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I love it when guys ask me out right away (and I often ask guys out in the first or second email). I would keep it casual -- "Let me know if you'd be interested in grabbing a cup of coffee sometime" -- but other than that, I say go for it.
posted by cider at 10:49 AM on February 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


No problem with asking out on the second email * for something that isn't a real date, like a 15-minute coffee date. Which is really how I decide if I like the person enough to want to go on a real date with him. But yeah, if you ask me for a full fledged dinner/movie right off the bat, that's too much.

* The very first email should only be hi, nice to meet you, how 'bout them Red Sox, and nothing more, as otherwordlyglow explains.
posted by Melismata at 10:51 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am female and a veteran of the online dating scene. I preferred to be asked out on the 2-3 email from the guy. Any earlier, and it was, like, "Whoa, desperate!" but any later than the 3-4 email, and I figured he wasn't that interested. I did not like emailing back and forth much because I couldn't tell anything until we'd met in person, but I did want to feel like he was asking out a real person and not just checkmark:female, checkmark: breathing.
posted by aabbbiee at 10:54 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree that "hello, unknown girl, let's meet up someplace" is a bit unexpected. An email to say hello, an email back from her to confirm that she's not uninterested, and *then* your invitation.
I think you'll get more positive responses if you phrase things in your profile that you're all about doing things and going places and meeting in person, as opposed to a negative statement that emailing is boring or useless. (not to imply your question phrasing was super-negative; just that the words you use for wooing should be even more positive.) To avoid the "first-date hookup" vibe, it helps if you don't ask her out for the datiest of dates (let's try this wine bar! let's get coffee! let's eat Italian!) but invite to activities (a band, a neighborhood film festival, a climbing gym, a chocolate tasting, etc) or for food/drink at times that are not immediately before bedtime.
posted by aimedwander at 10:55 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Asking someone out in the first email is like telling someone you see across a crowded room that you're going to marry them before you even say hello. It's weird and has a low success rate.

I am 100% in favor of curtailing email correspondence but at a minimum you need to email, get a reply, and THEN ask. If she says no or wants to email lots more or dear God no start swapping texts or whatever, by all means wish her well and back out. But attempting to set up the date with what amounts to no conversation on OK Cupid would leave me cold. I was all about getting off the dating site and into a restaurant - after all, it's supposed to be about finding a partner not a pen pal - but your proposed approach seems premature and almost rude. You need to let the other person speak, or do what passes for speaking on a dating site.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:55 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be clear, I did my share of asking people out. I didn't always wait for the guy.
posted by aabbbiee at 10:56 AM on February 25, 2011


I think that you can say some variation of "I prefer to get to know people face to face" and see what happens. Maybe not on the first e-mail, but the 2nd or 3rd. There's no need to divulge your life story over e-mail if you don't want to.

Some people are online because they're terrified of face to face conversation, and they prefer the back and forth email to get to know a person, so be prepared that you might not get the response you're hoping for. But as a woman, I don't think it's creepy if you word it correctly and don't seem demanding.
posted by katypickle at 10:58 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


You've got two hurdles to overcome here:

1. Asking for a date too quickly looks like desperation. Like, you don't care about talking to me, you just want to take someone out on a date, and you don't really care who, you just want a date RIGHT NOW. (Creepy.)

2. Who I am, what I say, what I talk about, what I'm interested in, what my interior life is like - these things are immaterial to you. All you want is a date, and it doesn't matter who it's with. You could prop up a cardboard standee left over from a movie theater would work fine for you.

I think what you'll want to do is explicitly defuse both of those concerns in the second email, while asking her out on a low-stakes date (like coffee or lunch).

As in,
"Your profile says that you're X, Y, and Z, and that you love A, B, and C. That's awesome! Me too!

I'd love to talk to you about all those things and more, but let's have those conversations face-to-face. Email is so impersonal; I find that real-life conversations are so much more meaningful."
(That's clumsy, but you get the idea.)
posted by ErikaB at 11:00 AM on February 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


It sounds like you just want to see signs that the woman is reasonably attractive and intelligent before you meet her, which is totally fine. The thing is, in addition to that, I also want to see signs that the guy isn't a total psycho. I can't speak for any other women, but I think the safety/stability element might be more of an issue for us. Obviously, a few emails aren't going to weed out everyone who is nuts, but it'll weed out quite a few of the worst cases.

