“Which Email Caught My Eye”
Anyone can send an email, but it takes something special to stand out from the pack and get a response. Here’s what snagged these online daters.
ouldn’t it be great if every time you sent a message to a member whose profile you dug, you heard back right away with a friendly “You sound intriguing. Tell me more…”? Well, unfortunately, it won’t always happen, but there are things you can write to increase your chances of engaging your crush in an e-conversation.
We asked online daters to reveal what aspect of a suitor’s email piqued their interest and prompted them to hit “reply.” By hearing their stories, you’ll learn how to tweak your own missives so that the objects of your affection will want to know lots more about you.
Illustrate that you’re unusual
Case history: “What works for me is when a guy mentions something unexpected, because it makes me totally curious and shows that he’s got more going on than a 9-to-5 job. One guy mentioned that he’d traveled the world, and since that’s always been a dream of mine, I had to hear all about it. It absolutely got me to write back.”
—Kim Newman, San Diego, CA
Love lesson: The number-one challenge in online dating is standing out from the crowd somehow (in a good way, of course). Everyone is intrigued by a person who’s
had an unusual experience—it makes for more surprising small talk and anecdotes they can remember—so don’t hesitate to mention your huge collection of cheesy salt shakers, your speed-walking trophy, the fact that you grew up on a commune or anything else that may make someone just curious enough to write back and find out more. “If you have a super-weird hobby or interest, let people find out your interesting sides,” says Cherie Burbach, author of At The Coffee Shop, a humorous look at the world of internet dating. Once you’ve reeled the object of your affections in with that quirky detail, you can introduce him or her to the rest of your fabulous self.
|The formula for writing the first email is easy: Take one thing from the person’s profile, and say you noticed it.|
Prove that you paid attention
Case history: “In her first email to me, my now-girlfriend proposed that we meet for drinks over Monday Night Football and showed an interest in Pedro Almodovar movies. Since I’d mentioned both football and Almodovar in my profile, her note showed that she’d really read my profile, and it sealed the deal for me!”
—Steven Gartland, Poughkeepsie, NY
Love lesson: It’s so simple, but when people are working to impress another person, they can forget to focus on, well, that other person. “The formula for writing the first email is very easy: Take one thing out of the person’s profile and say you noticed it,” says Liz Kelly, dating coach and author of SMART Man Hunting. “It shows you read the profile and invites the person to respond and tell you more about that aspect.” But rather than bombarding a potential match with questions, this basic format lets you get personal without going overboard. Also, know that women get complimented on their pictures all the time—both our experts and users say it’s more effective when a guy says he was taken with something non-physical, like the way she writes or another attribute that was obvious through her profile.
Strike the right tone
Case history: “The first time Jim [who’s now my boyfriend] wrote me, he wasn’t scared to be sincere, which made me really want to get to know him. Too many guys are too glib and just try to outwit me. The truth is, if you’re on the site, you’re admitting that you’re looking for love, so be proud about saying what you really want. That’s attractive.”
—Francesca Dubensky, Marina Del Rey, CA
Love lesson: Most online daters are now excellent at identifying emails that either try too hard to seem casual or the opposite—ones that get overly enthusiastic and make them suspect it’s all just a line. “Before you get to know one another, cleverness can come off as sarcastic,” warns Judsen Culbreth, author of The Boomers’ Guide to Online Dating. “It’s better to project warmth.” To figure out if your email is coming across as genuine, try reading it out loud. If it sounds conversational—like something you’d actually say face to face—then you’re on the right track. Also get
rid of any clichés, slang that’s not 100% natural to you, or double entendres—they draw attention to what you’re writing, but not what you mean, which may confuse your recipient.
|After viewing a slew of oh-so-polite emails, online daters may crave something more challenging—like a note on what you two don’t see eye to eye on.|
Say their name to stand out
Case history: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written back to a member just because they started their email to me with ‘Hello’ and then my online name, instead of just a generic ‘Hey!’”
—Leon Chittams, Landover, MD
Love lesson: The first thing addressing your crush by name does is makes him or her feel a little less worried that you’re sending out dozens of “I liked your profile!” messages. But using the person’s name when you write also creates a feeling of warmth and intensity. Don’t believe it? Try this experiment. Next time you’re about to say something to someone you know, plug the person’s name into the sentence. “Shoot—Jill, I forgot to make those copies you asked for,” or “Mark, I really think we should order Chinese for dinner.” It makes the exchange warmer and more personal. That principle is just as effective in writing. When the cutie in question is wading through a sea of emails from strangers, using his or her screen name comes across as friendly and interested—both good indicators that you’re more likely to hear back.
Start a fun, friendly debate
Case history: “I’ve hit reply when a guy calls me, in a smart-aleck way, on something I’ve said in my profile. One guy said ‘You say you love your iPod and the sand, so remind me never to lend you my iPod before you wreck it at the beach!’ I loved that. If someone challenges me in a fun way, it makes me feel like I have to defend myself. Once I’m writing, if he keeps asking fun questions, we’re on.”
—Amy Salisbury, 34, Sea Cliff, NY
Love Lesson: After viewing a slew of oh-so-polite emails, online daters may crave something more challenging—which can easily be done by displaying where you two don’t see eye to eye. “Create a friendly debate about something that you read about in their profile,” says Roman Griffen, author of Internet Dating: Tips, Tricks, and Tactics. “If a woman loves 80s music, tell her you used to like Duran Duran but think a certain song by them stinks.” Of course, this is a risky strategy, and it’s always possible that what you think of as gentle fun may wind up offending someone. So stick to “safe” topics that most people enjoy debating about, like food, movies, or TV shows (“I agree that Everybody Loves Raymond was funny, but have you seen Everybody Hates Chris? It’s ten times better!”).
Freelance writer Laura Gilbert recently wrote back to a guy because he said they probably wouldn’t get along—and they’ve been dating for a few months now.