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Should A Guy Read A Girl’s Online Profile Before Messaging Her?

Since I came to Vancouver I’ve been doing quite a bit of online dating. In fact I even hired an online dating coach earlier in the year to get a handle on this thing.

His overall style wasn’t quite for me so I eventually moved on. I did learn a lot about this form of dating from him though that has really helped me.

Since online dating is here to stay I will be talking about it a lot in future blog posts. I’ll actually be very interested to hear other people’s experiences with this form of social interaction.

I know some people hate it and would never touch it again.

Others are leary of even trying it.

My experience has been pretty positive and I’ve met a lot of great girls this way, many of whom I’ve established friendships with even when we haven’t become romantically involved.

But there is one question regarding online dating that I’ve received some definite differences of opinion on.

I want to put it out there and see what you think. I’m hoping for some interesting input in the comment section.

The question is this:

When reaching out to girls in online dating, should a guy read every girl’s profile thoroughly and create a message specifically crafted to respond to what she wrote in her profile?

Or should he just send out generic expressions of interest to each girl he finds visually attractive, and wait until he receives real reciprocal interest from a girl before delving into the details of what she wrote?

Alright. Alright. I can already feel the outrage forming in some of you girls. “What do you mean you would actually message a girl without taking the time to learn about her from her profile? What are you, a “just out for sex” guy with every pretty face you see?”

If that’s your response as a girl you’re not alone.

Because I’m always trying to learn about relationship dynamics, I’ve actually asked this question of a lot of girls I’ve dated through online dating.

Yep, a date with me can move in some interesting directions!

What started me exploring this question with girls is I actually made the “mistake” once of telling a girl I dated that this was the approach I largely take.

She and I connected quite deeply right away and we were so comfortable with each other we got chatting about the whole online dating thing.

When I told her this though, it didn’t go over very big which took me by surprise. It made sense to me I was doing things this way and I didn’t expect she’d think there was anything wrong with it.

Don’t get me wrong I do sometimes take the time to read profiles out of interest, but up to the day I spoke with this girl I just didn’t think that was a very good way to do things.

I explain why below.

Anyway this girl shared with me why she thought this wasn’t the way I should do things and I apologized that what I told her offended her.

But while I appreciate the sentiments she expressed, I still haven’t been convinced this approach is a mistaken one.

What was odd about our interchange on all this is I think her profile was one I actually did read first.

It was very well written and thorough in ways profiles often aren’t.

So even though my stated technique bothered her it might not even have applied in her case.

Either way below I give my reflections on this apparently “touchy” question regarding online dating.

One thing to note. I still sent my usual generic expression of interest I was using at that time to this girl. And my sending this still did result in our meeting up. So whether I read her profile or not, the message I sent her did not indicate I had.

Another girl I discussed this question with told me she never replies to guys who write her using a generic message, but always waits to see something in their message that indicates they read her profile.

I looked back at my correspondence with this girl too and guess what I saw?

That’s right.

When I first approached her I sent her a generic message that contained nothing to indicate I had read her profile!

So she did indeed reply to me and we met up even though I wrote her the kind of generic message she said she never replies to.

Obviously there is more going on here than meets the eye.

If you’ve read what I’ve written on this blog so far you know a few things about me when it comes to relationships.

First, I’m a deeper relationship guy, I’m not just an “out for sex” guy.

So my reason for taking this approach isn’t because I don’t care about the girls I approach and date through online dating sites.

I’m looking for long term relationships based on romantic love as I define it.

So if I really care about girls, why would I message them largely on whether I find them initially visually attractive or not?

Well this is how attraction actually works in the real world. Initial attraction for guys is usually visual.

Sorry girls. It just is.

That doesn’t mean we’re creeps who don’t care about you.

It doesn’t mean we only love girls who we find initially attractive this way.

If we’re people of character when we come to know a girl we find physically attractive and she’s not also beautiful on the inside, we will cease to be attracted for sure.

But when it comes to love and romance, the initial attraction for most guys is largely about your physical appearance.

If a guy doesn’t find you physically attractive he is not going to take the time to get to know the deeper things about you.

