How to Send the Perfect Online Dating First Message

There’s always that exciting moment in online dating when you stumble upon someone awesome. Their pictures look great, they sound interesting, and they just might be that special man or woman you’ve been looking for.

And then it hits you. What am I supposed to say? How do I send the perfect first message that shows them I’m interested but not too over-the-top interested? What do I say to get them interested in me? And most important, how can I craft my first message to get them to actually respond?

These are all great questions that we intend to fully answer today! If you’re ready to learn how to write the perfect first message to an online dating match, let’s get into it.

Sending the Perfect First Dating Message in 5 Steps

When you’re staring at that blank message screen, the idea of writing a great first message may seem daunting. Thankfully, it’s not as hard as it may seem, especially when you know the steps to do it right. Here are those steps that you can use over and over again to start sending amazing and successful first messages.

Step 1 – Start with a greeting.

Good news! The first step is an easy one. Start with a greeting of some sort. We also recommend adding an exclamation point to the end of the greeting to set an excited, fun, and uplifting tone. You don’t have to, but that’s our recommendation.

Here are a few greetings you can use:

  • Hey!
  • Hi!
  • Hello!
  • Hey there!

There is absolutely no reason to overcomplicate the greeting. It’s really this simple!

Step 2 – Properly introduce yourself.

After the greeting, it’s time to introduce yourself. Yes, we know that they could click on your profile and see your name and all of that, but it’s weird not to introduce yourself. As with the last section, this one is super simple. All you have to do here is give them your name and if you want, you can say that it’s nice to meet them.

Here are some samples you can use. We’ll use the name Mark for our examples moving forward.

  • I’m Mark.
  • I’m Mark!
  • I’m Mark. It’s great to meet you!
  • I’m Mark. It’s great to e-meet you!

Step 3 – Mention why you’re reaching out to them, and share something about yourself.

The first two steps are probably going to be pretty similar or the same on any first message you send, and that’s okay. As we get into steps three and four, though, it’s time to really personalize the message for the person you’re reaching out to.

In this step, we want you to start by mentioning the reason you’re reaching out to them. No, we don’t mean mentioning that you’re looking for a date or looking to get to know them. What we mean is mentioning what about them caught your interest.

Here’s what we recommend for these:

  • Don’t ever have it be something about the way they look, their body, or their attractiveness.
  • Make sure it’s something specific that you saw in their profile. This shows that you actually took the time to read what they put up, which is a huge stack of brownie points.
  • Don’t go too specific. You don’t want to point out anything that they weren’t clearly trying to convey. For example, if you see something in the background of a photo that reminds you of something, don’t mention it. That could come across as creepy.

So, what does this look like in practice? Here are a few examples. Remember, do not copy these word for word. These HAVE to be specific to the person that you’re messaging.

You’ll also see that each of these has a second sentence where we share some commentary about the thing we mentioned. Ideally, you want to tie this to you somehow, so you can share something interesting about yourself. If you’re confused, that’s okay. These examples will help you see what we mean.

  • I saw that you have a few dogs in your pictures. I love dogs!
  • I noticed you’re a big fan of music. I actually play in a blues band a couple times a month!
  • I saw on your profile that you’re a nurse. My mom was actually an ICU nurse for 20 years!
  • I saw in your pictures that you like to hike. I love getting out to the mountains when I can.

Notice how each of the sentences about us wasn’t braggy, but tied into the thing we noticed about them. This helps to start building a connection and show some shared interests.

Step 4 – Give them an easy way to respond.

The final step of the first message writing process is to give the person an easy way to respond. If you just send a few statements without a clear way to respond, they might be less inclined to do so (or not know how to).

The best way to give them an opportunity to easily respond is to ask a question. Specifically, you’ll want to ask an open-ended question that doesn’t have a yes or no answer. When you ask a question, answering the question is the easy response! But if it’s a yes or no question, you might just get a yes or no back which really isn’t conducive to a great conversation and connection.

