How to Write Effective Online Dating Emails

Posted by in communication skills in dating, dating in midlife, online dating after 40 | 1 comment

If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of online dating emails that go unanswered, I have a step-by-step script for you here.

One of the most frustrating aspects of online dating is writing emails that don’t get responses. Most don’t even get opened. When I first started dating online after my divorce, I would write long heartfelt emails to the men I liked. If I didn’t get a response, I’d take it personally. “Am I not pretty enough, young enough, sexy enough, don’t live close enough, etc. (fill in the blank with your insecurity of choice)?”

As a dating coach, I now know that when a man doesn’t respond, it’s not personal. There are so many reasons why emails don’t get responses. And if a person doesn’t answer you, it’s not rejection. How can you be rejected if you don’t know each other? While it’s not rejection and it’s not personal, you might be making a few online dating email mistakes without even realizing it. That’s why I’m going to show you how to write effective online dating emails that will get more responses. 

To illustrate this, I’ll share a recent exchange with one of my private coaching clients. “Roberta” (not her real name) sent me a link to a profile of a man she liked on She wanted the best shot at getting an answer to her first email, so she sent me the email she had written and asked for some guidance.

His profile

Screenname: NYGuy

Young at heart, I’m bright, funny, sensitive, curious, and caring … and alone, unfortunately.  Love theatre, music, dance, classic rock and great movies (especially foreign), biking in Central Park and spending quality time with friends and family. I have a dry sense of humor and an unfulfilled romantic streak (I hope you do, too).  I love New York and celebrating the absurdities of everyday life.  Fortunate to have some wonderful nieces I adore.  I’m at a good place in my life and would like to meet someone bright and a little offbeat, with depth and passion – a wild sense of humor would be great!  We’re both comfortable with who we are and aren’t afraid to act like kids once in a while.  (Alert:  I’m a committed cat lover, but no current pets.)

The rest – who knows?  But let’s find out.

P.S.  I realize most people exaggerate their ages; mine is 65.

Her original email

Hi nyguy,

Thank for viewing my profile.  I really like yours, and would love to hear your recommendations on current theatre and film?  I loved Curious Incident and several others Ive seen recently.   I’m behind on films (and so may coming out all at once!), but did enjoy Mr. Turner.  I look forward to your reply.


My revision with comments

I’m going to dissect Roberta’s email a bit and show her what works and what doesn’t to help her write more effective online dating emails in the future.

Here’s what works:

1. She initiated contact – that’s fantastic!

2. She asked a specific question. Emails with questions get more responses.

3. She closed by saying she looks forward to hearing from him.  That’s a call to action. He’s more likely to respond to an email with a request to hear back.

Here’s where she can improve:

1. She needs a good subject line that pops. She has no subject line at all. Emails with interesting/unusual subject lines stand out from the crowd.

2. She addressed him by his screen name. That’s a no-no. It’s not his real name, and it can feel a little creepy to be addressed by a screen name.

3. Greeting or no greeting? Studies by OKCupid show that no greeting works best in an initial email.

4. She told him that she saw that he viewed her profile. I wouldn’t mention that. It can feel a little stalk-ish, even though it’s true that he viewed her first. Just skip it. It makes her sound more confident if she gets right to the reason why she was drawn to his profile.

5. Spell check! She made a few spelling and grammatical mistakes (Thank for viewing my profile – left out the word “you”. Question mark on second sentence should be a period). She probably wrote this email in a hurry. To make your best first impression, check your email a few times and edit before sending.

How to write effective online dating emails

Start with telling him why you liked his profile. She does say that she liked it, but she wasn’t specific. She goes right into a request for good theatre or film recommendations. In a social situation, you connect and build rapport before asking for something from the other person, right? Think about how you’d talk with this man if you met in person. You would tell him why you came over to talk and then discuss what you have in common. Do the same in the initial email.

He mentions sense of humor and youthful spirit several times in his profile. He loves New York City and so does she. They both love theater and music. He mentions opera and ballet, and she’s very cultured. I would draw on those commonalities.

Here’s an example of an effective online dating email she can send him:

Subject line: Unbroken or Top 5?

Theater, film, music, and acting like a kid – I can totally relate! As a pianist, NYC’s culture makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. I recently saw Curious Incident and Mr. Turner and loved them both. With so many great films coming out at once, I’m a little behind. What are two of your favorite recent favorite films and why should I go see them?

Restless in NYC,


My formula for an effective online dating email:

1. Subject line that stands out

2. Connect to something specific in his profile and why you were drawn to it

3. Give a personal reason why you can relate to that one thing

4. Keep it short

5. Use light humor if possible

6. Be a little playful and flirty

7. Ask a question at the end

8. Tell him you look forward to hearing from him or use a cute closing

9. Sign your first name

That’s it. It’s really not that difficult, and it gets easier over time. I recommend that women initiate contact with men they’re interested in. It gives you more control over your online dating experience and puts you in the “chooser” seat instead of passively waiting for whatever falls into your dating net.

If you want more helpful tips and tools to accelerate your online dating success, there’s still time to sign up for my content-rich DIY course Find Love Online After 40. Over four weeks, you’ll learn the 4 biggest mistakes you’re making with online dating. You’ll learn to stand out, attract the highest quality men, and go on dates that you enjoy on your journey to find love after 40.


1 Comment

  1. Any online dating email questions? Ask me and I’ll answer here.


  1. Single Women Reveal Their 8 Biggest Communication Challenges With Men - - […] if you’re dating online, what types of emails do you respond to? Do you want women to keep emails shorter?…

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