Sending That All-Important First Email

You've joined up with an online dating site. You've spent hours agonizing over your profile. You've gone through countless pictures looking for that perfect one to post. And finally, you are ready for some dating action. You think the hard parts of online dating are over, but for some people, the difficulties are just beginning.

You've got mail! It's time to communicate!

The realization that someone (or several people) has come across your profile and now wants to initiate a conversation with you can make even the boldest person want to click the Logout button! But before you do, take a deep breath. Unlike traditional dating, if you start the conversation off on the wrong foot, you don't have to sit through the remainder of a long, agonizing date.

If you say the wrong thing to someone and he/she never responds back, you haven't really lost anything. One thing you can be almost guaranteed of with online dating is that soon enough someone else will be sending you email. You'll just have to try again. And again. And possibly even again. Big deal!

There are ways to successfully make it past that initial message. Much of the success will be in the delivery. With traditional dating, when two people meet for the first time in person they do much of the communicating with body language. They engage each others' eyes, they sit a bit closer together, they flick their hair, and they giggle a lot. Basically if there is chemistry, the couple flirts like crazy!

Flirting is an art and not everybody is good at it. When you're communicating online, being able to flirt while being engaging is what is going to get you to the next round. When body language isn't possible, as is the case with online dating, how does one flirt? Flirting online has to do a lot with what you write and how you write it.

But what do you write? One of the best and easiest ways to break the ice is to talk about something you've read in the person's profile. This sends the message that you're interested too, because it means you've taken time to read that person's profile. Your question can be about practically anything: the person's job, schooling, family, entertainment preferences, hobbies, or whatever. There aren't any rules. Just don't come across as boring, arrogant, or uninterested (unless you are in which case, don't reply at all).

At this point in the online dating game, sending a brief note is adequate, especially if you've got many emails to reply to. Keep the communication lighthearted and positive. Try to add in a sentence about yourself that the other person will find intriguing. Remember, you're supposed to be flirting. And before you sign off, ask a question to increase your chances that you'll get a reply back.