6 Dos and Don’ts When Writing the First Online Dating Message

Online dating is easy once you know the rules. It can be intimidating to write a message for a perfect stranger in hopes of finding a love interest online, but all you need is practice and a little finesse.

Below you’ll find 6 dos and dont’s for crafting an attractive introductory message. This is your first impression, and it’s important you get it right.

The 3 Dos

1.    Do Be Specific and Personalize Your Message

When reaching out to a match, you should show them that you’ve actually read their profile by personalizing your message. Being generic won’t win you many points or responses. Simply by paying attention to specifics, you can make observant comments that will flatter and impress the reader. Talk about what caught your eye, picking out a common interest or funny remark. While you’re at it, direct your compliments to personality traits and not appearances. Superficial come-ons from strangers on the web aren’t attractive.

       2. Do Stand Out and Be Funny or Genuine

Instead of offering a line about how cute or sexy someone is, say something more memorable. Pick-up lines are overused and won’t tell your matches anything substantial about you as a person. If you’re funny, be funny. If you’re genuine, be genuine. This is your chance to stand out from the crowd by expressing yourself the way only you can. Let the person of interest see that you’re someone special and worth getting to know.

  3. Do Ask a Question or Two

Asking a question is the best way to get someone to respond to you. No matter how polite and charming you are, if you don’t give the person something to say back, you’re probably going to get silence for all your efforts. So inquire about a favorite hobby, a mentioned career, if they like beer, or anything really. Just get the ball rolling. You should keep it somewhat concrete and relevant to the profile, avoiding “how are you?” like the plague. To start the conversation off well, you don’t need more than a couple of insightful and engaging questions in your message. No one wants to be interrogated by their inbox.

The 3 Don’ts

1.    Don’t Use Bad Grammar or Spelling

It’s just sloppy to send out a message with blatant spelling or grammatical mistakes in it. We live in a world with spell check! Failing to correct an error sends the message that you don’t care about what you’re saying or how you say it. Casual language is fine; bad spelling isn’t. Even something as simple as changing “ur” to “your” elevates the message, showing that you’re someone to be taken seriously. Save the slang for when you’re more familiar with the person. For the first message, keep it crisp, clean, and correct.

          2. Don’t Talk Too Much

Your message shouldn’t be a long diatribe about your career, your interests, and your hopes for romance—it should be about the person you’re contacting. Keep it brief. This is a case where less is more (but definitely say more than just “Hi.”). Your message shouldn’t go over 200 characters, which is about 1 minute’s worth of typing. You’re sending a friendly invitation to get to know each other, not a drawn-out character assessment. When it comes to online dating, concise is the new sexy.

         3. Don’t Be Anyone Other Than Yourself

When online, it can be tempting to exaggerate, to don a mask and present yourself as someone other than who you are. However, this is not only disingenuous, it’s poor dating strategy. Being genuine is much better than seeming perfect. When composing your message, give an accurate representation of yourself—good, bad, and ugly—to get a positive response. A little self-awareness shows you to be the honest-to-goodness real-deal amongst a crowd of frauds and phonies. Just remember, it takes confidence to be able to admit fault.

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For a prospective match, your personality is the main attraction in any message. Writing a good one isn’t just about substituting “awesome” for “hot”—it’s about making a connection using what you know about them and what you know about yourself. When you build commonality, conversation flows naturally and a date is inevitable. The next time you go online looking for love, put your best foot forward with a thoughtful, genuine, and short message that showcases essentially who you are. 

This article was written by Hayley Matthews. Hayley is a writer for DatingAdvice.com. You can read her review of EliteSingles here.