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Online Dating Mistakes and 5 Steps to Avoid Them


Since I deactivated my OKCupid account, I have been contacted by considerably fewer ignorant dicks looking to score.  However, I still have a personal Fetlife account, and that still nets me a couple messages from horny strangers every month or so.

Erica Grigg, one of the founders of GetLusty.com (which I write for, and which you should read) posted a Facebook status saying that she hated getting hit on by “stupid men who don’t read her profile.”  Erica is married, and it’s pretty apparent that she’s monogamous.  The man that sparked this status messaged her to say, “You look gorgeous… i will love to connect with you on here, get to know each other better and see where it goes from here.”

From the tone of her status, Erica sounded pretty annoyed.  I can’t blame her.  I’m annoyed every time I get a message like that.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve never bitten anyone’s head off for hitting on me, but heaven knows that I’ve wanted to whenever someone does it the wrong way.  Let me assure you, there is a difference.  Today you’re going to learn about the wrong way to hit on someone, and then I’m going to give you five easy ways to send a message that someone will want to respond to.

Mistake #1:

You don’t read their profile.

Who gets on a dating website and doesn’t read someone’s profile?  Are you really that desperate?  Are your standards really that low that you don’t care who you have sex with?  Maybe there’s some strategy in playing the odds… after all, statistically, the more people you message, the more people you should get a response from, right?  Well that’s not going to happen if you try to sow your oats in the wrong fields.

Reading someone’s profile  has many benefits.  For starters, reading a profile gives you an opportunity to determine whether you’ll be able to pretend to like them long enough to bone them.  Or maybe you’ll realize that you actually want to get to know them.  But it gives you something to talk about, and more importantly, it keeps you from making…

Mistake #2:

Messaging someone when it’s never going to happen.

This isn’t me having a defeatist attitude.  This is a huge example of trying to sow your oats in the wrong fields.  There are circumstances that absolutely preclude you hooking up with your target.

Is your target in a relationship and monogamous?  Chances are that you’re wasting your time.

Are you a cis man messaging a lesbian?  WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS A GOOD IDEA?  Do you just look at someone’s sex and profile picture and start messaging?  My ex’s OKCupid and Fetlife profiles both said lesbian, and yet the messages from horny cisHet men kept flooding in.

Just don’t do it.  Unless you’re on a dating website for people looking to cheat on their monogamous partners, don’t message monogamous coupled people trying to fuck them.  Thinking about messaging that lesbian to see if they wanna suck your dick?  Take your head and slam it vigorously against a wall, then see if that still seems like a good idea. /s

Mistake #3:

You send a one (or two, in some cases) line message… or you don’t send a message, and just send a picture instead.

There are plenty of ways to do this wrong, and there are almost never situations in which you’ll get a response when you do this.

Doing it wrong:

  • “Hi beautiful, would love to get together with you.”
  • “Hi sexy, would love to connect and see where it goes.”
  • “hey”

Why it’s wrong:

I’m sure that when you’re writing that message, it seems pretty harmless.  But when I receive that message, I have a few different feelings all at once.

  1. I feel like you’re using a word like “beautiful” or “sexy” to objectify me, assert dominance over me, and condescend to me.  It doesn’t feel like a compliment, it feels like you’re two steps away from sitting me down and mansplaining something to me.
  2. I feel like the compliment is artificial and is only there because you think that the only way to speak to someone you perceive as a woman is by talking about their physical appearance.
  3. If you have never seen me, then I am immediately angered by your assumption that I am conventionally attractive.
  4. When you say something like, “See where it goes…” or, “See what happens…” I know where it’s going: nowhere.  What you have implied to me is not that you want to get to know me as a person – you have implied that your only interest in me is the sex you think you’re going to get.

Doing it wrong:

  • “You are so sexy.”

Why it’s wrong:

You haven’t started a conversation with me at all.  You have indicated that all you care about is my physical appearance. I have nothing to say but thank you or feigning ego, and both of those responses have been proven many times over to provoke the wrath of men who deserve the rejection I’m about to give them.

Doing it wrong:

  • “l’ll be they guy you do butt drop and facesitting on…” or anything else sexually explicit

Why it’s wrong:

I actually got that message on Fetlife.  I don’t even know what a butt drop is.  It’s not the first explicit message I’ve received, and probably won’t be the last.  You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t get moist the instant a stranger offers to choke me with his dick. I find most of them aren’t very good at using said dicks.

