Dear Uncommon Courtesy,
Here’s a good idea for an etiquette post: how to send a good first message on a dating site (have you guys covered this already?) Here’s a good example of what NOT to say:
Miss Manners is not a fan of online dating, but recommends being vague and not unkind when declining future dates (after dates have already happened). In this case I believe she would advocate for not responding at all.
Victoria: I mean, the key thing is to not engage with people who send you messages that you find offensive.
Jaya: That’s true.
Victoria: But it is definitely rude, also, to start off a message calling someone out for something- I mean, do you even want to date them? Where is that even going to go?
Jaya: Yeah! That’s the most confusing thing, like, I thought you were here to get a date?
Victoria: Haha yeah. I guess maybe some people think it’s their job to call out things they think are racist?
Jaya: But he continues the conversation! He’s not trying to be Mr. Social Justice Warrior, he’s trying to neg her and then flirt about yoga? The etiquette point is why would you contact someone on a dating site and open with an insult?
Victoria: Let’s say she contacted him first and he thought this tattoo was offensive–you can still be polite about it, like, “oh, I see you have a dreamcatcher tattoo- that seems offensive to me, so I can’t see it working out between us.” If you MUST say something. I mean, the beauty of online dating is that you do not have to respond to anything.
Jaya: Haha yes, but again, that’s if you contact him. You don’t just randomly email someone and insult their appearance.
Victoria: For sure. That would only be in response to a first contact from someone. As to what is a good and polite first message- I am generally a fan of something like “Hi! I really liked your profile. I see you like _____, I like _____ too. [Insert question about something in the profile].” Just like….be normal.
Jaya: Why is that so hard for most people? “be normal”
Victoria: Don’t use lines. Don’t insult people. Do NOT say sexually harassing things. Don’t neg. I would recommend not commenting on their appearance, but a short “you’re cute/beautiful” amidst an otherwise thoughtful message isn’t the worst.
Jaya: Right. Like, it can be one of many things, but not the only thing. In a larger sense, if you’re looking to really date someone (not just fuck them), you should be looking at their whole profile and not just how cute you think they are. If that’s the only thing you’re attracted to you’re just not doing dating very well. And if you are looking to just fuck them, omg please make sure they have something on their profile saying the same thing.
Victoria: Hahahah, yeah, on OkCupid, you can sort for people looking for casual hookups, so do that.
Jaya: So much of this is part of that whole PUA thing, turning it into this game and strategy. And I realize yes, you have to put some thought into talking to a stranger, but most people can tell when you’re trying to be genuine.
Victoria: Yeah, and I mean, when you are “meeting” someone for the first time, it’s really best to keep things fairly light- small talk, as it were.
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