There are plenty of wonderful, meaningful and fascinating things to talk about in an introduction message, your very first contact with some potential love interest, while dating online. There are also topics you don’t touch with a ten-foot pole.
Fair or not, everyone judges on first impressions, and unlike real life where you can hang around and be stalkerish (not recommended but commonly practiced anyway), you don’t get a second chance if that cursor goes to the “delete” button instead of the “reply” one.
So what are you including in your message that’s freaking your potential future lover out? Here’s a look at five common deal-breakers you should avoid.
1. Improper spelling and grammar
This is a common piece of advice that can’t be overstated. Think about how you feel when you get an email that’s riddled with spelling errors, typos, and grammatical problems. Even if you aren’t an editor and you don’t notice the more subtle problems, the fact that you’re noticing them tells you that he or she isn’t interested enough in you to care about how they’re coming across.
If you’re contacting someone and you know you have spelling and grammar issues, simply copy and paste the email into Microsoft Word or some other program with a spell-check function and go through the recommendations one by one. Spell-check isn’t perfect, but for those who don’t naturally understand semicolons and ellipses, it can be a lifesaver.
2. Saying nothing worth responding to
When someone sends you a message saying ‘Hi’ and not much more, what are you going to say back? Sure, you know they probably didn’t want to waste time on a long email before knowing if you’d respond, but even so, it can be a little disconcerting. Making lots of pointless statements like, “Are you busy right now?” or even, “How’s the weather there?” doesn’t make people think or get you stuck in their mind.
To avoid this trap, make sure you ask questions and comment on the other person’s profile, while also sharing something about yourself. You don’t want to be seen as stalking or devote the email all to them, but you want to try to make a few subtle connections, ask questions to express interest, and get them to ask questions in return.
3. Using the wrong tone
Plenty of people go wrong here, because it’s hard to know how else to message someone. You may be thinking you make that hot girl or beautiful guy feel great when you add several compliments into your initial message, but you end up coming across as insincere or even sleazy. Another tone people frequently take is the “me” tone, which can be just as much a killer of future messaging as the overly-flattering tone.
If you choose to compliment someone, try to compliment them on their personality over their appearance. Remark on something they said they’ve done, congratulate them on their recent graduation, or otherwise compliment them on something that they worked hard to get, make, be, or do. To avoid taking on the “me” tone, limit it to a few “I” statements and focus more on inquiring about their life.
4. Making it impersonal
If it’s so short or impersonal it could be sent to ten others at once, you’re doing it wrong. A simple, “Liked your profile, what’s up?” can be copied and pasted a dozen times in just a few minutes to anyone you deem to be attractive, and those people will assume that’s why they’ve been messaged.
Instead, include some detail or question, however simple, that indicates you have actually read through and thought about their profile. Questioning them on why they’re interested in a hobby or how it works, for instance, can be valuable reply material.
5. Lying or sneaking around
Any kind of activity you “shouldn’t be doing” will be sussed out sooner or later. It can be surprising how well people discover white lies, and how fast.
Indicate on your profile that you’re looking for a discreet relationship if that’s what you seek, or stay away from the word “discreet” completely to avoid being seen as a sneak. Even if your lie isn’t that big, just something smaller like pretending to like something they do, it’s probably better to take an interested outsider’s approach and ask questions about their hobby. Then they get the chance to share their passions with someone else, which is always fun!
Now that you know what topics and words to avoid, have fun writing a creative and interesting email to your maybe-date and see where it takes you! At the very least, you might increase your reply rate, and that’s no small matter when you’re talking about the numbers game of online dating.
What About You?
Are you guilty of committing any of these “first contact” dealbreakers?
Have you received many emails like this yourself? If so, how did you respond, and do you agree that they’re dealbreakers?