I had to come up with a couple writing samples to apply for a copywriting job that I’m pretty sure is direct marketing penis pills to guys over the Internet. One of the prompts was to write a dating tip for men. This is what I submitted:
There she is: the woman of your dreams. A beautiful smile, awesome body, great sense of humor—and that’s all just from one profile picture. Welcome to online dating, or as many of us living in 2013 call it: dating.
Yet this new medium for dating comes with new rules for flirting as well. There’s more strategy to it than throwing back two shots of tequila, sidling next to a woman and making up some story about a catfight outside the bar.
For men new to online dating, it’s easy for to be confused and start treating your messages like an email to your buddies or—worse—your co-workers. Here are some quick beginner’s dos and don’ts for guys messaging women on dating sites:
DO send messages to many, many women. Online dating for men looking for women is a numbers game. Women who actively use online dating sites are inundated with messages daily. And if she’s hot? Take that times ten. Yes, you want your message to be that amazing one that stands out above all the others. But if it doesn’t, then you want to have 8-10 more chances. If she’s good enough to consider, she’s good enough to message. In fact—
DON’T add women to your “Favorites.” Just message them! Favoriting your choices is an easy way to build up a backlog of women that you will never contact. Just take the plunge. Now what should you say?
DO be funny. If your message makes her laugh (intentionally, not at you), then you’ve won.
DO say something relevant to her profile. Find a common interest, a funny picture, a place she’s been that you’d love to visit, anything that stands out to you and ask her about it. At the very least, prove to her that you did more than look at her pictures and decide to message her because she’s hot. In fact—
DON’T tell her she’s hot. She knows you think she’s hot. You messaged her. Give her a specific compliment. Tell her you love her sense of fashion. Tell her that her hair reminds you of the girl from Tangled. Tell her you want to wash your shirts on her rock-hard abs. Just don’t tell her, “Wow, you are so beautiful!!!”
DO ask a question in every message. Do you expect her to analyze what you just said and come up with questions for you? She’s not your therapist. Give her something to which to reply. And don’t make your question a Yes/No one. You’re likely to get back just a “Yes” or a “No.”
DON’T use a template. Women who’ve been online dating for a while can tell right away when a guy is sending her the same message that he’s sent dozens of other women. When thinking about what works online, it sometimes helps to imagine it as if you were approaching this woman at a bar. If she knows you’re going down the bar using the same opening line on every woman, she’ll know there’s no special reason you approached her other than that she happened to be there. Come up with something original.
DON’T tell her your life story in your first message. Going back to the bar analogy, would you ever go up to a woman and prattle off all the places you lived as a child, your college highlights, your career arc and every city to which you’ve ever traveled without letting her get a word in? She would walk away in under two minutes, and her online counterpart wouldn’t make it through your second paragraph. In fact, unless your name is David Sedaris—and I know it’s not because he’s not cruising for chicks, don’t write anything long enough to qualify as an essay.
DON’T just say “Hi.” This is the opposite problem, and it is something that will work at a bar but won’t work as well online. Hi. How are you? What’s up? You have an entire profile of information and plenty of time to think up of something interesting to say, and all you came up with was “Hi?” Even if you’re on an app like Tinder with just photos and virtually no information, you can and should do better. “Hi” is for guys who look like Ryan Gosling holding an adorable puppy. Do you look like Ryan Gosling holding an adorable puppy? Then try harder.
DO sell yourself. Even if she read all 150 of your favorite movies, books and bands that you listed on your profile (spoiler alert: she didn’t), match up your interests to hers. Don’t just tell her why you find her interesting. Explain why she’d find you interesting. This is a pitch. Assume she hears dozens per day. Make it easy for her to have a reason to reply to yours.
DO have substance in your messages, but keep them brief initially. Give her a chance to get to know and like you, and then allow your messages to get longer. Hopefully in person over drinks. However—
DON’T ask her out in your first message. Yes, this will totally work sometimes, but you have a much better chance if you give yourselves a chance to build a rapport first. But as soon as you have a good rapport—
DO ask her out. That’s the point isn’t it? Unless you’re looking for a penpal.
Most importantly, though –
DON’T send her a picture of your penis. Ever. EVER.