And yeah, if a guy asked me out RIGHT away, I would also kinda feel like he wasn't interested in me in particular, that it was as aabbbiee said, he just cared that I was female and breathing. That comes off as a little desperate, and would also make me feel as if we weren't likely to have a good connection. 2-3 emails would probably be perfect.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:00 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't have an answer for the OP (not being a woman of Metafilter), but I have a request for clarification from those who are answering.

Everyone seems to be mainly responding to just the first half of the OP's question, the part before the dash in this sentence:

I'm thinking about getting on OkCupid again, but this time around, just asking women out in the first email -- or if they email me first, asking them out in my first reply.

What about the part after the dash? If email #1 in the whole exchange is from Woman to Man, does it make sense for him to send a reply trying to set up a date? (Of course, the reply wouldn't be just about that; assume he also has a good response to what she wrote in the first email.)

Some of these answers that say to wait till the "2nd or 3rd email" are unclear to me whether they mean both people should have sent 2 or 3 emails, or that it's fine for the date question to be in the 2nd email altogether (which could be the first email from him). Since this question is all about details, that's a crucial distinction.
posted by John Cohen at 11:06 AM on February 25, 2011


The other thing to remember is that women typically get dozens to hundreds of replies doing online dating. So, women have to be judicious as to how they use their time. It only takes a few minutes to email, whereas a date can take up hours of your day. When you have so many replies, you have to decide which ones you're going to invest more of your time in. The guys you know more about, have a better idea that you'll click with, are probably the ones you'll invest more time in. If one guy just asks me out without talking to me at all, and another guy has spent a week talking with me, it's much more likely that I'll invest my time in meeting the second guy, all else being equal.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:06 AM on February 25, 2011


I'd go for it, and probably be happy to have the meet and decide if the guy is a possibility or not without too much investment. But I like spontaneity and boldness. I mean, all this blah blah and you're going to have to cut to the chase and meet in the flesh anyway, right? As long as there's enough written communication to see that the guy knows where to put apostrophes and can form coherent sentences. "You seem neat. Let's meet at X and have some tea. Bring a deck of cards and your three favorite knock-knock jokes." I'd be there.
posted by griselda at 11:07 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I meant, and I think most of the responses mean, that he should wait until the second email *he* sends to ask her out. If she sends the first email, then I think he could ask her out on the first email he sends, but only if there has been enough small talk in those first emails to make it seem like he's not just Thrilled to Be Contacted (read: desperate).

I understand totally that you want to cut through all the endless emailing, but 2-3 emails is a reasonable compromise.
posted by aabbbiee at 11:13 AM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


What would work for me:

"Hi radioaction, [stuff about why you're writing to me, why you liked my profile, telling me some about yourself, etc]. Would you like to get a cup of coffee sometime and talk about [that book we both love, or whatever]?"

What wouldn't work for me:

"Hi radioaction, [stuff about why you're writing to me, why you liked my profile, telling me some about yourself, etc]. Would you like to go to [fancy restaurant] and [long movie] with me tonight?"

The first is super casual, offers opportunity for the encounter to last 5 minutes or a couple of hours, and cheap. I'm definitely game to gamble that on a person I've only exchanged one message with and wouldn't assume that person is just looking for a hook-up or is a sleeze. The second is a datedate and too much of a commitment for me to make for someone I don't know at all.
posted by radioaction at 11:13 AM on February 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm a hetero dude but here's my two cents:

if a guy asks you out in the first email, do you automatically assume that he's a player, a creep, or otherwise undesirable?

This only happened to me once (as a guy getting a message from a girl). She asked me out for a specific activity related to something I put on my profile, for that weekend, and she framed it in a humorous way. Unfortunately her profile made it seem like she wasn't my type (I had in fact already seen her profile and skipped over it) and her asking me on a date in the first email somewhat confirmed it. I probably would have responded to a normal message if she had sent it, although I probably wouldn't have asked her out on a date unless the emails went really well.

So what do you think? Is there a good way to approach this?

