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Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to Write Someone a First Message Online

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2012 at 8:30 AM

I have no idea how to write a first message to someone on a dating site. I pick something that they have in common with me and mention I noticed it blah, blah, blah. No one ever responds, or if they do, it's usually them saying I seemed rude or critical and I have no intention of being like that. I must have a tone that everyone notices but me in my writing. Please tell me what a first message should say so I can actually get a response from anyone.  

~Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone


I wish you would've sent examples! You see, expressing a shared commonality doesn't typically lead to a reply of hostility. Is your prose dripping with sarcasm? Are you like, "You like Grand Theft Auto, huh? Me too! I don't think playing video games well into your 30s is a form of functional retardation. At all."

Obviously what you say in your first message will vary considerably from person to person. (As a refresher, here are five ways to ensure you receive better messages.) Despite the variation, there are, of course, a few ground rules. They are as follows.


First messages should be more akin to dirty talk than erotica. They should be no longer than a paragraph. They should reveal something interesting about you, something you thought was interesting about the receiver, and then a question to prompt that person to respond. 


Be nice, but don't overdo it on the compliments (especially you, readers with penises). Yes, it feels good occasionally to be complimented, but it can seem disingenuous (or downright laughable) when strangers start talking about your "heavenly blessed beauty, whose inner beauty is simply diving [sic] and everlasting." (Sidenote: For some stunning examples of the kind of messages not to write, go here). In a similar vein, don't be vulgar. This is your first impression. Even if you do want to bang them like the Salvation Army drum in the Easter Day Parade, it would behoove you to keep this to yourself, at least for a little while. There is a demonstrable line between flirtation and telling someone they look like they give good head. Learn it.

Grammatically Sound

As a guy I met on OkCupid put it, "I never knew mastery of basic English could get me so much ass." This is, sadly, not an understatement. Nothing will get your message deleted quicker than one full of typos or spelling/grammatical errors. Case in point, from a message sent to me a while ago:

how u doing ran-stone cowgirl ,,, dont fly outside ,,, u gonna get wet..i hope u have a good plans for this weekend.. if u dont i invite u somewere lol,,,maybe have a walk into the wood n i check u for

In other words, if you can't be bothered to proofread your message, then you don't deserve blow jobs. 

I'd have a friend look your messages over before you hit send if you're unsure about the tone. You could, also, simply be sending messages to guys who aren't interested, and in that case, no amount of charming repartee will help. But don't take it personally. There could be a number of reasons why they didn't respond that have nothing to do with you.

For fun and posterity, here's a sample message I whipped up in two minutes just to give you an example. You don't have to go in for the kill in the first message, but I like to meet people sooner than later.

Hi SoulMate4You, 

I'm Anna and I really liked your profile. I thought I was the only one who loved PT Cruisers and death metal! Way to prove me wrong. What's your favorite metal band? Mine's Ima Cut You, but not the later works. Anyway, you seem interesting and I'd love to grab a frap with you sometime. Are you busy next week?

Social-media mistress Anna Pulley likes to give advice about how to play well with others on the internets. If you have a question about etiquette involving technology, shoot her a question at 

Follow us on Twitter: @annapulley and @ExhibitionistSF or Facebook

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Anna Pulley


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