Online Dating Openers: Gimmicky vs. Non-Gimmicky

online dating opener

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Online Dating Openers: Gimmicky vs. Non-Gimmicky

Let's talk about online dating openers. To be clear, an "online dating opener" is the content of your very first message you send to a woman online. It's a big topic I get asked about often. First let me dash your misconceptions. Online dating openers are not as important as you think they are. There seems to be a huge amount of concern and angst among guys about the "right" online dating opener to use. Seriously, it's really not that important.

-By Caleb Jones

If you do them wrong, then yes, it will damage response. However once you're not doing them wrong, it's very unlikely you're going to see a spike in the amount of women you have sex with by improving them. More on this in a minute.

I go into much more specifics with opener techniques in my ebooks, but in general, the way to not do them "wrong" is to follow these four guidelines:

1. Keep your openers short. Max of 2-3 sentences. (Most of the openers I send, and I have tested many, are just two sentences long.)

2. Make sure your spelling and punctuation are perfect. (Women are really anal about this on online dating sites.)

3. Do not compliment her. Fight the urge. Don't do it. If you can't control yourself and absolutely must compliment her, make sure the compliment is not about her appearance, and make the compliment a guess rather than a statement. For example, instead of saying, "Obviously you're very smart...", you would say, "You seem smart..."

4. Don't not get sexual in the opener in any way. (Save that stuff for later.) That's really it. Do those four things above and you've instantly wiped out 95% of the problems guys have with online dating openers. Now to the real topic of this article, which is what to do or not do once you're following those four guidelines.

Your opener has only two goals:

1. To not turn her off (by failing to follow the four guidelines above).

2. To get her to look at your profile.

Because of this, my openers are very simple. I'm not going to give you word-for-word examples here, but they essentially say in two sentences that she's welcome to message me back if she likes. That's really it. It's very outcome independent and very simple. All I want the opener to do is to get her to look at my profile, because it's my profile the does all the heavy lifting. A woman will message you or not based on your profile, not your opener. All your opener can do is disqualify you. It's your profile that will get her to actually message you back.

Therefore, as long as it's clear that most women receiving your opener are looking at your profile, your opener is "working".

What a lot of guys will do is use "gimmicky" openers. These openers are fun, interesting, controversial, or different. They often run a little long and are very creative. I've seen a million of them. Some will talk about being a secret agent, others will pose interesting psychological questions, some will make predictions, and on and on.

Gimmicky openers do "work" in that they often will boost your response rates. However they do not "work" in that they don't actually get you laid any more than standard openers. I'm very serious about this and I have empirical testing data both from myself and other guys to back this up. More importantly, never once have I seen a guy with a very creative opener actually put his cock into more women because of it. Yes, I have seen these guys pull down larger response rates, but in terms of actual first dates that happen and lays that happen, these guys are usually no better off than anyone else with decent online game.

These guys will often get excited because of "all the responses I'm getting!", so they will continue with the gimmicky openers. They fail to realize that all this online activity doesn't actually increase the amounts of dates or lays they're getting. As I've been screaming loudly for many years now, online dating isn't about talking to women online, it's about getting laid.

"Well, so what?" you might ask, "What's wrong with more responses?"
The problem, at least in my view, is that responses that don't end up in real-life dates create work. I don't know about you, but I don't like work. I like sex. I like to get to the sex as fast as possible with the minimum amount of work required. Work is not the goal. Work is bad. (I'm talking about a dating context here, not a business context.)

Therefore the guy who gets three first dates by sending 100 openers with a 40% response rate is WORSE OFF than the guy who gets the same amount of dates from the same amount of openers with a 5% response rate. I know that might sound strange, but if you do the math on the time both men are spending, it's 100% correct. The first guy will feel more successful, but he isn't. He's actually just wasting more time and working much harder for no reason (other than perhaps an ego boost if he's a more emotional or extroverted guy). I've talked here before about how I can get laid, very fast and with very hot women, with as low as a 2% response rate(!). The response rate is not the goal. SEX is. Way too many guys are forgetting this.

If you disagree with me and can back up what you say with real stats and numbers, I'd be happy to hear your comments, but anything that increases response rate without also clearly increasing your first-date rate and lay ratios is not a good idea. This is why I personally avoid gimmicky openers.

