Ask Curvy: What do I put in the messages?

A reader asks: but what do I put in the messages that I write to matches online?

Okay, so, you’re doin’ it! Your profile is up and running, you’ve got some sweet new photos of yourself up there, you’ve filled out your profile with delightful little expositional details about yourself – you’re dating!

But no one’s messaging you.

Is this evidence that you’re not attractive, or interesting, or girlfriend material? No, it is not – and when you catch your inner bully whispering that nonsense to you, go ahead and tell her to shut the fuck up. All it means is that you’re gonna need to get to messaging some matches yourself.

Here’s a truth from my own dating experience, lovely: every great date I went on was with someone I’d messaged first.

Really. Every single one.

In fact, I’m having trouble remembering ANY dates I went on with someone who messaged me first, meaning that either those dates were entirely unmemorable, or that they were nonexistent.

So here you are, ready to message someone: what do you put in that message? Here are some general guidelines. You want your initial message to:

  • Be brief – about 5 sentences long;
  • Focus on them, not you;
  • Be personal and specific to the person you’re messaging – not a form letter that you send to everyone;
  • Lead to further conversation.

If you’re like me and you enjoy a good structured guide to follow, here’s my initial message guide:

Sentence 1: Funny or complimentary intro sentence

If you can write funny, do that here – if you’re making them chuckle, you’re starting to form a connection. If you’re not the funniest writer on earth or you’re getting stuck trying to think of something suitably humorous, just go ahead and throw in a mild compliment: “sounds like you’re quite the outdoorsman!” or “your profile made me laugh.”

Sentence 2: Comment on a hook

Comment on a hook – some specific detail you’ve extracted from their profile. Their favorite bar, their favorite thing to do on a Friday night, their favorite outdoor activity – these are the details I’m talking about. You want Sentence 2 to just show that you’ve read their profile and connected with something that’s important to them.

Sentence 3: Ask a question

Ask an open-ended question about a hook. Try  for something like, “what’s your favorite of the bars you mentioned on your page?” or “where are you thinking of traveling next?” (a several-sentence answer required) rather than, “did you like Paris?” (only a yes/no answer required).

Sentence 4: Ask another question

Another open-ended question about another hook in their profile.

Sentence 5: Flirty goodbye

Try for a cute, inviting sign off, like, “sincerely intrigued by…” or “excited to hear more about…” or “delighted to have found a kindred spirit in…”

So here’s an example that I’d send to a dude we’ll call Joe, who describes himself as:

  • Good at parallel parking
  • Someone who road-trips around America
  • Writes jokes
  • Works weekends at a job he loves to make up for the job he hates during the week
  • Thinks of himself as a “hum-drum person who was swept up into a life of adventure”

Hey Joe,

I’m intrigued by your parallel parking skills and wondering if you might share some wisdom on this topic for someone who ends up with half her car sticking diagonally out into the lane at least 50% of the time.

Also, I see that you write jokes - I’d gladly trade you a hipster joke I know for one of your original jokes! Although you probably know it already. It might not be a fair trade.

What’s your favorite place in America that you’ve seen in your travels?

And what, oh what, is this enjoyable job you work on weekends?

Sincerely intrigued by your clearly-not-hum-drum-anymore adventurous awesomeness,


One last tip: don’t get too caught up in making every message perfect. The majority of the messages you send out will go unanswered (more on this next week), so you want to write ‘em and forget ‘em. If you’re agonizing over the wording for hours, you’re gonna burn yourself out on just the one message, and not have energy to send out more!

And yep, there’s a whole strategy to how many messages you should be writing, and how to respond to messages you receive. More on that next week.

So go forth and message someone, lovely! Comment here and let me know how the strategy works for you!