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Online dating: Why haven’t they responded to my text message?

(From The Notebook)

This question comes up daily----as a dating coach sometimes 5-6 times per day when I am online with a client on a dating site.

You sent a lovely and uniquely crafted message a few days ago. And it feels like it fell into a black hole. Where is he/she and why haven’t they responded?

Ok, let’s start with a fact: According to national research companies (I didn’t use the dating sites statistics as there might be a built-in bias), Pew and Gallup agree that around one in seven messages is answered. 14%.

I track everything with my clients---we beat the national average by having one in four or five messages responded to---20-25%.

Now, can you improve on these numbers and make your chances of meeting “the one” much better? Of course. 20-25% is only an average and I have clients that have a 40-50% response rate to their messages. I’ll get into why a bit later.

Now, the first thing you need to remember is to avoid negative reactions. Yes, it feels like a personal slight. But really, think about this: Is every man going to respond with a message to you? Are YOU going to respond to every man?

Second, don’t get defensive and send another angst-driven message. Yes, I have seen that. How would you feel if you were on the receiving end of a second text that ask why haven’t you messaged me back? Personally, I’d think stalker material (perhaps with anger issues) and hit Block.

Third, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. From looking at one woman online and texting her, you cannot possibly know that she’s the “one”. Spread the love---there are plenty of women that fall in the realm of what you are looking for so text them too.

But, how do you improve your odds of getting that response----and ultimately that date?

1. You send a short, specific, and quirky message.

(Oh, if you knew how many boring messages I read daily----and many are “cut and pasted” showing you really aren’t putting in the effort).

Ok, what I mean here is no more than 3 sentences. And you’ve been specific about something from either their photos or profile. And you’ve said something quirky about yourself---I don’t mean weird, but unique. When I am working with clients online, often they ask me---“Are we really sending this message you just typed---isn’t it toooo_________(insert your word)” and I say, you bet we are!

2. Try using a new photo.

If you never get replies, there’s an issue, right? The first place I’d look is your primary photo---the first photo he/she sees. Change it! Sometimes this is all it takes to get an explosion of messages!

3. Analyze your profile.

Put it through spell check. (especially if English isn’t your strong suit or not your native language). Get rid of any “u” for “you” or any other 20-something-year-old's texting style. Yes, you may use those again when you are in a relationship---but initially, you want to put your best foot (and grammar) forward.

4. Dry Texting.

Did you just say “huh”? Ok, this refers to people who reply with one word---you sent a message and closed with a question. They answered only “yes”. They are not carrying their side of the conversation and it’s frustrating. So, I’d suggest approaching this person one more time---with humor: “Thanks for the yes! Ok, my next question is much more carefully crafted to get at least two words from you----hopefully a full sentence as I am interested in you!!! …. then ask the question.

If he responds with an appropriate message, game on. If he does not, move on!

5. You go on an online quorum and ask what’s wrong with your messages.

No, no, no----please do not do this! When I was researching this article for hard-core stats, of course, I bumped into these. While I had some good laughs, don’t ask. Ask a pro.

6. You are on the wrong site.

Here’s the thing----if you simply google the best sites for a 50-year-old man, you know what you get? Thinly disguised sites from “Dating Consumer Reports” or something legitimate sounding like that--- with a list of 3-5 best sites for you. If you go all the way to the bottom, it was probably written by one of the dating site groups like or

Don’t get me wrong---I like some of their sites---but they have no idea where you live (even if you put it in Google), what you are looking for, and the demographic you’d like to meet.

Ok, those clients with a 40-50% rate of responses that I have?

What do they have in common?

1. Jemma, 53, New Jersey: Her messages to people are so off the cuff and funny. Not a formal bone in her body! She messages men as if they are already friends. And I think that makes all sorts of men respond quickly---from the shy to extroverts. While funny, believe me, she is serious about finding a long-term relationship in NYC. Jemma’s been a member for almost one month and here are her stats: 7 first dates, 4 second dates, 2 third dates and I don’t know what happened over this past long weekend yet.

2 Todd, 66, Palm Beach, FL: Todd is an ex-Wall Street guy and I think what he brings to online dating is consistency and tenacity---probably old work skills. He is super diligent----every two days he gets online for 45 minutes (sets a timer) and does nothing but search for great dates and messages a minimum of 7 new women each 45-minute period. His messages are straightforward and sincere---and if really interested even says he’s available Wednesday or Thursday for lunch or a drink—his treat. I think because he is so specific, he has quite a few first dates from minimal messages. Talk about using time wisely.

3. Elle, 59, Laguna Beach, Ca: She’s an ENT doc and a big surfer. Her messages tend to be directed toward men who paddleboard, kayak and surf. I get a kick out of reading her messages---she’ll talk about the waves, her favorite paddleboard, where she surfed over the weekend----she knows what she wants and she is targeting the men with the right messaging. Her stats over 6 weeks: 9 first dates, 5-second dates, 3-third dates, and one-fourth date with Greg, a scuba diver/businessman she likes. Fingers crossed.

Have a strategy with messaging.

Remember, this is not a quick, abrupt text to your BFF asking a quick question. Ok, there are certain parts of the country I work with---well, let’s just say I sometimes tone down your messaging to be a bit more polite and friendly ---remember, this is a message and they cannot see your facial expression! Make it light, fun and specific---and you’ll be meeting many new people quickly.

Oh, need help? I love writing and teaching how to write online messages---that just may be my strongest skill of all. Set up an appointment (yes, it’s free for 15-minutes) at

Happy Dating,

Andrea McGinty

Founder, It’s Just Lunch


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