The first messages sent to someone in an online dating site should not be long, but they also should not just be the word “hey”. Okcupid did the data crunching and found that simply saying “hey” as the first message gives you an 84% chance of being ignored. Just don’t do it. Put in a little effort into that first message. If you’ve read our previous article about increasing responses from women then you better be sending a lot of first messages.
Best first message length
The most common length of a successful first message, according to Okcupid, is 40 to 90 characters. It’s short, sweet and to the point. However, if you need to go a little longer than that is ok too. Keeping the message within 40 to 90 characters only increases your chances by 2% (though it’s certainly understandable wanting that extra couple percentage points).
The above 40 to 90 rule is based off the latest data. An older article found the best length for a woman’s first message to be 50 characters. The point of a woman’s message is simply to bring her profile to the guy’s attention, it doesn’t matter much what is said according to their research. The older article shows that a man’s ‘optimal’ first message is 200 characters. They found this by comparing the time spent writing a message and the chance of getting a reply. We can expand a successful first message to be between 40 and 200 characters, though it seems that more modern times move the needles towards shorter messages.
Bad first message length (too long)
Please note that longer messages from women to men, beyond 360 words (1800 characters), would reduce the chance of a reply. The table showed a similar, but less pronounced, effect for messages from men to women. Too long of messages scare off people. Keep it shorter!
How to write first messages
Always read the person’s profile before you send a message. Pull something that interests you and mention it in the first message or quickly relate through a shared common interest. If a book or movie you enjoy is mentioned in the profile then bring it up in the first message. End the first message with a question to try and spark a conversation. Bad messages can be easily avoided, just don’t write a generic, flat message that could be sent to anyone. Examples of bad messages include: hey, hi, how are you, ur hot, i luv you, hot momma, etc. Avoid the temptation to write “how are you”.
Should I wait for a woman to message me?
No, according to this article. Straight men send the most messages by far and their outreach dwarfs everyone else. Most women do not send the first message. This is also true of lesbian women who only send a few messages. No matter how many messages a woman receives (0 or 100), they are not more likely to initiate. A woman’s attractiveness doesn’t change this fact either: less or more attractive women still hardly send out messages. As a guy, don’t feel bad sending messages to women on dating sites. It’s expected. As a woman, if you take the extra step to send out those messages then you have a much higher chance of being replied to (2.5 times more).
Summary of sending first messages in online dating:
- Don’t just write ‘hey’ or ‘hi’ for your first message.
- For men, write between 40 to 200 characters. Keeping it between 40 to 90 characters gives you slightly better chances of a reply.
- For women, keep it to around 50 characters. You are at a huge advantage and length plays little in that unless you over do it.
- Writing more than 360 words or 1800 characters is bad, don’t do it.
- Women hardly ever initiate the conversations. Nothing changes that. Guys, you have to write it.