I call it "The Funnel." And it's the best way to view your online dating experience. A numbers game it is, and your job is to funnel your way through prospects until you find what you're looking for.
Stage 1 of the Funnel: On most dating sites, there's a database of users and you have the ability to search through those users with any given set of criteria such as age, geography and the like. Upon running a search, you will scan the results to find profiles that compel you. If you're wise you'll read through their entire profile, trying to get the best sense of who this person is and ultimately, if you might be a good fit for them. Don't be guilty of basing your judgment on photos alone. While photos are useful reference points, the rest of the profile can offer great insight into the person that a photo alone could never do.
Stage 2 of the Funnel: Once you find profiles that fit your taste, you will write a persuasive initial email to solicit their interest, and hopefully, a timely response. In some cases you will get the desired response, in many other cases you will hear nothing but the sound of crickets on the lawn. Don't fret, it's par for the course. The modus operandi of internet daters is to simply not respond to an email if they are not interested or otherwise unavailable. Do not expect an explanation from them, and don't ever take it personally. I've researched and counted over 79 reasons for people not to respond to such emails, and over half of them have nothing to do with you at all!
Stage 3 of the Funnel: Then there are those who do respond, and an email conversation ensues. Be creative, be curious, but most of all, be real. Your objective is to get to know each other better and determine if you should move to Stage Four. There will be times where your email communication with this person ceases either due to your lack of interest or time, or theirs. It is a natural culling process and not all candidates will move on through The Funnel.
Stage 4 of the Funnel: If you're hitting it off in email and are comfortable, you will want to suggest a phone conversation. I recommend that within a few emails back and forth, you offer up your phone number. Once again, sometimes you'll hit it off and sometimes not. Having a chance to hear someone's voice and speak with them on the phone provides lots more insight into who you're dealing with. And you can determine whether there's chemistry between you!
Stage 5 of the Funnel: If you've got chemistry, you'll probably want to setup a meeting! I always suggest to my clients that you agree to meet for coffee in a public place for a short (1 hour) date. This is the safest way to take it to the next level and explore your chemistry and compatibility. If it's smooth sailing, you can extend it. If it's not quite what you were hoping? hey, it's only an hour. Remember to keep expectations at a minimum and standards high. This is another number game, and it should be tons of fun in the process.
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