There is no denying that it takes true effort to turn online dating messages into face-to-face dates. This process involves opening up, keeping a conversation going (and interesting), asking solid, engaging questions, and having the courage to ask someone out (or say yes). Most importantly, though, getting a date means the person you are talking to must connect with you in some way.
For many online daters, the course from online messages to actual dating has become a mindless, thoughtless experience, an anxiety-provoking adventure, or an incredibly confusing process. It’s natural to be left wondering what went wrong if messaging appears to be going well and the person you are talking to suddenly goes MIA. Was it something you said (or didn’t say)? Is the other person dealing with some baggage or external life event that has nothing to do with you? Could you have done anything differently to ensure the initial spark or level of interest didn’t fizzle? While you don’t have complete control, you can increase your probability of building a connection by ensuring you are sending high-quality messages and avoiding the eight messaging traps below.
Here are eight reasons your messages may not be resulting in dates:
- You sound cynical or negative.
While it’s smart to be real and you are allowed to state your thoughts on unpleasant weather, for example, sounding like a Debbie Downer interferes with making a positive first impression. Sounding cynical, depressing, or negative deters potential partners from wanting to get to know you as they are likely to assume you won’t add anything positive to their lives and therefore, don’t see the point of getting to know you. Stay away from complaining about life stresses, such as traffic, illness, work, family, politics, and random disappointments in your messages. Keep your tone upbeat and don’t use messages as a platform to air grievances about your life or the world.
- You are using messages with new potential partners to trash an ex, complain about your dating life, or ask about their online dating experiences.
It can be tempting to bond with a potential partner over the misery you both may feel being single, or the roller coaster nature of online dating, but this is not a healthy foundation to a relationship. Although these topics may seem to be positive for bonding and creating commonalities at first, it’s your best bet to steer clear of any past relationship talk or negativity around your singlehood. Badmouthing an ex or previous date reflects poorly on you, especially in the early stages of messaging or dating when you are still pretty much strangers.
- You come off as judgmental or insulting.
If you are using snarky humor or cracking jokes early on without a trusting, solid bond, you are likely to come off as offensive and mean-spirited. Or maybe you turn someone off by responding with a comment that sounds more judgmental than validating. Technology can also blur your intentions and lead to misinterpretation if you aren’t careful. For example, you may believe you are giving a compliment, but if you need to type “I hope I didn’t insult you” at any point in your message, it’s a sign you need to rethink your words and make sure you are being kind and open-minded. It is also insulting to reference sex, overly comment on physical appearance, or make judgments about someone based on the little bit of information an online dating profile provides. Instead of being a total jokester or making assumptions or statements as if you know someone, ask questions with curiosity and interest.
- You are trying too hard to sell yourself, which makes you appear arrogant or desperate.
It’s natural to want to be liked and understood, but too much selling can do the opposite. Using a phrase like, “I am intelligent, successful, handsome, and generous, but you’ll see this for yourself,” is a no-no. Remember there is a difference between sharing your strengths, accomplishments, and personality traits and bragging, boasting, and announcing your successes in a grandiose or snobby way. If your messages sound more like a sales pitch, suspicious, or disingenuous, you are likely to lose dates.
- Your messages are way too long and overwhelming for the other person to read and respond to.
While it’s positive you are open to communicating and sharing as the means to getting to know someone, sending messages that read like chapters in a novel or ramble on and on, can lead to a lack of replies. These types of messages can scare off a potential partner or leave them wondering how to respond, especially if there is too much information, oversharing, or numerous questions within one message. Aim to be short and sweet and remind yourself that you don’t have to be overly detailed or share your entire life story. Let the connection grow over time. Think layers!
- You are barely giving the other person anything to relate to or respond to.
If the person you are messaging with is doing all of the work to keep the connection going, they are likely to give up. They might assume you are not interested, ready, or available or purely be exhausted from attempting to get to know you. It’s important to actively engage and ensure you are not making the other person feel like they are pulling teeth to get you to communicate. If you are shy or reserved, it’s better to be upfront and honest about that than to barely give anything in return without explanation. It’s okay to take your time, but also make sure you are actively participating and pushing yourself to be open and communicative.
- You make scheduling a date with you way too difficult.
Often I hear clients complain when they hit it off with someone online and then ask for a date and the person says yes, but then makes the logistics nearly impossible to coordinate. Or the person doesn’t give a definite yes, but also doesn’t say no, and just ignores the question altogether. This creates mixed messages, confusion, and is likely to cause a potential connection to fizzle. If you want to go on a date, be willing to show motivation and to help plan something, as well as clearly say yes or be honest about your needs (examples — wanting to schedule a phone call first or spend more time over messaging).
- You are using generic messages or sending identical messages to multiple people.
If the person you’re chatting with feels you simply copied-and-pasted messages, with little effort on your part, it is unlikely you will get a reply. Instead grab his or her attention with a unique subject line that signals you actually read their profile. Also, be aware that friends may compare online dating messages and even consider dating the same person without initially realizing it, so there’s a good chance you will get caught for sending generic messages in big batches. Do your best to make a genuine effort, get comfortable starting conversations about diverse topics, and lead with what you connected to in an individual profile instead of a cookie-cutter message that reads like spam.
Each time you draft a message and before you hit send, reread it to check your energy, tone, language, length, communication style, openness, etc. and assess how your message may feel to the person receiving it. By avoiding the common explanations for not getting dates listed above, you can take control of your part in getting messages and replies, leading to more dates with your ideal matches.