Dater X: A Compendium Of What Not To Use As Your Online Dating Opening Line

My pleas for the universe to quit blocking my box have gone largely unnoticed: my Tinder is still down; my softball game was, again, rained out; and I haven’t seen El Guapo. (Though my apartment building is once again mercifully, gloriously bedbug free. Credit one hyperactive bedbug sniffing dog, several days’ worth of cryo-treatments on the affected apartments, and some kind of preventative essential oil spray that effectively eliminated any other odor in my domicile for a week and drove my reclusive ass out for Indian food, if only to put something – anything – else similarly pungent near my face for an hour or two.)

And as hot as bedbugs and Indian food are, and as scintillating as reading a column about dating written by a person who has notched zero dates this week can be, I had a better idea: this week, let’s take a from-the-vault, warts-and-all peek into the absurd OKCupid messages I’ve been receiving (and the reasons why I haven’t been responding). Ladies, nod along. Fellas, take notes. These are real opening lines, taken verbatim from my real profile, and they are a categorical compendium of What Not to Do; none of the notes below have yielded an ongoing conversation with your own Dater X. All typos are their own (and yes, I cringed re-typing them for you here).

Opening Line: “Favorite kind of cookie?”

On the surface, this is kind of a cute opener. But given that my profile says nothing about cookies, it’s hard not to suspect that this is his standard opener, issued to any gal whose pics he finds appealing. Ask me “favorite karaoke spot” or “favorite cheeseburger” and you’ve just successfully started yourself a conversation, sir.

Result: No response from Dater X.

Lesson: Cute one-liners are a strong move, but tailor them to the person you’re writing to.

Opening Line: “I don’t know what kind of coffee you’re drinking in your default pic, but I wanna steal it and drink it with how nice the mug looks.”

The mug has the name of the restaurant clearly written on it. And as a bona fide caffeine junkie, I do not take kindly to people threatening to steal my coffee. Or any other beverage, really.

Result: No response from Dater X.

Lesson: Take in the details, and maybe make your opener just a hair more nonthreatening.

Opening Line: “You know, I’ve tried all sorts of moisturizers. I even went fragrance free for a whole year. Now my sister, she uses some kind of uh… uh… uh… uh… aloe vera with a little sunscreen in it, and ideally, we would all wear gloves when going to bed, but I found out that that creates a kind of an interference with my… social agenda, you know what I mean?”

My reactions, in order:

  1. Eeewwwwwww this is so slimy. I need a shower.
  2. Wait a minute. Who types “uh…” four times?
  3. [feverish Google-ing ensures] This is a movie reference??
  4. I’ll see your moisturizer and raise you Susan Sarandon’s “Church of Baseball” monologue from “Bull Durham.” You’ll either think I’m hella meta or be totally freaked out. Or you hate that movie, and sorry guy, but in that case, move along.
  5. He was either totally freaked out or hated that movie.

Result: Responded with the full text of Susan Sarandon’s “Church of Baseball” monologue; immediately went out and bought “Bull Durham” on DVD because how did I not own that movie?? He never wrote back.

Lesson: Mega-specific references are either off-putting or uncomfortably familiar; neither is a good look for a first note.

Opening Line: “Hmm, um, I’m not quite sure how to say this, so uh, I’m just gonna ‘say’ it. I’m fairly certain you’re awesome, you. Here’s to hoping all that you desire remains within your grasp, Madame. Do enjoy the rest of your Friday – and cheers.”

Where to start? I mean, I am fairly awesome, but is there anything in this note I’m supposed to respond to? It’s not open-ended at all. And he called me Madame, which the fussy French student in me reads as “grandma.”

Result: No response from Dater X.

Lesson: Ask a question! And don’t get so involved in your stilted language that you fall right off those stilts. Plus, not for nothing, but if all that I desired remained within my grasp, Monsieur, I wouldn’t be on OKCupid, now would I?

