There is actually a science to sending messages that get you a reply.
Why do some online dating messages get replies and others fall flat? Partly it has to do with how well you present yourself in your profile, but there is actually a science to sending messages that get better reply rates. Read on to learn the dos and don’ts of sending a first message on OkCupid.
Don’t be hella slangy, yo
Slang words and acronyms are great for text messages and G-chats with friends, but when it comes to pursuing your dream guy or gal, they have the opposite effect. Avoid words that make you seem illiterate, such as:
ur (and its equivalent, u r)
Make sure your message is actually readable and not full of errors and embarrassing spelling faux pas. If you struggle with spelling, run your message through Google Doc’s spell check (it’s under the Tools tab). This extra five seconds of effort might make all the difference.
Do NOT comment on their bodies
Compliments are nice, right? WRONG. Avoid remarking on the person’s physical appearance (that means no “gorgeous,” “sexy,” “pretty,” “hot,” etc.). And definitely don’t mention any body parts—not even innocuous ones like eyes.
Messages that talk about a person’s body (and men, I’m mostly looking at you here, though women are not completely innocent) come off as insincere, catcall-ish, and just kind of ick. Even if your intentions are well-meaning and this gal has the kind of collarbones that would launch a thousand boners, don’t say it. Besides, she knows you think she’s attractive. You wouldn’t be writing to her otherwise.
What should you focus on, then?
Compliment things she does or likes. That means her style, music choices, hobbies, excellent taste in obscure French philosophy—whatever you’ve gleaned from her profile that strikes you as interesting. If it’s something you have in common, even better.
This is not only an effective way to get to know someone, it also gives the other person fodder to respond. “U R pretty” does not.
According to OkTrends (OkCupid’s data blog), some of the most successful messages included words like “zombie,” “band,” “metal,” and “vegetarian.”
Does this mean you should write about zombies? No. It means those words were associated with the messagee’s interests and that’s part of why the person wrote back.
Actually read the person’s profile and pick out a few specific details to comment upon. If all of his pictures are of him windsurfing, and you write to him with a generic “I like sports!” it won’t be effective. The person you want to see naked took the time to describe himself in detail. The least you can do is read about his likes and interests for five minutes.
Don’t be afraid to get a little weird with your messages. A gal once wrote to me with a story about PT Cruisers and I found it weirdly endearing.
Stories (short ones, that is—don’t go on and on) are very effective ways to connect to other humans. Even if (especially if) they’re a little embarrassing and/or make you feel somewhat vulnerable.
Did your dream babe’s profile remind you of something funny that happened to you recently or when you were a kid? Share it.
Or cheat by recounting a brief story you often tell (one you know works/makes people laugh) and relate it to something about her profile. “Nice Halloween picture! One time I dressed as a slutty lobster for Halloween. It was great except I couldn’t hold any beverages with my claws and a friend dressed as ZomBeyonce had to feed me drinks all night.”
Or: “I see you traveled to Greece! My friend and I hitchhiked up Mount Olympus and got a ride from a Catholic priest who ended up offering us dinner, which we shared with some super sweet nuns.”
And so on. Any story that reveals something about you (bonus if it’s funny or weird) will make you stand out.
Have realistic expectations
Dudes: The average reply rate of men-to-women messages is 27%. Women are inundated with messages online, especially if they are attractive. Recognize that the odds are stacked against you somewhat and adjust your realities accordingly.
But! It’s not hopeless. If you invest the time to send someone a literate message tailored to their likes, desires, and interests, you should start seeing better results.
This originally appeared on Alternet. Republished here with permission.