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Making contact

Seven email dating traps

Have you ever wondered why someone has gone silent on you online? It could be that you’ve fallen into one of the traps of email dating. Here are some pointers on some of the most common stumbling blocks

Seven email dating traps

1. Terms of endearment

If you start off in the first stages of online dating with a greeting like “Hello, sweetiepie”, or “My beloved Stephen”, it’s more likely to make the other person withdraw than to make them feel closer to you. On the other hand, it’s not a bad idea to establish your own, light-hearted tone. The best thing is to play it relatively safe in the first stages, at least until you can tell that the other person is on a similar wavelength to you and wants to communicate on the same level as you. This also applies if you are saying goodbye to someone on Parship - choose something polite and friendly, but relatively neutral, like “Best wishes” or “All the best”.

2. The mix-up

“Dear Pauline - that’s unbelievable, I like white-water rafting too!” An attention-grabbing way to start an email, certainly … The only problem is that you’ve sent it to Stephanie, who prefers a night in playing Scrabble. It is important to avoid slips and confusions like this when you’re online dating, because it gives a person the impression that you he or she is easily interchangeable with someone else - which isn’t good for anybody’s ego. There is a particular danger of this happening if you are carrying on a number of correspondences at once. Keep an eye on things - otherwise it could make you appear superficial or maybe just not interested. And it’s worth checking through each message before you send it!

3. Long-windedness

“After my last mail about my first weeks at the paediatric unit, I’d now like to tell you about the most formative experiences of my early childhood ...” It’s fine to be open with information, but you shouldn’t overwhelm the other person with it. Especially in the first stages, when you’re just getting a sense for each other, it’s worth keeping things relatively brief. Keep to the point, ask and answer questions and only supply details if they are interesting. It’s a better idea to make the other person curious about you by supplying a few hints than to weigh him or her down with your life story.

4. Email bombardment

“Hi there. It’s me again. I just had to nip out to the shops for 10 minutes …” It’s great to keep in constant contact, but only if you both feel the same about it. Certainly in the early stages of a correspondence, less can be more. Wait for an answer to your last message before you send a new one - it’s a conversation you’re after, not a monologue. Emails like “I’m bored and I’m wondering what you’re doing,” can make the other person feel uncomfortable, especially if they start piling up. They could also suggest that you like to spend all your time in front of the computer screen.

5. The insider joke

"Hi there (:-), my boss is really being a pain today +0:-), it’s enough to make me :'-( Do you ever feel like that (:-&*`?" Even if you like abbreviations and emoticons, the person at the other end of your emails might not feel the same. If someone needs simultaneous translation to understand what you’re saying, then there’s something wrong. Your mode of expression needs to be readily comprehensible. The same applies to references to a character in your favourite late-night TV series, a cult movie actor or a little-known piece of literature. You don’t want what you’ve written to be misunderstood or simply ignored.

6. Generalities

“I’m personally of the opinion that, in the long term, internal demand could even be stimulated with an increase in income tax …” Even if you have reservations about writing about personal topics, it’s better to avoid general themes like politics, current affairs or the weather if you feel the need to fill some space. Parship is about getting to know each other, not the exchange of generalities. Instead of expounding at length about the beauties of your trip to the Greek islands, make it more personal by saying how seasick you felt when you were on the boat. Or focus on the here and now. If you spill coffee on the keyboard, or if your colleague at the next desk is shouting into his phone and getting on your nerves, put it in your message. The way you relate to things in everyday life says more about you than your opinions on the world in general.

7. Over-sensitivity

“What do you mean, not interested, after all the time I’ve spent writing you messages …” If someone decides to put a polite, but firm end to your correspondence, do you take it too personally? If you react that way, the other person will probably end up thinking that they definitely made the right decision - even if you would have liked to continue communicating and are now deeply disappointed. Take the rejection graciously and wish the other person all the best. You can’t have everything. Tell yourself that the ‘end of the affair’ has nothing to do with the way you are and that the other person must have had to steel himself or herself to tell you goodbye.

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