Now, if at all possible, we recommend connecting the question to the rest of the message. This is not 100% necessary, but it really helps if it’s possible.

Here are some examples continuing from our past examples. We’ll put the new parts we added in bold (but don’t bold them when you send your message).

  • I saw that you have a few dogs in your pictures. I love dogs! Do you ever take your dogs out on walks or hikes?
  • I noticed you’re a big fan of music. I actually play in a blues band a couple times a month! Have you been to any great concerts lately?
  • I saw on your profile that you’re a nurse. My mom was actually an ICU nurse for 20 years! What’s your favorite part about working in healthcare?
  • I saw in your pictures that you like to hike. I love getting out to the mountains when I can. Do you have a favorite hike in the area?

It’s that easy. Imagine you received these messages. You’d know exactly how to respond, right?

Step 5 – Be patient with the right level of expectations.

The last thing left for you to do is to wait and see if you get any responses. Now, what we want to do today is make sure that you have realistic expectations about how many responses you should expect to get.

First, on many dating apps, only premium members can respond to messages. And while it varies across platforms, usually around 10-15% of members are paid premium members. This means that if you send 10 messages, only 1-2 of those messages are going to someone who can actually respond! This is important to realize to set expectations. Some dating apps do allow free members to respond to messages from paid members but not all (or even most) of them.

Second, not everyone is going to be interested in you. This is okay and doesn’t say anything negative about you. Different folks, different strokes, right? And what we found from our research on if people respond to messages from people they’re not interested in, only 35.91% of people respond to messages when not interested.

So, if we did a little math. Let’s say that you send messages to 20 different people on a site that doesn’t allow free members to respond. That means at best maybe 3-4 people are even allowed to respond. If half of those people are interested (which is a generous number no matter how awesome you are), you’ll be getting at the very best 2-3 messages in return.

Remember, someone being interested in you has nothing to do with them “being in your league” but has everything to do with their likes, dislikes, and preferences.

Here’s the takeaway. Be patient, continue sending messages, and don’t get discouraged if you’re not getting a lot of responses. We’ll cover this a lot more in a later section of this guide on reasons they may not be responding.

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Online Dating First Message Examples

Sometimes learning how to send a great first message gets easier when you can see some real-world examples. Here are some samples for you to look at that follow the steps we just outlined. Notice that nothing is overcomplicated or has that “trying too hard” feeling. It follows the simple steps and will bring you some great success!

We’ve included some of the complete examples from our steps discussion earlier.

  • Hi! I’m Mark. It’s great to e-meet you. I saw in your pictures that you like to hike. I love getting out to the mountains when I can. Do you have a favorite hike in the area?
  • Hey! I’m Mark. I saw that you have a few dogs in your pictures. I love dogs! Do you ever take your dogs out on walks or hikes?
  • Hello! I’m Mark. It’s great to meet you! I noticed you’re a big fan of music. I actually play in a blues band a couple times a month! Have you been to any great concerts lately?

See how well these messages flow together? See how easy it is to respond? See how it’s not over-the-top with compliments and such? This is what makes up a great first message in online dating. Keep in mind you don’t have to follow this exactly, but you can! If you keep the general principles, you’ll do great.

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How to Make Your First Dating Messages Better

Want to make your first dating messages even better? We bet you do! Here are some important tips to keep in mind when crafting your messages.

