Swipe left. Swipe left.
She likes hiking and outdoor sports; you’re a homebody who’d rather eat nachos and watch Netflix. He’s into kale smoothies and hates chocolate; you . . . well, honestly, what kind of person hates chocolate?
But then someone appears who catches your eye. This person sounds upbeat, likes many of the same things you do, and has some interesting hobbies. Winner!
You dash off a quick message to say hello and introduce yourself:
Hi their! It looks like we have a lot in commen. Lovd ur profile. Lets talk!
Hours pass. Then days. Your potentially perfect match does not respond. What have you done?
You are being judged
Okay, time for a harsh reality—if you’re involved in the online dating world, you’re being judged. And, because it’s likely to be your first method of contact, one of the ways your potential matches are judging you is by how well you write. Here are a few ways to avoid blowing it.
ur your words!
We know typing on a mobile device can be a pain, but when you’re trying to make a love connection it’s important to avoid shortcuts. Taking the time to spell out words rather than resorting to textspeak shows you’re not dashing off hasty, impulsive responses. If your match has real potential, isn’t he or she worth the time it takes to write out real words?
Practice safe text—proofread before you hit send. Not only does paying attention to detail show you care, it makes you look smarter and better at life, so people will like you more.
Okay, we’re being a bit snarky there, but we have stats to back this up! Grammarly’s research, in cooperation with eHarmony, revealed that a man with just two spelling errors on his online dating profile is 14 percent less likely to get a match. Ouch! Women may be more likely to evaluate men in terms of things like grammar because, according to OKCupid, they get seventeen times as many messages as men do.
Keep it positive
Even when you don’t mean to be a downer, your language can come across as negative. When writing a potential paramour, take a moment to consider how your message might be perceived. Let’s say you’re chatting with a guy who seems like a perfect match. You ask him to meet you for coffee and conversation. Here are two potential responses he might send:
Sure, that could be fun.
Yes, that would be fun.
Odds are, you’ll feel a lot more confident about his enthusiasm if he sends the second response. Even though sure is affirmative, it comes with an implied non-committal shrug, an unspoken meh. And who wants to hear “meh” in response to “Let’s get together”? After all, the famous quote says “Yes, a thousand times yes!” not “Sure, a thousand times sure.”
Could is a similar language beast. It’s ambiguous. Saying, “That could be fun” is like admitting you think meeting for coffee only might end up being a good time. Don’t be a buzzkill! Before you hit send, apply an empathy check to make certain you’re staying positive. Ask yourself “How would I feel if I got this message?” If you sound like you’re not all that interested, or like you’re hedging your bets, a little editing to choose the right words will go a long way.
Tame your punctuation
We’ve warned you to keep it positive, but that doesn’t mean you have to commit egregious acts of overkill. People who go wild with punctuation can look a little . . . over-the-top. Exclamation points, for example, are for exclamations. (Who knew?) They work just fine when you’re saying an excited “Wow!’ or “Awesome!” or even a disappointed “Damn!” But when you write “I’d love to meet you!!!!!” you’re conveying potentially scary levels of excitement. Only dogs can get away with that level of enthusiasm.
But don’t be stuffy
Just because you’re proofreading, spelling out complete words, and not overdoing the punctuation doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. In fact, you should have fun. Coming across like a stuffy snob is as bad for your dating prospects as coming across like a slobbery canine. You may be tempted to demonstrate your command of the English language, or even to throw in an erudite semicolon or two, but that doesn’t convey fun so much as “I’m silently judging you.”
Compare these two introductory texts:
Hello. I was attracted to your profile. You and I appear to have a great deal in common. If you are interested, I would like to exchange correspondence to see whether we might be a match.
Hi! I came across your profile and noticed that we’re both into polar bear plunges and ice dancing. I thought I was the only one! I’d love to get to know you. Would you like to chat?
Which one would you respond to? Not only does the second version call attention to common ground, it sounds much more conversational.
One quick addendum: Men who properly use the pronoun whom seem to be 31 percent more irresistible to women. We’re not saying it’s a sure thing, guys, but it couldn’t hurt to brush up on your who vs. whom skills.
Communicate to be understood
In the online dating world (and anywhere else, for that matter) your primary writing goal is to be understood. Clear communication means not only paying attention to detail, but aiming for a positive, conversational tone. When you’re communicating online and excited about the prospects of a new match, it can be hard to remember to check yourself before you wreck yourself. But trust us, it’s worth it.