So I was talking to a friend about my experiences with online dating, and strangely enough, I found myself saying, "I actually do want to learn how to write that first message to someone you meet online. It's definitely an art form, and as a writer, I'm just interested in knowing how to do it."
Now, I never consciously thought of writing an introductory message on an online dating site as an art form, but here's why it is:
*Unlike a business introduction, it MUST be short. Anything more than 3 sentences is a monologue that makes you come off as a self-important bore
*It must be breezy but not stupid. So less formal than an Jane Austen letter, but with the appropriate use of capital letters, i.e., do not write "i'm really impressed w/ ur profile"
*It must not be lame or stalker-like. And while this is relatively easy for me to avoid in real-life, it's actually quite hard online. Mainly because a person's profile can give you a lot of clues and info about a person, but it's still stalker-like to open cold with what you read about them. And personally, I try not to be witty in e-mails to people I've never met--if they don't know the cadence of my voice, there's a high chance they'll misinterpret what I'm saying.
Perhaps you'd like some examples of failed approaches I've received:
TOO FORMAL AND TOO INFORMAL:
"sorry for bothering you. I am new to this so wanted to give it a try. I came across your profile so thought to message you.
I am tall white good looking from doctor from Pakistan currently here for my interviews in different hospitals. I was bored so thought to explore few things here. If you are interested kindly reply"
Also, I personally think that calling yourself white when you're from Pakistan is a possible sign of some serious self-hate.
TOO LONG AND TOO FLIPPANT:
"...think you're absolutely adorable. And I'd like to
get to know you better.
Who am I?
Hmm....I was born in England, have lived in
Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Los Angeles and now
NYC. I work in NYC as well.
After discovering the cure for cancer, I climbed Mt.
Everest (without supplemental oxygen), studied with
the Dalai Lama, and dated (briefly) Cindy Crawford.
My career as a Yankees third baseman was going
nowhere, and rather than accept the grant from the
Salk Institute, I went to work at a television
network in New York.
Please write back because it would put a smile on my face."
"how are you? so, did you find anyone interesting here yet? "
"So how is this whole okcupid thing working out for you?"
It's a bit like asking a girl at a bar, "So how do you like the single's scene?" Best not bring attention to the elephant in the room just yet. Maybe after 2 dates.
If any of these have made you gringe, then I need your help! Clearly, there's a need for someone to market-test how to effectively approach guys online. Send me your opening lines, and I'll test the top 3 on some of the hottest guys on the site to see what kind of a response they get overall.
Just add your best opening lines to the comments box below.