And even if he gets to know all about you and how wonderful you are, he still is not going to be romantically interested in you if he doesn’t find you physically attractive at all.

The sexual fulfillment component I’ve spoken about in romantic love is critical for guys. Physical attraction is a baseline for most guys when it comes to sexual fulfillment.

There are other factors too, but this is the baseline.

It is a function of our biology.

I’m going to be talking to both you guys and girls about this question of attraction in a future blog post. Even though  you’re not going to like what I have to say. It needs saying. But I’ll leave this point for now.

Okay so for now let’s just say you accept what I’ve said so far.

Doesn’t that still mean that once I’ve seen a girl’s pictures and find her physically attractive, I should at least now take the time to read her profile before messaging her?

I said that her inner beauty is important too, right?

Why wouldn’t I take the time to confirm that before messaging her now?

The first thing to realize here is most profiles read pretty much the same.

“I’m into travel.”

“I enjoy someone with a sense of humor.”

“I’m looking for my partner in crime.”

“I’m successful in my career.”

Yada. Yada. Yada…

Sorry. Again this just is the case.

There are definite and wonderful exceptions which I know because I frequently do read profiles for the enjoyment alone.

But I’m a big believer that even with good profiles you cannot really get to know someone. It’s just too limited a format. And most people aren’t good at writing about themselves anyway.

The next thing to realize is I’m very open to potential relationships with lots of very different kinds of girls.

I believe we are all unique in our own way and there is value to be had from getting to know most people.

So until I’ve really come to know someone better in person I don’t like to second guess what potential there is for a relationship.

I don’t want to miss a jewel by assuming anything just from a profile.

So I don’t give the profile that much weight.

You girls often approach things exactly the opposite way.

You look for reasons to disqualify a guy who expresses interest in you through online dating.

But the central reason I still don’t think reading profiles before messaging girls makes sense is a purely logistical one.

It’s one you girls aren’t familiar with because you’re girls.

The fact is for the most part girls expect guys to approach them.

Only rarely do girls approach guys.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re dating online or offline, its still largely socially (and biologically) up to guys to do the approaching.

What girls do in online dating is just put a profile up and watch their inbox fill up with expressions of interest.

Not so with guys.

If us guys took that approach online we would be sitting there potentially for weeks or even months without much to do.

It’s really up to us to get the ball rolling!

This means you girls in online dating don’t really need to look at or read a single profile written by a guy until he has already expressed his interest in you.

At that point the investment to read his profile makes sense. He’s interested.

Check him out more and see if you’re interested too.

It’s a no brainer and no waste of your time at all.

The exact opposite is the case for a guy. He has no indication of interest from you until after he messages you.

And since your inbox is filling up with potentially hundreds of messages from guys, he may never hear back from you at all.

Either because you never see his message since it gets buried in your online inbox, or because you have so many more attractive offers you don’t even reply to his message.

In fact usually you don’t even go read his profile.

What do you do instead?

You see his picture, decide he’s of no interest, and delete his message without even reading his profile. You don’t even reply to him to let him know you’re not interested!

Hmmm.

This is sounding kind of familiar…

You mean you don’t read the profiles of every guy who expresses interest in you to give him a fair chance based on who he is as a person?

Nope.

You just look at his picture (if that) and click delete.

Not exactly treating him as special are you?

Not respecting the time he took to write his profile.

And wouldn’t you think if someone takes the time to write you expressing interest, you should at least take the time to reply, thanking him but telling him you’re not interested?

I know why you don’t do this.

Because it would take you literally hours to compose well thought through responses to the high volume of messages you receive.

You don’t need another full time job!

But this is exactly how it is for guys on the approaching side of the equation.

If we send out 100 messages of interest to girls, we may receive 1-5 responses if we’re lucky.

Which means 95-99 of those messages never receive replies.

If we take the time to read each profile and carefully craft a message specifically responsive to what we read in that profile, this could take an average of 5 minutes per profile. That means 50 hours of work across those 100 profiles. That’s a full time job too!

This is the primary reason I do believe generic expressions of interest make better sense for guys. But what it also means is online dating has definite limitations.

Attraction starts on a chemical level but online dating starts with logistics. It has us describe ourselves and what we’re like.

