I’ve been getting this message a lot lately, in response to a first email. I think it’s becoming a trend.
“Thanks for your note! You seem really cool. Wanna grab a drink? I’m more for meeting in person than trading lots of emails back and forth. When are you free?”
And you know what I do then? I hit delete.
Perhaps it’s thought of as progressive, as the sign of a modern dater, one who wants to eschew email chatter and head right for the first date. “Screw this small talk bullshit, let’s get right to face to face!” It’s the sort of line you’d give a brassy Kathy Bates in a movie about Internet dating, if anyone would ever cast Kathy Bates in a movie about Internet dating. It’s what people say when they’re trying to sound “no nonsense.” Unfortunately, to me all it sounds like is a waste of time.
There’s a lot to be learned on email. Can my future date write a complete sentence? Does she have anything interesting/funny/smart to say? Does she use the word “yowzers,” thereby nullifying her interesting/funny/smart-ness? And, perhaps most importantly, is she into the exchange, or do they just seem to be going through the motions? Yes, you could find all this out on a first date, but I for one would rather discover that I’m talking to a zero when I’m alone on my couch, rather than out a bar, staring said zero right in the face.
Also, isn’t wanting to meet someone without communicating at all first just a little bit sketchy? Shouldn’t you be worried that I’m a zero also? Because at best, I’m like a 1, 1.5 on a good day. The whole thing just seems suspicious. And why aren’t these women more afraid for their safety? Is it that I don’t seem threatening? Because I have recently begun Kenpo Karate gym classes, and my instructor only rarely laughs at me anymore. I don’t know, I feel like meeting without emailing is a lot less like Internet dating and a lot more like kidnapping. “Hey you – random person – get in my car! We’re getting cocktails and being flirty for the next hour. Oh, and you’re paying!”
So what then should be our emailing game plan? Write and write and write, until you’re absolutely certain this person is the one for you? Nope, that’s also wrong. You know how you can miss your window with someone by going on too many dates without sealing the deal? Then, before you know it, you’re in The Friendship Zone? Well, the same thing happens with email, only it’s called The Annoying and Entirely Pointless Zone. There are people, usually men from what I’ve heard, who carry on email conversations seemingly without end. They’ll write back and forth for weeks, sometimes months, without ever asking you out. It’s not even like they’re thinking about it, they just blabber on about their job or favorite movies, like your grandmother or something. It’s demented, and I won’t stand for it. The maximum emails one person can send in an online dating exchange is five. FIVE, folks. Any more than that and you might as well sign up for summer camp, because you’ve got a pen pal, my friend. And honestly, five is pushing it.
The ideal email exchange before asking for a date is three messages. You write her three times, she writes you back three times. On the fourth email, you ask her out for a drink. That is the exact amount of communication required to know your partner is delightful, not a psycho, and there’s a bit of juice between you. If the man or lady trails off before three emails, then they weren’t really interested. If they take longer than three emails to ask for a date then, well, they weren’t really interested. Remember, the goal here is not have to an amazing online correspondence, it’s to have an amazing first date. So leaving the other person wanting more, a little curious about you and your story is what it’s all about. Whet their appetite, reel them in, then ask to meet in person. Because, remember if they get bored, there’s plenty of suitors in their email box, waiting to take your place.
And some of them might know Kenpo too.