Personally I solved the same problem (too many messages, not enough dates) by going for the date at around the third message. There is going to be some proportion of the women you message that will be weirded out by asking on the first message but who would have accepted after a few messages, you just have to weigh that against really not wanting to spend time messaging.

What if I put a line in my profile explaining that I'm not that into email? What if I explain inside the email itself?

Even though it's true, I don't think "I'm sick of messaging people" is really a good way to make a first impression. I would frame it more as that you are up for fun no-pressure meetings in person because meeting in person is so much better than just reading text, and that from reading her profile you already know that she seems really cool/interesting/whatever.

Is there any way to do this and not come off as a player? I'm definitely not at a point in my life where I'm looking for one-night-stands; I'm just wanting to cut through some of the BS of online dating.

I think the risk is more that you'll seem like you're mailing hundreds of date requests out to every random girl within a 20 mile radius. Even though you've read her profile and whatnot it's still going to seem impersonal if you ask her out without having any kind of conversation with her at all.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:16 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Personally, I wouldn't mind, especially if:
1. Your offer is for a relatively casual activity in a very public place (coffee or lunch - rather than dinner).
2. You explain (perhaps in an edited version of what you wrote here) why you would like to make the date on the first email.
3. You mention some things you liked about my profile that led to your interest. This can include my picture but only as one of several factors.
4. You are honest and polite. Obviously I won't know how genuine any of that is but I don't think two more emails would make that much of a difference.

*Personal Note - I found super Mr. Glinn on OkCupid. I did it by widening my search on a whim and found someone several states away (and then we emailed a ton, admittedly). YMMV. Don't give up!!one! It only takes one. ;)

On preview, radioaction's examples are good.
posted by Glinn at 11:17 AM on February 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I met my boyfriend of 2+ years on craigslist and we emailed back and forth maybe two or three times and then met in person. I have to be in a certain kind of mood to go on a date with sameone I literally know nothing about so I think a few emails is important so you know you are on the same page at least. I think it is a really bad idea to use emails to build attraction or chemistry. After you know the bare minimum of age, work situation, big interests, whatever is important to you it's time to meet in person.
posted by boobjob at 11:24 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah at least wait for a positive response from the lady first. If you wrote me a decent length e-mail for a first contact (but not TOO wordy!) and actually had something to say as well as giving me an opening for a response I would totally be open for you to suggest going to get coffee in your second e-mail without thinking you creepy. But I have also found that I can be very interested in someone online but then discover there's absolutely no chemistry in person.


Sending a first contact e-mail that says "hay gurl u seem kewl you wanna go get frozen yogurt sumtime"* obviously will not work.


* Actual e-mail I got on OKCupid last year.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:34 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, it might boil down to the kind of person you are looking for. Do you want the sort of person who would look at meeting someone as an ADVENTURE!!1! and has a bit of a devil-may-care attitude about it, or do you want someone who is more cautious and selective about who they meet, and generally stable and settled in life. I mean, I'd go out and meet anyone who seemed reasonably intelligent and vaguely clever. There are strangers all around everywhere, and I am not afraid to chat with someone new. But I do all kinds of nutty things (I lived without indoor plumbing, and in an intentional community) and sometimes my SOs weren't into that later in the relationship. Maybe that's not the sort of person you want to end up with. Do you want the sort of girl who will try to drag you into a life without plumbing for the ADVENTURE? 'Cause those are the sorts of people who aren't afraid to take chances and meet strangers who email them.
posted by griselda at 11:38 AM on February 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm a woman on OKCupid, and I'm in the "go for it" camp. All the suggestions above apply -- your message should NOT read like a mass/form email, but be a thoughtful, short, breezy message that conveys, "hey, your profile is great. I'm a huge fan of X too, but I might have to debate you on (innocuous topic Y from her profile). Would you like to meet for a drink or coffee sometime? In the interim, please ask me anything you like -- I promise there's a good story about why there's a Z in my picture and/or my apparent obsession with food group A."

Don't mention her looks, don't say "I promise I'm not a psycho LOL," and don't write to her again if she doesn't reply.

If she has written to YOU first, then yeah, your reply can definitely be a suggestion to meet. If I initiate contact, you've already crossed my threshold for "meetable."

