Whether you're sending a note to a member of our community or responding to an online personal ad, how you start an e-mail relationship can determine whether it will ever become more than an e-mail relationship. Here are some things to think about when making first contact:
Don't Send Form Letters
Obviously some information in your introductory e-mail will be the same no matter who you're sending it to. Your location, age, profession and other details you may wish to include are relatively constant. Just make sure you add that personal touch to your message. It's always a good idea to mention what about the person you're writing to compelled you to respond to them. No one wants to feel like they've been caught in a huge net someone tossed into cyberspace to see what they could catch and no matter how carefully you word a form letter, they almost always read like form letters. Also, you may end up contacting the same person a week later from a different personals site and receiving the same form letter twice never makes the recipient feel special.
Of course you want to highlight your best qualities when introducing yourself to someone you're interested in but there is no easier way to sabotage an online relationship than lying. This also includes exaggerating, implying something false and being non-specific enough to avoid the truth. You don't have to provide unflattering information in the first e-mail but you shouldn't address a subject if you don't want to be honest about it. The "real" people, the ones you want to meet, don't expect perfection. In fact, if someone seems too good to be true, they probably are. So be honest, be yourself and start off on the right foot. What might begin as an online flirtation could turn into the real thing unless you've built yourself an image you can't live up to.
Include A Recent Photograph If Possible
Especially if the website or personal ad you're responding to included a picture, it's only fair that you send one with your initial response. Not only does sending your photo make your letter more personal, it also eliminates any potential fantasy build-up on the part of your new acquaintance. We all want people to say, "You're attractive!" not "I thought you would be better looking," right?
The one-sided conversation that develops when trading e-mails can be difficult. Most people have a hard time talking about themselves without being given a starting point. The initial contact that says, "Here's some stuff about me. If you're interested write back" can be a very challenging letter to answer. Everyone who is using the Internet as a tool for meeting prospective friends and dates is not only willing to answer questions about themselves but wants to. It's the way to see if you might be compatible. Make it fun and easy to write back to you and chances are you'll get a response.
The Internet provides great ways to find other singles to communicate with. It also provides great ways to communicate safely. Never give out your telephone number or other traceable information in a first e-mail. If trading e-mails is too impersonal for your tastes, you can arrange to meet in a public chat forum like Singles Chat available on this site. You can take the time to get to know someone online until you feel comfortable moving to the next level. Of course when and if you do decide to meet someone in the "real world," always keep your personal safety in mind.