Part 2 of How to Date Online!

Online Dating Tips #2: Sending the First Message

Online dating tips. The internet is bloated with them, but here’s our take. Sending the first message is difficult for most people, especially because it can be hard to find the right words to say when it comes to online dating. Our online dating tips guide will help you send your first message effectively with the highest chance of a reply. This step two; sending the first message is always directly after you create a good profile. While many guys or girls go with something simple, one line, maybe two with a generic invitation to respond few people actually put forth the effort to create a great first message. The difference between a decent first message and a great first message when online dating is the difference between receiving a reply back or not. While millions of first messages are being sent to people back and forth every day, creating a great first impression in that message is a must. My wife and I each have a profile on many different dating websites, with the amount of messages we each receive each day, we only reply back to maybe one. That’s one message that stood out among 20-30 messages every day. When formulating your first message, be sure it stands out from the crowd. Ask yourself, “What sets my message apart?” or “Would I respond to a message like this?” We have talked about this lightly in the past when we gave pointers on how to use OkCupid when polyamorous. This review is going to work best with websites such as OkCupid, FriendFinder or AdultFriendFinder.

Common First (failed) Messages

These are real messages sent by real people. We went through our past 5 years of messages and created this top 20 list of “failed” messages. Here’s what not to do when sending your first message.

  • Hey
  • Whats up
  • Hi
  • Hello
  • Hey there
  • Ur hot
  • You are beautiful
  • Wanna talk

Let’s talk about these for a moment. If this is as much effort that is going to be put into a first message, why would the receiver want to respond to something like one of these? Would you respond to a message like one of those? Probably not. So these are obvious no-nos. Let’s get a little bit deeper into the minds of some people out there that put forth a little bit more effort, but still, not enough.

  • Good morning (or good afternoon)
  • Love your smile
  • Good morning. I like what i read and saw so far on your profile. You sound fun, straight to the point, and real. Hoping we can converse sometime. Hit me up when ya can.
  • Hey, I’ve got a question for you. What do you think of Cincinnati? Do you like it?
  • Good morning how are you doing this morning

So these few people have put forth a bit more effort, but still, not even enough effort set them apart. Any of these messages could be sent to literally anybody on OkCupid, meaning, the profile was more than likely not read.

Physical Appearance in a First Message

Usually mentioning someone’s appearance in a first message on an online dating website is a bad idea. This portrays the idea that you are focused upon the receivers physical attraction rather than who they are as a person. On a swingers website, it would be appropriate to immediately mention someone’s physical appearance in the first message, however, on a dating website, where emotional connections are key; bad idea. Any hint of mentioning physical attraction in a first message is an immediately delete between my wife and I. I can honestly say any messages I’ve ever sent (even really good ones) have never gone through if there is mention of someone’s beauty or physical attraction on the first message. The earliest you would want to mention anything closely related to physical attraction would be on the 5th or 6th message, assuming you have already introduced yourself and received the other person’s name. Receiving a person’s name in return to your introduction generally can lead to a more intimate, yet casual discussion.

Location in First Messages

Beware of requesting or mentioning specific locations within a first message as well. As a matter of fact, generally keep this out of the conversation for at least the first few hours unless there is an immediate connection. Asking someone for their location raises red flags in their mind related to robbery or rape. There have been plenty of issues in the past with online dating so people are cautious now even though most of the time both people have good intentions. Generally on a dating website you will know what city the person is in, that will be enough information to know they are somewhat nearby. Getting any more detail than that is pointless until you are ready to ask them out on a date. Even if at this point they are ready to go out with you, they will more than likely still not want to give out their home location.

How to Create a Good First Message

Now that we have talked about a few of the big things not to say, let’s talk about what you should say and how you should say it! First you must read their profile and take mental notes of activities you both connect on. Movies, tv shows, even video games or food can be terrible things to mention in a first message. Lets say you both seem to like corn. Great. So does everybody else. That won’t separate you message from other messages. Focus on something that will set your message apart. What do you two really connect on? Say a specific craft, a festival, a location, or perhaps a unique activity. These are all great first things to mention in a first message because the conversation can easily be picked up and talked about from there. If you went with corn – how much can be said about corn? A lot, but probably nothing too terribly interesting (no bash against corn…heh. I like corn.). Looking over their profile, try to find a topic that hardly anybody else has asked them about. While you can’t create a question like this with 100% accuracy, do your best to ask something out of the ordinary.

