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Last updated on July 29, 2013 | by Aet Suvari


Online Dating: The first message

Every online dater knows that it’s the first message that really counts in the internet dating jungle. I mean, there can be hundreds of second, third and even thirty fourth messages but in order to get things that far you’ll have to write that first message and it has to be a good one in order to land you a reply.

Here’s our top five tips for writing a natural and memorable first message:

1. Before writing to someone read through the description on their profile. Yes, we know it’s the photo that really caught your eye and triggered your interest but if you want to capture their attention with your email, reading their profile is not just a common courtesy, it’s essential. While most people appreciate compliments on their looks, it doesn’t hurt to pick up on a subject mentioned in their profile. So you like going zorbing? What a coincidence, so do I!

2. It’s usually not a good idea to ask to meet up in the first email… let alone in the first sentence. To say nothing of this being your ONLY sentence. Give them a chance to get some kind of an idea of who you are first and build some trust before making the leap to meet up.

3. A lot of first message dating tips advise you to ‘be funny’ in your first message and make yourself stand out with your witty effortless banter. We’re saying: don’t. Or at least don’t try to hard to force the funny. Unless this really is your style and you’re a successful stand-up comedian or something. Most of the jokes people make in first emails just fall flat. The best thing to do is to be natural and show your interest in the other person. If your first message and beyond goes well then you’ll be meeting up in person anyway – you can’t exactly carry a joke book with you to refer to.

4. Poor grammar and bad spelling is irritating for some folks but there’s only so much you can do about that. Run a spellchecker and try your best to avoid difficult words and phrases if it’s not how you speak among friends. After all, you are not after a position in a university, you just want a date. So don’t fret too much about that. However, what you CAN do is not to use text-speak. It won’t kill you to use ‘you’ instead of ‘u’ or ‘great’ instead of ‘gr8’. It was cool fifteen years ago. Now it’s just stupid.

5. The most pointless message you could send runs along the lines of: ‘Hi, you look cute. Have a look at my page and get in touch if you want to know more!’ This almost guarantees that you’ll never get a reply. Nor do you deserve one if you’re really that lazy. Don’t ask people to take a look at your profile. It never works. Rather make them curious to check you out themselves.

Of course, writing a truly successful first email message on a dating site is an art in itself and it takes a while to master the skill.

The message won’t always be perfect, some members still might ignore you after you’ve sent them a really nice email. But at least you gave it your best shot. And trust us – more often that not, applying the principles above will give you a better success rate.

About the Author

has been reviewing and writing about the world of online dating since 2008 and the launch of Online Dating Help. A stickler for promoting ethical practices within the UK dating industry she champions the sites that get it right while highlighting those holding it back. You can follow her on Google+

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