Email Etiquette: To write or not to write?

You get a wink or an email.

After reading over the person’s profile you decide that they are not for you. Do you owe them a “Thanks, but no thanks” note?

We’ll look at both sides of the issue and examine the pros and cons of each.

NO, you owe them nothing.

Pros: It’s the internet. It’s not like being out at a bar. You don’t have to think up a good “thanks, but no thanks” line. (We girls use “Sorry, I have a boyfriend.“)

It saves time to just delete them. One click and they’re history.

Cons: You may be turning them down for a reason that isn’t valid.

Crazy but true story, a guy once sent me an email and when I looked at his profile it listed that he was Mormon (Christian/LDS). Knowing that practicing Mormons can only marry other Mormons, I emailed him back and asked whether or not he was actively practicing his faith.

Imagine my surprise when he emailed back and said, “What? I’m Mormon? Where does it say that?” Turns out he had just found “Christian” in the drop down menu when setting up his profile and didn’t notice it had selected LDS/Mormon. “No wonder I haven’t been getting many replies!” he joked. Now, nothing ever panned out, but I could have missed the opportunity to get to know him if I had just ignored him for being Mormon.

YES, it’s only polite.

Pros: Same as the cons of not writing! You never know whether your assumptions about a person are wrong.

You may find a new friend or business contact. People on are more than just potential romantic partners!

It will make you a better person if you learn how to be honest and forthright with people. People in HR have to do this all the time. “Thank you for your interest, but you’re just not what we’re looking for at this time.” For some folks, it’s hard to say, but it gets easier every time you say it.

Cons: It opens up the lines of communication, which means that if the person is insecure or pushy (or worse, both!), you could end up with a can o’worms. At that point, I wouldn’t continue the conversation. Use the block function and move on.

It’s uncomfortable.

It takes more time than just pressing delete.

…so why do it?…

The most compelling reason you should send a “thanks, but no thanks” email?

You’d want them to do the same for you.

Ever found a person who looked just perfect for you, sent them an email, and sat and waited at your computer for days, only to have them never write back? How did it feel? Pretty crappy, I’d bet. You would have felt better if they had sent a quick email to say, “Thanks for writing, but I’m really not interested in dating an atheist.” or “You seem nice, but I’m currently dating someone and seeing if it pans out. If it doesn’t, I’ll let you know.

Being open and honest is tough when the easy option of ignoring someone is available. Remember though, that there are real people behind the profiles. Take a few moments to respond and know that you’ve done your part to make the online dating world a nicer place.

About e

Since 2008, E. Foley of Geek’s Dream Girl has been helping geeks from around the world find love. She writes amazing online dating profiles for her fellow geeks and guides them through the perilous waters of the dating scene and out the other side. She's totally proud to report that she's even caused a couple geek weddings! She lives in Maryland with DaveTheGame, her adorable cats, Mr. Peanut & Don Juan, and Titania, Queen of the Cocker Spaniels. (Email e, or follow @geeksdreamgirl on Twitter.)

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