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This article was originally published on March 24, 2013


  • yousowould 2013-03-24 07:06:02

    If I'm solely messaging 8s and 9s, surely anything that increases my response rate is better, given that due to the level of attractiveness of the girls and the corresponding multitude of options they have, many will flake before actually getting them sat down on a date? If I can't use my body language, tonality and facial expressions I like to leverage anything else I can. If I was just carpet bombing any old 6s, 7s etc then fair enough - it's not worth the extra effort. Personally, I've found a compliment doesn't hurt, provided it's not OTT and is coming from a place of non-needyness. I also don't invite girls to message me back if they like - I tell them to return my message with a command like "Message me back." It's more dominant and displays that you are used to people doing what you say in my opinion. Sorry to play devil's advocate! I know what you are saying is great advice to the majority of guys, I just don't feel it applies across the board.

  • Matt T. 2013-03-24 07:42:40

    @yousowould, 8s and 9s (and most women) respond more to your pictures than your opener. Here are some of my own statistics for you: Using the same opener and profile, I did separate blitzes of 120 girls rated (7, 8, 9, and 10) each where the only difference was the set of pictures in my profile. Here are the response rates: blitz 1: 7% blitz 2: 17% blitz 3: 21% blitz 4: 12% The response rates clearly change with the different sets of pictures I used. For pictures set 5 and beyond, I changed the opener and then some other things.

  • yousowould 2013-03-24 12:03:28

    @Matt T Yes, I agree entirely about pics. I always tell my friends to get decent shots up showing a variety of interesting activities. It probably makes up 90% of a girl's decision as to whether to get in touch. A clever/witty opener can sway the decision though if it's in the balance I believe.

  • Bo 2013-03-24 15:43:01

    Saying something whimsical and cocky funny that's in response to something in their profile tends to get me the best positive response rate. Extremely time-effective too.

  • Johnny Caustic 2013-03-24 20:48:39

    BD, I've seen some of your word-for-word online openers, and I'm curious why you don't end them with a question. Is it the same principle--ending with a question gets a higher response rate, but not a higher lay rate? Have you tested this?

  • Andrew Jackson 2013-03-24 22:35:43

    @Johny Asking a question in your opener ( esp an interesting question ) CAN jack up your response rates to sky high levels, but you'll also be wasting your time with tons and tons of women who never want to meet. I used to use some pretty interesting openers that were basiclly cool questions. Tons of women would respond and answer the question WITHOUT looking at my profile. I noticed they either never messaged back on the second email exchange, or stopped messaging once I asked for a meet ( they always view your profile once the words Meet or Phone number come up ).

  • Infantry 2013-03-25 07:03:04

    Rule #1: Online dating is solely for the purpose of getting first dates. Not running, game, not getting responses, not getting validation. Solely getting first dates.

  • PDX 2013-03-25 11:06:14

    The proper way to use a "gimmick" opener is to have a follow-up script, as basic as your cut/paste opener. This helps in the time-saving department. Also, if you use the same opener for long enough, you can discern "hot" replies from "cold" replies and follow up accordingly.

  • Blackdragon 2013-03-25 22:06:48

    Yousowould – I actually like your “Message me back” command. I’m going to have to test that one of these days. Johnny – Andrew sort of answered the question. My answer is that having questions in your opener generally work best if you’ve read her profile first. Since reading profiles isn’t really my style (takes way to much time IMO), I tend to not ask questions. I’m not saying customized openers don’t work. They can and do. It’s just not my style.

  • Richard 2013-03-25 23:39:34

    Is someone brave enough to post word for word openers and follow ups that they use? I've gotten a few lays online, but with the work I'm putting in the pay off is not worth it... Especially trying to be 100% clever and witty all the time. I'm also thinking really hard about this messenger program.

  • Brava 2013-03-26 16:12:36

    Off topic but I just commented under your "about" page but I see now that it is an email sent to you, not a comment. That is not my real email address by the way. I'll just post the comment here for lack of ability to do so there; "In my personal life, I get laid a lot by beautiful women, don’t believe in monogamy," You don't "believe" in monogamy but yet have children. Monogamy is not for adults, it evolved for the protection of children. Adults without kids or who don't plan on having them have no need for monogamy, that much I agree with. But once you make the decision to become bring another living being in the world - the game changes. As far as "open marriage" I think its on the rise in the US from all I'm reading and hearing, and on a few occasions seeing directly, around me. Here's a couple (with 3 kids) who've basically made a small industry out of it and coaches other couples through it, with appearances/interviews on mainstream Fox News, Dr. Phil, Monique, etc.