Create a Need for Response

Why would someone want to respond to your message? Just because you two both have an activity you can enjoy together doesn’t immediately warrant a response. Create a question that follows suit with the activity you are talking about that you both connect on. Now just because it’s a question doesn’t mean there is a need for response, just a request for a response. To create a need for response you must first couple emotions with the question, then add some sort of urgency to the question. We cover emotions in the next section and we talked about the question above, so let’s cover how to add urgency to the question.

“Did you see the ending scores for today’s game!? Wow! It’s unbelievable.” Create a question. Add urgency. Apply emotion.

Something that is urgent is typically something that is needed to be done within a certain time frame, say 7pm, when the sun sets. Asking someone what the sunset looked like today from where they lived adds a sense of urgency to the question. The person must think about what they saw, what time it was, describe it and tell it to you. That’s a lot of things to think about all at once, however, it draws readers in! For me, creating a need for response works nearly every time in getting a reply back from the first message. This thought can be applied to nearly any question with enough thought behind it.

Emotions Behind the Message

Generally you will want to open with a Hey there! Hello! Or Hi! Try to sound excited and fun. Nobody wants to talk to a boring, depressed mopey pants. Have some kind of energy, even if it is just one little smiley face at the end of your message. Let’s compare two messages. Which would you respond to?

Hey there! I saw on your profile you are really into Football and enjoy martial arts as well. That’s awesome! I am a black belt in taekwondo and enjoy watching Football on TV. The Bengals are my favorite, their defense is amazing. I typically find myself grabbing pizza after games. Papa Johns is the best! Tell me, who is your team?

Hey there. I saw on your profile you are really into Football and enjoy martial arts as well. I am a black belt in taekwondo and enjoy watching Football on TV. The Bengals are my favorite, their defense is amazing. I typically find myself grabbing pizza after games. Papa Johns is ok. Tell me, who is your team?

Can you sense the difference between the two first messages? Who sounds more excited to meet you? Read on with our dating tips guide to learn more about what to incorporate into your first message.


Our online dating tips guide would be incomplete without mentioning the effectiveness of a joke. Everybody loves a good laugh. If you can somehow work a good line into the first message, all the better. Be careful what you joke about however, you could end up accidentally insulting them and blowing the whole thing no matter how good the rest of your message is!

Writing the Message

Try to use correct English, grammar and spelling. While most people don’t mind a few errors, it would really suck to have that first message be a complete failure because you misspelled something obvious or was using internet speak shortening words. One thing that should be mentioned is copying and pasting messages. They are pretty obvious (unless you are good. If you stay with me to the end of this post, I’ll tell you a funny story) as they are pretty generalized to work for every girl, and most people can spot them from a mile away. Keep in mind, try to focus on the other person whenever talking online. It can be hard to read people by just text, but if you truly focus on trying to learn more about the other person and actually have the want to know about them, it will show!

Most importantly over all the ideas above, try to be interesting! Anyone can overlook a few spelling errors or a lack of emotion, but if someone is boring and bland… it will end a conversation before it even starts. So – be interesting! None of these online dating tips will do much without doing this!

Generic Messages Copy/Paste Funny Time

This would be a great dating tip, but hey, I said I would tell you a funny story if you got to the end, so here we go. When I was living in Cincinnati over 5 years ago, I was online dating. I was using Craigslist at the time and as you may or may not know, Craigslist has a lot of spam. I ended up seeing a few people after several weeks of sending messages, however, at the very end I decided to just send out a Copy & Paste email to everybody on there. I figured why not. So I did, then I met up with this lady whom 4 months later I married.

All things said above, Copying and Pasting can be a pretty bad way to go about doing online dating, but it worked for me, and I’m happy, so I can’t bash it too hard.

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