Hey, you seem cool. How's your weekend going?
June 14, 2018 10:28 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever replied to those generic, cut and pasted online dating messages and had it turn out well?

I am a woman, these are men, to be clear. Sometimes I click on the profiles of these people and they are what I sort of expected - mostly blank, generic profiles with one or two blurry pictures, etc. In other words, people I wouldn't have gone out with anyway. But sometimes I click on them and they are people I'd be pretty interested in had they sent me a nice message - and I'm talking just like one sentence that references my profile. I send a lot of dating messages, so I totally get the urge to not put too much effort into it, but at the same time, when I'm looking for something in their profile that I can respond to, I think, if you can't be bothered to skim my profile for two minutes to write an introductory message, why should I do that for you so I can write back? Or why should I sit there and think about giving you a thoughtful response that you can use to build a conversation? My profile has a lot of easy "hooks" that people can ask about.

I'm putting way more time into online dating than I want to be and my returns have been dreadful, so I'm searching for ways to make it more efficient. So on the one hand, a blanket rule of deleting anyone who sends a generic message may speed things along, but if I'm not having good luck doing what I'm doing, maybe I need to change things up? I would love to quit it entirely and concentrate on doing more fun activities, but I don't meet many single men in my hobbies or daily life.

Experiences? Also interested if you replied to somewhat "flirtatious" generic intro messages. My platform is OKC.
posted by unannihilated to Human Relations (27 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Every time I have dropped my standards due to boredom or whatever and done this, I am reminded again why I have the standards. In my experience it's indicative of how they're gonna be throughout the whole dating/relationship experience and ultimately a waste of time. I have learned that holding out for someone who thinks about this stuff the same way I do (which is also how you've described your approach) is worth it.
posted by Polychrome at 10:43 AM on June 14, 2018 [27 favorites]

Sometimes I might reference something in their profile if it's something I'm very excited about and it's relevant (like if they are a fan of Game of Thrones and it's premiering soon/currently airing). But mostly I start conversations like I would start any conversation, "Hey there, how's your week going?" or something similar. To me, if someone responds that means they are probably attracted to me. So once I get a reply I'll open the conversation more.

A lot of people seem to swipe right on everybody, or very quickly based on one picture. When I message them if they respond that usually means they've looked at my profile more (details and other pictures) and decide it's worth a shot having a conversation with me.

I don't see the harm in exchanging at least a few messages to find out if they open up more.
posted by blackzinfandel at 10:46 AM on June 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

I think it depends what you mean by "turned out well." Are you okay with hookups or short-term dating? I've had a couple of those come from the short messages. They would have been bad long-term boyfriends though. I think first messages are usually indicative of investment.
posted by bearette at 10:46 AM on June 14, 2018

My answer applies to okc. I think for tinder, shorter messages are more the norm because there's not much to respond to from the profile.
posted by bearette at 10:47 AM on June 14, 2018

Response by poster: Let's just say dating services with a web-based component or longer profile space like OKC or Match. Not Tinder, not Bumble.

Ultimately my goal is a long-term relationship. I'm open to hookups or short-term dating, but typically my standards for those are pretty high. So let's just define success as long-term relationship or someone who could have been one (like you were dating for a few months but he ultimately decided to move for a job or something...that's still considered turned out well for me).

I don't see the harm in exchanging at least a few messages to find out if they open up more.
I don't have infinite time for this anymore. I also get burned out/frustrated more easily each round that I do this than I did, you know, five years ago when I first started this. So I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to try this route.
posted by unannihilated at 10:57 AM on June 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

My impression is that the disconnection between online and real life persona is so huge that many men don’t necessary try to find the perfect virtual match before they agree to meet. They go by the outward appearance and take it from there.

