Don’t Call Me Babe – Bad Flattery in Online Dating

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While flattery can be beneficial in a new dating situation, there is only so far you can take it before it crosses a line. Especially if you haven’t met in person yet! So with online dating, starting a conversation off with too much flattery, or the wrong kind of flattery, can be harmful to your success.

To piggyback off of another recent article, Anyone can say ‘hi’, a typical conversation starter online often includes a compliment or other pick-up line… and that’s okay. However, while it’s true that everybody enjoys flattery, there is a fine line between something that makes me smile and something that makes me cringe.

I will be honest upfront and admit that I haven’t discussed this specific issue with any peers recently, so I could be alone in my opinions. However, for every one person that speaks up on the topic, there must be a few others that agree so it may benefit somebody out there if I spell it out.

Beginning a message with a version of “You’re attractive,” but nothing else, is not much different than just saying “Hi” (read the aforementioned article for why this is bad!) It leaves me with minimal response, except for “Thanks!” or “So are you!” and this could lead to awkwardness if my superficial side kicks in.

On the front page of my inbox right now is a message where the entire contents are “Sexy.” What do I do with that?! Aside from not being a stimulating convo-opener, it gives me the first impression that you are not interested in me enough to find something clever to say (and therefore, I am not interested in you) or that you are only speaking to me due to being attracted to me, which is flattering but makes me believe you are only after one thing. Ultimately, it feels tacky.

Compliments that work (for me at least, since everybody is different) are softer, subtler, and are tied in to a grander opener. Things like “Hey, I noticed your beautiful smile and after clicking through to your page I realized we actually have a lot in common.”

For your reading pleasure, here are some real-life (bad) examples currently in my inbox:

  • Goodness gracious great balls of fire you are beautiful
  • Good body : )
  • Very sexy
  • Are you a model
  • How are you sweetie?
  • Hello beautiful princess can we be friends?

Keep the first message clean and open with a touch of personality, but beware that words like honey, babe, sweetie and the like can come off too strong and presumptuous in an online medium. Compliments can work but show some interest in the person you’re contacting as well! A subtle compliment mixed in with a genuine email that shows a real interest in someone will go a long way. Especially if your competition says “Very sexy” and nothing more.

And if you are struggling to write an email that includes more than a four word compliment, check out this article on first messages in online dating for some ideas. On the other hand, if you’re a woman getting emails like the examples above, what are your thoughts? Do you agree that these guys are mostly wasting their time (and ours)?



About the Author:

Rebecca is a late 20-something, still in the "dating as a young professional" phase of life. She enjoys soccer, travel and fitness and is currently accepting boyfriend applications, should your [brand name dating site] attempts be unsuccessful.

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