  • Blackdragon 2013-03-26 16:55:37

    Ms Brava, please stop making off-topic comments. There are plenty of articles about monogamy on this blog. Feel free to comment about monogamy under the proper articles. Thanks.

  • yannick 2014-10-12 11:14:17

    That online dating stuff it ain't working out at all for me, I am 42 and i message women between 33 and 42, I follow the rules i never compliment them, i read there profile and go from there. Now tones of them after i sent my opener come and check out my profile but i rarely if any get replies. There was one that i wrote twice because i was not sure if i wrote to her or not, and she replied that she was tired of meeting losers and was going to close out her account. At my age i look pretty good, i am muscular and most women that see me in real life give me a compliment about broad shoulders or touches me, i am not bragging i am just saying what happens. Now i had a few of my women friends look at my profile my pics, they made me change a few things, they said my pictures where good, i am not shirtless, one is my face the other one is me on vacation because i like to travel. I am on Plenty of Fish because most people say its the place to be well. For one part the women that do message me are not interesting at all, and are scary, last week one of them message me and since i did not reply she started giving me bull about knowing she was fat and that i was missing on not going out with her just focusing on her look. From what i seen thus far you get the 5 foot 2 230 pounds fatty who is rated a 1 on the scale asking to meet a tall muscular men with a great smile confident and all. I did a few tests on my own too, change my pics and more and it did not get better. I do believe that a lot of women on there are on theses sites for ego trips, and confidence boost, they have no intention of meeting anyone, they just savor every compliment guys email them. I am not saying online dating does not work it does, but for me i do have my standards and i won't go out with any kind of women just not to be alone. I have been on the site for 6 months now and have met 2 women so far, and both did not look one bit like there profile picture needless to say i did not get layed. This is my honest review on theses dating website unless someone is lying telling me i look good for my age, i must be one ugly motherfucker hahahhahah

  • quantuml 2014-12-10 01:22:48

    @ yannick one reason you may be experiencing difficulties is your poor spelling and grammar usage ie 'layed' LAID / 'there' THEIR (possessive form) ... very important as it makes you appear 'lower class' and uneducated even if you are not ...

  • yannick 2014-12-10 02:47:24

    My first language is french, and my spelling on the online dating is perfect. I use a spell corrector. Hope this clears some confusion. I used to be on POF Plenty of fish and Badoo and both site suck, i spoke to many women and when the time came to ask for coffee no more replies most of them are attention whores, i gave up online dating because it simply does not work.

  • Ertetert 2016-04-26 03:44:09

    Dude, you actually miss one important poing in your response-to-getting-laid conversion math. If you get better response rate you can achieve the same amount of dates and getting laid with less time invested into sending openers. For example with 40% opener to response conversion you are ok with sending away like 20 openers and getting 8 options for follow-up date. With 15% percent conversion you need to send out like 54 openers for the same result. So the final part of the equation is factoring in how much time you need to come up with a good opener vs how much time you need to send out more of them. The first part is individual and depends on your wit while the last one is more or less fixed for everyone.

  • Anon. 2016-04-26 06:59:43

    But sending openers takes minutes if not seconds per woman, while dates take hours. It’s even possible that bad openers to which only highly interested women reply are more efficient in terms of new women in life vs time spent. Also many factors affecting the response rate are outside your control. Maybe the site/app has a lot of inactive users it (fraudulently) shows as active. Maybe something in the site attracts the kind of women that are only there for validation and not actual dates, etc. I found a possibility of sending identical messages to random women in an automated manner. I do it a hundred at a time and I don’t care what my response rate is.

  • slam pete 2016-04-26 13:57:29

    I am just a big Ttit Niggga what can i say.....

  • Blackdragon 2016-04-26 16:48:00

    If you get better response rate you can achieve the same amount of dates and getting laid with less time invested into sending openers.
    I'm not sure what your argument is, nor do I understand what you mean by "opener to response conversion." I assume you mean response rate. My point is that if Guy A gets gets 3 dates from a 40% response rate and Guy B gets 3 dates from a 5% response rate, Guy B is being way more efficient and spending much less time to get dates. If Guy B starts using gimmicky openers, and his response rate goes from 5% to 40%, but he's still getting 3, maybe 4 dates, he has worsened his situation because he's wasting all this time with women who never turn into a real-life date.

