Culture & Entertainment

Online dating: 3 dos and don'ts when writing messages

By: Simone Castello
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Online dating: 3 dos and don'ts when writing messages

By: Simone Castello
So you've taken the plunge and you've joined the world of online dating. Good for you! Online dating websites are a great playground and provide fantastic opportunities to meet new people. Perhaps you'll go on to date and marry someone you meet online, or perhaps you might just remain friends. Regardless, if you've create a profile, added a photo and have started browsing through potential mates and matches, you're in for one interesting ride. Most online dating websites offer members the opportunity to message other people on the site through an internal e-mail or instant messaging system. While you may be apprehensive to use it at first -- relying solely on pokes, winks, nudges and favourites to get the ball rolling -- writing an actual message to the person you're interested in is the best way to move forward. Sure, there's the possibility that they may not reply back, but you can't say that you didn't try. You're on the site to try and meet someone, aren't you? So you must try. Just remember to keep a few rules in mind before you start sending messages. 1. Don't: Just say "Hi." Or "Hello." Or "How are you?" Or "'Sup?" Or "Hey sexy!" Or anything along those lines and leave it at just that. If you're planning on sending a message, you should try to include a body of text in addition to your greeting. And if you're thinking about writing one message and sending it to multiple recipients, think again. You may feel you're being stealthy, but it's pretty obvious, and it makes you no better than a spammer. Do: Say "Hi!" and tell the person why you're reaching out to them. Perhaps it's something you saw in their profile or something about their photo that appealed to you. Or maybe you have mutual interests. Perhaps you both have an admiration for a particular C-list actor. The possibilities are endless to break the ice when you're take the time to read the person's profile. There's nothing more appealing than someone who has taken the time to read the menu before placing an order. Wouldn't you like it if someone actually referenced something you wrote in a message to you? I know I would. As someone who has tried online dating, I can tell you with complete confidence that I never replied back to any message that was shorter than 20 words. In fact, one dating website even lets you filter out messages that are shorter than a certain amount. So I added the filter and set a limit. One person came across this filter after just writing, "Yo! Sup?" and proceeded to fill the rest of the message with "glsjgslkjglsdjkg sljg" until he hit the limit to get past the filter. I'll let you figure out if I ever replied back to that person. 2. Don't: Write an essay about a hundred things at once. Especially when it's your first contact. Do: Pick one thing from their profile that compelled you to write and focus on that. Maybe you both travelled to a similar country listed on your profiles. Point that out. Something like, "Hi! I noticed we've both been to South Africa. What were you doing there? I was there in 2010 and just loved the view from Table Mountain. Did you do anything fun when you were there?" This is good. You've pointed out a commonality in both your profiles (this shows you've taken the time to read theirs). You've also thrown in a couple of questions, which means you're making an effort to engage them (bait, perhaps). If they reply back, you simply take it from there. 3. Don't: Hound someone who hasn't reply back. Yes, it's courteous to respond back to messages, even if the person isn't interested, but in most cases, people stick to the rule: If I don't reply  back, perhaps they'll know I'm not interested. Yes, it's passive, but so it goes. Do: Message as many people as you can. You just never know what will happen. If you feel you and a particular person might hit it off, don't let your inner voice talk you out of it -- just do it! You've got nothing to lose. If you don't hear back from them, so what? At least you tried. We all know dating isn't easy, and it certainly gets tougher the older we get. However, I truly believe in the idea that you'll never know unless you try. The possibilities are endless when you keep an open mind and try to stay positive. Happy dating! And if you're already dating someone, be sure to check out our guide to Valentine's Day. From gift inspiration to recipes for two, there's something there for everyone. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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Online dating: 3 dos and don'ts when writing messages

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