Finally, don't forget that there are some subtle tools that can build your case -- visit her profile (which she'll see that you've done) and maybe answer some questions that she's listed as important if you haven't already, then don't go back for a few days or week(s), then visit again and mark her as a favorite (using the option that lets her know this), then a few days or week(s) later send the first note. This kind of pattern indicates to me that the guy is patient, not a player, and genuinely intrigued about me but not in some desperate rush and not a stalker (which is how I feel about guys who visit my profile multiple times a day, oy!).

Good luck! Oh, and feel free to memail me if you'd like a little anonymous objective feedback on your profile, I'd be happy to.
posted by argonauta at 11:40 AM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm a woman. I have used (and currently use) online sites to find dates. I agree that it is tiresome to write back and forth repeatedly. I have a pretty busy life, and all that time spent emailing can feel like having another part time job. So, I have been receptive to men who in their initial contact with me say something like:

"Hi, {username}, how's it going? I liked {X aspect(s) of your profile}. I am the kind of person who likes to just meet and see if we can hit it off instead of emailing back and forth repeatedly. Would you be interested in getting a coffee/beer sometime?"

This type of email, to which I never respond, is all kinds of desperate:

"Hi, you seem cool. Wanna hang out tonight? Text me at 555-1212"
posted by medeine at 11:41 AM on February 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


I meant, and I think most of the responses mean, that he should wait until the second email *he* sends to ask her out. If she sends the first email, then I think he could ask her out on the first email he sends

Well, I'm not sure why you say most responses say he should wait till the second email he sends, since your own advice would seem to suggest a different rule: he should wait until at least the second email sent by either of them. (If the second email altogether is sent by her, then by definition he'll have to wait till the next email to ask her out.)

And there is another view, which is basically that the OP should go for it in the first message. And yes, there are qualifications to that advice, but the qualifications pretty much go without saying: that the message should be thoughtful and well-written and specific to the recipient (which is just standard good dating practice, and something the OP specified), and the date suggestion should be relatively casual rather than a highly formal dinner (which, again, is just standard good dating practice, no matter how many emails are sent).

In other words, if all other factors are positive, is sending an initial message asking her out a good or bad idea? There seems to be no consensus on that: radioaction, griselda, and Glinn think it's a good idea, and others think not. So you might as well try it either way and see what happens to work for you.
posted by John Cohen at 11:42 AM on February 25, 2011


On post-view, make that: argonauta, medeine, radioaction, griselda, and Glinn all say to go for the ask-out in the initial message.
posted by John Cohen at 11:43 AM on February 25, 2011


Haven't read any of the comments, but for me, I wouldn't be into being asked to commit to an in-person date on the first email.

I feel like most online dating sites aren't really centered around getting people to meet each other; they exist as a way to get people to write emails. Lots and lots and lots of emails.


I understand that frustration, really I do, but as a lady, one of the ways I evaluate (ok, evaluated, because I'm with a long-term partner I'm very happy with) potential mates is by their written communication ability. This is likely because I'm a nerd and love to read, but I'm not at all interested in people who can't represent themselves credibly in a letter. Rather than focus (and get frustrated by) the quantity of emails, I'd suggest doing something like this:

-Write to the person you're interested in. Think about what you want to say, and say something personal, don't use a line or a paragraph just because it has seemed to work before and you're tired of typing. If you don't want to write something personal to the person you're interested in dating, maybe you should reconsider if you're actually interested in them. Don't write an essay, don't write a one liner, just keep it moderately short but specific. Say why you're interested, say something about you, ask them a question, say you hope to hear from them. Ideally don't mention their personal characteristics as this is nearly always a turn-off, no matter how suavely you do it.

-Get the email back. They're interested, they reply to your question, they ask questions of their own. They may actually suggest you guys have coffee.

-Write back. Respond to their questions briefly but completely and say you'd love to pick up the conversation over coffee. Suggest a time and a place, give them your phone number, and ask them if that would work for them. If not, when would suit them?

If you don't suggest coffee on your second email, suggest it on your third. I wouldn't go past four email conversations without getting together in person. If they are really resistant to getting together in person, find out if there is a reason. If there isn't a good reason, move on to another person.

