To begin with, thank you for visiting. I appreciate it; I hope that you enjoy your time here, and that you return frequently. I should also immediately add that if you, like many first time female readers, are trying to ascertain whether some guy from an online dating site used material that I wrote in an email that he sent to you, the short answer is that I have no way of knowing. But I have provided assistance to users of eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish among others, so it’s certainly possible, and since that’s the case, there are several other points that you may want to consider.

First, even if his words are the same as mine, verbatim, it isn’t necessarily true that he got them from me – I may have gotten them from him. Don’t laugh; it happens.

Second, borrowing from me may seem simple, but it’s not really an easy thing for him to do. He still has to read your profile carefully; search my archives for the phrases that most closely approximate what he hopes to convey, and then modify those phrases (in most cases) to express his thoughts exactly. It’s much more difficult than checking little boxes, plus it takes far longer, so his willingness to invest the required time may be a very good sign.

Third, when a man sends flowers, you don’t assume for a minute that he grew them himself. Obviously, he didn’t. What’s less apparent is that even the thought may not have been his. If, however, another person made the suggestion – his mother, his daughter, or his sister – he’ll usually acknowledge that. The same is typically true in this situation. Most guys will not only tell you if they found some phrases here, they will also let you know if someone else recommended this as a good place to look, and they will normally volunteer that information sooner rather than later.

Fourth, men won’t ask for directions when they drive somewhere, and they don’t read the instructions before they assemble something. In fact, they are generally reluctant to accept any kind of assistance, even when it’s offered. (Surprisingly, not all women describe this characteristic as endearing.) So when a guy actively seeks help, especially with something like writing you an email, it’s probably because he thinks you’re worth it.

Finally, writing is harder than talking. Partly it’s that you don’t have eye contact, facial expressions, hand gestures, voice tone or timing, but there‘s also the sheer volume of experience. Most men have talked far more than they have ever written, particularly in the context of a relationship. As a result, they are typically much better at conversation than they will ever be at composing pithy emails. Ironically, however, a woman’s initial decision about whether to start communicating with a man is usually based on how well he does the one thing that he will hardly ever do again, after they actually meet – write something. (It’s just my opinion, but that doesn’t seem like a foolproof formula for success.) Bottom line is that a man who uses material from this blog could still be an outstanding companion in person, because his writing skill (or lack thereof) tells you very little about his ability to converse. The fact that he came here may also indicate that he thought you were worth the effort, and his willingness to seek a little input from an outsider may mean that he’s not exactly like your ex. (I’m smiling as I type this.) 

Spenser Hepburn


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