10 Online Dating Rules for Women

We are wives, mothers, co-authors, dating coaches, and have been best friends for the last 30 years. We came up with the idea for a self-help dating book called The Rules after many, many dinners with single girlfriends at the now-defunct Sung Chu Mein, a Chinese restaurant on the Upper East Side in New York City—it was sort of like Sex and the City, but before Sex and the City! Like most women our age, we were career-minded with our own apartments, but we also wanted to get married. So over fried tofu and mixed vegetables, we each brought our dating problems to the table. We began to notice that the women who played hard to get, either deliberately or by accident, were the ones who got the guys, while the women who asked guys out or were too available were the ones who got dumped. We put two and two together, and wrote and wrote, and that’s how The Rules were born! We had no idea The Rules would become a bestseller… we just wanted to help women stop making mistakes and get the men of their dreams—and that’s what we still do now, 20 years later! Today, Ellen is married with two children and lives in New York, and Sherrie is married with a teenage daughter and lives in New Jersey. We did The Rules, wrote The Rules, and have helped millions of women do The Rules, too. Now, we want to help you!

OnlineDatingChoices_400Here’s how not to scare off a potential match, because even a harmless-seeming e-mail can sabotage online dating. From The Rules for Online Dating.

The Rules for Online Dating

The Rules for Online Dating

by Ellen Fein

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  • Get The Rules for Online Dating
  • Get The Rules for Online Dating
  • Get The Rules for Online Dating
  • Get The Rules for Online Dating
  • Get The Rules for Online Dating

Whether you were recently hurt or haven’t been in a relationship for a while, you want immediate gratification and compensation for all the pain and heartache of recent years or even decades. But get a grip and tell yourself there is no shortcut to courtship, things take time, so you must not act impatiently or desperately. You are a CUAO (Creature Unlike Any Other), remember? You need to force yourself to refrain from saying anything too intense or negative that could scare a man away. Unfortunately, no matter what your heart says, you must hold back a bit for your own good.

Here are Rules to help you be light and breezy in your e-mails:

  1. Sometimes giving a man no answer is being light and breezy. If a man doesn’t write you a sentence or two specific to your ad, but rather just sends you his profile through a “wink” or a “rose” (stock-response features that allow you to click on an ad and send your profile to the chosen ad), or if he sends a photo only, do not respond at all. It shows no effort, very little interest in you, merely a click of a button. Just delete it. He is just using online dating for fun, not to seriously meet someone. He’s just cruising online.
  2. If a man sends you an e-mail and he doesn’t have a photo online, say “Would love to see a photo. Thanks.” That’s it, nothing else. Do not have a long conversation with this man no matter how interesting and long his e-mail to you was. If he refuses to send his photo, there is usually a reason. We are not being superficial here. When he does respond with a photo and you like it, do not write “Cute pic” or “Nice abs.” Just say “Thanks for the photo” and answer his questions.
  3. Don’t tell a man you checked his profile, even if you did. Just write back in response to his e-mail, “You sound nice,” and anything else you want to say. Do not write, “Read your ad, my brother is also an accountant, and he also played basketball in college. I love skiing and tennis too…We seem to have a lot in common.” As a Rules girl, you are too busy to be memorizing men’s ads, remember? Even though you did.
  4. Do not look through his profile for conversation pieces. For example, do not notice that he is newly divorced and say, “Sorry about your marriage…why did it end?” or see that he has two children and ask their ages. None of your business at this point. Save it for when you are dating awhile or when he brings it up. Also, don’t ask questions about his work. It’s an obvious ploy to find out how much money he makes and if he will be a good provider. Take a chance if you like him, don’t worry about his income. Let him ask a few questions about you. Women tend to get into these long question-and-answer sessions with men online and it is a complete waste of time as most never even make it to date zero anyway.
  5. Never e-mail a man a second time if he neglected to respond to your e-mail, even if you think that he is your future husband or soul mate. Never! E-mailing a man twice in a row is the antithesis of being light and breezy. He may be away on business or just busy, and you will come across as desperate, or he may just poof! If he does, just let him poof! Don’t think his or your computer is not working. On some systems, you can check sent mail to see if the e-mail has been read. Do not e-mail him, “Wasn’t sure if you got my last e-mail…” He did! If he never e-mails you again, so be it, next! Just know that if you do e-mail him twice in a row and he responds, you will have made yourself the pursuer. He will know how much you like him, and the relationship will follow suit.
  6. If you get any angry e-mails back, such as “I want more than three sentences from someone I would want to date, someone open and honest, no games,” hit the delete button. However, if a man writes back nicely and says “Tell me more about yourself,” you can tell him a hobby or two or favorite TV show or about your recent ski trip.
  7. For the first three months, do not initiate e-mails; only respond to e-mails he sends you — and only if his e-mail merits a response to a question. Do not e-mail back if he sends you a joke or just says something like, “Did I tell you how adorable you are?” although if he sends these kinds of complimentary e-mails regularly you can wait for three to add up and e-mail back, “That is so sweet, thank you.” Just wait 24 hours before you e-mail him back.
  8. Don’t be a downer. If you had a bad day, your job is on the line, money problems, health scare, and so on, do not weave it into your e-mail conversations as a way of bonding with this man. For example, don’t say “Crazy week. 30 people were let go at work. I could be next. Mother just diagnosed with cancer. Last boyfriend was a jerk, hope you are different.” This might be fine for your girlfriends, even a female acquaintance, but it is not the way to get close to a potential date. On the contrary, it will make the average man think “Nut case!” or “Who wants to hear her problems?” and he will never ask you out. Instead say, “Hi, got your e-mails…crazy busy with work…going to work out now and burn off some Italian food from last night…have a really great day…”
  9. After three or four months, you can initiate one quick fun e-mail — such as a joke, or something that made you think of him, but nothing about sex, just a small innocent e-mail. For example, if he is a basketball fan and his favorite team lost the playoffs the night before, you can e-mail him, “Hi, there. Hope you’re doing well. Sorry about the Knicks. Maybe next year!”
  10. Words never to use in your e-mailsand things never to discuss in e-mails (even if he does):
    • soul mate
    • dream man
    • commitment
    • commitment-phobia
    • anything about sex
    • his or your long-term plans
    • ex-boyfriend
    • ex-husband
    • last relationship
    • marriage
    • connection
    • intimacy
    • or anything about game-playing (e.g., “I don’t play games”).

    It all sounds good on paper, but you cannot write “soul mate” and think you will get one that way. A soul mate is someone who responds to your ad, doesn’t give up e-mailing you, tries to get your number to get a date with you and is a loving and fun companion. Unfortunately, you cannot attract this by writing the word down any more than you can attract wealth by writing down the word “money.” Be patient. More will be revealed. It takes time to figure out who your soul mate is. So beyond looking desperate, it is really a waste of time to write down “waiting for my soul mate” or anything like it.

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    [post_content] => OnlineDatingChoices_400Here’s how not to scare off a potential match, because even a harmless-seeming e-mail can sabotage online dating. From The Rules for Online Dating.


Whether you were recently hurt or haven’t been in a relationship for a while, you want immediate gratification and compensation for all the pain and heartache of recent years or even decades. But get a grip and tell yourself there is no shortcut to courtship, things take time, so you must not act impatiently or desperately. You are a CUAO (Creature Unlike Any Other), remember? You need to force yourself to refrain from saying anything too intense or negative that could scare a man away. Unfortunately, no matter what your heart says, you must hold back a bit for your own good.

