4 essential tips to get your online dating messages read

Man working intently on a laptop

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High-volume first dater “CTS” gave us a great write up of the four things you absolutely must do to get your opening message on an online dating site read. It’s advice tailored to men, but the basic tenet applies to women, too: basically, don’t be a jerk.

Personalize it.

Copying-and-pasting an introduction to dozens of women may make you feel like you’re optimizing your time, but a generic message is much more likely to be immediately deleted by the recipient. However, if you take the time to reference one or two elements of someone’s profile – in a complimentary way, of course – your chances of getting a response increase dramatically.

It’s not an autobiography.

You wouldn’t spend the majority of a first date soliloquizing about yourself, so don’t monopolize an introductory message with your life story. Give enough interesting personal details to spark your recipient’s interest in your profile.

No dirty laundry.

Don’t talk about previous relationships, especially in a negative light. If your first impression is slagging off your ex, you’ll come off bitter and obsessed. No one wants to think that the next person you’ll be savaging in an email is them.

Write like a respectful adult.

Don’t call a woman “honey” or “babe” in your first message. It’s too familiar and make it seem like you’re just copying and pasting. Textspeak like “lol” and its ilk sounds like you don’t care enough to write in complete sentences – or that you’re a kid!

What’s the worst first message you’ve gotten on an online dating site? Mine involved speculation on the chemical composition of my breasts.


When asking for space is asking for trouble

Couple in conflict

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“I need space.” Those three little words that usually signify an imminent breakup. But sometimes it’s just one partner needing more alone time than the other.

A Wall Street Journal article about recent research into attachment styles and communication says that people who are more aloof tend to seek out those who are more warm and inviting – leading to a mismatch between how much time each partner wants to spend with the other. One would think we could use personality tests or games when we’re looking for dates, to find people who are more compatible.

Here are some tips for when one partner wants more “me time” than the other:

  • Be specific. Say, ‘I need the afternoon to myself.’ Simply saying ‘I need space’ sends confusing signals.
  • Explain why more space makes you happy, so your partner knows it’s not about him or her.
  • Enjoy the space you take. Guilt defeats the purpose, says Barbara F. Okun, counseling psychology professor at Northeastern University.
  • No secrets. Tell your spouse what you did and with whom when you were away.
  • Don’t get carried away. Too much space weakens your connection.
  • Don’t forget to schedule couple time and family time, too.
 Naturally, the comments turned into a fetid sexist swamp, but do you think men need more time alone than women?

Would you pay a company to plan your date?

Date night

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A Portland blogger was recently approached by My Mystery Date, a company that will plan a date for you and your partner for a flat fee. While Chris seemed to like it and have fun, I wonder if he’d feel differently if he actually had to pay for it?


  • Leave your wallet in your pocket.
  • No date-planning pressure.
  • Discover new restaurants and activities.


  • You may get stuck doing something you’re not into.
  • If you or your partner are a control freak, you will probably implode.

So would you pre-pay for a date that someone else plans for you?

Why asking guys out is awesome

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While there are lots of reasons for women to ask men out more often, the one I’ve been thinking about most often lately is that it can help us learn to cope with rejection.

I have a theory that one of the reasons why women don’t ask for what we want – whether it’s a promotion, a discount, a favor, or a loan – is that we’re more likely than men to be paralyzed by the risk of rejection. Boys grow up asking girls out – and most of them get rejected, at least some of the time. By learning in middle and high school that a rejection isn’t the end of the world, boys see that they can just brush it off and move on. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained - TechStars NYC Demo Day

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Girls, however, have conventionally been acculturated NOT to ask, whether it’s for a boy to kiss them or for seconds at dinner. We’re trained to wait for someone to offer. The problem is that no one’s going to offer you what you really deserve. You need to ask for it.

So here’s my proposal – let’s all start asking men out on dates more often. Let’s do it earlier, when we’re younger. Let’s do it, and learn what it feels like to be told “no”. Let’s learn that rejection is really no big deal. And then let’s teach girls that it’s okay to ask for what they want. Because they deserve it.

Are you an “Ivy League” dater?

Two graduates kissing

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When two former Goldman Sachs investment bankers started a dating service for Harvard-educated professionals, it was considered a way to hook up with sugar daddies.

But after a pivot, HarvardDate has become IvyDate, and there’s no longer a requirement to have an expensive degree hanging on your wall in order to join:

Anyone can register for free on the site, no matter if or where they went to school. The catch is that the IvyDate team runs users through an admissions process, creating a community that’s “as selective as the Ivy League, without being limited to the Ivy League,” as Meric states.


