As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. This is especially true in the online dating world. Since your online dating first message sets the tone for the early part of your interaction, it can make or break your chances with a woman.
If you're new to online dating, communicating over text can seem like an intimidating thing to get used to. I’ve been there before and wish I had someone to give me some guidance and speed up that learning curve.
Today, you’re in luck because that’s exactly what I’ll be giving you in this article — a simple text formula for that first online dating message. As you get more comfortable with the process, you can start to brand out and experiment, but this will give you a solid starting point.
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What Makes a Good Online Dating First Message
What we’re looking for here is a good balance between a canned response (too impersonal) and completely unique messages each time (too time-consuming).
To some degree, online dating is a numbers game and you don’t want these apps to become your full-time job. By using the formula we’re about to go over, you can minimize the time you spend on these first messages without copy/pasting lazy, generic intros.
When you can strike that balance, you’re going to get more engaged responses while also spending less time.
Read her profile
One great way to avoid sending generic lines in your first message is to slow down and take a moment to look at her profile. Get to know a little about her and what she’s interested in.
This step alone gives you a far better chance of getting a reply on your first message because you can tailor it to her.
Get in the habit of doing this now with our first message online dating formula. You'll get better results, and you can rest easy knowing you've done your homework.
Key things to look out for:
- Interests you two share
- Anything that you can potentially use to playfully tease her with, such as:
- Embarrassing stories
- Weird hobbies
- Something in her pictures
Pay special attention to see if she includes her name anywhere. If she does, use that in your first message, too.
Include something from her profile in your first message
Now that you’re familiar with her profile, it’s time to put that info to good use. Attractive women get a lot of messages every single day. The good news for you and me is that most of them are lazy and generic — this is your opportunity to stand out.
You want something short that will immediately grab her interest. In most cases, this is best accomplished with a question—ideally one that ties into a common interest or hobby.
For example, maybe you noticed the woman's profile mentions her love of dancing—and that she's horrible at it. Your subject line could be:
This does three things:
- It piques her interest by putting an open question out there.
- You're already suggesting the possibility of a first date.
- This shows you're confident enough to tease her a little bit.
By including something from her profile, you’re showing her that you actually paid attention and want to talk to her specifically. That you’re not just pasting the same message to 50 women today and hoping for the best. A crucial factor when you’re talking to girls online.
Pro tip - If she mentions her name in her profile, put it in the subject. In this case, "Dance lessons, Jessica?" She is almost guaranteed to at least read your message—if only to find out if she actually knows you.
With a message like this, you attract her interest, show confidence, and push the interaction forward in one sentence. This sets you far apart from 99% of the guys dating online. This won't work on every single woman out there, but it will be effective on a large enough majority.
Follow up in the body (opening and closing)
If you asked her a question online in your subject line, follow it up with a related sentence. For example:
“I knew that would get your attention”
This sets a good tone for the rest of your message while adding a little humor for good measure. You can use this line to go straight into your next sentence.
This is where you want to continue connecting with her as well as telling her why you are messaging her. Use the information you learned from her profile to bring up some shared interests. For example:
“I read through your profile and we seem to share a love of adventure, the feel of sand in our toes, and the taste of an authentic French croissant.”
Try to include the senses involved in your shared interests. You want her to hear, smell, feel, taste, and see what you are talking about. Be careful to only include positive shared interests. You’re not going to get a response if you start off a message with negativity or sensitive subjects.
From here, you want to tell an engaging story tied to one of the interests you just mentioned. If one of your shared passions is scuba diving you could say:
“I just got back from a life-changing two-week scuba retreat in Belize. Fourteen days of diving in crystal clear waters having adventures in the local countryside. I'd love to hear about any interesting or exciting adventures you've had."
This serves dual purposes. In the first sentence, you’re showing that you’re an interesting guy that’s fun to be around. In the second, you’re painting the picture of a life she’d like to be part of. Now that you’ve demonstrated why you’re messaging her, you can briefly mention a few of your strongest characteristics to really get her hooked. For example:
“A little about me: I’m adventurous, ambitious, confident, and a challenge.”
This may sound a little like bragging (and it is). But it’s done in a confident way that’s more matter-of-fact than arrogant. Dating women requires confidence. When you can demonstrate confidence early when messaging women you will have better results.
Now you want to do a little more teasing. This is where you give a little and take a little. You’ll be confident and playful without being a total jerk. Start off with a small compliment then tease her about something else you saw in her profile. In this example it was from a woman who said she was great at ping pong:
“I think we would have a lot of fun together even if you’re going to be mopey the whole night after I kick your butt in ping pong.”
Make sure that the way you tease and flirt with her online is very clean and can’t be misconstrued. It’s very easy to take a message the wrong way—even one that follows a first message online dating formula. At this stage, you don't get the benefit of seeing her reaction or body language when she reads your message. As such, it's important to be careful about the tone and content of your message. It may take a little practice to get it right.
Make it easy for her to respond
At some point or another, we’ve all been guilty of leaving the text message or email “for later” because it was difficult to respond to. Because you needed to sit down and take the time to answer the question.
With online dating messages (especially a first message), she isn’t going to make that kind of commitment. So it’s important that you make the first message quick and easy to reply to. If you’re asking a question, it should be something that requires minimal thought on her end.
Think “where was that beach photo taken? It looks familiar”, not “where do you see yourself in five years?”
Depending on your personality, most people will have great success just being open and easy to talk to as well. For example:
"We’re both on this site to meet someone great. I think it would be silly if we didn't talk at least once."
This is a great way to connect with her and demonstrate that messaging you is in her best interest. She’s on that site to meet someone great—and it just might be you. Especially now that you’ve given her every reason to reply.
More confidence. If you can get her to take the big step of messaging you back, your odds have already increased tremendously.
Online Dating First Message Examples That Work
This first message online dating formula is very simple and customizable for any situation. When you put all of our examples together in an email format it looks like this:
Subject: Dance Lessons?
Body: I knew that would get your attention! I read through your profile and we seem to share a love of adventure, the feel of sand in our toes, and the taste of an authentic french croissant. I just got back from a life-changing two-week scuba retreat in Belize. Fourteen days of diving in crystal clear waters having adventures in the local countryside. I'd love to hear about any interesting or exciting adventures you've had. A little about me: I’m adventurous, ambitious, confident, and a challenge. I think we would have a lot of fun together even if you are going to be mopey the whole night after I kick your butt in ping pong.
We’re both on this site to meet someone great and I think it would be foolish if we didn't talk at least once. Send me a message back now and I'll take it from there.
If you’re using smartphone apps like Tinder, Bumble or Hinge, you’ll want to keep it much shorter and to the point.
“Sarah! Your profile made me realize it’s been way too long since I got to travel. Been anywhere exciting this year?”
Pro tip: Timing is important. Message women when they are most likely to be online. If you see she was last online at 8:30 PM, message her tomorrow at 8:20 PM. If you can't see the time stamp, use the chart to the left. It’ll help you to better understand when women are more likely to be online. You want to be at the very top of her inbox when she logs in.
Your Turn: Try the First Message Online Dating Formula That Works
The first message is only one part of the online dating equation. For more tips, take a look at our eHarmony guide, Match.com Guide, and Cougar Life guides. They’ll help you learn how to best set up your profiles.
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