Using dating sites confidently and decisively

Should we worry about being rejected by the strangers on a dating site?

If you go on a dating site or app when you are feeling confident and decisive, you can quickly look a person’s profile, quickly decide whether you are interested in meeting them, and immediately take some action to let them know you are interested, such as sending them a message about what you found interesting in their profile. You can do all that within a few minutes, and then forget about the person, because you have not invested much time or emotional energy. You can quickly move on to the next interesting profile, and leave messages for a bunch of people within an hour or so. Hopefully one or a few of the people will write back to your unique, kind and confident messages. You won’t even notice that the other people have ignored your overtures (for their own reasons) because you’re too busy chatting and arranging dates.


I’m an anxious and insecure person and I have been known to use dating sites in much less confident-and-decisive ways, which you might recognize.

Sometimes I avoid rejections by not reaching out to people on dating sites. Sure, I’ve posted a profile, can’t I sit back and passively hope that someone else will message me? (Doesn’t work because most other people are also afraid of rejection!) Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly lonely, I go on a dating site and read dozens of profiles, taking no action because none of them meet my criteria for the perfect soulmate. Or I make private ratings of the profiles, intending to go back and write messages when I am feeling more confident.

Maybe I find a “maybe” profile, and spend a long time contemplating whether I would be compatible with the person, before making some tentative online gesture that they might never notice. (Making a half-assed overture is a great way to get rejected.)

All that contemplation happens when I’m worried about having a small dating pool, and I might have to “settle”. That might make me feel desperate enough to click Like on all the people who meet my criteria, regardless of whether I’m actually attracted to them, just in case they Like me back. Then I would feel empowered by rejecting them later! Luckily I have never been desperate enough to send dozens of people the same formulaic message, but I’ve received some of that crap and pressed the delete button very firmly.

When I do feel ready to send a message to the perfect match, it can become a Big Thing. If it takes half an hour of composing and erasing the perfect intro message, perhaps I’m too nervous to press Send. I might be too invested in this one person, way too early in the screening process. Am I checking back every day, getting more and more disappointed that they are not responding? Do I worry that this is the one and only person available and eligible to date me, so their rejection would mean I am doomed to be forever alone?

These worries aren’t realistic. These approaches aren’t effective. The question to ask myself (or yourself) about each dating profile is, “Am I willing to spend 5 minutes chatting with this person online, to find out if we’re interested in a longer conversation?” If the answer is Yes or Maybe, then go for it – write a quick message – then forget about it!


Alana is the organizer of, the founder of the Love Not Anger project, and the creator of the original "involuntary celibacy" support website in 1997. This post expresses her own views; she is not a mental-health professional or dating expert.
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