Sophie Watson

The Ultimate Dos and Don'ts For Online Dating First Messages

In a revealing EliteSingles survey, our members were asked how they decide whether they want to go on a date with someone they've met online. 48% of UK singles surveyed said that the decision came down to one major factor: the quality of the messages exchanged.

There’s no doubt that when it comes to online dating, first message success counts – but how can you make the most of it? To help make it easier, EliteSingles explored the dos and don’ts of the first approach, discovering everything you need to write the perfect first message for guaranteed success. 

 man at train station texting

The 4 First Message Dos and Don’ts

The first interaction you have with someone online is vital. You have to grab their attention but you don't want to appear desperate or cheesy.  So it's best to break the ice in the right way. If you want to truly make an impression, you need to send an original online dating first message. Here’s how to get it right.

1. DON’T Copy-paste Your Messages

Fans of Ctrl + C, listen up. The harsh truth is that your message recipients can tell what is a genuine attempt to say hello and what is a copy-paste template sent out ad nauseam. To make the best impression when online dating, first messages thus need to be original: it’s about making the recipient feel special.

TRY THIS: You want to demonstrate you’ve read their profile so point out what it is you liked in the text. Share a passion for food or a love of literature? Let them know what you have in common and ask a few pertinent questions. 

2. DO Run a Spell Check Before You Hit Send

Msgs wit por spelin r relly hard 2 reed. Baffled? The same goes for your message recipient. This is why a hard-to-read, misspelled message can only be bad news. The truth is, legibility goes a long way – a quick and easy read lets your intended spend less time deciphering your message and more time daydreaming about your first date!

TRY THIS: The quickest way to make your message easier to read is to avoid drastically shortening words – write ‘are’ instead of ‘r’ for instance. A quick spell check doesn’t hurt either.

3. DON’T Be Too Forward in Your Messages

While a bit of profile flirting can be very endearing, there is an art to striking a balance between flattery and over-familiarity. A basic rule to follow is to avoid overtly physical compliments in your online dating first message as this can send the wrong signal – in fact, our members voted sexual innuendo as one of their biggest online dating no-nos!

TRY THIS: To avoid being taken the wrong way, you are best off chatting about your compatible personalities – you may truly mean your compliments but, until you know each other better, it is safer to keep such flattery to yourself.

emoji messages on phone

4. DO Stay on the Sunny Side!

Just like the most successful profiles are those that are upbeat, so are the most successful online messages. Remember that you are here to sell yourself; so, rather than illustrating why someone probably won’t message you back, think like a salesperson and show off your best side. Not only will this make a great first impression, but you’ll also be reminded of the fact that you yourself are wonderful, you are interesting and you are definitely worth dating.

TRY THIS: If positively selling yourself feels too much like boasting, try focusing on your recipient’s good qualities. Remember that listening to what someone has to say and reacting warmly can be hugely attractive and a great way to secure your next date!

Frequently Asked Chat Questions

Why didn't I get a reply?
Sometimes users won't reply to your attempts at chat. Try not to lose heart - it's very likely that this has nothing to do with you! Often, a user simply won't have seen your message yet: our members are mostly busy professionals and not all of them have time to check their profile daily. If it's been a few days, then it may be that their Premium Membership has not yet been approved (and thus they cannot view messages), or it may be that they have recently met someone wonderful on our site and are yet to cancel their account.  

Is there anything I shouldn't say during a chat session?
We are passionate about keeping our customers safe. That's why we have a Validation Team who manually approves all new profiles. However, it's always important to keep your wits about you when talking to a new person on the internet. Do not give out personal details such as your address to anyone you've only talked with online and, if a match asks you for bank account details or for money, help us keep you safe by stopping all contact and reporting them to our Customer Care team. For more advice, please see our Staying Safe guide

How long should I wait before asking to meet in person?
The aim of all this chatting is, of course, to find someone with whom you can go on an offline date - perhaps kick-starting a relationship with real, long-term potential. However, for your own peace of mind and sense of comfort, it's usually wise to wait a while before suggesting that you meet in person. How long should you wait? As discussed in our online dating tips article, researchers at the University of Florida recently hypothesised that the ideal period between the first message and the first meeting is 17 -23 days.

Ready to put your new first message skills to good use? Join EliteSingles today to meet your matches and get communicating! Just click here to register for free.