I began online dating in July 2012. I originally joined to get my mind off of someone, as well as have a fun summer of dating people outside of my friendship circle. It was a big step, and I would recommend online dating to anyone and everyone, but this post is not about all of the wonderful and terrible things I’ve learned about myself and others from online dating; this post is about word and grammar choices when using an online dating website. Because it really does count. Really!
Why does it count?
First impressions for online dating are all about writing and reading rather than speaking and listening. Not only is it important for one’s profile to be well-written, but so should any initial messages one might send. You can argue that I’m wrong, but not only do I know this from personal experiences and stories I’ve heard (most of my friends were inspired to do online dating after seeing how much fun I was having with it), but also OKCupid did a study on what to say in a first message.
I agree with most of what the OKCupid study says, especially that “netspeak = fail” and common salutations without expansion are not good ways to start a conversation. I’m really not sure which I detest more in a first message: “Hello” or “hey ur pretty. Wut’s up? How r u doing?” What goes through my head when I receive a message with merely a salutation is that the guy did not read my profile, but just looked at my photos; if he had read my profile, he would see two things: first, that I have interests and a life he could ask me about in order to strike up a conversation, and, second, that it says at the very end of my profile, “I won’t respond to messages that just say ‘hey’ or ‘hi,’ so just don’t do it. Please don’t.” When I get a message with netspeak, I instantly delete it and don’t even look at their profile because my profile also says, “I’m a grammar Nazi, so keep this in mind when sending me a message.” If I actually do respond, it is because the messages are so bad that I feel inclined to correct his grammatical errors. What can I say? I like a guy who knows how to use a semicolon correctly!
Sure there are plenty of people who do online dating and really don’t mind poor grammar usage and word choices, but there are many more who really do mind. I, as well as fellow Poetics Project writers and English majors, definitely do mind. We just wouldn’t want to date someone who doesn’t know how to spell or use a comma correctly. We might be picky, but, hey, intelligence is sexy.
– Allison Bellows