Last week, I wrote an article for WomensHealthMag.com in which I shared a few of the many unreturned messages I’ve sent to women through various online dating websites and apps.
At the end of the story, I shared my e-mail address and an invitation (okay, more like a plea) for readers to hit me up with feedback on my messages and input for how I can become better, more successful, and more efficient at messaging the ladies.
I didn’t really think anyone would respond, so I was pretty surprised when more than 30 women (and one man) flooded my inbox with their honest tips and criticisms.
I’ll share a few of these with you now.
(Writer’s note: Most of these are paraphrased. A lot of the sentiments were repeated in multiple e-mails, so instead of verbatim quotes I culled the results. Also, my thoughts and responses to these are in italics and parentheses because I f*cking love parentheses.)
- Be confident.
- ...But don’t be too confident. Women like it when you don’t seem too sure of yourself.
- Being self-deprecating is never going to work in your favor. (Fun fact: a lot of the beneficial things in my career and my sex life have happened at least indirectly because I’m prone to self-deprecation. So it has actually worked plenty of times!)
- Some women love it when a guy is self-deprecating, when he can make fun of himself a little bit. You should keep doing that! (Oh, I’m going to.)
- You’re being too serious. Most of these sites are just for hooking up. (How serious can you possibly be when you log onto an app, see someone is physically attractive, and then text them something like, “Wanna bone?” I’m laughing just thinking about it.)
- A lot of your messages are just throwaway messages. Like, ones that we women get hundreds of times a day. Every guy asks us how our day is going. You’ve got to be more creative than that!
- Just open with, "Hey ______, I’m Scott. How are you? How’s your day going?"
- Don’t tell a girl you think you could make her laugh. Actually make her laugh. (That’s a tall order, though. I’m supposed to just cold open with some random joke? I want these women to think I want to date them, not that I’m trying out my new material on them.)
- Be funny!
- Don’t post selfies. Have animals or friends or family members in your photos. (I have zero selfies on any of my online dating profiles, and I’m proud of it. Especially when you take into account just how many online dating profiles I have.)
- Post more pictures of you just by yourself. We don’t want to see pets, family members, etc., and if you post pictures with your friends, you run the risk of us finding them more attractive than you. (Still waiting for the day when a woman messages me and is like, “So who is that other guy in picture No. 3? Is he single? What’s his story? Could you put us in touch, maybe?”)
- It’s good that you mention interests from her profile, especially when they’re shared interests that you can really discuss with her.
- You should mention her profile and interests less. Never once in any of your opening messages did you say something complimentary about her looks. (I wish it were as easy as being like “Yo, you have pretty eyes and a butt that looks like two Pringles hugging. Drinks on Thursday?” Also, I suspect this tip may have been sent from a man with dementia who thinks it’s still the 1950s and all that matters is that the woman knows how to cook and clean and look good.)
- Be naughtier. You’re too nice.
- Get wild with your pictures.
- Show your whole body. Otherwise we will automatically assume you’re fat.
- It doesn’t look like you do this, but I haven’t seen all of your pictures, so I’ll include it anyway: Don’t take pictures without your shirt on. (I don’t even put pictures of my whole body on my profile because of my dad bod so I’m definitely not going to be taking any shirtless pics.)
- Always introduce yourself!
- You don’t really have to waste your time being like, “Hi, I’m Scott.” If it’s a dating app and your name is in your username, then they already know what your name is.
- You’re doing pretty much everything right. I don’t know how you’re not having success. Don’t change a thing! (Mom? Is that you?)
As you can see, there are a lot of divisive tips here—a lot of complete opposites. What one woman told me was often completely contradicted by another an e-mail or so later.
So all I can conclude is that there’s no real right way to go about messaging women (or approaching them in general). And that’s because, well, everyone likes different things. If there were a tried-and-true template to follow, I might get to go on more dates, but so many of them would be a complete waste of time with people I had nothing in common with and who I didn’t mesh with personality-wise. Instead of worrying about rejection and lamenting the messages I sent that didn’t garner responses, I'm going to focus instead on sending more to women I’m attracted to and enjoying the fact that I’m alive during a digital dating and mating revolution.