Part 2 of Janet’s question from last Friday: If a woman gets a flood of emails on a dating site, how can she weed through them quickly and fairly?

Men often don’t bother to consider the plight of the younger and more beautiful women who date online. Is it better to have a lot of options than no options? Yes. Do the thousands of emails from wildly inappropriate people get to be a bit overwhelming after a few months? Hell, yeah.

Young attractive women are the celebrities of online dating sites. Their photos are what get men to create a profile. And access to emailing them is what inspires them to subscribe. And on any decent sized website, a cute woman between the ages of 25 and 30 is going to receive hundreds of emails. These emails are, to generalize, from men between the ages of 20-50 within 100 miles away. Excxept when they’re from 70 year olds across the country. And from the UK. And Russia. And men looking only for sex. And so on, and so forth. Is it any wonder that attractive women don’t want to subject themselves to this? And is it any surprise that the decent men who take the time to write something interesting get lost in the shuffle? There are some days that women delete everything in their inbox without reading it. Why would they do that when there might be Mr. Right in her in box? Well, if she’s already corresponding with five men, she doesn’t have time to talk to any more. It’s simply too much. Lots of quality men go by the wayside. And it may not even be their fault. Although likely it is, since their photos, profiles and email technique can generally stand to improve by leaps and bounds.

Point is – it’s REALLY competitive out there and the sooner that men and women understand this, a) perhaps they’ll stop getting so upset and b) perhaps they’ll start taking this more seriously. Online dating isn’t a game where men should cast a net as wide as possible to see what they catch. It’s a serious endeavor that happens to be very competitive. Like job hunting. Those who have the best credentials and the best sales pitch are the ones who are going to get the best results.

Back to your question, Janet. So you’re generally being overwhelmed by the wrong guys. (Let me guess: guys who don’t have attractive photos, interesting essays, or witty emails!) I feel for you, even though there are a bunch of women who are undoubtedly jealous at your options. And although there are many sincere men who are looking for a serious relationship and took the time to pen something eloquent, your life is too short to worry about being nice to all of these dudes. You’re not an HR department; you don’t need to spend hours constructing “thanks, but no thanks” responses to everyone who took ten seconds to woo you.

In other words, some of your mail is – literally – junk mail. If you have time to read it all, then that’s courteous. But if you’re spending two hours a day sifting through ponderous crap? Start deleting. Delete based on looks, delete based on age, delete based on distance, delete based on spelling. Whatever YOUR criteria are, they’re perfectly fair. You’re online for your own satisfaction and everyone who’s trying to get a piece of you should respect that. Not all of them do.

I have a theory that the only people who worry about getting rejection letters are people who aren’t getting many dates. Those rejection letters become the only things they can hang their hat on – the acknowledgement that someone out there took the time to listen and read and respond, even if the response wasn’t affirmative. But if they had three dates lined up that weekend, they wouldn’t be too concerned about the people who ignored them. At least that’s what I think. Now, do I deny that a politely worded blow-off is a decent gesture? Of course not. I’ve been known to write them upon receipt of a really thoughtful email. However, most emails are not thoughtful. And we cannot judge anyone’s character based on his/her willingness to be polite to HUNDREDS of suitors.

So Janet, delete away, with my blessing. And a caveat – that you respond to a few thoughtful or funny emails with polite rejection letters. Those guys deserve a little something for their efforts.