Opening Line: “I LIKE YOU TOO : P HOW EXCITED ARE YOU? –[name]”

This is a response to one of those charming OKCupid notifications that tells you when you and another user have “liked” each other. I found it playful and appropriately brief (and I already knew I “liked” his profile, too).

Result: Responded with “OMG TOTALLY EXCITED [throws confetti in the air] How’s your Thursday coming along, [name]? –Dater X” He never wrote back.

Lesson: I thought he was being playful; maybe he was serious…? Was my confetti line not obviously banter…? Oh, God, does he think I would ever seriously say “OMG”…?? I spent a week waiting for him to respond; he never did. Dater X: Still Un-Dateable.

Opening Line: “A white woman not liking avacados is like a black guy grimacing at fried chicken. Or a Latin guy turning down arroz con pollo. Craziness.”

I disclose in my profile that I don’t like avocados. But A) spelling it wrong and B) making racist jokes is a great way to guarantee I won’t be writing back. This is the kind of guy who would take me out, offend the server, and try to force-feed me an avocado. (Over my cold, dead body, guy. Keep your Vegetable Butter to yourself. Give me dairy fat or give me death!)

Result: No response from Dater X.

Lesson: I like a boundary-pushing joke as much as (okay, probably a lot more than) the next gal, but I expect them to be, y’know, funny. And delivered with a bit of grace, or at least proper spelling.

Opening Line: “hi”


Result: No response from Dater X.

Lesson: Use your words. I’m a writer. Words are kind of important to me.

Opening Line: “Hi there would you like to chat that we can know each other bit more??”

No, no I would not.

Result: No response from Dater X.

Lesson: I speak three languages (four, if you count my pidgin Restaurant Spanish, i.e. “Donde esta el banyo, y puedo hacer un Corona?”) and I wouldn’t send a message this grammatically confused in any of them. We’re not going to be able to “know each other bit more” until you know English bit more, I’m afraid – that’s harsh but it’s all there is to it. But at least give me some context so I can write back in your language, if it’s one of the ones I speak!

Opening Line: “Hello, Happy Snowmageddon, Hope your year is off to a great start :-) A few random questions…How would you describe your sense of humor? I enjoy all sorts of humor from dry to sarcastic.How are you enjoying the chilly days?!I do not mind the cold, but I am looking forward to spring not much of a winter sports enthusiast. If you could choose to live anywhere else where would you go? Look forward to talking with you. [name]”

Points for specificity! Points for asking questions! No points for grammar! At least include a space after those punctuation marks, sir. And really with the smiley face? You saw that I’m in my 30s, right?

Result: No response from Dater X.

Lesson: It’s not that I won’t overlook typos. I totally (probably) will. But this dude just had a full-on conversation with himself and answered all of his own questions; unless I was feeling his profile (spoiler alert: I wasn’t), there was no shot he was getting a response.

And then six months later…

Opening Line: “Will Your Marry me?”

This … is just creepy. Especially since I deactivated and reactivated my account in the interim.

Result: No response from Dater X.

Lesson: If I don’t write back once, you’re not going to charm me with an internet proposal. I promise.

Opening Line: “calvary greetings pretty lady, you have got a cute pic and nice profile on… am patrick and I would like to know you if only you would not mind, please write back if interested as i await your reply ASAP…”

Anyone else get the impression that this guy has $12.7 million dollars American that he would like to please wire into my accounts at U.S. bank if only I will give him kindly my financial PIN and social security identification?

Result: No response from Dater X.

Lesson: Don’t be a bot.


And, as penance for bringing you no new dating stories this week, I have:

  1. set up a dinner date with El Guapo;
  2. pleaded with Tinder in increasingly threatening tones for them to repair my account (but feel free to Tweet at them@Tinder and suggest that their repair team get moving on any 30-something straight women with account issues!);
  3. sent out three new unsolicited OKCupid messages to none of the gentlemen listed above; and
  4. performed an absurd-looking but almost definitely effective rain dance for this week’s softball games.

Stay tuned, because dammit, it’s about to get exciting around here, whether the universe wants it to or not!