How To Break The Ice In Online Dating

Photo by Fursov Aleksey, Flickr

Lots of us – myself included – have resorted to the perilous love lottery of online dating. On paper it looks like a great idea: you get a little resume and a few cute pictures of someone, so you know what they’re about; then you write to them and hook-up. In theory it should be human take-out for sex and dating; in practice it’s more like buying hundreds of Wonka Bars, trying to find that golden ticket! Luckily, I’m going to use my online dating successes – and disasters – to help you sort the winners from the duds, but for now, I’ll be  giving you a few key tips on making sure that your ice breaker message (the first one you send) isn’t a total wipe out!

1) Don’t Be Too Generic

Obviously, it saves you a lot of time to cut and paste the same message to one hundred people. Only problem with sending a “Hey, you look fun, how’s your day been?” to someone is that it doesn’t give them anything of your personality, or show any genuine interest in them as a person

As I sit at my desk deciding which messages to answer, and which ones to ignore, the impersonal ones are the first ones that I delete. This is because I figure if the person has just checked out my photo, and hasn’t shown any investment in my (spectacularly well-written) profile, they don’t deserve my time.

So make sure you toss a few personal details in there. Tell them a little something about you that isn’t written on your profile, and make reference to something they’ve written in their profile as to why you’ve contacted them: “Hey, Ashley, read that you’re a ‘spontaneous, wild child’ and that struck a chord with me having just returned from a weekend that involved a 48-hour long party, too much punch and a swimming pool. So when was the last time that you danced until dawn?”

2) Don’t Ask Them For A Date Straight Away

A “You seem cool. Fancy a drink sometime?” suffers from all the problems in point one and shows far too much investment in the other person. It suggests you’ve had a quick look at their profile, thought they looked cute and have jumped right into asking for the date. How low are your standards in that case?

Even if they’re a real hottie, make sure that they’re even worth a  glance by checking to see if they give you witty, invested responses back to your emails before you ask them for a date. You want to show that you’ve got lots of options, and their sheer physical beauty isn’t enough for you to ask them out. To wit, show interest in them as a person and connect over more than just a profile picture. Having said that, your chances of getting that date will increase.


Forget WLTM or GSOH, this is the most useful acronym in online dating: TLDR. Basically, it stands for “Too Long, Didn’t Read.” Whilst a short generic message is bad, using a lengthy essay/autobiography as an ice breaker also sucks. Would you tell a stranger in the street about that time a girl cheated on you in high school? Exactly. A short anecdote is cool, but don’t write a message so nebulous and long-winded that it’s nearly impossible to respond to. Also, don’t leave it too long before you ask for a date – get to the point. Internet dating, just like its real life” counterpart, is predicated on momentum.

If you’ve already swapped a couple of fun messages, don’t be shy to ask for their number. Then call them to find out whether you vibe over the phone than on the net. People can be a lot funnier and wittier online when they have ages to think about what they’re going to write; so watch out for the awesome online dater that turns out to be a dull, quivering wreck in real life.

These tips should give you a guide on what not to write. Next time, I’ll give you some pointers for awesome ice breakers, dating tips and signs that you’re on a disaster date.

For more tips and advice on picking up chicks, check out

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3 thoughts on “How To Break The Ice In Online Dating”

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