Besides church, curriculum writing, book-shelving, and colluding with my soul-brother Eric to make trouble and shake things up, I attempt to participate in normal life activities from time to time. Including dating. Welcome to Hey Is For Horses. (Don’t worry, Mom, I won’t say anything I wouldn’t say at the dinner table.)
Hey Is For Horses: I Knew You Were Trouble When You Messaged
Hey Is For Horses is a simultaneous blogging journey with my friend Dianna. She’s awesome. Preorder her book.
Dianna’s post on this subject, Let’s Not Make This Weird, is unsurprisingly hilarious: “PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT TALK ABOUT BODY PARTS, SEX, OR ARMPITS IN AN OPENING SALVO.”
So you’ve created your personal and brief profile, and now … oh no. Now you have to actually talk to people you find attractive.
It’s okay! You can do this.
First messages are almost always awkward. This is why we have a culture around terrible pick up lines — because it’s hard to break the ice.*
The trick is to communicate why you’re messaging someone in such a way that makes them likely to reply. Somewhere between vague and intense is a good place to land.
You can always circumvent the first message by sending a wink (on match.com) or Liking someone (on OKCupid) or any number of other ways of saying to someone “oh hai” without actually saying anything. This is understandable, because again, actually starting a conversation is difficult. But… you’re already here. Let’s be brave.
The same goes for “hey,” “how are you,” and even “you’re cute.” The problem with these is that they don’t tell me much. Why are you messaging me? What interested you about my profile? Why should I look at yours, or write you back?
I’ve received some variations on “You seem cool, I’d love to chat.” I appreciate this, but I’m not sure what to do with it. What seemed cool? My job? My love for biking? My killer side mullet?
If you have a really engaging profile and a picture that catches my eye, I might respond to just a “How are you?” with “Good, working like crazy as always. How are you?” And then the ball’s back in your court, m’lady, and you are doing the what-do-I-say dance all over again. Let’s do more than that.
Steps to a successful message!
1) Read the profile. Responding to just a profile photo is certainly common practice, and some people are into that. Know that if you’re only commenting on someone’s physical appearance, it might be hard for them to move into an actual conversation with you.
2) Name a connection. Find your own variation on “You like [____]. I do too!” Will it sound awkward? Maybe. Try it anyway. Show them why you’re interested. Give concrete examples; “you remind me of myself” (real message) with no follow-up is far too vague.
3) Ask a question. Give your conversation partner something to respond to. It could be tied to #2, or it could be something else in their profile. If we’re near a holiday or some other world/state/city-wide experience, you could reference that (“What are you doing for Halloween?” or “What’re you doing to wait out this snowstorm?”) but those can come off as too generic.
Combo hit! 2 + 3 =
– “You said you love to cook. I do too! I’m experimenting with pasta stir frys right now. What’s your favorite dish to make?”
– “Love your book list — 1984 is a classic. Have you read any good dystopian fic lately?”
– “So cool that you work as a vet tech. My dog is my baby 🙂 What’s your favorite way to relax after a long day at work?”
4) Use teh commas: yes, I’m going to repeat myself. Maybe you chose to use proper syntax on your profile; maybe not. As someone who does, there is little that makes me cringe as much as this first message: ” ur such a cutie hi “. Some people who use proper punctuation are fine with other people not doing so, but be aware that you may be shooting yourself in the foot. Try for letter language, not textspeak.
5) Hit send. You did it! Give yourself a high five.
Are you ready? I bet you are. Let’s go message some attractive people.
*Except for polar bears. Wanna get coffee sometime?