9 ways guys screw up online dating

You want women to respond to your message rather than hit "delete," right? Then quit playing games and listen up

By Suzannah Weiss
Published June 17, 2015 10:58PM (EDT)
     (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-2574358p1.html'>Stock-Asso</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
(Stock-Asso via Shutterstock)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNetOkCupid's data shows that men receive replies to about 20-50% of their online dating messages, depending on their attractiveness — and I'm going to go out on a limb and say most would like to move that number up to 100%. While sometimes it's your profile that makes women think twice, I can also attest that your message itself can kill your chances of a response. As someone who has been on the receiving end, here are some mistakes that have made me hit “delete” or, in the worst cases, “block” on my online dating messages.

1. Sounding generic

The way to a woman’s heart is making her feel worthy of the same message you’ve sent a dozen other women, right?



You've heard this advice about your cover letters, and it applies here too: Please don't write a message generic enough that it could have been copied and pasted. It leaves us asking ourselves either “Did he read my profile?” or “Did he not think it was worth his time to read my profile?” Both of which are not good things.

And please, dear lord, do not actually copy and paste your messages. While you may think it looks like you’ve typed “Hey, how’s it going” or even “You seem really down to earth,” we can tell all you’ve actually typed is “Control C” and “Control V.” Even if we can’t, you're at some point bound to send your template to the same person twice and get caught like the unfortunate fellow below — or worse, you’ll send your supposedly individualized message to two women who know each other, like the guy who asked my roommate and I both if we were Brazilian. (SPOILER ALERT: We’re not).

2. Commenting on our appearances

Yes, we all want to find someone attractive and feel attractive ourselves. But to pull the OkCupid data back up, users who write "sexy," "beautiful," "hot," or "cutie" in their initial messages have a below-average response rate. Focusing on appearance from the get-go can make us wonder if we have anything substantive to connect over. And it can make us feel a little like this:



And if you double down with by combining “beautiful” and a batshit-ness like this guy, well, I can’t help you.

3. Apologizing

Trust me, I know what it’s like to send a message when you’re already picturing the recipient sighing in exasperation upon opening it, insulted that you would even imply you were in the same league. But I never even considered that apologetic users like this one were inferior to me until they informed me of their own inferiority. Not a great look.

4. Starting a debate

Remember the saying about how you shouldn't talk about politics or religion with strangers at dinner parties? This advice applies to online dating sites, too.

Okay, maybe you’re exempt from this rule if someone broadcasts her views on her profile and you happen to agree with them, but expressing disagreement will only make her defensive. After all, arguing before you’ve even had a date doesn’t bode well for the rest of the relationship.

If someone's political, social, or religious views really bother you, why would you message her? Are you just trolling?



Yeah, I thought so. Get back under your bridge.


5. Getting too sexual too soon

I shouldn't need to say this, but unless you’re on Adult Friend Finder, you come off like a creep when you lead with your bedroom preferences. So can you please just not? OK, moving on.




6. Making us work too hard

I know it feels like you're working hard to get responses, and the person you’re messaging should also take the time to write something that doesn’t sound copied and pasted. But it becomes too much when we feel like we're auditioning to have a conversation with you.



As a rule of thumb, if we have to use Wikipedia to answer your questions, you've gone too far. We might be too tired or busy to answer even if we're interested. And please don't ask us multiple choice questions about how hard we’ll work to look sexy for you.

7. Asking questions Google could answer

Don’t make me direct you to the site "let me Google that for you.” I’m not an encyclopedia. If you haven’t heard of someone’s profession or interests, that's what Google is for — because explaining your life's work to someone in a Tinder message can be really exhausting.




8. Guilting us for not responding

Chances are, we've seen your message. If we haven't responded, it's because we don't want to. You can give it one more try if you really want to make sure the message didn't get lost in someone’s inbox, but informing us that we haven’t gotten back to you in a timely enough fashion is not exactly going to charm us.





9. Using pickup lines

Nobody wants to feel like they're being manipulated. But pickup lines are designed to make women feel this way — because the user always has a specific goal in mind, and he's not achieving it by genuine means. He's essentially trying to trick the woman into responding. Not exactly the best foot to start off on.



Basically all these mistakes stem from one general problem: Instead of being themselves and seeing if something evolves organically, many men try to play games. And, quite frankly, even the dateless don’t have time for that.

You don't need to demonstrate your poetic genius or sexual prowess (in fact, with the latter, please don’t) to get us to like you. Because, cheesy as it sounds, the women you'll truly mesh with will like you for who you are. Just be polite, establish you have something in common, and your success rate will skyrocket to 100 percent.

Just kidding. There’s no way to get a perfect response rate. But at least if you avoid these traps and someone still doesn't respond, it will be through no fault of your own.

Suzannah Weiss

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