Sophie Watson, 02.02.2016

The art of online dating: first message success starts here!

When we asked our members how they decided whether they wanted to go on a date with someone they met online, a whopping 43% said that the first message was the deciding factor. So how do you get it right? EliteSingles explores four tips that can improve your messaging skills and help you find online dating success.

Flirting online can take a touch of finesse.  Without the other person immediately in front of you to offer non-verbal body language cues, it can be hard to tell exactly what kind of an impression you are giving. Online messaging is a necessary step for kindling any internet romance, but one that is not always easy to judge. How do you know what to write without being able to immediately gauge your intended’s reaction?

EliteSingles aims to overcome the difficulty of first contact by offering our members guided communication services. Sending a smile, for instance, is a great way to gently let someone know you find them attractive. Then, if you want to know more, you can build on that smile with our 5 questions service.  As ice-breakers go, the guided communication questions are pretty much perfect but, inevitably, you will want to send an original message. Something to show that you really are interested.

So, is there anything you can do in order to make sure that your original text is the best it can be? EliteSingles looked at four tricks that can make your first message better.

READ MORE: The ten first date questions that will test your chemisty and connection!

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1.    Step away from the copy-paste buttons!

Those who take the time to write an original message may see more positive feedback than those who just copy-paste the same message over and over. The main reason? Your recipient can tell the difference between a message that is generic enough to apply to anyone and a message written particularly for them! 

If you want to make your message more personal, try mentioning what it is about their profile that caught your eye. You both love black coffee, the stronger the better? Mention it! Share a passion for travel, for foreign film or folk music? Let them know and ask them a few relevant questions.  The purpose here is to make a great impression by illustrating that you actually went to the effort of reading the recipient’s profile. This doesn’t, of course, mean writing your own version of The Thorn Birds (after all, a novel-length message can be just as off-putting as a one word ‘hooroo’). What it does mean is thinking about your recipient as an individual and choosing a few cracking paragraphs to make them aware that you are interested.

READ MORE: Know the score when it comes to safe online dating

2.    Be careful about over-familiarity

So showing interest in your intended’s profile is quite endearing. However, too much familiarity too soon can be seen as coming on quite strongly. As a basic rule, you should shy away from overtly physical compliments in your first online dating message. Many people are trying online romance because they are looking for long-term love. If you send a message full of nothing but generic physical compliments and/or innuendo (and yes, this even includes a few ‘xx’ kisses), this can send a signal that the physical side of things is all you are after. In other words, save your messaging skills for a chat about your compatible personalities – you may be genuine when you say that their smile is a corker but, to play it safe, such compliments are best left until you know each other better. 

READ MORE: How do you take the perfect profile picture? We spoke to freelance photographer Toby Aiken for his top tips!

3.    Your primary teacher was right: the three Rs do count

Well, in this case, specifically the first two! It can really help your chances if you give your message a quick look-over before pressing send. The reason? Pouly spelld msgs dat r full of lazi  txt spk can b hard 2 reed. If that was too much of a dog’s breakfast to cope with, here’s a translation. ‘Poorly spelled messages that are full of lazy text-speak can be hard to read’. And hard-to-read is a definite messaging negative.

READ MORE: How to write an effective online dating profile

In fact, when it comes to online dating, first message success often relates to legibility. A great message is one that the recipient can easily read. The quickest way to achieve this is to avoid anything that sounds like a mobile phone message – write too instead of 2 for instance. A quick spell check doesn’t hurt either – not using alot can get you a lot more attention! A properly written message shows that you have taken the time to think about what you are writing, another way of letting the recipient know that you are interested enough to make an effort for them.

4.    Positivity is key

Your message is legible, interesting and it shows your interest in a non-physical way. So far, so good. But there is one final thing that can elevate a good message into a great one, and that is positivity.  This doesn’t mean overt bragging, but it does mean describing yourself constructively.  Just like the most successful profiles are those that are happy, so are the most successful first messages.

Remember that you are here to sell yourself; your goal is to prove that you are someone the recipient can’t wait to reply to. This means having the confidence to tell the recipient that you ‘hope to hear from them soon’ instead of ‘I’m guessing you won’t reply to this.’ Instead of moping that ‘you probably won’t be interested in someone like me,’ you want to tell them why you are interested in them and trust them to make up their own mind. This positivity can be good for you, too – not only are you making a great first impression, you end being reminded of the fact that you yourself are wonderful, you are interesting and you are definitely worth dating

READ MORE: 10 first date questions to test your connection

So there we have it. Four tips to a better, more attractive online dating first message. It is simpler than it sounds, as these tricks do boil down to one main idea: they all make the other person feel special and they all do it in a very natural way. No sleaziness, no copy-pasting, no moping: they are simply about reaching out to someone you think might be interesting and taking the time to say hello in a way that lets them know it. Will these tips guarantee a reply? No – because no two online daters have the exact same list of requirements. But will they help you give it your best shot? Almost certainly.

Ready to take a chance and send that first message to someone captivating? Join EliteSingles today.

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