Should Women Email Men when Online Dating?

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The other night I joined some colleagues for a happy hour. This particular group included several matchmakers and dating coaches, all of whom were very cool people, and all of whom have strong opinions about dating. We all did introductions and talked about our specialty areas. I told them about my books, including the latest one, Find The Love of Your Life Online.

After our roundtable ended, one of the women approached me and asked me if I’d read the online dating version of The Rules. Long ago, I replied. She then asked me a question I’ve been asked many times before, by singles and by experts:

“Do you think women should email men when online dating?”

The Rules makes it very, very clear not to. The Rules is all about men making the first move, to say the least. In a nutshell, she was convinced NOT making the first move was the way to go, partially because of The Rules, but mostly because in her experience the relationships that had worked out best were the ones where the guy had stepped up first. And, hey, if something works for you, then it works.

I, of course, believe strongly that women can and should email men online. I am always surprised when they believe you shouldn’t. It’s as if they believe if a man is “truly” interested, he would email her. My take is, how can he possibly know if he’s interested in thousands of women he’s never met? Moreover, here are some facts many people don’t know:

  • Emailing a man online, or talking to him in person, isn’t chasing or pursuing him. It’s starting a conversation. It isn’t masculine and it isn’t forward – it’s social. Why sit around and wait for people to talk to you, wait for men to approach you?
  • While men usually do the asking out, women often initiate interactions with men, either subtly by making eye contact or smiling, or more boldly by initiating conversation. This has been shown in research studies. In fact, in the (non-human) animal world, the female often initiates mating interactions, not the male. It’s as if the female gives the green light for the male to do his thing, whether it’s chat or have sex. To me, this makes (behavioral) scientific sense. And even though we humans have bigger brains, we are still animals deep down.

Personally, I’ve had the opposite experience than my colleague: most of my successful relationships were with men I initiated a conversation with. We talked or became friends, then he made his move when he felt comfortable doing so. The men who approach me out of the blue are not typically my type.

There is no right or wrong here. In the end, do what works for you. But I say there’s no harm in emailing men online.

 

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