That profile sounds very inviting, and the photo isn’t bad either! You’re intrigued. You’re already planning the first date. But first, you have to introduce yourself and be noticed above the nine other people who’ve already replied to your potential date. What should you say?
More important, what should you not say? Here are some prime examples taken from actual first messages to people active in online dating:
“What’s up,” “hello how are you,” or “let’s chat” are effortless, uninteresting, and make the person feel like you just threw a dart into the online dating world and wrote to whatever it hit. Come on, put at least a little effort into it. Something in that profile piqued your interest, so mention it in your message.
“You sound lonely.”
Save the psychological profiles for your clients, Dr. Phil. If you get the impression that the person is lying, exaggerating, overly needy, or trying to appear different from how he actually is, then opt to skip that person rather than challenge him in a message. You will only offend the person and waste your own time.
“You can’t handle the truth!”
By all means, be clever and go for a laugh, but only if you are actually funny. Lame and dated movie lines, worn-out pick-up lines like “did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” and generally anything to which you feel compelled to add a “haha just kidding!” aren’t clever and aren’t likely to get you a first date. Humor is very hard to convey in writing, so keep the joking to a minimum, if you must include it at all, and consider having a friend read it first to make sure it translates.
“I’m so alone in this world.”
It’s okay to mention that you’re recently divorced or that you are looking for someone to love, but if you go on about how many times your heart has been broken or how most people you’ve dated turned out to be losers, you’re only going to scare someone off with your self-pity or negative attitude. Stay positive and save your drama for the fifth date.
“35yo hard wrkng NY man wanna meet 4 cofee”
Take the time to write in complete sentences and spell things correctly. Check it over before you send it – with your eyes and your brain, not just spell-check. Avoid over-abbreviating everything. You want this person to know you thought she or he was worth some effort, and male or female, no one wants to date someone stupid (well, at least not twice).
Sure, some people use online dating sites to meet for casual encounters. But if the person expressly states in the profile that they’re not looking for just a hook-up, believe it.
“I know you said you don’t like sports, but…”
Don’t overlook obvious incompatibilities based on the person’s profile, because that’s likely to be the first thing that person notices in your profile. Her pictures might be the hottest you’ve ever seen, but after a couple dates of sitting through an annoying movie or listening to her talk about something that bores you to death will make her look a lot less attractive. Save your time and money and make sure there’s at least some potential for compatibility before you send that message.
People who get a less-than-stellar message from an online dating cohort aren’t going to tell you what you did wrong. They have no responsibility or interest in helping you understand. That’s why it’s important to remember these basic rules, but also to consider not only what you want to say, but how it might be interpreted by the person reading it…and that might be different from the interpretation you had in mind.
Got a great example of a terrible message you’ve received? Share it below!