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Instant Messaging tips for online dating

by Lance Coll

Instant Messaging is great. You can chat with a number of friends, all at the same time, while doing work, watching TV, or reading on the web.

Admittedly, I honed my online dating chops, chatting with random girls on AOL in the late 90′s. There’s something great about talking in real-time, but still getting to think about what you’re going to say next.

So, since IMing is so great, pretty much every online dating site – including – has an Instant Messaging feature. It makes perfect sense, right? So, what’s the best way to use this feature to get dates online.



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The answer is: There ISN’T a good way to use this feature. Dear god, don’t IM on online dating sites. Or, if you do, do so as an experiment, knowing that it will very likely backfire on you. Here’s why:

  • She’s already busy. If your match is hot stuff, she’s probably just logged on and is sorting through dozens of emails, trying to decide which one to reply to. She’s a busy person, and doesn’t have time for interruptions. Guess what? Yeah, you’re interrupting her! Even if you do look like a good match, you’re likely to annoy her.
  • You don’t know why she isn’t responding. When you send a message, it sits there until the person you sent it to gets a chance to read it. She can read it at her leisure. With some plans, you can even find out when she actually has read the message. With IM, not only are you interrupting her (so if she’s busy, say, folding laundry, she can’t respond), you also have no way of knowing why she isn’t responding. It could be because she’s not interested – it could be because she’s not at her computer.
  • It weakens your position. Let’s say you send an IM, and she’s busy and has to run, so she just signs off without responding. Now, if you send a follow-up email, you’re starting to look desperate. It will look even worse if she didn’t respond simply because she wasn’t interested.
  • They just don’t work that well. It’s one thing to be using a dedicated Instant Messaging system like GTalk or AIM, but the IM software used on these sites usually just isn’t that good. Sometimes they’ll say someone is available for IM when they really aren’t, and even if you get a conversation initiated, you’ll likely run into problems with it lagging and generally being extremely slow.

NEVER Use IM in Online Dating?

Okay, there is one. ONE scenario I can think of where IMing is really useful and advisable on an online dating site. Imagine this scenario:

  • Contact has already been initiated through messaging. Maybe you sent a one-line hook.
  • You’ve received a response where she is asking you about meeting up, OR, you have sent a follow up and asked her out, and have just received a reply message.
  • If she happens to still be online, feel free to IM to cover quick details about the date. Maybe you guys haven’t tacked down where to meet or what time to meet.

If you do this, make the conversation really short, and get on your way. Save the chattiness for when you finally meet in person.

Russ’s one big IM pro tip

Remember, when you send a woman a message on, you don’t always know why she doesn’t respond. One of the reasons could be that she isn’t a paid subscriber. Paid subscribers can’t even read your message. Yeah, it sucks.

But, if you visit her profile and see an “IM Her Now” button – BOOM, you’ve got yourself a paid subscriber. She should be able to read and respond to messages you send her. Messages. Remember, don’t open with an IM unless you really just don’t care!

One caveat is that even if Match says she’s online, and you still don’t see an “IM Her Now” button (it will say “Not on IM Right Now”), that doesn’t mean that she is NOT a subscriber. Many women will turn this feature off. Because it’s annoying. Remember?