Doing it wrong:

  • Pictures of yourself naked or of your genitalia.

Why it’s wrong:

If I have to explain this for you, end your search now. This is a consent violation. You need to google “consent lessons” or “good consent” or literally anything that gets you out of my DMs and never gets another person e-rectioned by you again.

Mistake #4:

You don’t have a profile picture or any information in your profile.

Maybe you were just so eager to hook up that you forgot to upload a photo or write a few lines about yourself in your profile.  Maybe you didn’t know what to say, or you weren’t satisfied with any of the photos you had.  Refrain from messaging anyone until you have written a profile and put up a photo.

If you have a profile but no picture, then your blank user picture is a question that I want an answer to.  “That’s shallow,” you say! I absolutely determine if I want to get to know you based on what you choose as a profile picture. Maybe you’re playing a game I like. Maybe you’re in a beautiful locale I’ve visited. Maybe we have a hobby in common.  If you don’t have a picture but I do, you have me at a disadvantage – comparatively, your profile looks like you’re trying to conceal something. I’m not okay with that and a lot of other people aren’t either.

If you have a picture but no information in your profile, then my mind automatically fills in your profile for you, and your appearance has no real baring on my sexual attraction, so I pass you by.

And if you don’t have any information – no profile, no photo, nothing – then you don’t even register as a person to me on that website.  You’re a ghost in the machine, a camsite spambot or something.  An annoying ghost. A ghost who didn’t read my profile.

Mistake #5:

You don’t drop it once you’re told to bug off.

After a response declining his advances, one man who messaged my ex said, “So you don’t want to hook up?”  My ex responded, “That’s generally what lesbian means.”  If I recall correctly, the dude didn’t stop sending messages.

Persistence isn’t your friend when you’re rejected.  Ten more messages aren’t going to change someone’s sexuality, make them any less single, or make you any more interesting or attractive.  Ten more messages are going make you look pathetic, creepy, or downright terrifying, and they’re going to get you blocked and reported, not make a love match.  And if someone doesn’t respond, there’s no need to send an inflammatory message – it’s totally unnecessary, and it’s definitely not charming.

Harassment isn’t sexy.  Once I’ve told you that I’m not interested, please don’t keep messaging me.  Even if you think your messages are friendly (“But you’re so pretty!  I’m really interested, are you sure?”), they show me that you’re incapable of respecting my wishes.  If you’ll ignore me when I tell you to stop messaging me, will you ignore me when I tell you to stop following me, or to stop trying to have sex with me?  It’s unsettling.  Leave me alone and move on.

Doing it right:

1.  Find the right site.  Facebook isn’t a dating site.  Don’t try to hook up with people you barely know on Facebook. Try to find a site that caters to your needs. Is religion a big part of your life?  Try ChristianMingle or JDate.  Looking for a basic dating site?  OKCupid works.  PlentyOfFish exists.  Kinky?  Use Alt.com or something.  (I’m not saying that Fetlife can’t find you a date, but it is not, by definition, a dating site.  So stop messaging me like it is.)

2. Take a nice photo of yourself.  A photo with your face in it.  We don’t care about your bare chest or your genitals.

3.  Fill out all the sections of your profile, and try to make it interesting.  Don’t lie.  Let your personality shine through.  We want to know who you are and what you have to say about yourself.  If you just talk about your career and list your interests, you’ve only given us the equivalent of what we could have learned by hunting you down on Facebook or LinkedIn.  Do you feel like you know someone when you’ve only read someone’s work info and the list of things they liked?  If you do, you might have issues – those things don’t tell you who someone really is.  They definitely don’t tell you whether you’re going to like someone.

4.  Read someone’s profile.  It contains vital information: gender, sexuality, relationship status.  It also contains the information you need to send a message that’s actually going to get a response: hobbies and interests.

5.  Compose a message.  Try to make it more than one line.  I’m not asking you to write someone a novel, but make it a message that’s worth the click it takes to open it.  Aim for at least three sentences. Don’t use terms of endearment in your first message to someone.  If you’re going to give a compliment, give it in a full sentence: “You have a beautiful profile picture.”  instead of,  “Hey beautiful.”

