in: Dating & Relationships

The Fool-Proof First Message Formula for Online Dating Success

Krystal Baugher

Krystal Baugher explains the “three sentence rule” for sending a first message on a dating site. “Hey, girl. You’re hot. Let’s bang.” is not in compliance.


I’ve been doing the whole online dating thing on and off for years now and, let me just say, I’ve had the entire range of good, bad, and ugly messages arrive in my inbox. There was a time I even created a blog to showcase some of the best of the worst because I felt the world should share in the horror with me.

This past week alone I’ve gotten enough poorly-executed messages to make me want to curl up in a ball of being-alone forever.

For example:

  • “Hey.”
  • “Hey sexy.”
  • “Hey you.”
  • “sexxy”
  • “hhiiiii”
  • “I’m not a creep just looking for sex. I’m a nice guy, looking for genuine connection.”
  • “Can I just be honest here, why beat around the bush…I’d love to tear your clothes off ;)”
  • “Feeling naughty?”
  • “I don’t want to sound perv, but there is really no other way to say this. If you’re into it, I have a suite at the Mon Chalet if you wanna come see what’s going on.”

I try not to lose hope that there can be some genuine connections made through meeting someone on of the internet. Plenty of people seem to prove that every day. I’ve even made several lasting friends from some of my experiences.

The thing is, when it comes to sending messages many people freak out.

They want to say something, but they don’t know what. It’s similar to meeting someone in real life except (in my opinion) it’s actually an improved method of initiation due to the fact that most online dating sites give you profiles to work with. Thus, making an introduction easier and far-less intimidating. Plus, if rejection happens, it’s not as personal or awkward (usually).

Here’s the deal with the messaging thing: a lot of people have their own theories on how it works, what works best, etc. Some people think it’s cool to copy and paste an identical message to hundreds of other people, like bait in a lake full of carp. Some think just saying “hi” is enough. Others try the online equivalent of a catcall. Others try “negging.” Some send ridiculously long messages about their background and their overall philosophy and what they’re currently doing with their lives.

I’d like to say there’s no right or wrong way to message someone—everyone has something that works for them—but there is definitely a better way.

Too short and they go in the pile of “not worthy,” too long and they go into the pile of “not reading that novel!”

Here are three tips to help you get more responses:

1. Figure Yourself Out

Before even bothering another human being with the idea of spending time with you, it’s important to know what you’re looking for and to be honest with yourself about that. If you’re looking for an authentic committed relationship, something a bit more fleeting, someone to go out on adventures with, or someone to come over at night for Netflix binges, know your own wants and desires.

 2. The Pictures Are Nice, but…

The words in a person’s profile give you what you need to succeed. It seems crazy, I know, but take the one or two minutes it takes to actually read the profile. This will help spark an idea about where to take the message.

Bonus: You’ll find out if you truly want to message this person or if they’re just drawing you in with their physical appearance.

3. The Three Sentence Rule

Three sentences are all you need to write in a first message—this establishes your interest and initiates conversation.

The format is simple:

1. Greet

2. Compliment on a general interest (not physical appearance)

3. Ask a question

Here are two examples:

Oh hey there! I can totally get down waxing all philosophical like while watching Arrested Development and drinking mugs full of coffee. Did you see that Jeffrey Tambor has a new series? (I think it’s on Amazon Prime so who knows if I’ll ever see it).

Hope you have a great weekend.

 -K

Or…

Oh hello….NPR, Law, Romantic Cynicism, Glasses? Sold. I’ve been on an FKA Twigs kick recently. Are you into her at all?

 -K

Though the message is short, it creates a commonality and allows for a dialogue to easily start. Of course, finding your own tone and voice will definitely help too.

Good luck out there, and may the words be with you!

About the Author:

Krystal Baugher Krystal Baugher

Krystal Baugherlives in Denver, Colorado. She is the founder of Go Eat a Carrot, a website dedicated to exploring the worlds of pleasure and politics. Find her on Instagram to stay up to date with all of her shenanigans.

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