But no, don't ask me out on the first email. It sounds desperate and rushed, neither of which are good characteristics to convey.
posted by arnicae at 11:45 AM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like to compare online dating to a large party. It's just a way of making an introduction. If a friend of yours told you all about a girl, then introduced you two and walked away, wouldn't you still talk to her a little bit before asking for her number?
posted by klao at 11:59 AM on February 25, 2011


Even if I had sent the first email, I would not have wanted the guy to email me back with an immediate invitation for a date (and to be clear, I did the online thing for years and met my husband via Craigslist). I get not wanting to do the back and forth a lot but still think there's a sweet spot at about 3 emails that makes it okay to ask without devolving into a protracted email ping-pong game.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:05 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm not sure why you say most responses say he should wait till the second email he sends, since your own advice would seem to suggest a different rule: he should wait until at least the second email sent by either of them. (If the second email altogether is sent by her, then by definition he'll have to wait till the next email to ask her out.)

Yes, in my second post, I said that the guy could send an invitation on his first email IF she sent him an email first AND if it was clear that he is not looking desperate. That second part is hard to qualify objectively, so better safe than sorry: wait until both parties have sent at least one email, and possibly two emails each (i.e., on the second or third email from the guy) before an invitation occurs. Not doing this may brand you as either desperate for a date or confident & bold, depending on the other party.

I do suggest that if you ask right away, and a girl responds to your email but not to your invitation, send her another couple of emails and then ask again (if you're still interested). Sometimes girls play coy or hard-to-get, as ill-advised as it might seem online.

Or do whatever you want. Because everyone you email is a different person with her own set of rules for how s/he wants to operate.
posted by aabbbiee at 12:36 PM on February 25, 2011


I think it's polite and respectful to wait until both parties express interest (even emailing you back can qualify as "interest") before asking for a date. I know the protracted email exchange is tedious, but a lot of women (myself included) use it to weed out the creeps, and I would be immediately suspicious of a guy who wanted to bypass it entirely. You might be able to tell from someone's profile if you want to meet them, but I don't think everyone feels that way, and I think you'll scare off a lot of women who might otherwise be interested.
posted by almostmanda at 12:46 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, there is one questions: Is it you know... a date date? Or is it a casual chat over coffee? There is a distinction that you should make if you do ask for a date in the first email.

I think the better approach for a guy would be to at least go through three or so solid replies before asking for a meeting. If you want to meet without conversation, stick to Craigslist - because that's where the women who want to meet without conversation first, are more likely to be found.
posted by beyourownsaviour at 12:48 PM on February 25, 2011


Female veteran of the online dating scene here (my partner and I met through the old Salon/Nerve.com personals).

Asking for a date on the first email -- and I mean either their first email (i.e., they initiated contact) or their first response (i.e., I initiated contact) -- was, for me, too pushy and desperate. I almost always said no; the couple of times where I did go out with the guy who asked me out immediately, I regretted it. (Not in a sort of CRAZY OMG STALKER regret way, but more like "oh, yeah, my instinct that he's desperate and/or pushy was totally right. I wonder if I can politely figure a way to go home in the next 15 minutes.")

I agree that long back-and-forth emailing, though, generally isn't productive. I think it takes at least 2 or 3 exchanges from each person to develop a basic rapport, at which point it's fine to ask for the date.

That said, be willing to be flexible: my boyfriend and I had great rapport right away and decided to go out for a drink probably within a couple of days of emailing, but then weird timing/scheduling issues intervened and it took several more weeks (maybe even close to a month? I forget now) before we were actually able to get together.
posted by scody at 1:28 PM on February 25, 2011


I found across the board that if there were no plans to meet made by the third email, there never would be. Those guys/people want to have email relationships - not rl relationships.

The guys who ask in the first or second emails want to meet you. They want to get away from the computers and "the friend zone."

These are the ones you want. They do things instead of sitting around talking about the idea of doing things.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 1:36 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a female, I found that if the guy didn't ask you out after 3 emails, he was there to be your pen-pal, and nothing more.
On the other hand, I never once said yes to an immediate, first-email invitation. It just felt wrong, for all the reasons others have listed above.
posted by uans at 2:07 PM on February 25, 2011


I'm pretty new to online dating, but have found the exchange of two or three emails really useful to me before meeting up and that the "norms" set up by the site help me decide whether I wanted more contact with that person. Of course everyone approaches these things differently.

