How to: Sending the All-important First Message

Getting the ball rolling when it comes to communicating on an online dating site can be an intimidating prospect. It’s all well and good finding a potential partner in your area that appears attractive and interesting – crossing the boundary and initiating contact is where the problem starts. If you want to know what type of message is going to attract a greater chance of response and curiosity, read on for some tip top suggestions that will have your inbox full in no time at all.

Spelling and Grammar

While you might think this is obvious, some people just fail to realize how important being on top of your language is. Shortened text speak such as ‘ur’, ‘r’, ‘u’ and ‘ya’ all have much lower rates of reply than messages that have proper spelling, grammar and syntax. Proper usage of language can reflect intelligence – do your best to communicate in an easy-to-read and attractive fashion. Note that this does not mean breaking out a thesaurus and trying to pass yourself off as Shakespeare: standard English is fine, just ensure you write it properly.

Compliments and Avoiding Them

Surprisingly, being complimented in a private message is likely to result in a lack of reply from the person you contact. While you may think mentioning the extent to which you appreciate their physical attractiveness is a good idea, research suggests that for your first message, avoiding compliments of physical attributes is the best way to go. Appreciating their life, achievements and desires is a much better way to go when sending your first message. As you would expect, saying ‘your pretty’ receives slightly fewer replies than ‘you’re pretty’.

Avoid Generics

One of the biggest problems when sending first messages on dating sites is that people consistently write things that are generic and uninteresting. Starting a message with “Hi, you’re hot.” is bland – avoid this at all costs. Speak about things that will make the other person want to know more about you. Mention something about their profile that appeals to you and give your own take on it. This way, you set yourself up to receive a reply because you demonstrate a unique quality and prepare them for conversation.

What to do

All tips before are things to avoid: here are some things to do. Firstly, use an unoriginal opening that is phrased as a question. For instance, “How’s it going?” and “What’s good?” are naturally likely to receive replies because they are framed as questions. As humans, we are programmed to want to respond when something is left unanswered. Secondly, discuss things that are very specific: if the person you are messaging likes music, ask if they are in a band. Likewise, if they say that they attend university, ask what course they are studying. Showing an interest in their life will dramatically increase the likelihood of the person taking the time to respond.

Finally, one big thing to remember is that sometimes, you simply will not receive a reply. Use the “send” function with the expectation that the person is in a committed relationship, does not use the website, has never replied to a message before and has had a complete personality change. On average, over 2/3rds of first messages on dating sites go without a reply – with our tips, you will be one of the lucky people that gets responses all the time.

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