The online dating first message dos and don’ts

curly haired Australian woman sending online dating messages from her tablet

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 tips that can improve your messaging skills and help you find online dating success.

There’s no doubt that when it comes to online dating the first message is very important.

But, how can you make the most of it? To help make it easier, EliteSingles explored the dos and don’ts of the first approach, discovering everything you need to write the perfect online dating first message.Hey, we’re the experts after all.

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

become a member

The four first message dos and don’ts

That first interaction is vital. Therefore, you want to break the ice in the right way. If you want to truly make an impression, you need to send an original first message. Here’s how to get it right.

1. DON’T copy paste your messages

Fans of copy and pasting, listen up.

The harsh truth is that your message recipients can tell what is a genuine attempt to say hello and what is a copy-paste template sent out ad nauseam. To make the best impression when online dating, first messages need to be original: it’s about making the recipient feel special. Just think of the type of message you’d like to receive online, you’d feel pretty shortchanged if you figured out they had copy-pasted, right? So be original, think positive and no ‘spraying and praying’ your online dating first message to everyone.

TRY THIS: An easy way to show you’ve read their profile is to point out what it is you liked in the text. Share a passion for food or a love of literature? Let them know what you have in common and ask a few pertinent questions.

EXAMPLE: “Hey Julie, saw on your profile that you enjoyed Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. I love those dystopian sci-novels too, any others you’d recommend?”

2. DO run a spell check before you hit send

Msgs wit por spelin r relly hard 2 reed. Confused? The same goes for whoever read your hastily written message.

This is why a hard-to-read, misspelled message can only be bad news. The truth is, legibility goes a long way – a quick and easy read lets your intended spend less time deciphering your message and more time daydreaming about your first date!

TRY THIS: The quickest way to make your message easier to read is to avoid drastically shortening words – write ‘are’ instead of ‘r’ for instance. A quick spell check doesn’t hurt either – not using a lot can get you a lot more attention!

EXAMPLE: “Hey Julie, great profile. I love hill walking as well. Do you ever get the chance to head to the Blue Mountains?”

3. DON’T be too forward in your messages

While a bit of profile flirting can be harmless, there is an art to striking a balance between flattery and over-familiarity. A basic rule to follow is to avoid overtly physical compliments in your online dating first message as this can send the wrong signal – in fact, our members voted sexual innuendo as one of their biggest online dating no-nos!2

TRY THIS: To avoid being taken the wrong way, you are better chatting about your interests, background, or careers. Regardless of if you truly mean your compliments but, until you know each other better, it is safer to keep such flattery to yourself.

EXAMPLE: “Hey Julie, you’re profile was a welcome surprise on a very grey day in Darwin. I saw you used to be a florist, I’m fascinated by the flora and fauna around the neighbouring woods in my area. Do you consider yourself a hobby florist now you’re retired?”

4. DO stay on the sunny side!

Just like the most successful profiles are those that are upbeat, so are the most successful online messages.

Remember that you need to sell yourself; so, think like a salesperson and show off your best side. Not only will this make a great first impression, you’ll be reminded that you are wonderful, you are interesting and you are definitely worth dating. Don’t think of it as arrogance, think of it as confidence, because that’s what confident people do!

TRY THIS: If positively selling yourself feels too much like boasting, try focusing on your recipient’s good qualities. Remember that listening to what someone has to say and reacting warmly can be hugely attractive3 and a great way to secure your next date!

EXAMPLE: “Morning Julie, I see you recently finished a cycling marathon, that’s very impressive. I haven’t taken my bike out in years, but hey, I can cook the perfect macaroni and cheese. Perhaps we could swap pointers at some point?”

Frequently asked chat questions

What should my message say?
In brief, the ideal online dating message is concise, personal and yet not too invasive – you are looking for that perfect balance of wit and interest without coming across as too intense.

Why didn’t I get a reply?
Sometimes users won’t reply to your attempts at chatting. Try not to lose heart – it’s very likely that this has nothing to do with you! Often, a user simply won’t have seen your message yet: our members are mostly busy professionals and not all of them have time to check their profile daily. If it’s been a few days, then it may be that their Premium Membership has not yet been approved (and thus they cannot view messages), or it may be that they have recently met someone wonderful on our site and are yet to cancel their account.

Is there anything I shouldn’t say during a chat session?
We are passionate about keeping our customers safe. That’s why we have a Validation Team who manually approves all new profiles. However, it’s always important to keep your wits about you when talking to a new person on the internet. Do not give out personal details such as your address to anyone you’ve only talked with online and, if a match asks you for bank account details or for money, help us keep you safe by stopping all contact and reporting them to our Customer Care team. For more advice, please see our Staying Safe guide.

How long should I wait before asking to meet in person?
The aim of all this chatting is, of course, to find someone with whom you can go on an offline date – perhaps kick-starting a relationship with real, long-term potential. However, for your own peace of mind and sense of comfort, it’s usually wise to wait a while before suggesting that you meet in person. How long should you wait? As discussed in our online dating tips article, researchers at the University of Florida recently hypothesised that the ideal period between the first message and the first meeting is 17 -23 days.2

Ready to put your new first message skills to good use? Join EliteSingles today to meet your matches and get communicating! Just click here to register.

If you have any questions about online messaging, please leave a comment below or write to us at [email protected].


1 EliteSingles ‘Dating profile’ members’ survey, 2014
2 Ibid
3 Susan Heitler, Ph.D, writing for Psychology Today, The Art of Listening: How Open Are Your Ears? Found at

About the author: Sophie Watson

See more articles written by Sophie Watson