If you want to try something else, do the same and think about meeting these men like you would of blind dates and decide when you meet whether they’re worth it or not. No stress, low stake. Otherwise you’ll keep ruling out men who can’t spell or who don’t share your scintillating conversation skills or gift for repartee, and possibly miss a few good ones. Numbers game and all that.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:01 AM on June 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

If I didn't respond to those on Bumble, I wouldn't ever have a date. That's hyperbole but for a dating service totally dedicated to letting women send the first message, I usually receive a hand waving emotion or "hey, how're you?"

I also would get those on OkC from women, but they were either spam or not worth responding too IMO because of the low lack of effort. For men, it's often more of a numbers game I'm told where they do get frustrated and just start shotgunning messages.

Maybe respond once with an interesting question and see if they can have an actual conversation?
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:13 AM on June 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

I found responding to those obviously cut-and-pasted messages to be disheartening and a waste of time. If the conversation ever went anywhere, it quickly became obvious that the guy wasn't actually interested in me at all -- I was just one of seemingly dozens of women who met some "minimum attractiveness threshold." I'd focus your responses on guys who can at least show they've read your profile.

somewhat "flirtatious" generic intro messages

In my experience the guys who send these messages figured out that dick pics don't work, so they toned it down a little. But they still just want a (probably disappointing...) hook-up, nothing more.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 11:14 AM on June 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

I read an article once that said that the reason women quit online dating is that men just try to message as many women as possible without really considering whether they think the people are good matches. After reading this, I overheard some perfectly decent men I know discussing this as their strategy. So it's possible that good men do this.

Before I gave up on online dating, I would write these men back, sometimes to say I was interested and sometimes to say I wasn't, and I never, ever got a response from any of them (except the one guy I wasn't interested in who responded with a barrage of DMs insulting me and the town I live in while I desperately tried to figure out how to block him).

So - it could work - but I wouldn't invest much time into it if I were you.
posted by FencingGal at 11:27 AM on June 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

My impression is that the disconnection between online and real life persona is so huge that many men don’t necessary try to find the perfect virtual match before they agree to meet.

^This is exactly how I am. My endgoal in meeting people online is not to find my perfect match or to get laid, but just to meet them, at least briefly, in person. I cannot tell if I will be compatible with someone, or even find them attractive, until I've actually met them. I dislike texting as a form of communication with anyone I don't know well, outside of business formalities.

Online dating is, imho, going through a pretty bad patch at the moment. I hear from all types of people how fed up they are with it. Those people's experiences vary, but the one thing they seem to have in common is that they're putting in a lot of effort, and getting little or nothing in return.

What follows is a long anecdote about why I personally don't put much effort into texting new people anymore, even though I used to do so. Maybe hearing why some people are reluctant to invest much energy in messaging will help you decide how to handle the incoming messages you are getting.

I personally met a long term romantic partner on OKC. We exchanged a few messages, talking about things in one another's profiles, and met up at a local public event, then exchanged phone numbers. We talked on the phone, and texted, and continued to meet up in person. From the 4th date on, we were a couple. She is an English professor and poet, and often says that well crafted written communication is essential in her relationships, so I conclude that my written communication is not terrible. We currently live in different parts of the country (in a long distance polyamorous arrangement), and use a dedicated app to write letter length messages to one another on a nearly daily basis. But, I can't imagine that would never have been possible if we hadn't spent many many hours talking together in person first.

For the last year, in my new city, I've tried to meet women on OKC, and have had a generally terrible experience. I've written people and asked questions about things in their profile, as I always did in the past, and had exchanges that went into weeks and in one case months, only to have the person suddenly ghost on me. Like, almost mid message, just disappear or block me. Or finally make a plan to meet up for coffee, finalize the plan, write "Looking forward to it, see you tomorrow," immediately followed by "This isn't working out for me, never contact me again." I'm 42 and this is with women my age with non-catfishy profiles, never asked for money, no sexual flirting in the texting. I've shown these ghosted message histories to my (English professor, intersectional feminist, and bluntly honest partner), to ask if she thought I said something off putting, she has said she has no idea what is going on. After the 3rd time it happened, she was pretty angry on my behalf. After the 5th, I became pretty jaded. This was never a trend for me in the past. I've heard other people describing similar experiences as well, mostly in the last year. My only theory is that that a lot of people have migrated away from OKC for various reasons, and that has increased the number of people on the site who have no real interest in an actual relationship. Given that I can't even tell if I'll like a person without meeting them, the investment of cognitive and emotional labor is just not worth it.

