Write a Great Online Dating First Message

You’ve found the “perfect person” on Match.com, so now what do you say to them to peak their interest? Have you ever heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression?”  It’s a statement that seems tailor made for online dating. The chance of you getting a response is directly dependent on what the person thinks of you after reading that first message. That’s especially true if you are a man sending an online dating first message to a woman. Why? A 2010 study by Hitsch, Hortacsu and Ariely showed that men send three times more first contact messages than women. And since most dating sites have more men than women, you can only imagine the number of messages a woman sifts through to find someone interesting.

SEE ALSO: Online Dating – First Contact

Whether you are a man or woman, here are the top 5 ways to ace that online dating first message in order to increase your chances of getting a response:

Top 5 Tips for Writing a Great Online Dating First Message

Tip #1: You Before I
A frequent online dating first message mistake made by online daters is sending a message that uses the word “I” more than “you.” A 2011 study by Schöndienst and Dang-Xuan found that you are more likely to get a response by talking about the other person rather than yourself. So when crafting that first message, be sure to use “you” statements and questions:

You sound like a very interesting person” (add why next).
“What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?”
“Would you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?”

Tip #2: Be Original and Personable
Which of the following messages are you likely to respond to?

“Hey, what’s up? I saw your pic and you’re hot. I’m drama free and love to have a good time. I’m really funny. Let’s talk.”
“I really enjoyed that picture of you in front of that castle. Where was that taken at? Did you get to tour the inside?  What do you have planned for your next big adventure?”

Notice that the first message is cliche, boring, and uses a lot of “I” versus “You.” It’s not at all personable. The second message is more inquisitive, taking something directly from the person’s image and turning it into a conversation starter. It’s a lot easier for someone to respond to the second message than the first.

Tip #3: Emphasize Common Ground
In general, it’s good to send messages to people that seem to have a lot in common with you. That “common ground” is a good thing to exploit in your first message. If the person you are sending a message to sees that you like the same things as them, your chances of getting a response increase. Let’s say that you are messaging someone who absolutely loves to travel. It is something you love to do too. You can use that in your message:

“Wow. You seem very passionate about traveling. I thought I was the only one who couldn’t live without an adventure in the mountains of New Zealand or a rotation on the London Eye.”

The point is to find things you have in common and use those to elicit a response.

Tip #4: Show Your Funny Side
It’s rare to find someone not interested in a sense of humor. Life is so much easier (and fun) when your partner can make you laugh. Don’t be afraid to use humor in your message (especially if you are natural at it). We love some some of the funny stuff we’ve read like, “I come with a 7-day free trial” or “Only you can save me from using eHarmony (as long as the person isn’t from eHarmony) and “Magic 8 Ball says Yes, Definitely.”  If you can get your potential interest to laugh when they read your message then your chances of getting a response will skyrocket.

[clickToTweet tweet=”I come with a 7-day free trial!” quote=”I come with a 7-day free trial!”]

Tip #5: Be a Grammar Queen or King
A study by online dating service Zoosk found that 72% of online daters are turned off by poor spelling and bad grammar. So make sure your first message doesn’t read like a quickly written text message. Be sure to use punctuation, proper capitalization, and to spell check your message. Online daters find those that don’t take the time to craft a good message are lazy. You want to come off as confident and competent!

A closer examination of the first three tips show an important emerging pattern: success comes from talking about the other person.  And in order to do that, you need to carefully read the person’s profile. A well-crafted and meaningful message will skyrocket your chance at getting a response. So do your research, write your messages with confidence, and enjoy the success that better communication brings!

Do you have a tip for a better first message? If so, post it in the Comments section below.

Joe Tracy

Joe Tracy is the publisher and founder of Online Dating Magazine, which launched in July 2003 and has been providing original dating advice, tips, articles, reviews, and videos to readers ever since.

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  • Online Dating First Message


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