So what kinds of qualities are IvyDaters looking for? Intellectual curiosity, love of learning, drive and determination, according to their FAQ.

While you can’t browse profiles, the IvyDate staff will send you five “hand selected” matches a week. It’s free to sign up, respond to messages, and send “Smiles”, but if you want to send substantive messages to any of your matches, you’ll have to pony up to the tune of $30 to $50 per month, depending on the length of your subscription.

IvyDate is focusing on New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles by holding events in these cities for their 30,000 members.

Would you pay for a dating site where you didn’t get to see who’s available beforehand? And would you limit yourself to only the ambitious types that IvyDate is seeking to aggregate?

Is it REALLY so hard to pay attention to tone?

I know this is meant to be satire, but it brings up something serious – how hard it can be to learn the nuances of communicating with your partner.

While it should always be the responsibility of the speaker to make her – or his – feelings known, sometimes it’s hard to be perfectly frank and ask your boyfriend, say, to stay home. It makes me feel insecure and demanding to have to ask, and it’s disappointing to think that the person you’re with doesn’t want to spend time with you.

Do you wish you had a translator to understand what your partner wants?

Another dating site password leak…

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This time from eHarmony, it appears:

“After investigating reports of compromised passwords, we have found that a small fraction of our user base has been affected,” eHarmony said in a blog post. “We are continuing to investigate but would like to provide the following actions we are taking to protect our members.”

Via PCMag.com. Apparently there were 1.5 million passwords leaked.

Between the MilitarySingles password leak, and the LinkedIn leak that occurred simultaneous with this one, are you taking more care with your passwords? I’ve started using a trick I learned on Lifehacker to create unique passwords for every site using a combination of letters from the name of that site – I’d tell you more, but then I’d have to change all my passwords again!

How many strikes until you’re done with online dating?

Woman at bat

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In the Los Angeles Times, Nicole Christopher writes that after three (admittedly awful) online dating experiences, she’s sworn it off:

He stood me up a second time but called six hours later. That prompted me to start digging. I found out that Leigh didn’t live where he said he did. He wasn’t technically divorced, and “Leigh” was one of several names he used. I didn’t know who I was dating. I was done.

What would have to happen to completely turn you off of online dating?

5 easy ways to make my knees snap shut on a date

Bored woman

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Treat the waiter like crap. Societies are judged based on how we treat our least fortunate members, and I’m going to judge you based on how you treat the woman who refills your water glass. Say please and thank you, make eye contact, and tip. Otherwise, I’m going to think you’re a narcissistic, entitled shitheel.

Do all the talking. While I do want to learn more about you, make an effort to pick up on the signs. If I’m glazing over after the eighth straight minute of your soliloquy about a specific kind of diesel engine, change the subject and ask me what I drive. I promise I’ll do the same if you start nodding off while I’m talking about my dog.

Pay more attention to your phone than me. Chances are I shaved my legs and put on some very nice perfume for you. Put away your phone before you’re using it as a suppository.

Brag. So you have a vacation home and a boat and are accustomed to dating supermodels? How nice. All you’re really telling me is that you’re a superficial assclown whose priorities I don’t share, and that you’re probably lying.

Be picky. If there’s only one steakhouse you’ll go to, or only one part of town you’ll meet in, this tells me you’re inflexible, and possibly a bit of a snob. In any event, it’s high maintenance and not something I want to deal with on a first date. I once went out on an OKCupid date with a guy who didn’t like garlic, or onions, or dairy, or…

So those are my five date killers – what are yours? I’m curious how much overlap there is for men and women.

Shocking user-created content on dating sites!

Laptop photoshopped into a painting

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Sites like OKCupid let potential daters upload their own questions for themselves and others to answer. But what happens when the questions reveal more than the answers? Teresa Johnson at The Horn shares some doozies:

“No means NO!”

To me, this isn’t a question up for discussion. And the only user response I consider acceptable is “Always. Period.” But there are three other possible responses that chill me to the bone:

-“Mostly, but occasionally it’s really a Yes in disguise.”

-“A No is just a Yes that needs a little convincing!”

-And “Never, they all want me. They just don’t know it.”

I would hope that the site she’s referring to allows her to see which user uploaded this question, so she can steer FAR clear of him – and suggest other women do the same.

Have you ever seen something on a dating site that made you say “oh HELL no”? Share it with the crowd!

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