One of the frustrating realities of online dating is men have a low response rate to first messages, while at the same time women are getting bombarded with boring, lewd, or lazy messages. It’s not uncommon for women to get 25-30 first messages a day. The problem is most of them say something like “Hi” or “How r u?” or “You have a pretty smile” or “DTF?” Their eyes glaze over after a while, cynicism builds over time until, eventually, women just stop reading incoming messages altogether. Kathleen told me, “I wish I could have turned incoming messages off.”
On the other hand, well-meaning men try to cut through the noise of the spleezeballs get their messages washed away in the river of digital communication. Even men with the best profiles can get at a 20% response rate to first messages. The responses will come in fits and starts, too. One week, you might get a response from most everyone you reach out to, while the next is tumbleweeds.
Their eyes glaze over after a while, cynicism builds until, eventually, men just stop trying to write personalized messages and start to fire out 20 “Hi” messages a day in hopes of getting one (just one!) response. The behavior is communal, cyclical, and there’s nothing you can do about it except understand why what is happening is happening. For those looking for how to improve a bit, here is a list of guidelines (some for everyone, some for men, some for women) people can use to get better results.
Don’t Fall In Love With a Profile
It’s very easy to become infatuated with a profile. You see an attractive women wearing a Los Angeles Lakers jersey in a picture, saying how her favorite band is your favorite band, too, you think, “Jackpot! I’ve found my soul mate.” Slow down there, Turbo, it’s just a profile. Keep in mind that, at their best, online dating profiles are simply digital marketing tools designed to get others interested in meeting for a date. It’s never a full representation of what this man or woman is like in real life. I can write several distinct profiles for myself: one representing me as a cultured, world-traveling dynamo; one as a film-loving, sensitive, arty type; one as a fitness-oriented marathoner. Are any of those true? Eh… not really. I mean, kinda? sorta? But they certainly say something about me, regardless of the degree of accuracy.
Sign Your Name
Make a habit out of signing your name at the end of every message you send. Sounds obvious, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to ask the question “What’s your name?” after the first message.
Men: Don’t Overthink Your Messages
While I don’t advocate the generic “Hi,” don’t assume that a woman with a long, detailed profile highlighting her philosophical underpinnings wants a first message that belongs in a doctoral dissertation. Keep it simple, keep it relevant. Find one thing (aside from her picture) that made you think “I want to message this woman” and spark a conversation based on that. Personalize it a bit so she knows you actually took the time to read her profile. If you can’t come up with a reason beyond the asinine”she’s purty”, then don’t message her.
Women: Send the First Message
Men rarely get contacted first, it’s just the nature of online dating culture. But you can absolutely take advantage of this weird, socially antiquated construct by reaching out to men you find attractive. Even if you are bombarded with dozens upon dozens of messages a day, you’re going to have a much better experience if you seek out the people you think are interesting.
Only Message People You Want To Go On a Date With
I’ve had a couple of exchanges that ended with, “Oh! I’m seeing someone and I want to see where it goes, sorry!” Erm, then why did you send me four messages about favorite restaurants? Naturally, you should abandon an exchange if the other person says something exceptionally weird that makes you uncomfortable. But if you just have too much on your plate, or find the person unattractive, there’s no reason to string him or her along in the interest of striking up a conversation. The expectation of online dating is, you know, to go on dates.
Men: Learn to Fire & Forget
In all likelihood, you’re not going to get a response. You might think it’s rude that a woman doesn’t send you a simple “Thanks, but I’m not interested” message, but so what? Go complain on a forum somewhere. The reality is this woman is a stranger, and she owes you nothing. Instead, you need to get into the mindset that you won’t hear from anybody. Once you fire out that first message you need to forget you even sent the thing. Otherwise, you’re going to microanalyze yourself into the crazy house. And then, when you do receive a response, it’s a pleasant surprise.
Women: If You’re Not Interested, Don’t Respond
I actually received a couple of “Thanks, but no thanks” emails in my online dating adventures. And when I say a couple, I mean I got two out of nearly 200 people I contacted over the course of a year. At first, I was frustrated by their non-responsiveness, but now I actually advocate women ignoring emails from men they aren’t interested in. Think about the possible responses that you can receive to this well-meaning rejection:
- “That’s okay, good luck in your search!” or some derivation thereof (the preferred response)
- Nothing (equally acceptable)
- They try to convince you you’re wrong (awkward)
- “You’re a stupid bitch.” or some other mean response (I mean, thanks for confirming I was right to reject you, but yeesh)
So, two out of four are acceptable, and the second two are far more common. In the end, there’s just no upside to responding to somebody who’s not interested. Being ignored is part of the culture of online dating, you can’t change it, and you shouldn’t try because letting somebody off the hook makes you feel like a better person. Don’t feel guilty. Just don’t respond.
Move It Offline As Fast As Possible
You don’t necessarily have to ask a person out in the first message, but if they respond, you should assume they’ll agree to a date. One or two more emails to get a bit of context for conversation on the date is fine, but don’t let it go past three or four messages without asking them out. And it don’t wait for the person to ask you out just because he or she sent the first message. Get proactive and get to meeting as soon as you can. Women, if you really want to knock a guy’s socks off, just ask him out the first time you message him. Whether it’s a response or a first message, “Hey (such and such and such), how about we meet up for a drink?”