Patrick King says that while the technology available to us has evolved quickly, our ability to use it effectively is severely lacking.
Remember that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan classic from 1998, You’ve Got Mail? That was online dating in its true infancy. For context, a little company called Google was also founded in 1998…
So what has changed in the world of online dating since? We’ve got fancier and more sleek looking apps and websites as opposed to clunky chatrooms. Mobile has taken the forefront of innovation. We’ve curiously become simultaneously more instant gratification-driven (Tinder) yet desire curation (from Coffee Meets Bagel, to Tawkify and Three Day Rule).
But sadly, in my experience as a dating and online dating coach, it would be a big mistake to say that we’ve really evolved much as to how good we are at online dating. Men especially, as we are the ones that generally have to stand out. We still don’t quite know how to portray ourselves in the best light, how to choose the best pictures of ourselves, or generally how to succeed.
One of the biggest elements of success in online dating is undoubtedly how to send the first message. I’m going to break down the 5 biggest mistakes men make and lay out a simple formula to help you increase your reply rates.
1. Not being aware of the male/female economics of online dating
You’ve probably heard various statistics about what a good reply rate on first messages is for online dating. For men, the figure hovers somewhere from 20% to 40%. That is, there is such a gender imbalance that if you’re sending out messages to 10 women and 4 reply, you’re doing far better than average in online dating. Yikes.
This simple realization will help in the following ways.
It will combat the discouragement you will feel after not getting a reply back from someone who seemed like such a great fit profile-wise. It will condition your mindset to accept rejection, yet not take it personally because an online dating rejection is based on nothing of your actual identity.
From the practical standpoint, it means that you shouldn’t focus on the shallow hooks and openings she has in her profile… because five other guys will have messaged her about them that day. For example, if she’s a redhead, has a unique username, has tattoos, mentions something distinctly masculine like video games or sports… these all will earn you a trip to the delete button, because if a woman is getting that many messages, you’re just blending in with the rest!
2. Writing a book instead of a message
How would you start a conversation in real life with a woman? Besides simply saying “Hi,” maybe you’d lean in and make a joke about the crazy woman in line, or remark that her shirt reminded you of a tropical bird. Any of these openers are 1-3 sentences… because that’s the way you start an actual conversation naturally.
So why do so many people write paragraphs upon paragraphs about themselves, the woman, and an analysis of every little thing their profiles have in common? It’s not uncommon to see messages complete with an introduction, thesis, and conclusion.
What if you did this in person? “Hey, I also like to rock climb and watch Game of Thrones. Oh, also, did you know that Game of Thrones was filmed in [location]? I see you also went to Thailand, I did too 3 years ago! How are you liking Boston? My sister is a nurse too, and she loves her job.”
Keep this in mind: your initial message to a woman is just to start a conversation as organically as the medium allows and simply GET A REPLY – not seduce her or enthrall her. Hopefully that takes the pressure off that first message for you.
3. Focusing on yourself
At the most basic level, it’s redundant to introduce and focus on yourself in a message. It should be in your profile.
Why else shouldn’t you do this?
It screams copy and paste.
You’re probably not making yourself sound very interesting.
You don’t give her a reason to reply.
You’re not grabbing her attention in the first 5 seconds, which is the time she will allot for your message.
4. Being a pen pal; not striking while the iron is hot
This harkens back to the economics of dating. Once you’ve got a woman’s attention, you have only a very short period of time in which you can hold it.
If you’ve made it to message 3-5 from her, congratulations. The date is yours to lose and that’s as good of a green light as you’re going to get from her. Ask her out.
Anything more, and she will be waiting for you… and likely get message fatigue while waiting, and get scooped up by any of the other 3-5 guys she will be talking to simultaneously.
So don’t be a shy pen pal and message forever – you’re on a site/app thats sole purpose is facilitating real life introductions. Lead with that expectation, because she will.
5. Messages that would never work in real life
Here’s a short list of things men do online that would never work in real life.
- Cut and pasting the same thing to everyone.
- Putting her on a pedestal.
- Too many compliments.
- Grammatical and punctuation mistakes.
- Being overly sexual and aggressive.
- Asking 10 questions in a row, up front.
- Badgering her with messages if there is no reply.
So why would these work online?
So how do you send an effective first message to a woman that will get replies? Here are 4 easy steps.
1. Actually read her profile. Yes, I know. Take note of a couple of hooks and openings that you can personally relate to.
2. Write one sentence/question about a personal experience with the hook.
3. Write one sentence/question about a personal experience with the same hook, or another.
4. Make sure you include a call to action or reason for her to reply.
Want an example?
If she mentions loving skiing, and you took skiing lessons last year:
I took skiing lessons last year but thought that moguls were meant to be ramps, not obstacles to ski around… that day didn’t end well. Have you made it out to Mammoth lately?
It’s that easy.
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See more of Patrick’s writing at PatrickKingConsulting.com
Photo courtesy of DepositPhotos.com