  • Send all the steps as one message. – While we broke up the process into multiple steps, you shouldn’t break them up when you send them. Send everything as one message. For a lot of people, the second they see “hey” or “hi” as a message by itself, they’re turned off or will block the messages.
  • Don’t copy and paste your messages. – Seriously, please don’t do this. The more original and targeted you make your messages to the specific person you’re messaging, the better results you’re going to have.
  • Don’t go nuts with compliments. – Notice we didn’t say anywhere that you should be complementing the person in your first message? This is on purpose. Honestly, it kind of makes you look desperate even if the compliment is genuine. If you have to have something in there for you, stick to things like “That’s so cool!” or “I think it’s awesome you do that!” Anything more than that and you’re not going to get the results you think you are.
  • Don’t ever talk about their body or how they look. – As a continuation of the last tip, never talk about their body or how they look. This just lumps you in with the desperate schmoes who don’t know how to attract someone without showering them with compliments and adoration.
  • Be positive! – Yes, it’s just words, but you can still be positive! If you are in a negative mood, wait to send that message until you’re not. It will go a long way towards sending the conversation in the right direction.
  • It’s okay to use exclamation points and emojis. – This is true for girls and guys. If you want to use exclamation points and emojis, go for it! It shows playful fun, excitement, and positivity, which are all great things to have in your corner.
  • It doesn’t need to be very long. – While you might be tempted to send a long first message, don’t. First, it might come across as a little too forward. Second, if they aren’t interested, you’ll be investing a lot of time in someone that doesn’t need it from you. Keep it short to get the conversation going and then you can dive into longer messages as needed.
  • For the love of everything, don’t just send ‘hey’. – Honestly, the worst first message you can send is ‘hey’. Just don’t do it. Follow the advice we’re sharing here 🙂
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Things Not to Send in a First Message

Our guide to sending the best first message would not be complete without a list of the things you should NOT say. For the love of everything, please never include any of these things in your first messages…ever.

  • Don’t talk about your exes or any past relationships.
  • Don’t give out your number or any personally identifiable information.
  • Don’t attach photos, including appropriate and inappropriate ones.
  • Don’t send anything negative.
  • Don’t make assumptions about what they believe based solely on pictures or their profile.
  • Don’t use terms of endearment like sweety, baby, sugar, gorgeous, etc.
  • Don’t send anything sexual in nature.
  • Don’t curse.
  • Don’t point out typos or mistakes in their profile.
  • Don’t point out anything in the background of their photos.
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Reasons They Might Not Be Responding

One of the most important keys to success with online dating is having reasonable and realistic expectations. Not every message you send, no matter how amazing it is, will get a response. In fact, more often than not, many of your messages will go unanswered. We don’t share this to bum you out or be a total buzz kill; we just want you to approach things realistically.

To help make that a little easier, we wanted to share a few of the most common reasons that you might not be getting a response back on your perfect first message.

They’re busy and haven’t had a chance to respond.

You’re not searching for someone boring to date, right? If that’s true, then the people you’re looking for will have things going on in their normal life. They’ll have a job, family, friends, and hobbies. What this means is that they may not have had a chance to get back to their account in a while.

They’ve overloaded with other messages.

Some people get a ton of messages to their online dating account. If they have multiple accounts, it could be way more. Be patient. There’s a good chance that it might take them even a few weeks to get back to you!

They’re taking a break from online dating.

Sometimes people need a break from online dating. According to a recent data study we conducted, nearly 4 out of 5 people experienced emotional fatigue or burnout from online dating at some point. What this means is that people may be taking breaks from time to time (short or long) and they might not be updating that on their profile.

They’re not interested.

Just because you like someone doesn’t mean they’re going to be interested in you too. They may have crazy specific interests, maybe you remind them of an ex, or maybe they’re just not feeling it. Whatever the case, it’s okay. And as you probably saw from our earlier data research, only about 1 in 3 people send a message when they’re not interested.

They already met someone or are talking to someone else.

Online dating is a process that can move quickly or slowly. You also don’t know how long someone has been on the site when you send them that first message. There’s always the possibility that they’ve already met someone or are waiting to talk to new singles until after an upcoming date. There is nothing wrong with this, but it’s something to be aware of.

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If You Don’t Get a Response, Should You Send a Second Message?

So, what happens if you know you sent the perfect first message and you still don’t get a response? Well, that’s a great and complex question. To better answer that question, we’ve put together a fully dedicated guide on exactly how to know if and when you should send that second message. We highly recommend you check that out now!