So, when I use online dating now, I invest very minimal effort into messaging and ask to meetup in public for coffee after 3 texts, regardless of how short they are. I assume if they're genuinely interested in meeting up, they'll make a plan, and if not, it's not worth my time.

Although our wants and experiences are different, I sympathize with the feeling of burnout, and the desire to streamline things. Personally, my OKC account is currently "disabled," I'm considering giving Bumble and CoffeeMeetsBagal a try, and seeking out activities where I can meet people in person.
posted by ethical_caligula at 12:14 PM on June 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

I don't respond to these men either, but I'm also not having much success.

Like polychrome, I find that when I lower my standards, I end up feeling disappointed.

I've gone on dates with men who seemed dreadfully dull online and they always turned out to be as bad in real life.

So far, I have been unsuccessful at online dating, but I have given up wasting my time on people whose interests don't align with mine and only go out with the top 5% of those I communicate with online.

Most of the men who seem interesting online are also awful in real life. These men have a tendency to talk at me, as though I'm their audience for the night. Invariably, they have taken improv comedy classes that have not done much to improve their ability to have a two way conversation.

My impression of online dating is that it's hopeless. Responding to these one line intros is just going to waste your time, but the men who write more intelligent responses are just as awful.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:22 PM on June 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

Another male viewpoint although maybe not typical. I wouldn't be surprised if most men are looking for hookups.

Anyways my recent experience has been like this. Me in my late 40's move to new area. Create account on OKC and notice many women that are potential matches. Yay! Like close to 50 maybe. In my same age range. This is based on looks and interests and values in their profiles. Not looking for soulmate. Just someone smart and didn't vote for Trump. We can figure the rest out later.

So pick the lady at the top of the list and send a carefully worded hello message that mentions something from their profile....crickets.....ok so a couple of days later pick the next person on the list, rinse and repeat. After a couple of months of this and having sent 30 something messages with little or no response it just gets too frustrating and you start to shotgun messages because hey what's the point they aren't going to respond anyways. Then I finally realize that dating sites are not the way to go and delete account.
posted by Justin Case at 12:31 PM on June 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm a gay trans dude but most of my online dating experience is from when I was presenting as a woman, dating men. So I got a lot of "wanna fuck" messages and the boring type you're getting. (If it's any comfort, it's even worse among gay men.)

I agree with others that you can't know if there is real compatibility until you meet. I would do it this way: if you have time/wherewithal for two coffee dates per week, and you get ten messages, pick the two most compatible that meet your baseline standards and just meet them. I struck out a lot but it was low effort and we didn't waste weeks texting and feeling each other out. I always knew within 10-20 minutes if I'd want to go out with them again; no amount of online conversation can substitute for that.

I met plenty of guys who were poor texters/not terribly erudite but were still interesting in person. I ended up marrying one; he sent me an obvious form letter as his first message, he was the same age with similar interests so I called him. We met two weeks later and married three years later. (Divorced five years after that, but whatever, my point still stands.)
posted by AFABulous at 12:35 PM on June 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

So, I met my wife online almost fifteen years ago, and I just want to second the very first comment:

In my experience it's indicative of how they're gonna be throughout the whole dating/relationship experience and ultimately a waste of time.

I read the whole damn profile and sent messages that showed I'd read it. It's not hard. I support requiring a minimum level of effort. That said, I did notice that women are often deliberately cagey in their profiles, perhaps so much I couldn't get a read on them. I'm pretty certain I sent a fair number of pretty generic replies because I was waiting for some sort of personality to show itself.