One example of what you're proposing that worked for me:

Guy 1 emails me, tells me a bit about himself and what he liked about my profile, suggests he'd like to meet up but is happy to email a bit first if I'm more comfortable with that, seems happy to accomodate my preference to start with some emailing.

Example of what didn't work for me:

Guy 2 emails me, three line email about how much he hates emailing and using the site and would I just give him a call on [number] to get around all that crap.

Needless to say, I never contacted guy 2.

How you get away with it depends entirely on how you frame it. I think the two to three email guideline is probably a good one -- lets both parties get some comfort before meeting in person.
posted by prettypretty at 2:39 PM on February 25, 2011


I met my now wife via an online dating website. So coming from a guy's perspective...I totally see where you're coming from. I agree, it's a waste of time to email back and fourth 10 times before setting up a date. My goal was always to meet a girl sooner then later for same reasons you've brought up...you'll never truly get to know someone until you meet them face to face. Usually coffee was the first meet up because it's casual, safe, and leaves an easy out for either party. Something a bit more interesting for a first meet up is ice cream. It's less cliche and often more fun. But either works. That being said, I usually asked out a girl after her first or second email response. So...I email her once to say hi, tell her specifically what I liked about her profile, and that it'd be good to get to know each other better. You wanna make sure you're specific about her profile so she knows you've taken the time to read it, and feel the two of you have something in common. Then if she responds positively...I then respond to her going for the first date. This usually worked well in most cases. Asking a girl out on the first email will usually scare them away. Don't be so quick so jump the gun. It means you have to wait just a little bit longer to initiate the first meet up...but it's worth it.
posted by ljs30 at 2:43 PM on February 25, 2011


See, this is the trouble with online dating. Actually, with dating in general, but it's a lot worse with online dating because there are few to no contextual cues to go on. Everyone has these rules that seem obvious to them, but they think they're obvious to everyone and that there's something wrong with people who don't follow them.

(I'm an ex-okcupider... male) My take on the whole thing is that there's no way to actually get to know someone online, much less through prepared, long-form emails. At least not in a time on the order of a few days. So, the profile is about as much information as you're going to get, so why not skip to actually meeting someone? Almost no one else thinks that, so you've got to play averages. Just feel it out, and if she seems receptive after a couple of emails, then go for it. Few want to be asked out on the first mail, and few want you to wait for half a dozen, so split the difference.
posted by cmoj at 3:21 PM on February 25, 2011


I am a 25 year old girl that likes dudes and have found the last two guys I've dated (one seriously, one not-seriously but still very fun) through OKC. I can't remember the exact nuances of our first few messages, but from where I sit, I endorse radioaction's method.

If it seems like we have a bunch in common, and you point the specifics out in your first message, and then close the same with "let me know if you want to grab a drink or coffee sometime", that is definitely not weird, and I actually appreciate cutting to the chase. Some girls also hate the back and forth, and as long as you seem reasonably my type and not sketch, I'm usually game for a quick getting to know you casual-date.
posted by mostly vowels at 3:32 PM on February 25, 2011


Count me as someone who like getting asked out for something low-key & casual (coffee/drink) in the first email. I've been doing this for a little while, and have had too many instances discovering after a long correspondence that there's just no in-person chemistry. Better for both to find out sooner! Oh, and I'm a 31 yr old chick, FWIW.

But, as in all issues of love & war, YMMV.
posted by smirkette at 3:33 PM on February 25, 2011


I'm female, though I mostly date women, and I am usually fine with this if the person asking is someone I am generally interested in and the email was decently written and contained something beyond "hey, let's get coffee." I actually mention this flat-out in my profile, that I'm not into lots of back-and-forth emailing and that I'm fine with meeting up pretty quickly. But I suspect I'm not the norm...enough so that I don't just ask people if they want to have coffee right away.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:45 PM on February 25, 2011


I'd say, if you are writing the first message, don't ask her out until at least the second email. It does just seem less...creepy, unfortunately.

However, if you're responding to her messaging you, go ahead and ask her out. Just say that you're more interested in real life meetings these days, you'd love to talk in person, and would she like to meet for coffee...I personally think it's attractive when a guy doesn't want to spend all his time online and would rather see if there's an actual, in-person connection.