Here are Rules to help you be light and breezy in your e-mails:
  1. Sometimes giving a man no answer is being light and breezy. If a man doesn’t write you a sentence or two specific to your ad, but rather just sends you his profile through a “wink” or a “rose” (stock-response features that allow you to click on an ad and send your profile to the chosen ad), or if he sends a photo only, do not respond at all. It shows no effort, very little interest in you, merely a click of a button. Just delete it. He is just using online dating for fun, not to seriously meet someone. He’s just cruising online.
  2. If a man sends you an e-mail and he doesn’t have a photo online, say “Would love to see a photo. Thanks.” That’s it, nothing else. Do not have a long conversation with this man no matter how interesting and long his e-mail to you was. If he refuses to send his photo, there is usually a reason. We are not being superficial here. When he does respond with a photo and you like it, do not write “Cute pic” or “Nice abs.” Just say “Thanks for the photo” and answer his questions.
  3. Don’t tell a man you checked his profile, even if you did. Just write back in response to his e-mail, “You sound nice,” and anything else you want to say. Do not write, “Read your ad, my brother is also an accountant, and he also played basketball in college. I love skiing and tennis too…We seem to have a lot in common.” As a Rules girl, you are too busy to be memorizing men’s ads, remember? Even though you did.
  4. Do not look through his profile for conversation pieces. For example, do not notice that he is newly divorced and say, “Sorry about your marriage…why did it end?” or see that he has two children and ask their ages. None of your business at this point. Save it for when you are dating awhile or when he brings it up. Also, don’t ask questions about his work. It’s an obvious ploy to find out how much money he makes and if he will be a good provider. Take a chance if you like him, don’t worry about his income. Let him ask a few questions about you. Women tend to get into these long question-and-answer sessions with men online and it is a complete waste of time as most never even make it to date zero anyway.
  5. Never e-mail a man a second time if he neglected to respond to your e-mail, even if you think that he is your future husband or soul mate. Never! E-mailing a man twice in a row is the antithesis of being light and breezy. He may be away on business or just busy, and you will come across as desperate, or he may just poof! If he does, just let him poof! Don’t think his or your computer is not working. On some systems, you can check sent mail to see if the e-mail has been read. Do not e-mail him, “Wasn’t sure if you got my last e-mail…” He did! If he never e-mails you again, so be it, next! Just know that if you do e-mail him twice in a row and he responds, you will have made yourself the pursuer. He will know how much you like him, and the relationship will follow suit.
  6. If you get any angry e-mails back, such as “I want more than three sentences from someone I would want to date, someone open and honest, no games,” hit the delete button. However, if a man writes back nicely and says “Tell me more about yourself,” you can tell him a hobby or two or favorite TV show or about your recent ski trip.
  7. For the first three months, do not initiate e-mails; only respond to e-mails he sends you -- and only if his e-mail merits a response to a question. Do not e-mail back if he sends you a joke or just says something like, “Did I tell you how adorable you are?” although if he sends these kinds of complimentary e-mails regularly you can wait for three to add up and e-mail back, “That is so sweet, thank you.” Just wait 24 hours before you e-mail him back.
  8. Don’t be a downer. If you had a bad day, your job is on the line, money problems, health scare, and so on, do not weave it into your e-mail conversations as a way of bonding with this man. For example, don’t say “Crazy week. 30 people were let go at work. I could be next. Mother just diagnosed with cancer. Last boyfriend was a jerk, hope you are different.” This might be fine for your girlfriends, even a female acquaintance, but it is not the way to get close to a potential date. On the contrary, it will make the average man think “Nut case!” or “Who wants to hear her problems?” and he will never ask you out. Instead say, “Hi, got your e-mails…crazy busy with work…going to work out now and burn off some Italian food from last night…have a really great day…”
  9. After three or four months, you can initiate one quick fun e-mail -- such as a joke, or something that made you think of him, but nothing about sex, just a small innocent e-mail. For example, if he is a basketball fan and his favorite team lost the playoffs the night before, you can e-mail him, “Hi, there. Hope you’re doing well. Sorry about the Knicks. Maybe next year!”
  10. Words never to use in your e-mailsand things never to discuss in e-mails (even if he does):
    • soul mate
    • dream man
    • commitment
    • commitment-phobia
    • anything about sex
    • his or your long-term plans
    • ex-boyfriend
    • ex-husband
    • last relationship
    • marriage
    • connection
    • intimacy
    • or anything about game-playing (e.g., “I don’t play games”).
    It all sounds good on paper, but you cannot write “soul mate” and think you will get one that way. A soul mate is someone who responds to your ad, doesn’t give up e-mailing you, tries to get your number to get a date with you and is a loving and fun companion. Unfortunately, you cannot attract this by writing the word down any more than you can attract wealth by writing down the word “money.” Be patient. More will be revealed. It takes time to figure out who your soul mate is. So beyond looking desperate, it is really a waste of time to write down “waiting for my soul mate” or anything like it.
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