It’s simply not cool, gives online dating a bad name, and will likely get you reported and booted from the site.

If you can’t come up with anything interesting to say, trying breaking through your writer’s block by writing your message in a non-standard format. Good advice for life, but especially good for online dating.

When I’m stuck for the right words, for example, I’ll write in list-format (something I’m fond of doing in any writing situation, in fact). ’, point 2 would be a one-line introduction of yourself, including your name. The truth is, you’ll likely end up going on a lot of dates before you find someone who you’d want to take things to the next level with (if that is, indeed, what you are looking to do eventually).

If they took some time to form whole sentences and strike up a conversation with you, however, even if you’re not interested it’s polite to jot down a quick reply and either respond to them in a way that encourages more communication or in a way that cuts the convo off (nicely).

This, of course, gets more difficult for woman, who (if what I’ve heard is correct) can get hundreds of messages per day on some of the more popular dating sites.

Hopefully I don’t have to go any further with why this is the wrong approach because, damn, it’s REALLY the wrong approach. This is a rule that applies to interacting in person as well, but it’s especially important in the online dating scene because it can be hard to get people to reply to you (whether due to the massive amounts of mail they get everyday or simply because they don’t know how to respond to your list introduction [see Tip 6]).

The far better tactic is to take it slow, like you would meeting someone in real life (generally, at least..maybe the person above is used to doing the same thing in person? Introduce yourself in a way that is clear enough that the other person isn’t freaked out or caught off guard, but intriguing enough that they want to write you back, find out more, and strike up a conversation. Asking a few intelligent, well thought out questions, however, gives them a reason to respond, while at the same time showing something about yourself (‘if he knows enough to ask about that, he must be an MGMT fan, too! Asking good questions can help you steer the conversation while at the same time allowing you to be an active listener; that is, you are totally focused on what the other person is saying, and therefore finding out exactly what you want to know about them (which is one of the benefits of online dating…if you find out they are a Neo-Nazi or infrequent bather or something like that, you can ease your way out of the conversation by not asking any more questions).

Have a friend check it out, if you’re feeling extra brave.

Ask them if it represents you well, and if not, what they think you should be emphasizing more.

This means you have a lot of opportunities to shine, but also a whole lot of opportunities to foul up big time.