Alright, gentlemen, you’ve gotten a haircut, altered your clothes, taken some photos with friends having a great time and fine-tuned your profile into a work of literary genius. It’s time to go on the offensive and meet some people. Fill up your coffee, put your phone on silent and let’s get to business.
Selecting your target
As mentioned in part I, it is of utmost importance that you have clearly defined goals for your online dating experience. Not only does this include what type of relationship or interaction you are looking for, but also with what type of woman. In the rest of the dating world, selectivity gives women the upper hand. In online dating this is also the case. So let’s negate that unfair advantage, shall we? There are many types of women on online dating sites, and the type you are looking for will determine how you approach the interaction.
When it comes to online dating, I’ve formulated the “Apollo Profile Postulate” – The physical beauty of a woman tends to be inversely proportional to how interesting her profile is. Sadly, this means that often you will have to “read between the lines” to find out what you are dealing with. Something I’ve found helpful is to mentally cross out the following lines “hanging out with friends, having fun, dancing, music, reading,” as well as “I’m an open minded person, sweet, caring, friendly,” etc. Basically, ignore the things that you notice every women tends to say in her profile. In doing research for this article, I distinctly remember a conversation with a close female friend of mine. She recalled a message she received that told her, “You have a well done profile. I like how you managed to write all that without actually saying anything about yourself.” If you are a selective man, “I like to hang out with my friends” simply isn’t good enough to be worthy of meeting you.
The key is to be clear about what you are looking for and stick to that. If, for example, you are looking for someone with a good sense of humor, she MUST have something in her profile that could be an indicator of that. “I like to hang out with friends” is pretty boring, but “I enjoy chasing small children” would be something worth looking into. If you are looking for someone who is creative, and more deeply intuitive, then you will need to have an indicator of that in her profile. This is important for a few reasons. Most importantly, you won’t waste your time with someone you wouldn’t enjoy spending time with. But also, you will have a point of reference for WHY you are messaging her. This will set you apart from the rest of the field who are only interested because she has an attractive picture. Also keep in mind that your online dating is only intended to SUPPLEMENT your “real world” activities of meeting and dating women. Thus, you can afford to be very picky in who you message.
The all-important, super-awesome magical first message
Gentlemen, I wish I had a “magic arrow” I could equip you with to guarantee you 100% success with getting quality replies. Unfortunately, no such thing exists. I can, however, give you some principles to make your messages stand out. From there, it is up to you to find women you are sincerely interested in and find some creative way to connect with them. Even if there was a message you could copy and paste to guarantee success, it wouldn’t help you in the long run. It would be easy to become insecure and worried that she would “catch you” or see through the canned line. Also, if you are looking for a more meaningful interaction, you don’t want to start out with something fake.
As you’ve heard many times before, congruence is completely important. During my research for this article, I used three different “types” of guys in my profiles I created. One was average-looking, the second below average and overweight, and the third my own profile. I learned very quickly that the same approach did not work for each of the three profiles. Generally speaking, anything cocky/funny did not go over very well from my profile, but worked wonders coming from a more average looking guy. More open and sincere (yet still high-value) messages were often ignored from the average looking guy, yet elicited positive responses from my profile. As for the below average guy, the only thing that really worked well was a more indirect humorous message. Usually asking an opinion on something completely random and funny was the best route to take. A final note on congruence: the tone of your message should match the tone of your profile.
So what does an effective first message look like? To fully understand this, I created a female profile and had a woman I was dating create one as well. I don’t necessarily recommend everyone do this – but believe me, mortals, the inundation of bad messages women receive is quite daunting. So let’s talk about what NOT to do. A good principle is to think of what men are likely to come up with and DON’T do that. Here are a few examples:
“Hey, what’s up/how was your weekend/how are you doing?”
