Winks Are For Wusses

Last week, I got this email from a reader.

Dear B,

I would like to get your expert opinion, as my girlfriends may not be the best advice for this. If I find a guy who I think is just swell….do I wink or send an email?

I ’m new at all this, and I’m also kind of old fashioned in that I appreciate being pursued, so I feel kind of awkward emailing a guy. But I’ve noticed that the guys I do wink at don’t even look at my profile to check me out. And I’m a cute girl! Do guys just not like winks?

Thanks so much

– J

Thanks for the email, J. No, it’s not that guys don’t like winks, it’s that nobody likes winks. Every site has a wink equivalent – either it’s a wink, or a smiley face, or a star, or on the sites for the older ladies, a picture of Ernest Borgnine. It’s a one-click expression of interest: you see someone you like, you send them a wink, and immediately they know you’re interested. Sort of interested, anyway. Basically, winks say “I like you. Not take-two-minutes-to-string-some-words-together-and-write-you-a-sentence like you, but like you nonetheless. I will do as little work as humanly possible to express this like, then move on to the next person. Hope to hear from you!” Yes, they are efficient, but efficient is not the biggest of turn-ons.

When you wink or smile, you’re putting all the work in the recipient’s hands. It’s not really a wink, it’s more of a quick message that reads “How about you write the introductory email for me?” And hey, I get the appeal. It’s easier not to craft an irresistible and hilarious first email (even though I’ve told you exactly how to do it!). But the point of Internet dating is to meet as many people as possible, and do you think you’re more likely to meet someone if you make their life easy by sending them a quick message that they can respond to in the flow of conversation, or by sending them a picture of a facial expression?

Now let’s stop and think a minute about winkers. In real life, winking is totally unacceptable. If you were at the end of the bar and a stranger leaned in, caught your eye, then winked at you – you’d call the cops. Normal people don’t wink. Cowboys do, and people in old movies, and terrible terrible politicians. A head nod, fine. A smile, acceptable. But a wink? A wink is what a guy does before he shows what’s hiding inside his raincoat. Thanks, but no thanks.

Look, I have gotten winks before and responded with messages, and admit that once or twice – in my darkest hour of need – I too may have even sent or wink or two. But both cases were rare and I don’t recommend it. J, your justification of being old-fashioned and preferring a man to contact you makes complete sense. I never thought about it that way, and if you want to stick to your guns I don’t blame you one bit. I guess you just have to decide what’s more important – the old-fashioned charm, or getting a lot of responses? Because hey, I love it when people contact me first too – but when I get tired of not getting any emails I revise my preferences pretty darn quick. Plus, we’re dating on the Internet, we passed old-fashioned charm a loooong way back. TC mark

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  • Cackles

    I mostly agree, with the single caveat if it's a girl I'm in some sort of relationship with, I'm a total sucker for physical winks. It's like a non-verbal pet name (and yes, I realize pet names are their own can of worms; however being a man, and one who doesn't exactly reel in the feminine attention at that, I've precious little reason to worry a girl who's actually interested in me is calling me babe or sweetie because she's a player who can't be bothered to remember my real name).

    That said, everything else is spot on.

  • http://disrespectfultone.blogspot.com/ Daniel Schealler

    It's out of context:

    If you've been set up for a double-entendre, a wink and a knowing grin makes for a hell of a punchline.

    Also, written winks and smiley are a surprisingly communicative form of tonal punctuation. Given that English is a mongrel language that picks over the garbage heap of other languages for loose bits of grammar, I figure: Fuck it, just let it happen.

    • wllwn

      Total agree. Winking is fine if you include a comment.

      There is a big difference between :-) and =D

      I didn't think I would ever appreciate either coming from a stranger until someone used one in a first message to me, and it was exactly the right thing to indicate sincerity mixed with sarcasm.

      • Barry

        Sorry, we're not talking emoticon wink. ;) We're talking to the wink function that you have on a dating website. Like “poke”ing someone on facebook, you can click an “wink” icon that will send a message saying “X person winked at you!” That's all it sends, no message possible.

  • YoyoKaka

    What's the deal with the online dating crap? Is this a Gen Y thing you guys are pushing.

  • http://myheartsaysthankyou.tumblr.com/ boyslikeus

    I can't wink nor have I been winked at so I'm not sure why I clicked on to this story?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bee-Goode/100001676566533 Bee Goode

    nice article bro. i am a fan of online dating and yeah i agree winks aren't anywhere near as effective as sending a message.

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