But we don’t normally enter relationships initially on that basis.

Instead we enter them when we get “tickled” in some way emotionally when we experience someone in person.

Online dating gets this backwards.

To me the value of online dating is it puts me in touch with girls who have an interest in developing a relationship with someone if they meet the right person.

Profiles do have some value once we’ve both received expressions of interest, but we still have to meet.

So my sole goal in online dating is to express interest in a girl, chat with her briefly to confirm neither of us are psychos, and then move things offline as soon as I can.

Then we can meet and actually get to know each other.

It’s only in person that dating can really take place.

You see, online dating is a misnomer. There is no such thing. You cannot download a relationship.

While the dating sites help you identify real potential partners, that’s really all the help they can give you. The rest is up to you meeting real people in the real world and seeing if there is a connection.

The first girl I mentioned above had a very well written profile. As I said I’m pretty sure I read it thoroughly before messaging her.

I don’t always do that though.

The point is her profile wasn’t what influenced me to pursue her and it wasn’t what caused us both to have the deep connection we had.

That happened when we met. That’s where the magic is.

So what I’d say to you girls is, think of the messages you receive as expressions of interest.

And yes that interest may be simply physical at the start, from just looking at your pictures.

Don’t worry whether it indicates a guy spent an hour combing your profile to really get to know you.

Don’t expect your profile to do the heavy lifting of building attraction.

Meet with guys.

Give them a chance.

See if there is a chemistry.

That can only be experienced when you’re in each other’s presence.

So what do you think? Should a guy read a girl’s online profile before messaging her?

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Marie

    While it would be nice if men read profiles before they sent messages, I understand why most do not. Most women do not bother to respond. Part of the reason is because the emails are so lame. “Hi.” “What’s up?” But if a man puts in the time to read and comment on each and every profile and only receives a response from 1 in 20 women, that is a lot of work wasted.

    Some kind of generic response that doesn’t sound especially generic would probably be more effective.

    Lots of women do reach out to men online but they only reach out to the top 1%. The men who state they are 6’+, make $100,000+ and are very photogenic. The rest don’t get much action.

    As a woman who has done a lot of online dating, I have started to reach out to men I want to talk with. The response rate is more like 1 in 4 as opposed to the 1 in 20 men experience. I read every profile I respond to, but I only take time to craft a great email if he’s someone I know is likely getting 20 messages a day. The rest, a quick “hello, you look interesting” should suffice. If he likes my photos, he will probably respond no matter what I write.

    I think the key, for men, is to do what you did. Have a standard initial message that doesn’t sound like you copied and pasted it. Personalize it just a touch, like you would with a resume if you were applying for a job you sort of wanted but weren’t totally sold on.

    What do you think?

  2. Kel Good

    @Marie – You’re right most men send lame opening emails and that’s a problem. Though I use something generic I try to make it more of an invitation to enter conversation. Often an interesting question is a good way to go. And personalizing to the profile a bit if I’ve read it I do too sometimes.

    I also agree most men would appreciate women expressing initial interest and are likely to be responsive. Not the only thing men appreciate women initiating! 😉

    Thanks for your thoughts! 🙂

  3. Marie

    Thanks for responding, Kel. I stopped posting photos and now I keep them hidden and only reach out to men I want to talk with Otherwise, I spend 80% of my time going through emails from people I don’t want to talk with. I’d say 1 in 100 messages are fro men I’d “really” want to talk with, half are from people I’d be willing to give a chance, and the other half are from people who are absolutely not appropriate for what I want.

    Out of the 50% I give a chance, there have only been 1 or 2 I ended up liking for more than a passing friendship. For me, being the one to reach out first has been a far better use of time… it’s not as active and ego-boosting as letting the hundreds of messages roll in, but it’s a far more effective use of time.

  4. Kel Good

    @Marie – Not posting photos is definitely a good way to eliminate most of your mail from guys, that’s for sure! When you write them do you offer them pictures at that point? Seems like something any guy would want before a meetup.

    I agree with you otherwise that any way we slice online “dating” it is a massive numbers game and we just need to accept that and process it in the way that makes the most sense in our personal world.

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