Ask questions so that the person you’re messaging has a reason to message you back.  Don’t include anything sexually explicit, because it’s just not sexy and it’s going to discourage someone from responding to you at all, let alone to say, “Buzz off.”  Spell check your message before you send it to make sure your actual intent is being conveyed and autocorrect hasn’t screwed you over.  The easier it is to read and feel that they understand what you’ve written, the more likely someone is to respond.

Ta-da!  You have sent your first message worth reading.

Welcome to the world of people who receive responses.

Fellow victims of unwelcome digital advances, I would love to hear your horror stories.  What’s the most absurd message you’ve ever received?

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  • April 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm
    Amy Dentata

    PROTIP: Most women who are beautiful in the conventionally-attractive sense already know this, because they receive comments and cat-calls all the time. Telling a conventionally-attractive person they’re beautiful as a pickup line is like saying, “Hey, you’re five-foot-six and wearing a blue jacket.” Yes, this is a factual statement that is quite apparent. Nobody is impressed by pointing out the obvious.

    If you want to compliment someone on their appearance, mention *specifics*. “Your hair is so gorgeous.” “You have a wonderfully intense look in your eyes in that photo.” “That is an amazing hat.” A generic “you’re beautiful” shows that you aren’t paying attention to the person. It’s the visual equivalent of messaging someone without reading their profile. It is a statement spoken AT a person instead of WITH a person.

    If you’re messaging someone who isn’t conventionally attractive, this is even more true. People who don’t fall under conventional beauty norms also know this fact, because they often receive either a) negative comments or b) are completely ignored/dismissed. A blanket “you’re beautiful” in this case will come across as dishonest and manipulative. Like you think they’re so desperate for approval they’ll take whatever they can get.

    Specific compliments show you see the *person*, not just their body, and that you have put thought into why they interest you beyond causing bloodflow to your groin.

  • April 14, 2013 at 11:30 pm
    Amy Dentata

    And now I comment again to leave some choice quotes of how NOT to message someone, especially not a trans person:

    “Question… Are you transgendered? Not sure what the last part of your profile meant.”

    This was the entire content of the message, and was sent by a couple seeking a third for flings. Several problems here:

    1. Writing a message this short asking only about someone’s trans status shows that you’re curious, and curious in a bad way. The zoo exhibit “why are those monkeys doing that” kind of way. Trans people get this a lot. Don’t do it.

    2. It is pretty obvious that if the answer to this question is “yes”, the trans person will be rejected. Especially when couples are searching for a partner. You are setting someone up for rejection by revealing a basic fact about themselves. This is insulting, especially when their trans status is *already mentioned in their profile*. It’s clear you *suspect* the person is trans, so what you are asking, essentially, is “Are you unfuckable?” Not a great opener.

    3. Saying “transgendered” is generally considered a faux pas. It’s a red flag to a large number of trans people. If you ARE interested in dating a trans person, don’t use it. The word is “transgender”, and it’s an adjective that describes a person.

    “I kept reading your profile. I got up the guts to write. I would love to know you better. I know you must get a ton of replies so I will keep this brief. Please look over my profile and let me know what you think.”

    These are some lighter flubs so I’ll be gentler here. This is very sweet but also a bit desperate-sounding, like I’m being put up on a pedestal. Most people don’t enjoy that. The last bit sounds like I’m being asked to look at a resume. There are also no specifics; you could send this message to literally anybody.

    “very intrigued by your profile, sexy and reference to firefly!”

    I’m going to be honest, I’m more tolerant of being objectified and called “sexy” when it’s coming from another woman. But yeah. Single-sentence.

    “Thanks, but not interested! I’ll check out that book though, thanks for the recommendation.”

    This was in reply to a message that was not a proposition, but in fact a strictly platonic book recommendation based on the person’s profile. A person who listed they were also looking for friends. If you’re also looking for friends on your profile, don’t assume every message is a come-on.

    “You had me at video games and sub play 😉 Hello darlin, open minded, down to earth, definitely not normal guy looking for the untraditional kind of gal for randomness and friendship, swap stories and see where things may take us.”

    NEVER EVER CALL A TRANS WOMAN AN “UNTRADITIONAL KIND OF GAL”. It makes you a traditional asshole.

    One profile I received a message from was a couple saying they were open to dating “tgirls”, but only “passable full time Tgurls”. That’s a one-way ticket to block-ville.