(I'm speaking as a woman on OKC)
posted by tacoma1 at 5:00 PM on February 25, 2011


Dude here. I've had plenty of success on Match asking girls out in my first reply email. That is, if I write first, then they write back, then the one after that I suggest meeting for coffee or drinks or something. If they write first, the one right after that, same deal.

Anyone who's writing to me is usually interested in meeting... but I wouldn't would initiate communication with a "Hi, I'm Wilson, let's go out."
posted by J. Wilson at 5:21 PM on February 25, 2011


I wouldn't meet a guy who asks me out in the first email. It not about this-

1) He's reasonably attractive
2) He has a good profile, funny in all the right places
3) He wrote you a solid email. Good grammar, spelling, etc.
4) Basically, he's the kind of guy you would email back if he didn't ask you out in the first email.


(Not that we are talking about it-
#1 is not enough.
#2 and #3 only get you through round 1.
#4 emailing someone back and meeting them are totally different things.)

It's about a vibe that tells me that you are not a serial killer/creep/psycho. Would you invade a woman's personal space if you just met her? Maybe, if you were looking for one night stands....but you are not. Kind of like that.
posted by xm at 5:25 PM on February 25, 2011


This isn't life-or-death: experiment! Pick 2-3 messaging strategies and try each of them out on several people see which ones have the best response.
posted by Green With You at 5:45 PM on February 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


if a guy asks you out in the first email, do you automatically assume that he's a player, a creep, or otherwise undesirable? What if you email him first, and he asks you out in his first reply?

It really depends what is said in the email(s). If it's a sentence, and said sentence says anything about my looks, no. Just no. Honestly it wouldn't even matter if it was one email or five. Those messages don't even rate a response from me.

One thing that is OK by me, though, is if the person sees something on my profile that we have in common and suggests that we get together to talk about it/partake in said activity, that's perfectly OK (and in fact very attractive). Example: "Cute bike in your profile photo. I love riding in Prospect Park, too! Want to have a picnic sometime?"

Once I got a straight up booty call in OK Cupid message form. Seriously, it was sent around 11pm on a Saturday and, while I don't remember the exact phrasing, the upshot was, "I have a massive pile of coke. Want to come over and suck my dick?"

In general, I like 2-ish rounds of messages before we start making specific plans to meet. Mainly just to get across the "oh hai i likez you" sort of business, a little clever banter, etc.

It frankly annoys me when the messaging goes on and on. JUST ASK ME OUT ALREADY. If I answered your first message, we're probably good to go.
posted by Sara C. at 9:58 PM on February 25, 2011


This is the exact message I sent to someone on OkCupid (notice the embarassing typo):
So, apparently according OkCupid [sic] you and I have a good chance of getting along.

Care to test their algorithm?

I'm heading out at the end of this August but we could most certainly meet up sometime before then, no?

Message me back if interested.
That someone is now my wife. I think the message worked because it was laid back but also put meeting in person directly on the table. Also, she happened to think I was super cute (whew!).

I should note that the person in question also wasn't anything like the girls I had normally gone after on dating websites. This time I went completely by the match percentage. I suggest you try that too.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:47 AM on February 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reason why I always used OKC and the like, is because I can check out the guy before meeting him person. If someone asked me out in the first message, I would probably ignore them.
As mentioned, the whole purposed (for me) of online dating is to get to know each other through profiles, IM conversations and phone calls before meeting in person. That way I'm not wasting my time... or know that I actually get along with the person and that he doesn't come off as arrogant/creepy/mean, etc.
I am socially retarded, so maybe this is why I prefer it this way.
posted by KogeLiz at 4:38 AM on February 26, 2011


I can give you what worked for me on OKC. By "worked" I mean I married him.

- 3-4 brief, jokey, not very flirty OKC messages from each of us, so 6-8 total instances of communication.
- Then switched to exchanging personal real-world email addresses.
- He emailed first, I responded.
- His next email was asking me out in a low-risk way for both of us: "I'm going to be at [weekly Sunday morning arthouse cinema event w/coffee & bagels]. If you want to join me, that would be great. If not, no worries."
- I went.
- 363 days later, we got married.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 11:17 AM on February 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


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