Do's and Don'ts for the Online Dating First Message

For any of you doing the online dating thing, you know you see it all...from the carefully crafted essay all about WHY you should message the sender, to the brevity of, "Hey, u sexy."

As I've started working with people to improve the quality of their online dating lives (and to get more dates, faster), I've had requests again and again to help them with those first, all-important messages. So here are the Do's and Don'ts for Online Messaging.


READ the profile. I've had enough guys tell me that they only look at pictures before messaging that I gotta assume that's a pretty normal practice. But dudes (and ladies!) READ the profile. You don't have to put every detail into the first message, but they'll come in handy later

KEEP it short. All you need is a greeting, a sentence or two introducing yourself, and a sign off, that's it. No need to tell your life story, no need to explain why I remind you so much of your mother, or why I probably won't message you back because all the women out there are fake. Um, awesome.

MENTION something related to personality, not to looks. Nine times out of ten, I'll reply to the guy who compliments my writing. (Conversely, I almost always delete those messages that overtly compliment my looks. See below.) It's always great to pull in a detail or two from the profile, as well.


USE poor grammar, text speak or abbreviations. Studies show the response rate on these shortcuts is significantly lower than messages that use good grammar and check spelling. (Personally, I have an auto-delete policy with these.)

EXPLAIN too much. Some details are nice, but no need to explain exactly why you hate cats or the reason you didn't like the one part of the person's profile (why message anyway at that point?). Leave enough mystery to let the messagee have a chance to check you out, and decide for him or herself if he or she would like to message back.

EVER use the words pretty, beautiful or sexy in the first message. Again, studies show that when they’re used as pick-up lines, before you’ve even met in person, they inevitably feel…ew.

Final Tips:

ALWAYS be yourself

NEVER take it personally if someone doesn't message you back

TAKE IT offline as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. Many fledgling relationships have died a slow, boring death over message systems.

That's about it! What are some good messages you've seen? Bad? What are your personal messaging rules online?