You say you have "hooks" but have you had friends look at your profile and offer any suggestions? I don't want to say this is your fault (in fact I'm pretty sure it's not, because men are terrible) but it's possible your hooks aren't as obvious as you think they are. To be fair it's a lot more likely that these dudes are just lazy and not really trying hard. In the latter case, consider yourself lucky they're not wasting any more of your time. But do ask your friends for help.
posted by fedward at 1:04 PM on June 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I wouldn’t read too much into the brevity of these messages. Many users on dating sites and apps are inactive for one reason or another, and so I’d be pretty confident in wagering that most of the time, the men sending them are primarily looking for a signal that you’re free to respond, and to a slightly lesser extent, that you’re attracted in them – both of which a reply provides. One or two minutes to skim your profile might not sound like all that much, but multiply that by 50-100 profiles, and it adds up pretty damn quick. That’s a tall order to ask of a stranger. It’s not ideal for anyone, but what can ya do?
posted by un petit cadeau at 1:34 PM on June 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

Swipe dater here, reasonably happy with my results. I always send the same (generic) opening message: ‘hi $name, great to match with you!’ Since many do not respond to any message, this is low stakes and easy. If I get a response, then I assume it’s worth the investment to write more detailed messages. But gosh, it’s a numbers game and many of my matches never write.
posted by Doc_Sock at 2:08 PM on June 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

I recently saw a profile on Plenty of Fish that just said that he likes to watch Netflix. After reading replies to another post on Ask Metafilter encouraging the poster to give people who seem boring online a chance, I said, "What do you like to watch on Netflix? I'd like to try Black Mirror. Juicy details X and Y about Black Mirror." He said, "Lol, I don't know. I watch a lot of stuff on Netflix." I can understand what some posters have said about how some people don't like written communication, etc, but to not even be able to name a show he watches? Come on!

I just deleted my dating profiles. I spent about six years online dating, and it made me miserable. I've had a lot more fun at in person events, such as playing board games with other people, than running on the online dating hamster wheel.
posted by Social Science Nerd at 2:19 PM on June 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

"I don't have infinite time for this anymore. I also get burned out/frustrated more easily each round that I do this than I did, you know, five years ago when I first started this. So I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to try this route."

Would not the converse be true for people messaging you? Like, spending a lot of time trying to send a thoughtful message and feelers out probably gets exhausting when 95% of the time you get no response back no matter how much effort you put in. There are also lots of boring people though.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:23 PM on June 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

Absolutely, except in my case I was the one sending them. I sent my now BF of two years "Hey, how's it going." I also responded to those messages, if the profile looked ok. My data on this was in the Wapo.

The first message is just a "fishing" expedition, seeing if you get a reply. It's too much time to write out a message personalized for someone who'll take one look at your profile and never respond. One the conversation starts, then if the person sounds like they didn't care I would nope out of there.

Of course I had to go on A LOT of dates and do a lot of messaging to even find a few people I meshed with IRL. It's a ton of work, but I tried to treat it as such, setting realistic goals like replying/sending 2/3 messages a day.
posted by melissam at 4:09 PM on June 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

I do have some experience responding to these messages (I am female identifying, I usually date male identifying).

Usually this engagement results in an overall pleasant back and forth online (yay!), a fairly efficient meet up (yay!), and about a 50% hit to miss ratio with first date chemistry (all in all not bad!).

HOWEVER- here is the rub- 100% of the time I have made it past the first few dates with these men, I have gotten smitten, moved ahead dating them in accordance to what I am looking for (monogamy, deep conversation, spending time together twice a week or so, etc. etc. ) they have ended things, deeming me and/or the relationship to be "too intense" or some iteration thereof.

My takeaway has been that men who send these generic messages are:
1) not bad people. they are often more pleasant than I ascribe them to be when I roll my eyes at their c&p messages.
2) not really that into me as a person.
3) not really into the reality of (what I consider to be) a serious relationship.

