There’s nothing quite like a good icebreaker when it comes to online dating, is there?
A perfect mix of words that engages with a potential match – something that sparks their interest. Something that they can’t help but respond to.
That’s what many think the key to online dating is – nail your opener, and you’re golden. But whilst an opener is in reality just another cog in the engine, learning to open well can make a big difference in the response rate to your first messages.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few guidelines that I like to adhere to when writing openers.
Don’t Use Template Openers
I know it’s tempting, and I know that you feel if you can just find the mystery “perfect” opener, you’ll be set for life. But template openers suck, and most matches will spot them from a mile off.
After all, you’re trying to find someone to have a meaningful relationship with (and if you’re not, I’m afraid that you’re in the wrong place), so take a moment to treat each potential match like a human being, and send them something unique.
Don’t Use Physical Compliments
I’ve got data to back this one up. OKCupid ran some numbers and found out that words such as “sexy”, “beautiful”, and “hot” all result in a lower than average response rate.
The reason behind this is pretty apparent - it’s a little bit creepy to get hit on by a stranger on the Internet. Not only that, it can come across as disingenuous and forced (you know, like you’re saying that to every single match you contact).
Make it Easy for Them
Whilst it is true that the primary function of your first message is to act as a gateway to your profile, it does have an important secondary purpose - it needs to make it easy for your potential match to respond.
So do them a favor and give them something to talk about. Their only question when reading your first message should be “Do I like this person’s profile?”, not “Do I like this person’s profile, and if I do, what the hell do I say to them in response?”
An easy way to give a match something to talk about is by asking them a question. Which leads us onto…
Follow Their Lead
In reality, an opener should be two things – relevant and engaging. The relevancy comes from simply looking at a potential match’s profile, and picking out a topic of interest. So once you’ve started with the obligatory “Hey! How’s it going?” (or equivalent), follow up with a question, such as:
- I noticed that you like horse riding – do you go to any events?
- I see you’re a keen runner – have you ever run a marathon?
- You say in your profile that you used to dance – why did you stop?
It’s relevant to the prospective match, and given that your question relates to a topic that interests them, they are likely to be engaged.
That’s it! An opener does not have to involve complex mind games or cleverly worded riddles – just say hi, and ask them something about themselves. If they like your profile, they’ll get back to you.
Speaking of profiles, it’s pretty easy to tell whether or not your openers are working - just keep an eye on how many people that you message check out your profile. If they look at your profile, you know that your openers are doing the trick. If they don’t, you know that you need to adjust.
Creative Commons image courtesy of Sean Rogers