Write in advance. This lets you think about what you want to say about
yourself and, more importantly, check your spelling and grammar. Have a
friend read and react to your draft message.
Spell-check. Yes, this counts. It shows that you are serious about
finding dates and willing to pay attention to details. Some people are
just natural bad spellers, but it can make you look less smart or less
educated than you really are. Most websites do not offer spellchecking
Personalize! We recommend writing a general template of a first message,
but you have to personalize it for each person you contact. Mention
something from their profile, ask a question that refers to something
they wrote, or describe how you would be a good match for them. Mention
what attracted your attention to their ad. No one wants to think they
just received a form letter.
Write more than one line. "Liked your profile... want to chat?" This may
be the most commonly-sent message on a dating website... and the most
ignored. You need to say something else. Set yourself apart and say
something interesting to get a reply.
Use humor. If someone with a great personal ad is receiving lots of
replies... what will make yours stand out? A funny line might help. But
if you have noticed that people do not respond well to your brand of
humor... save your jokes for later.
Keep track of whom you've contacted. Don't write a series of letters to
someone who has not responded... you'll look desperate or like a
Don't demand personal info immediately. Certainly not if you have failed
to offered any details yourself. Go for a balance between talking about
yourself and asking about them.
Don't open with your last failed relationship. Sure, you have a dating
history. But talking about "game players, liars, and cheats" makes you
sound a little bitter. Don't sound like you are obsessed with past
partners... or that you think everyone will hurt you.
Don't open with sex. "Hi. You look sexy." Unless the person's ad
specifically says they only want a casual sexual relationship, it can
easily sound vulgar and rude. Women, in particular, typically delete
those messages. When men get letters like that, they often expect a link
to a porn site to follow. Even on a website that focuses on "adult
activities," you need to do more than describe your body or fantasies.
Don't write a novel. Sending out your life story as a first contact is
going to look odd. You need to write enough to sound like you have a
life, not a book you'd like to publish.
Don't open with "I hate online dating." It is amazing how many people
open a note with a line that condemns online dating sites and the people
that use them. You are talking to someone that uses a dating website! Do
you really want to immediately imply that they are desperate, dumb, or
Don't ask for a phone number, address, or last name before you have even
gotten a reply from someone. You may be mistaken for a serial killer or
a telemarketer. Go slowly in asking for that sort of information; you
don't want to scare off prospective dates.