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Why Am I Not Getting Responses To My Dating Profile?

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Q: I've been single for a while now, have joined quite a few free dating sites, and I either get matches by people from the states (I live in Ontario, Canada) or from guys that are not in my age range. Or not even anything I would like. Or on the other hand, if I send a message to somebody, they don't reply back. What am I doing wrong?"

A: The most probable reasons why you aren't getting responses to your dating profile (or are getting responses from the "wrong" kinds of people) are:

  • Either you haven't tweaked your wants on your dating profile properly, or the free dating sites you are using aren't serving up their matches properly;

  • There is something off-putting in your dating profile;

  • You are too picky when it comes to responding to potential suitors;

  • You would be better served by a pay-per-use dating site.

Let's explore all four of these possibilities a bit further.

Possible Reason #1: Your Dating Profile Searches Aren't Working Properly

Frequently - but not always - free dating sites have either limited or lacking search engines that don't work properly. I have to assume you are using either Plenty of Fish or Ok Cupid since they are the top free dating sites at the moment, both of whom have excellent search options. However, you'll need to tweak the standard search options in your dating profile to ensure you only get high-quality matches. At Plenty of Fish, log into your account and click on the "Mail Settings" tab, and on Ok Cupid, you'll find what you are looking for under My Account --> Edit Settings. Having said that, if you put too many restrictions here, it'll impede some people from being able to contact you or reply to any messages you've sent.

Possible Reason #2: Your Dating Profile Needs Tweaking

In Why You're Not Getting Responses, I've outlined two reasons directly related to your dating profile that may be holding you back: your "tag line", and your profile photo. If you don't have a profile photo posted, this may be the only reason why you aren't getting responses. Several studies - including one with eHarmony - have shown that men look at profile pictures first, and if they don't find the photo they see appealing, they won't bother exerting any effort into getting to know you better. eHarmony found the results of this study so conclusive on this matter that they went from not housing photos on the site at all, to requesting all users post a photo of themselves. It may not be fair or right, but that's the way the dating world works today.

Other profile issues include being negative, overtly sexual, self-deprecating, or too picky - our next potential reason.

Possible Reason #3: Is Pickiness a Problem?

I find that many women have become a tad too picky when it comes to their relationship expectations. This may or may not be the case with you, but I'm guessing from the way you've worded your question that you've got a few man-meeting criteria points that may not be helpful in your search. Try stripping down your list of "needs" and "wants" for a first date to a measly three: within ten years of your own age, without significant red flags that would affect your personal safety, and within a specified geographic area. Many of my friends, clients and readers have told me time and time again that when they lessened their search criteria and opened up their mind to dating people that didn't fall into their set type, they were finally able to meet the person of their dreams.

Possible Reason #4: You'll Get Better Responses To Your Dating Profile on a Pay-Per-Use Dating Site

The online dating world has changed dramatically over the past five years. Totally free dating sites may not have had a lot of users, but the early adopters definitely found great use out of the fledgling sites. Today, there are so many users that many free dating sites can become bloated with profiles that are no longer in use, fake, or poorly crafted to really demonstrate what the dating profile holder is looking for.

This recent change in online dating is unfortunate, but it is nowhere near unsurmountable - yet. What I would suggest is that you sign up for one of the less expensive, yet still popular pay-per-use dating sites. Not only will you get a whole different set of users to draw upon and possibly meet, but you'll know that everyone else who has a dating profile posted is really serious about meeting someone and not just posting a dating profile for kicks. They've invested some money into the deal (even if it is just a small amount), and thus will net some higher-quality pickings. I suggest Lavalife(which is a great system in that the first respondent is the one paying for contact), or Match.com.

Your other option is trying to meet people through other online means. If money is a serious issue and thus why you are only using free dating sites, then try perusing the forums at Plenty of Fish for Ontario (or whatever area you are looking to meet new people). Not only will you generate new discussion about dating-related topics, but you'll also be privy to a host of singles events posted by other users. Try attending one or two - or even post one of your own. When I lived in Calgary, I found it extremely difficult to meet new people, so I posted an impromptu, "Who'd like to go for coffee?" on the forums one day. Fifteen people showed up.

Ask Bonny is a dating advice column that focuses on relationship issues. If you have a question that relates to the dating community, please fill out this dating advice submission form.

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