  • Ertetert 2016-04-27 00:05:31

    My point is that better response rate is good if you adjust number of the openers to your response rate. The guy A who has 40% response rate needs to send 8 times less of them then the guy B with 5% response rate. The situation you describe where guy A has less net efficiency is the case only if guy A does not adjust the number of his openers to his response rate and wastes more time to convert all his shitload of responses into dates he has no time for anyway.

  • joelsuf 2016-04-27 05:50:30

    Legit stuff. I kinda disagree with the third part, but then again I don't complement appearance, I'll say something about something on their profile. Now in a follow up message I will start complementing appearance, since they usually see my profile and like it. Then THEY usually pitch the date to ME. Or I'll pitch the date to them, they'll give me their contact info and they will happily agree. This takes roughly 5-7 messages back and forth. Then again the chicks I hit up are 33+s so that might have something to do with it. It's all about making a kick ass profile on online dating, boys! I have a ridiculously high response rate, somewhere around half, and 2/3 of that group convert to first dates (which I have a real bad habit of fucking up lol). If I didn't fuck up so many first dates I'd be a lot more successful. Problem is, I do pretty much everything that BD suggests to do on first dates but nothing usually comes of it. Probably something to do with the bullshit in my head lol.

  • yannick 2016-04-27 06:46:45

    This is just awful online dating at least on Montreal is awful what a waste of time and all that time spent analyzing theses percentage of if and don't WOW. I went out with 5 women online the bottom line they where far from looking like there profile picture and they lied on 85% of the profile. Long term its crap and a huge waste of time. To actually meet them it was very demanding and a lot of work to honestly end up being disappointed. Online dating is the bottom dump of the world where all the losers go to meet people. Most men will come out frustrated, insulted and worst they get insulted or turned down by very below average women with 2 kids full time and dead end job. You have to be mental to send so many messages and get no reply, the big bang theory touching online dating was hilarious 170 visit on there profile and no messages or replies that's they way it is online. I got tired closed all my accounts and never looked back, i am 44 very active train 6 times per week have a great shape for my age, i look good too and got nada from online.

  • Redfish 2016-07-31 07:12:56

    I would kill for a 1% response rate...

  • big Daddy cool 2016-08-17 09:44:08

    A particularly witty and creative conversation (starting from the opener) can make a person that wouldn't like your profile/profile pictures take some interest to you.   How much can that happen? 1-5%? If you aren't handsome nor ugly, most people online will still skip on you. But if you add handsome conversation to average/decent outlook, there's an increase in lays, if a little one.

  • yannick 2016-08-17 10:35:51

    I hate only dating here in Montreal even worst on plenty of fat fish most of them are butt ugly below average hoes that insult you even if you are nice to them. My confidence was destroyed online but when i go out in the real world things happen. I am 44 and my age bracket as nothing to offer online they got kids full time they never go out, they have low end jobs and they turn me down haha what a joke. Last week we went out to a bar and the waitress asked me to slow dance with her she was 25 imagine never would have gotten this online.

  • Witty Openers Online Dating 2016-09-13 11:37:24

    […] Online Dating Openers: Gimmicky vs. Non-Gimmicky – The … – Let’s talk about online dating openers. To be clear, an “online dating opener” is the content of your very first message you send to a woman online. […]

  • John 2018-05-04 19:02:31

    Makes sense. Gimmicky openers can produce lots of "false positives" that will waste time and cause frustration. I apply a similar concept to cold approach where once I used"cocky funny" openers "you must be texting your BFFs" and later toned it down and used very mild openers "Is that a good laptop?" or "do you know where Trader Joes is?" Those openers may work but they compel responses from women who may engage ONLY out of politeness or until the banter gets old. Then she's gone. What seems to work better (and at lower risk to you and her) is a bland opener said with a bit of energy, confidence, and in context of the situation. The opener never sounds like a line, is gentle, polite, and you could do it in front of your grandmother. "Caribu coffee  is better than Starbucks" - said almost anywhere "I read that Amazon is opening brick and mortar book stores" said in a book store or whereever. If she engages conversation then the chances are far better that she has interest...because i's so damn bland. It gently screens out the "no girls" and allow her to politely and easily exit if she's not feeling you and allow you to do the important communication not verbally by gentle calm confidence.