So I'm sure you've all got the basics of online dating and setting up a profile down now, but what happens when you need to start a conversation? What should you say? What shouldn't I say? What if they don't like me? Or, worse still, what if they don't reply?
Well don't worry, these worries are perfectly natural and are things that go through the heads of all daters at one point or another.
To help you overcome these nerves, this week I've asked WouldLikeToMeet.me's Charlie Hoole to give you some tips from a female perspective.
Everyone meet Charlie...
So I'm guessing you've set up your profile, started searching for the man/woman of your dreams, and found someone who ticks your boxes. What now? Well I'm afraid telepathy is a rather unreliable form of communication so you'd best get cracking on putting fingers to keyboard and wooing with your words. We know sending that first message can be the most intimidating element to online dating, but it needn't be. Here are 6 steps to help you.
1) Don't just send a message saying 'Hi'.
A simple 'Hi' will go straight in the trash. Remember, this is pure written communication so without the added help of body language and tone of voice you need to give a bit more oomph to your words to get the desired impact and a response. Make an effort, read their profile properly, and reference elements of it in your messages. If you have shared interests or there's something they've mentioned that you can enquire about, start there; my own fascination with the Sexy Sax Man from The Lost Boys always seemed to invite questions.
2) Beware the generic message
Avoid the mass copy and paste job. These are glaringly obvious, especially if you've forgotten to edit that 'insert compliment' section with an actual compliment. As mentioned in point 1, you need to personalise it.
3) Do use the English language as it was intended
A well constructed sentence, free from numerous spelling errors, LOLing all over the place, and emoji overload is a good start. Don't just string a load of random misspelt words together with a large topping of emoticons like this fella.
4) Be patient
It's oh so easy to slip into an obsessive cycle of refreshing our inbox every 30 seconds to see if there's been a response, or actually sending ourselves a message, y'know...just to check there's not a technical issue. Of course we'd all love it if we received a response within seconds, but it's important to remember that it's not always possible. They could be in the gym, at work, without a signal, or if it's late at night on a weekday...asleep.
5) Be polite
Following on from the previous point, my general rule of thumb is to treat others how you'd like to be treated. Signing up to a dating site can be a really big step for many people and sending messages even more so. Remember the human factor. It's easy when you're not face to face to forget about someone's feelings. If you receive a message from someone you're not interested in there's absolutely no need to send a cruel response. Similarly, if you don't receive a reply to that message you poured your efforts into, resist the urge to send an aggressive sweary follow up. Generally, it's also best to avoid any forms of communication when inebriated. We've all had those moments of waking up the morning after and panic checking our messages and social networks. Oh god, the fear!
* Remember: There's a big difference between interesting and weird. You want to spark intrigue, not scare them off.
6) NEVER proposition us.
Yes, we ladies love Pretty Woman. And yes, we may dream of Richard Gere overcoming his crippling fear of heights to climb up our fire escape (not a euphemism) and whisk us off to his mansion in Beverly Hills. What we don't love is being treated like a prostitute IRL.
There are no guarantees you'll get a response, but keep your messages well written (use that spellchecker!), personal, with a dash of humour, and you'll give yourself a good head start.
Good luck! Charlie (@CharlieHoole) x
(Thanks to our awesome member Hannah for allowing us to use these screengrabs from actual messages she'd received on certain other dating sites. You can check out her full blog of horrors to pick up further pointers on what not to do. http://www.http://fucknokcupid.tumblr.com)