Contact: Do's and Don'ts for Replying to Personal Ads
By Tracy Brant at Dateable.com
may have a great personal ad... and a wonderful smiling
photo to go with your ad... but things can still fall
apart if you are sending out an awkward first message
in response to other people's ads. What can you do to
make that first message work for you?
in advance. This lets you think about what you want
to say about yourself and, more importantly, check your
spelling and grammar. Have a friend read and react to
your draft message.
Yes, this counts. It shows that you are serious about
finding dates and willing to pay attention to details.
Some people are just natural bad spellers, but it can
make you look less smart or less educated than you really
are. Most websites do not offer spellchecking of profiles.
We recommend writing a general template of a first message,
but you have to personalize it for each person you contact.
Mention something from their profile, ask a question
that refers to something they wrote, or describe how
you would be a good match for them. Mention what attracted
your attention to their ad. No one wants to think they
just received a form letter.
more than one line. "Liked your profile... want to chat?"
This may be the most commonly-sent message on a dating
website... and the most ignored. You need to say something
else. Set yourself apart and say something interesting
to get a reply.
humor. If someone with a great personal ad is receiving
lots of replies... what will make yours stand out? A
funny line might help. But if you have noticed that
people do not respond well to your brand of humor...
save your jokes for later.
track of whom you've contacted. Don't write a series
of letters to someone who has not responded... you'll
look desperate or like a stalker.
demand personal info immediately. Certainly not if you
have failed to offered any details yourself. Go for
a balance between talking about yourself and asking
open with your last failed relationship. Sure, you have
a dating history. But talking about "game players, liars,
and cheats" makes you sound a little bitter. Don't sound
like you are obsessed with past partners... or that
you think everyone will hurt you.
open with sex. "Hi. You look sexy." Unless the person's
ad specifically says they only want a casual sexual
relationship, it can easily sound vulgar and rude. Women,
in particular, typically delete those messages. When
men get letters like that, they often expect a link
to a porn site to follow. Even on a website that focuses
on "adult activities," you need to do more than describe
your body or fantasies.
write a novel. Sending out your life story as a first
contact is going to look odd. You need to write enough
to sound like you have a life, not a book you'd like
open with "I hate online dating." It is amazing how
many people open a note with a line that condemns online
dating sites and the people that use them. You are talking
to someone that uses a dating website! Do you really
want to immediately imply that they are desperate, dumb,
ask for a phone number, address, or last name before
you have even gotten a reply from someone. You may be
mistaken for a serial killer or a telemarketer. Go slowly
in asking for that sort of information; you don't want
to scare off prospective dates.
Dateable.com LLC 2002
About the author: Tracy Brant is a freelance writer
and an editor at Dateable.com.