Online Dating: What to Say in a First Message.

Online dating is cool.  I like it because it’s very convenient.  You can check out profiles at any time you like and pick and choose what you’re looking for.  It’s kind of like Eugenics… But, um, not really… Well, it kinda sorta IS to a degree.  Let’s not belabor the point any further. Okay?  Good.  Even though online dating is convenient it, too, poses many challenges.  The first being: Getting past the first message.  How does one hope to elicit a response from the object of their desire?  I’ve got a few tips gathered from a few different sources on this topic.  You’ll be surprised what you find out…

Know your, you’re, their, they’re, there aka have a firm grasp of the English language!
This one should go without saying, but people don’t want to read “netspeak.”  No one wants to read:

“Hey baby wut r u doin?  Ur so sExy!”

So take time to spell check.  Maybe even have a friend proof read if your grammar skills are less gooder than most.  People like a sense of humor and trying to put that through with sub par grammar will surely cause you to fail.  Plus, bad grammar tends to make you look dumb…

Avoid Complimenting Physical Attributes.
Sure, you’ve been there.  You find a profile that you like, great pics and you are just all about this person.  You want to let them know what you think.  For guys, it’s probably not a good idea to tell a woman such things right off the bat.  Engage their personality and their intellect.  For the ladies, they can get away with complimenting a guy more than men could with women.  Women tend to scoff at guys when they receive a message containing compliments of their attributes…  Instead, be a little vaguer with your compliments, if you feel compelled to give them.  Instead of telling someone they’re sexy, tell them they are fascinating, awesome or cool and point out something they wrote on their profile.

Keep the Game in the Web Site.
At some point you’ll meet someone online that you click with.  Through the nature of “getting-to-know-you-convo” you and your cyber beau will outgrow communicating through the site you met on.  You may call, email or IM.  That’s fine and dandy but don’t go asking for a phone number, IM or anything else in your first message.  It’s probably wise to hold off the first couple of messages before you initiate that next step of contact.  The reason is that people enjoy the anonymity that online dating sites offer.  People can be free to browse and chat as they wish, by their own means.  For women I think that’s an especially important aspect of online dating because it gives them a lot of control and they can feel safe with those they choose to communicate with.  When you go asking for phone numbers and IMs right off the bat not only can a person feel uncomfortable with the request, but they also don’t know you well enough.  So why are they going to bother?  In fact, you may find that you get no response in return.  Be patient and hang in there.  You’ll get that number, it takes time.

Be Creative with Your Opening Greeting.
Try bucking the standard greetings like, “Hello” or “Hey there.”  Try something different and non-offensive.  Though, that seems like a given, doesn’t it?  You’d be surprised how many people espouse their love of thievery and baby tossing in their first message.

To that end try starting with something slightly silly like “Howdy,” or “How’s it going?” or even the simple “Yo.”  Now, these aren’t guaranteed responses, but throwing something out there and being different does help.  Be creative and see what responses you get.

Talk About Specifics.
This one should go without saying, alas, it does not.  A lot of times people will message someone without looking at their profile.  It shows a lack of consideration on the side of the message sender.

To that point, it’s far better to talk about specific details on a person’s profile such as music, activities, travel or whatever it is that the person you are messaging is into.  Bands, books and travel tend to be great conversation pieces and have a chance at getting better responses than bringing up someone’s looks.  Asking questions about things a person says in their profile is great, too!  It shows you really took time to comb over a person’s profile.

Be Modest… But Still Be Confident.
It could be that appearing modest and, to a lesser degree, somewhat unsure makes the writer seem more vulnerable and less threatening.  It’s easier to be approached by this sort of person as they don’t conjure up images of the dude rubbing up on a random girl at a club… Saying something like, “I’m sure you hear this a lot but…” or “I’m not sure” or even “I wasn’t going to message you but…”  Those all may seem like weak things to say in a message, but being modest can still make someone come off as genuinely nice and amiable.

Keep it Brief.
There’s something to be said for brevity.  No one wants to read your life story or philosophies right off the bat.  Keep it short and sweet and to the point.  If you’re looking for a word count, try to keep it between three and four hundred words.  That is a couple paragraphs of witty soul-mate catching copy.  Anything more can have the effect of making you seem obsessed or that you have an odd growth on your face.  Eeeewwwww.  Gross!
Until next time, have fun out there.


2 Responses to “Online Dating: What to Say in a First Message.”

  1. fullysarah Says:

    As an editor who has (obviously) online dated, I’m here to tell ya no one, especially the mens, is going to spell check. Wait, no one but you (and anyone who is a journo/English major). And, even if there is spell check, the there/their/they’re thing will ALWAYS come up. Sad but true. If only everyone had as many rules as you do! Your previous profile blew everyone else’s out of the water, though! Go, you!

  2. yannibmbr Says:


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