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How to Reply to Online Dating Messages the Right Way

Gabrielle Applebury
Young woman with smartphone

Learning how to reply to online dating messages is a valuable skill to people using dating apps and websites. Online dating messages can leave a lot lost in translation. When responding to online dating messages, it's important to be clear about what you mean and to think about how your message will be received before sending them.

How to Reply to Online Dating Messages

Online dating messages that get responses tend to be genuine, focus on getting to know the other individual, and have a likeability about them. Because the first few messages can leave such a big impression, it's important to consider carefully how the receiving party may interpret what you're saying.

How Long Should You Wait to Respond to an Online Dating Message?

It's best to respond to someone who you are interested in as soon as you can and to avoid playing games, as such messages may be interpreted as rejection or disinterest, especially via a chat. Think of it this way: it's best to start off your potential relationship with honesty and transparency instead of mind games and mixed signals.

What Is a Good First Message for Online Dating?

A good first message balances sharing information about yourself while showing a genuine interest in getting to know the other person. Those who focus solely on themselves without showing any interest in the person they are chatting with may come across as too self-focused. Plus, the only way for you to know if someone is a fit for you is to ask questions and get to know them. Some examples include:

  • Hi, I'm (insert name). It looks like you have a few dogs. I love dogs, too and have one of my own. Are the dogs on your profile yours?
  • Hey, I'm (insert name). It looks like your work takes you all over the world. I love traveling too! What's your favorite destination to visit?
  • Hi, I'm (insert name). What's it like being a chef? I absolutely love cooking and baking and just started taking some cooking classes.
woman messaging her friends

Is It Rude Not to Reply Online Dating?

Not replying to an online dating message is seen as the norm typically, but it is more courteous to be upfront with someone you aren't interested in assuming they have messaged you in an appropriate way. If you not responding because someone has sent you something inappropriate or is harassing you, go ahead and continue ignoring them and consider blocking them and/or reporting them to the dating site.

How to Respond to Online Dating Messages Examples

Online dating message examples can help you formulate your perfect response if you feel stuck on what to say. Remember, it's best to balance the give and take in the conversation, meaning that you both ask questions about each other and share about yourselves evenly.

Respond With a Question

Responding with a question is a great way to get to know the person you are chatting with. Examples include:

  • It's nice to meet you! How long have you been (insert career)?
  • I'm so glad you reached out! I'm really curious about your trip to (insert travel destination). I've always wanted to go! What was it like there?
  • It looks like you're really into (insert hobby). How long have you been doing (insert hobby)?
  • I'd love to get to know you too. What's the best book you've read recently?

Notice Something About Their Profile

Asking questions that are non-generic show that you are actually interested in getting to know them as a person, instead of sending out a mass of canned responses to see who replies back. Examples include:

  • I'm so glad you reached out to me! Based on your listed interests, it looks like we have a lot in common. I also (insert similar hobby or interest).
  • I love that you are into mountain biking! I mountain bike every weekend!
  • The joke about (insert joke) cracked me up on your profile. I love a great sense of humor!
  • It looks like you go camping quite a bit. I've never been, but have been wanting to try it out.

Online Dating Conversation Starters Examples

If you are interested in the person you are chatting with, mention something that won't require a yes or no answer, but allows for more elaboration. This will help keep the conversation going if you end up clicking. Examples include:

  • What's the strangest dating experience you've had? I've had my share of interesting dates. If you tell me yours, I'll tell you mine!
  • If you could take a year off from any responsibility that you have, what would you do with your time?
  • What's your favorite part of your day?
  • What's one of the most rewarding experiences you've had?

What to Say When Responding to an Online Dating Message

When responding to an online dating message, be yourself and think about how your words will be received. Know that it's always best to avoid saying anything that could potentially make someone else feel uncomfortable or judged, so if you aren't sure, it's best to think of something else to say.

How to Reply to Online Dating Messages the Right Way