Updated: January 28, 2023
Writing a message, whether you’re kicking off the conversation or continuing an exchange, is easily the most intimidating part of online dating. But here’s a secret: It gets infinitely easier once you write that first message. There is no perfect opener, but there are ways to make it easier for someone to send you a response.
1. Tailor your message to your recipient.
The most effective messages are those that highlight details in the other person’s profile: a shared interest in favorite movies or books, or somewhere you both want to travel; asking the person to expound on an anecdote he or she mentions; creating an inside joke between the two of you based on a point in their profile.
2. Keep things upbeat and funny.
Similar to the above points, you want to keep the conversation breezy and enjoyable. You don’t have to banter like a movie character, but you want to write something that makes the person on the other end smile.
3. Don’t make it too superficial.
Women are not fans of messages telling them how beautiful or sexy they are; as Khan and Chaudhry observe, “We routinely reject unrealistically positive views of ourselves, because this raises suspicion about about the motives of the complimenter.” No doubt men are similarly wary. You’re messaging someone because you’re at least somewhat physically attracted to them; no more needs to be said on the subject.
4. But flirting is more than fine.
Just because you’re not going over-the-top on compliments doesn’t mean you can’t still make the other person’s heart skip a beat. Zoosk created a data-backed infographic on writing good messages that suggests you use flirty words like “crush” and “trouble”—there’s nothing wrong with showing that this person has an effect on you.
5. Suggest date ideas.
As witty as your online rapport can be, no one signs up on a dating site just for a pen pal. The goal is to translate your chemistry from messages into a real-life meeting; what better way than to start thinking about the first date?
6. Mirror the other person.
This is a difficult one to remember: Your messages should match the other person’s in terms of length and tone. You wouldn’t want to dominate a conversation in real life, right? Keep room for a back-and-forth; ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer to extend the conversation.
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