Digital Get Down: Messaging matches

Laken Howard, Columnist

If you’re like me, there’s nothing you hate more than banal conversation. Unfortunately, nine out of 10 OkCupid messages I get are so heinously boring it makes me want to throw my laptop out a window. For those of you who’ve never gotten digital with your dating, you may not know exactly how messaging prospective matches works or how those messages move to dates. Allow me to fill you in on how online daters break the ice.

This may sound crazy, but the first rule for messaging online is to have an open mind. Maybe a girl or guy doesn’t look or sound exactly like your type, but they sent a really thoughtful, funny or engaging initial message that tempted you to respond anyway. If nothing else, a conversation could be just that, and it could provide a distraction from homework even if you know it won’t lead to a date in the future. Plus we’ve all seen “Shallow Hal,” so we know that personality and shared interests are worth much more than looks.

On the other hand, you could get a boring message from a person whose profile really intrigues you. My advice? Give him or her the benefit of the doubt. Recently, a guy messaged me saying only “Hello, hello!” but after viewing his profile, I felt we had so much in common that I immediately replied, and we’re now seeing each other.

That being said, don’t settle. You’re by no means obligated to respond to every boring “Hey, what’s up cutie?” message with a “No, thanks” or other explanation of why you aren’t interested (Side note: As I was typing this sentence, I literally got a message saying “Hey sexy, what’s up”). Nor should you think that just because a message is nice you owe a girl or guy any of your precious time. If someone is rude, ignore or block them, simple as that.

The most important thing is to not let messaging last too long, lest you kill future IRL date conversation too quickly. After you feel comfortable, perhaps consider adding the girl or guy on Facebook or giving him or her your phone number to chat more. If that idea scares you, then just message the person and suggest a time and place to meet up for a date (preferably in public, in the daylight for a first meeting). The sooner you meet him or her, the sooner you’ll know if you’re into the person and the less time you’ll waste messaging someone you don’t really have a future with.

Don’t let gender roles intimidate you either. On plenty of occasions, I’ve sent the first message or been the one to suggest meeting up. Girls, trust me when I say most guys like not having to put in all the effort.

To read examples of messages I’ve received, check out my blog “1001 Nights With Laken” at Trust me, you’re going to want to read these.