When many people think of online dating, they think of all the World of Warcraft addicts and goth kids from high school getting together online trying to get dates.
I actually felt the same way about it until I undertook a research project a year and a half ago that led me to join 18 different dating sites, going on a date with a girl from each one.
This means you have a lot of opportunities to shine, but also a whole lot of opportunities to foul up big time.
Starting out, know what image you are trying to get across and what story you want to tell.
Typing is fairly easy for people of our generation, and it doesn’t take much extra effort to look for typos (most modern browsers will underline incorrectly-spelled words automatically, and offer to change it to the correct spelling if you right-click the word), make sure that your message makes sense and change the ‘4’s to ‘for’s, ‘2’s to ‘too’s, etc. Who in their right mind honestly believes that this porno-inspired pick-up line will work?
This isn’t l33tspeak folks, and it’s definitely not texting in high school, either (unless you’re still in high school, in which case you should be making yourself stand apart by writing in proper English, anyway! The biggest complaint that I’ve heard from women who have been members of online dating sites is that they’ll gets dozens of messages per day that will say things like ‘Damn gurl, you so fine. I can only imagine that the sender is treating online dating as a numbers game and that somewhere along the way he’ll come across someone just tasteless (or stupid) enough to fall for his ridiculous come on.
When I’m stuck for the right words, for example, I’ll write in list-format (something I’m fond of doing in any writing situation, in fact). ’, point 2 would be a one-line introduction of yourself, including your name. The truth is, you’ll likely end up going on a lot of dates before you find someone who you’d want to take things to the next level with (if that is, indeed, what you are looking to do eventually).
Have a friend check it out, if you’re feeling extra brave.
Ask them if it represents you well, and if not, what they think you should be emphasizing more.
Hopefully I don’t have to go any further with why this is the wrong approach because, damn, it’s REALLY the wrong approach. This is a rule that applies to interacting in person as well, but it’s especially important in the online dating scene because it can be hard to get people to reply to you (whether due to the massive amounts of mail they get everyday or simply because they don’t know how to respond to your list introduction [see Tip 6]).
The far better tactic is to take it slow, like you would meeting someone in real life (generally, at least..maybe the person above is used to doing the same thing in person? Introduce yourself in a way that is clear enough that the other person isn’t freaked out or caught off guard, but intriguing enough that they want to write you back, find out more, and strike up a conversation. Asking a few intelligent, well thought out questions, however, gives them a reason to respond, while at the same time showing something about yourself (‘if he knows enough to ask about that, he must be an MGMT fan, too! Asking good questions can help you steer the conversation while at the same time allowing you to be an active listener; that is, you are totally focused on what the other person is saying, and therefore finding out exactly what you want to know about them (which is one of the benefits of online dating…if you find out they are a Neo-Nazi or infrequent bather or something like that, you can ease your way out of the conversation by not asking any more questions).