In the world of online dating, you make or break your chances of dating someone on the first message you send out. Here’s our collective advice on what leads to a date,and what leads to a delete.
1. Keep it short. I want a date, not a pen pal. Keep your message short, with a few fun facts about you and a few questions about me and I’ll do the same. And once we go back and forth twice, decide if you want to ask me out or not. I write enough emails for work, I don’t want to come home and read something with multiple paragraphs unless it’s this or this.
2. Never ever mention someone’s booty (or their labia, or their toes). True story–every girl I know on the site receives several messages–sent between the hours of 1 and 4 a.m., that read something like this: “Hello sexy fresh bootlicious, I want to cum ovr rite now and suck your toes and smack yERr boo-TAY!”(Spelling and punctuation borrowed from real life messages). The thing is, even if I wanted to respond, it’s incredibly difficult to dream up a response that could top your literary genius and complexity.
3. Write me a personalized message. You (presumably) just read a bunch of information about me on my profile. I didn’t put it there for myself to read. Just add a few sentences, personalize the message. Do we have something in common? Did you think something in my profile was funny or interesting? Do you have any thoughts at all? Do not just say, “hi-what’s up?” or “how are you?” First, that’s lazy. Second, How AM I? Well I just got over a UTI, I threw up in my sink last week, I ate crackers for dinner, and I’ve been listening to “Dancing on my Own” on repeat. The point is, I’m not comfortable sharing my weird little habits and worries with a stranger (I’d like to get to know you and THEN let all my ugly secrets come out). And if I follow your lead and respond with a generic “good, how are you?” we’ve learned nothing about each other. Keep those kind of pleasantries for when you pass a co-worker in the hallway.
4. Don’t use that terrifying AIM like “chat” feature. It’s not 1995 and this is not a chat room.
5. Getting belligerent is scary. A little teasing and some friendly debate is great for a first date, but can be really off-putting in a first message. For instance, if I really like the Washington Redskins, don’t message me with “RGIII SUCKS! GO COWBOYS!” First of all, CAPS LOCK is terrifying–you’re yelling and I don’t know you yet. Second of all, the Cowboys suck, and so do you.
6. Be yourself, but don’t reveal your deepest darkest fears. Admitting you’re new to the site, you’re awkward, or you don’t understand messaging protocol is fine with me. A little humility is refreshing. However, don’t start a message with, “most people think my messages are annoying but I am trying to get better at them so I finally get a date cuz i’ve been on the site forever and no one likes me.” Instead of responding, I’d like to direct you to my therapist so you can work on your self esteem issues.
Lastly, ladies and gents, we believe personalized messages deserve a response. Unless someone looks and sounds like a serial killer, if they take the time to write you a nice message crafted with details from your profile, do them a favor and respond. If you’re interested, continue the conversation. That’s easy enough. If you’re not interested, respond anyway. Would you ever ignore a real live person who asked you a polite question at a bar? (Oh god, I bet some of you just silently answered yes. I hope I never meet you–at a bar or otherwise.) Just thank them for messaging you and let them know. While I felt like an admissions officer sending my first “thanks but no thanks and best of luck” message, I also felt like a brave, direct person. A brave direct person whose karma will be improved so people will answer her perfectly normal, wittily-crafted, messages.
-L & D
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