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Online Dating: How to Craft the Perfect Intro Message

woman at computerCrafting the perfect intro message when you’re writing to a stranger on an online dating site is such a daunting task. I’m notoriously bad at it, a fact that I’ve shared publicly at comedy shows, because if I can’t get dates out of my hilariously bad messaging skills, I might as well get laughs. When I was newly divorced, I would write guys three paragraph intro letters that not only went into too much detail about my life, but assumed way too much about theirs. It was awful, like a bad first date I was having all by myself.

I’ve gotten better at messaging over the past few years, but I’m sure I could get even better. It’s always helpful when you can reduce a process down to a science, using a specific formula for success, and Julie Spira at YourTango has one that she says will help you craft the perfect intro note.

First, she says, keep it short. Three sentences max, including a question. Spira says the subject of your message should be about something specific you saw in the person’s profile that interested you, then the body of the message should follow up. Spira advises not starting messages with “Hey,” even though so many of us do it, but she says to try “Hi” instead. (Listen to Spiro talk about it in this video. You’ll note that hi actually does sound more friendly than hey, which sounds like you’re two pathetic encounters away from giving up on dating altogether.) Spiro says that spelling and grammar are very important in these messages (as we all know), and she seems to imply that in general we should treat these messages more seriously and with more respect than we generally do.

A friend of mine has a similar formula for intro messages that goes:

1) say something specific about something you saw in the person’s profile.

2) compliment them.

3) ask them a question.

When I think about messages that I’ve received that I’ve been excited to respond to, they generally adhere to these guidelines. I’ll add that I think it’s important not to over flatter the person you’re writing to, or to make the message too much about their appearance. For people looking for a relationship built to last and not just built on physical attraction, calling someone sexy or hot off the bat can be a turn-off. Be careful about subsequent messages, too. If you start writing back and forth intensely, things can fall apart pretty quickly. I recently had a decent exchange going with a guy that ended with him calling me a “cute wittle cupcake.” No. Spelling out baby talk is a horrible idea. Don’t twy it.

Photo credit: Flickr

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