Online Personals: Making First Contact With People Who Interest You
By: Stephanie Constantina
You’ve signed up at a personals website and you’ve picked out some profiles of people who look interesting – now what do you do? Firstly, don’t be afraid to contact several different people at once. You need to spread your net wide if you are to find the right kind of person to go ahead and date. Obviously, though, when contacting lots of people this has to be manageable. If you cast your net too wide and each person receives just a copy of your initial message, barely customized to suite their individual case, then you are on to a loser. The people you contact will quickly realize that you are not holding an individual conversation with them and lose any interest they had in you, if they ever had any.
The approach described above is a recipe for disaster. The best approach is to concentrate on two or three people in the first instance, trying to get to know each of them on an individual basis. You have to be clear in your mind that there is a real, individual person at the other end of the communication link, a person with individual interests and wants, ways of doing things and seeing the world.
But to go back a stage, how do you choose the people to contact in the first place? The most likely thing to draw your attention at first is a photo of someone you like the look of (this underlines the importance of having a good photo in your own profile). This mirrors what often happens in the real world, where people are initially drawn to each other by physical appearance. Don’t let this be the overriding factor, however. It is a starting point. Relationships are built on personalities, not appearances. So, of the people whose photo attracts you, carefully read what they say about themselves. Then ask yourself the following. Is this someone who sounds like the kind of person I might get on well with? Do their interests and approach to life obviously conflict with my own?
Of course it may be hard to answer such questions from only the briefest of profile entries. But assuming that there is nothing obvious that stands out as being a problem, go ahead and make contact with them. But what to say when you make contact? Here we are almost into the online equivalent of chat-up lines. However, to think of initial contact in terms of chat-up lines would be a mistake – chat-up lines are not going to work in this medium.
People are interested in those who take an interest in them. So your initial approach could be a short to medium length message (don’t make it too long) saying that you have seen their profile and then picking out some of the things the person says about him or herself that have struck a chord with you. Ask a few casual and non-interrogatory questions. Say why you are interested in what they say. Strike up a conversation. Tell them briefly about yourself and your interests. Leave the way open for them to respond and ask you things.
What to avoid. Do not say you picked them out initially because of their picture. It’s probably okay to comment lightly on something in the picture if it’s funny or unusual, but you certainly do not want to give the impression that you are only interested in them for how they look. Nor should you be, if you are looking for a potential relationship. If you want to potentially begin a relationship with this person then you are not just interested in their picture anyway! Relationships are formed upon meeting of minds – or they quickly break down and result in break-up.
What else to avoid. Do not turn your initial contact into a glowing description of wonderful you are. You will come across as self-centered. This would put most people off making any further contact. In your efforts to find out more about the other person do not interrogate. If your questions are too personal or too intensive it will sound as if your are giving them the third degree. Be light-hearted (but always genuine and sincere) in your approach. Again there is a balance to be aimed for here. Do not try to do a comedy routine or try to be too much of a ‘fun person’ that you just become a joke. Too much humour and too many odd comments can be confusing and disconcerting. The other person can’t quite grasp where you are coming from or what you want.
During this first and subsequent emails you should aim to be starting a new friendship, not a romantic encounter. Converse as you would with someone who had just started a new job where you work. Like getting to know a new colleague.
Finally, and as always, safety should be paramount when dealing with strangers. Never give out personal information or contact details. Stick to using the email method set up through your dating subscription at least until you have developed a long-term email sequence. Even them proceed cautiously to online chat meetings (still withholding personal details) and only then to phone calls (withholding your number, if you are female). Always take the highest precautions to protect yourself and leave nothing to chance.
To sum up then, it’s okay to contact several people through the personals as long as you regard each one as a separate potential friendship, rather than trying to clone yourself across a large number of people, which will only get you into trouble. Your aim is to get to know a few people with the intention of narrowing down to someone to date. When you first contact someone just be yourself, be interested in the other person but not intrusive, express interest in the other’s interests and what they say about themselves but don’t go over the top. Don’t be too funny or confusing. Be genuine and people will respond in the same way, if they are genuine themselves. Never skimp on protecting your personal contact details. …And that is how to first approach people through the online personals.
About the author
Stephanie Constantina writes for http://SingleDating.com. Find more dating advice by going to http://SingleDating.com’s Dating Advice section at http://www.SingleDating.com/datingadvice.html (This is advice only – you are responsible for your own actions).