“You look/have/seem <insert compliment>”
“Oh wow! We are like 93% matched (or basically rely on any website mechanics to ‘convince’ her to talk to you)”
Some sites have subject lines for their messages, some don’t. Avoid “hey,” “what’s up,” “wow” or anything in the same spirit as the above messages for your heading. I’ve found a random subject line with something humorously tied to it in the message to be effective. For example, a subject of “Peanut Butter and Awesome” with the first line saying “Because jelly is overrated.” Random? Yes. Completely pointless? Also true. Effective? Absolutely. A subject heading is similar in function to something you would use to start a conversation in the real world. It doesn’t matter what you say, as long as it is different from what everyone else says and conveys personality. The only purpose of a subject line is to keep your message from being ignored or deleted, so it doesn’t matter how crazy it is as long as it achieves its goal.
Building the better arrow
So let’s take a look at what an effective first message SHOULD include. Your first message should first and foremost convey that you actually read her profile and found something that interested you (aside from her looks). It should convey that you are not yet attracted to her, but are interested in giving her a chance to attract you. It is important to watch your language so you don’t convey too much interest. Remember: You are looking for a specific type of woman and won’t settle for anything less. She MIGHT be that type of woman, based on her profile, but the jury is still out. Give her the opportunity to show you she is worth your attention.
Without getting into too much detail, let’s just operate under the assumption that it is very effective to get her qualifying herself to you. Be specific about what you find attractive, and if she doesn’t try to show you those qualities then don’t be afraid to show your disinterest. If she does make an effort to convey those qualities to you, then you can respond positively and the interaction continues. The key with qualification in your first message is to do it in a non-threatening way. I ran into a lot of trouble with this on my actual profile because it came across too arrogant. Be careful to calibrate your messages and avoid misunderstandings. For example, “You say you love to cook, eh? But can you make a good sammich?” wouldn’t go over well with most women (though some would appreciate the humor), but “You say you love to cook, eh? I hope you can make a good Hollandaise” would be a softer version.
Another approach is to essentially call her out on something in her profile. Be careful to not come across like an asshole, just someone who isn’t blinded by her beauty and isn’t afraid to call out her bluff. For example,
“Amidst all the ‘hanging out with friends’ and ‘loving to laugh’ you never really tell anything about yourself in your profile. How am I supposed to know if I find you interesting?”
“For all your open-mindedness you seem to enjoy talking about, you sure are judgmental towards men or women who have different morals than yourself.”
The key to calling her out is to be intuitive about it. Don’t call her out on her physical appearance, but rather on her own congruence. This is a great way to learn about someone’s personality. If they get extremely offended and go on the defensive they are likely not a very strong person. Be wary though, you will likely get a hostile response. Handle it properly and don’t get defensive and she will respect you.
The last type of message I’ll discuss is the high-value, direct approach. You can alter the wording to fit your personality, but essentially will say the same thing.
“I’m a busy man, and don’t have time to spend all day online messaging back and forth. I’ve also found you don’t really get to know someone very well by text-based communication. Because of <interesting thing> in your profile, I’ve decided you are likely worth having a drink/coffee/walk in the park. Look over my profile, and if you think we’d have a good time, send me your number and we can work out the details over the phone.”
I actually enjoyed this one, because after so many hours online researching this, it was nice to not have to spend a couple days messaging back and forth. Unfortunately, I could only use this approach with my own profile, since the goal of this message is to actually meet the woman. The key to this is having a high-value profile with well-chosen photos.
Spotting: A little to the left… now up a bit… there you go!
To really incorporate these principles, you will have to practice. It’s important to figure out what is effective with your personality and appearance. If you aren’t getting the responses you are looking for, then calibrate accordingly. I had to calibrate each of the three profiles for a week before I felt they were really effectively communicating what I wanted them to. Test all of this out, find what works for you, and if you are having trouble, feel free to leave a comment below. I’ve also found it invaluable to have a female friend take a look at your profile. Women are quite intuitive and can certainly tell you if you are coming across the wrong way.
Your quiver full, your eyes keen, now unleash the passion of Apollo into the hearts of your targets! Look for the third and final part of this saga in the future. There, Apollo will impart his wisdom to mortals struggling to secure that first date.