“Can I call you?” I asked.
Why don’t you email instead, was her reply.
Had I come on too strong? Was she one of those damaged, disfigured souls more comfortable in cyberspace than with face-to-face interaction? She was blonde and had a fetching smile, so I considered these questions for about 1/8th of a second.
“Sure,” I said. “No problem. Email is fine.”
Step 1: Wow ‘em with something cool in your subject line. Since it’s the only thing the recipient will be able to see in your email before opening it, your subject line had better be a lot more eye-catching than “Hello.” Try something more unique that relates to your last interaction with them. You both loved North by Northwest? Then your subject line could be “Eva Marie Saint...” That’ll get her attention. In the text of the message, begin with “She has nothing on you when it comes to charm and intrigue...”
Step 2: Make your email all about the other person. Enough about you and your life; the fastest way to impress someone is to focus on her interests. Your date’s a NASCAR fan? Then Jeff Gordon rules! And don’t worry, brushing up on these subjects with some quick research online is allowed, as long as you don’t overdo it (see point 3).
Step 3: Make yourself look good, but don’t make yourself into something you won’t be able to live with. She’s a red-state Republican and you stumped for Obama? Then “I respect the efficiency of the administration’s current operation” is okay. “All liberals should move to France” is probably going a little too far.
Step 4: Email is no time to bare your soul. Honest and self-aware is one thing; psychotic and confessional is something else. Here’s an example: “Watching the news, sometimes I struggle to make sense of a world gone mad and long for nothing more than the opportunity to love and be loved,” might be okay, even A-plus…if you’re emailing a grad student, that is.
Step 5: Keep it short. Sure, novel-length dispatches sent every hour, on the hour, show that you’re brimming with things you want to share, but they also say you have way too much time on your hands, or are just plain obsessive and creepy. Not a good message for someone you’re trying to woo. The wisdom of showbiz applies here: Leave ’em wanting more.
Step 6: Exit gracefully. When you’re signing off, err on the side of restraint. Better to leave someone wondering about your intentions than set off alarm bells with something too amorous.