    Subject: “Wink” Text: “hello there” …Are you serious?
    “Tell me more!!!” No!
    “A wink…and a smile :)” An anxious look and a few steps in the other direction.
    “heya hows it goin? you seem like a fun girl. lets connect” This is a missed connection.
    “I seen you on facebook. I am the infamous [name withheld]” STALKER ALERT.
    “new friend would be fun let me know” From a profile with a sexually-suggestive name and no photo. AXE MURDERER ALERT.
    “Can I txt you..” After you’ve proven you’re not an axe murderer.
    “hello soo what type of coffee do u like” Solitary coffee, at this rate.
    Subject: “girl” Text: “well i hope so.” Dying in a fire. Well I hope so.
    “you go girl rock out” For those who don’t know, ‘You go girl’ is code for “I find your transness quaint and amusing.”

    I’ll close with something positive: I had to dig through a lot of messages from wonderful people who I just didn’t share any chemistry with to find these.

  • April 15, 2013 at 12:12 am
    Bee Queer (@BeeQueerBlog)

    Oh, I’ve got some good ones. I was only on OKCupid for a week before I got fed up, though.
    “if I woulda took the time to actually fill out my profile more it would bare a resemblance to yours. I must know more about you!!!”
    Well, isn’t that…generic. I tried to talk to him about stuff on my profile and it seemed like he had no idea what I was talking about.

    “Hi I think ur sexy want to talk”

    “im 32 m ky names eric im very very sweet im single i love to cuddle and hold hands if your interested email me back..if your not serious plz dont respond….your very pretty 🙂 ”
    Is it really that hard for you to type out things? Please don’t breed.

    “Hey u want 2 hookup”
    No. Just, no.

    The thing I hate the most about OKCupid is that a lot of the questions are things like “Do you think women should be in the kitchen?” and I just get so irrationally angry when I mark it as a “mandatory” question and I still get matched with the scum of the earth.

    Also, here’s some highlights of usernames of people who have visited my page:
    chris098765432 (Is it really that important that your username is Chris?)
    ihasb33r (Good for you.)
    I_Am_Jordan_ (I can see that, from your profile.)
    sweeetguy88 (No profile picture, either. Yeah, I completely trust you.)
    donut03 (This one just sort of made me laugh.)

  • May 21, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Full disclosure time; I own and operate a somewhat successful dating site. I also have profiles on several others, I am a single man, and have been “online dating” since the 1990s. I have talked with many people about the problems of online dating and I can see both sides of the problem described in this article.

    The thing about dating sites for those who have not used them, or aren’t paying attention is that there are at least 100 men for every actual woman — a majority of female profiles on dating sites are generated by the dating site and populated with stock photo collections of women who will message you when your premium membership lapses only to vanish after you have renewed. This is how dating sites generate their revenue, and as underhanded and slimy as it may be, is the truth. This is true for every pay dating site on the internet. We are not even going to get into the spammer-scammers and cam girls who use dating sites to mine for prospects, however the chances of connecting with a real and interested woman on a dating website for a man are very low.

    So now that we have established that the odds are not in men’s favor, I can see how this cycle of dating-site-disrespect continues. Even the nice guys who take the time to read a profile, respond with something related, and do “all of the right things” (as described in this article) are often left in the cold.

    What happens is that, the actual “real women” (as opposed to the “bait” put up by the site operators, etc) are so overwhelmed with messages from amorous guys and often dont even bother to respond with a polite “thanks but no thanks” to the hundreds of messages they receive. Because of this male users of dating sites are more likely to take the “shotgun approach” and fire off copy-pasta messages to every woman on the site in the hopes that one responds, because they, sometimes understandably so, would rather not waste their time reading every profile and writing a profile specific message that will ultimately be ignored by the female receiver..

    In this cycle everyone gets frustrated;
    Women because they are inundated with every thing from form letters, inappropriate messages, and the general frustration of the men on the sites.

    Men are also frustrated because the amount of time and energy it takes to “online date” is usually equal to the time spent in a bar, but in this case often without any response indicating rejection or acceptance.

    So, in closing I would like to make suggestions to both men and women;
    Guys do your selves a favor, be nice, respectful and show that you are paying attention. and Ladies, If you are not interested, a polite “no thanks” will help improve the quality of the messages that you will receive in the future — if the guy doesn’t take your rejection amicably, there is an ignore or block button on every single dating site out there — use it.

    otherwise, have fun, be safe, and always meet for the first time in a public place.


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