I would like to propose a new rule of etiquette for online dating.
We will call it the Second Response Three Strikes rule. The principle is fairly simple. When you’re looking for prospects on a dating website, there is only so far you will get through persistence.
When you try contacting someone for the first time, I say: one attempt at a first response is enough. You send a message, and the other user will either reply, or not. There’s no reason to try more than once.
Then, let’s say your prospect answers a message, or two, or a handful. When you’re waiting for a later response, that’s when the Three Strikes rule applies. We will use the following equation:
a is an attempt at communication: a PM, IM, or whatever other means are available on the website you use. x is the longest interval of time that the user in question has taken to answer any of your messages, and k is any number greater than 0. F, therefore, is a failure to connect.
In plain English: if you make 3 attempts at communication since you last heard from this person, each followed by a reasonable amount of time, you should not expect to hear from the user anymore and should therefore quit stalking his/her profile and move on.
(Honestly, some people make me wonder: “How many times do I have to ignore you?!”)