If this is your first foray into online dating, or you’ve been out of the dating game for a little while, you’re probably due a crash course on writing that first message to get in contact with someone you want to get to know better! You don’t want to fall into the instantly-boring ‘hi’ camp, but neither do you want to be any part of the ‘I have nothing better to do’ 2,000 word essay club. Here’s how to avoid the common mistakes and put you on the right path to crafting that perfect first email on your online dating journey.
1. Review your own profile
No matter how wonderfully written your first message, it simply will not be well received unless you have a profile to backup your words. The first message is a signal to your recipient to “please look at my profile!” Having a complete online dating profile (multiple pictures, biography, interests etc.) is what will give whatever you decide to write credence. A good profile begs viewers to respond to your messages with interesting conversation.
2. Check out your date’s profile thoroughly
Read their profile closely and pick out an interesting point about them. Often, people purposefully include things or activities they’re passionate about, as these are the things they’re most comfortable talking about. Do they have a cute labrador? Where are they sailing that boat? Is that a prize they’ve won?
3. Find an original, open-ended question to ask
Once you’ve identified an interesting topic, simply think of an open question to ask them on the subject – “Hi Mark, how was studying in Birmingham? I used to live there in the 90s too.” An open question is one that invites a conversation rather than a simple “yes” or “no”, which as dating is all about finding more about a person, and if you’d like to get to know them better, is crucial!
4. Don’t panic if you think your question isn’t the best that ever was
On an online dating site, we all go through the same process of coming up with something to say. Everyone knows it’s not always easy, so don’t worry if you think your initial first message isn’t a soul searching, deeply meaningful enquiry – all you’re initially trying to do is get the conversation going, and the person you’re messaging knows that too.
5. Watch your word count
The key is to be brief but interesting enough to warrant a checking out of your profile, and easy to respond to. You shouldn’t spend more than a minute or two writing that first message. “Hi Lucy, that’s an uncommonly cute kitten you’ve got sitting on the chair next to you! What’s her name?” works far better than a wall of text your recipient probably won’t have time to read. Ultimately, you don’t know enough about your recipient yet, or if they’re interested in you, so don’t waste effort writing lengthy intros; that can come later.
6. Be personal
If you follow the steps above, you’re going to be writing a personal email, not sending a generic “Hey, what’s up?” At the very least, use your recipients name in your first message to show you’ve at least read that far into their profile, and you’re not messaging every Tom, Dick or Harry, who you might not even really be interested in. On a dating site remember that you want to try as best as possible to stand out – in the right way – from the crowd.
7.Don’t just tell them how good looking they are
If you’re messaging someone, or they’re messaging you, both parties are almost certainly already attracted to each other in some way, and you both know that. A compliment too soon doesn’t come off as especially sincere, so save those for later messages or after a date or two. If you do compliment someone, make sure you cleverly integrate the comment into something they can easily respond to so you don’t leave them thinking ‘uh…thanks?”Spell check all your messages
Before you hit send, always check your messages for any spelling or grammatical errors. A sloppy first message indicates you’re probably too lazy to even bother writing to them, let alone actually be genuinely interested in them.
8. Be confident
Lots of singles over 50 on the dating scene might have been out of the dating game for some time, but that isn’t an excuse to have no confidence in your first message. Opening with “I’m not very good at this…” or “If I’m not for you that’s fine…” invites your recipient to immediately reject you before you’ve even had a chance to show your true colours.