So recently I found myself sitting on my ass in front of my computer on a Friday night, wondering what there was to do. You see, the latest season of Survivor hadn’t started yet, so my Friday nights were pretty much wide open for adventure. Except, having just gotten out of a long relationship, and realising that most of my girlfriends now had husbands and babies to contend with, I was pretty much left very alone to my own devices.
I’m not usually the girl without a life. And if you leave me alone with myself, I’m usually thankful for some peace and quiet, a little ‘me’ time, where I can do anything from paint my nails to write a Taylor Swift-esque breakup song. But sometimes all you want is to chill out somewhere with someone with whom you can enjoy some good conversation.
So what’s the modern girl to do? Set up an online profile of course. Upload a couple of cute camwh*** pics, fill in an essay or two about my personality, and then, well, wait. Me being the forward kind of girl, I mostly just click around everywhere and randomly send messages to people whose pictures or profiles catch my eye. But, just like with some other things in life, if you give, you should also expect to receive.
And receive I do. According to the stats on one dating site, I get an average of about 150 views a week, out of which maybe 30 to 50 actually translate into a message in my inbox. That’s quite a lot of emails to read! You’d think, wow, so many guys are interested; she must be spoilt for choice!
Hold it right there, buster. Photos and personality notwithstanding, let’s just consider why half of these messages will get chucked by me in an instant – sometimes with me not even bothering to open and read the full email itself. Here’s 10 tips on writing that first message that you could use:
1) Lose the lame pickup lines.
“Can you take me to the bakery? Cos I want a cutiepie like you.” is not a smart, witty introduction. Neither is the one about being late because you were busy slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress, before asking if I’m the princess.
2) Put in some effort.
Saying “Hi, wanna chat?” might have last worked only when you were last chatting on mIRC/ICQ. In that same vein, telling me you’re 27/M/Singaporean is like telling me you have 10 fingers and 10 toes. Tell me something I don’t know.
3) Be somebody.
If you’re sending me an email, there’s a chance another twenty people are too. How do you stand out from the bunch? First of all, don’t start with “Just a simple/normal/boring guy…” Preferably, also don’t admit to living in your office… or gym. In fact, why not try getting a life first, before coming back to online dating? Nobody wants to be with the guy who doesn’t ever do anything or go anywhere.
4) Don’t Ctrl C + Ctrl V please.
I know, there’s so many fish in the sea, if only you could just set up a net to catch a whole haul instead of dangling baits one at a time, waiting for one to hook. “Hey, I know, let’s just write a very deep, insightful, sincere message that introduces myself in a good light, and compliments her looks and personality, and that drives home the message that I’m interested in getting to know her.” And then because it took so much effort to actually write a message like that, wow, it’s too good not to be shared with the next girl, and the next, and the next… Yea, and what do we receive? A “copy-paste” message. So much for sincerity, really. This is the equivalent of forwarding us some mass-send email without even bothering enough to remove the Fwd: in the subject header or inserting “Dear (our name)” but leaving it in the default Microsoft Outlook blue in contrast to the rest of the email in black.
5) Don’t come off shallow.
Yes, pictures are all we can go by to tell if a person is butt ugly or pleasant-looking enough to actually sit across from at a coffee joint. But don’t make it sound like that’s all you noticed. “Hi I think you’re gorgeous” might work for some girls, I’m sure. Me, not so. First of all it sounds insincere; secondly if you’re gonna make it just all about looks, you better have a gorgeous picture when I click on your profile too. If you really want to compliment a girl, “Hi I love how beautiful/radiant/brilliant your smile is” might work better.
6) Don’t come off haughty.
I know, you’re probably a great catch. But boasting about your job, or car – or abs! – doesn’t make you appealing. ‘Nuff said.
7) Keep it PG – and in your pants.
I’m not sure if I should be impressed that in this fast-paced society, there are guys who are so efficient, they go straight to the point. Beyond asking whether I’d like to “have some fun”, I do get messages asking me if I’ll wear my heels in bed, or how I’d like to be tied up. And then there are those who tell me my pictures are the source of their… DIY. Like, ew. Am I supposed to be flattered?? (And no, my pictures are all very PG thank you very much!)
8) Save the debate.
My online profile isn’t full of motions waiting for you to oppose. Yes, I suppos e I could enjoy discussing the merits of say, green tea, on any given Sunday. But my likes and dislikes and preferences are not up for discussion on a line-by-line basis. They are also not statements to which you have to respond with “Strongly agree/disagree”, “Somewhat agree/disagree”, or “Neutral”. So please refrain from sending me a thesis because you’re not going to get a good grade for that!
9) Don’t be rude.
I’m not sure if the guys that do this think they are being smart, but they tend to form opinions from my profile and then strongly feel that they need to share those opinions with me. It runs the gamut of guys telling me I am idealistic, to those who question if my singlehood is due to my having unrealistic expectations of the world around me. Here’s a tip, not just for online dating, but all relationships and friendships in general: Don’t judge. If you can’t accept it, that is the direction in which you should, well, you know.
10) Just be.
After all those “Don’ts”, here’s one you really need to follow. Just be. Be yourself, be funny, be confident, be interested, be sincere. Be all of those things. Just type what you feel. If reading her profile made you chuckle, say so, mention which parts. If you were impressed with something she said, tell her so. If you think you share something in common, ask about it, share what you know. As I write this paragraph, it sounds so common sense, and yet… here we are, writing about it, because it’s important for you to know it!
And don’t forget to leave a call-to-action. Ok you’ve complimented her, you’ve pointed out the ways you guys might work great together, then what? What do you want? Do you want her to drop you a line? Grab a coffee together some time? Put it out there. Yeah, you might get rejected. Pretty big chance you’ll still get ignored anyways. But the girl that finally picks up on your heartfelt sincerity? My guess is she’s the one you’ll want to date. Good luck!