NB: I think you are on to something with this "if I'm not having good luck doing what I'm doing, maybe I need to change things up?"- I am experimenting with "disrupting" my normal online dating routines and it's been a lot more fun so far at least!
posted by seemoorglass at 7:08 PM on June 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

"Swipe dater here, reasonably happy with my results. I always send the same (generic) opening message: ‘hi $name, great to match with you!’ Since many do not respond to any message, this is low stakes and easy. If I get a response, then I assume it’s worth the investment to write more detailed messages. But gosh, it’s a numbers game and many of my matches never write."

Just wanting to dive in to say that, Reader, if you are a man dating women, this is not good advice. So many men display no selectivity and no effort that by displaying lots of selectivity and medium high effort you will stand out. Being selective makes space for the effort, it goes together like peaches and cream.

OP, since you are a woman operating in an OKC context, I'm not confident that this advice applies*. But if you are a man swiping at women out there in the big world and are unhappy with your results, definitely try: 1) approving of 1/10th of the women you are currently approving of, and 2) putting in a pretty solid amount of effort from the very first message.


A man who literally never went on a bad swipe date** and will soon marry a woman that he met on a swipe date

*...but I still kind of think it does.
**criterion: "Am I sorry I spent my time and money on that?"
posted by Kwine at 7:12 PM on June 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Most non-responses aren't personal at all. A lot of profiles on these sites haven't been logged in to for a while.
posted by storytam at 12:06 AM on June 15, 2018

As someone who is very happily married to the woman I met on Tinder, I would say that unless the online interaction is blatantly creepy or rude, it often doesn’t correlate with how the IRL chemistry pans out. My wife was pretty clumsy, dull and awkward in the way she reached out to me ... I was slightly put off by it but chose to keep an open mind. But every IRL date with her was spectacular and we both fell in love very quickly. Whereas many prior interactions with other women were great fun online but turned out to be duds in person. The proverbial Your Mileage May Vary really applies.
posted by wutangclan at 4:48 AM on June 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think online dating is a numbers game for men. IF everyone wrote detailed messages to only ever get a response 10 percent of the time it would be pretty demoralizing.

I think when you receive these messages, you can respond to any you find attractive, but raise the stakes pretty fast. Invite them to meet up in person at a cafe (or whatever) and if they don't respond or hem and haw about making concrete plans cut and run.

Disclaimer: I don't believe text communication with someone you've never met in person can predict anything about them (unless its obviously crazy or creepy). A lot of people just aren't the write it out type.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:34 AM on June 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

As a male who sometimes tries to date men and women through these sites, I struggle to find a good starter, even when there's a pretty fleshed out profile. If there's something we have in common: taste in music usually, I'll start by asking a question about that. When someone seems cute and interesting, but doesn't have much for me to go on though, I get stuck. Doubly so on things like Tinder where there's typically no profile content for anyone.

Of course, I think the bigger issue I run into is that I'm in an open/poly relationship, so that likely complicates matters
posted by SansPoint at 9:24 AM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you decide to give them more time to become interesting but don’t want to have to put in effort yourself, I would often reply with a cut-and-paste of my own, which gives them a second chance to do better. I’d write new ones sporadically; they varied depending on my patience level that month. Things like, “How was your weekend? I hiked in Thacher Park with my dog; it tired us both out!” or “What are you looking for on here?” or “I just finished and loved it because of <>. Have you read anything interesting lately?” or “Have you seen ? I’m getting really into it.”

If they’re still boring after that, they’re definitely not worth your time.

posted by metasarah at 10:22 AM on June 15, 2018

I'm pretty much done with online dating, because conversations like this with strangers make me want to throw my phone in the river, and yeah, they're just as boring IRL.

Now if someone would open with "hi, whatcha reading/playing?", THAT would get an immediate response. Just as easy but it gives me a direction to go.
posted by hishtafel at 10:22 PM on June 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

« Older Last minute Father's Day gifts for dad shippable...   |   What happened to Google maps? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.