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Personals – What to do and NOT to do

THE MIGHTY DO’S:

Write in advance. This lets you think about what you want to say about yourself and, more importantly, check your spelling and grammar. Have a friend read and react to your draft message.

Spellcheck. Yes, this counts. It shows that you are serious about finding dates and willing to pay attention to details. Some people are just natural bad spellers, but it can make you look less smart or less educated than you really are. Most websites do not offer spellchecking of profiles.

Personalize! We recommend writing a general template of a first message, but you have to personalize it for each person you contact. Mention something from their profile, ask a question that refers to something they wrote, or describe how you would be a good match for them. Mention what attracted your attention to their ad. No one wants to think they just received a form letter.

Write more than one line. “Liked your profile… want to chat?” This may be the most commonly-sent message on a dating website… and the most ignored. You need to say something else. Set yourself apart and say something interesting to get a reply.

Use humor. If someone with a great personal ad is receiving lots of replies… what will make yours stand out? A funny line might help. But if you have noticed that people do not respond well to your brand of humor… save your jokes for later.

Keep track of whom you’ve contacted. Don’t write a series of letters to someone who has not responded… you’ll look desperate or like a stalker.
THE PESTY DO NOT’s:

Don’t demand personal info immediately. Certainly not if you have failed to offered any details yourself. Go for a balance between talking about yourself and asking about them.

Don’t open with your last failed relationship. Sure, you have a dating history. But talking about “game players, liars, and cheats” makes you sound a little bitter. Don’t sound like you are obsessed with past partners… or that you think everyone will hurt you.

Don’t open with sex. “Hi. You look sexy.” Unless the person’s ad specifically says they only want a casual sexual relationship, it can easily sound vulgar and rude. Women, in particular, typically delete those messages. When men get letters like that, they often expect a link to a porn site to follow. Even on a website that focuses on “adult activities,” you need to do more than describe your body or fantasies.

Don’t write a novel. Sending out your life story as a first contact is going to look odd. You need to write enough to sound like you have a life, not a book you’d like to publish.

Don’t open with “I hate online dating.” It is amazing how many people open a note with a line that condemns online dating sites and the people that use them. You are talking to someone that uses a dating website! Do you really want to immediately imply that they are desperate, dumb, or dangerous?

Don’t ask for a phone number, address, or last name before you have even gotten a reply from someone. You may be mistaken for a serial killer or a telemarketer. Go slowly in asking for that sort of information; you don’t want to scare off prospective dates.
DO stick with a reputable site where you can feel comfortable and safe–one that keeps your email confidential and doesn’t allow profanity–this way you’ll feel free to be yourself when interacting with other members.

DO be honest in your profile, and post up-to-date photos. Sometimes being yourself can be scary, but the right person will like you just as you are. Besides, if you really want to get to know someone, you’re going to meet in person and the truth will come out anyway.

DO set up an email account just for personals and use a Username that reflects your personality (without being way over the top).

DON’T send the same email to everyone. Personalize your messages by responding to things mentioned in emails and profiles. (No one wants junk mail–it’s a waste of time.)

DO reply to everyone who contacts you (you get a 1 week leeway). If you’re not interested, a simple “Thank you, but I’m unable to correspond with you at this time.” will do.

DON’T write people off right away. It takes at least a few emails to get a sense of someone.

DO be polite. Remember, there IS a person sitting on the other end of the wires.

DO use humor, especially if it’s a part of your offline personality, but be careful with it. Humor doesn’t always translate over the wires, and it’s difficult to gage how the recipient is responding. To set the tone, add an emoticon or two, like a 🙂 or a ;-).

DON’T say anything in an email that you wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

DON’T lie. If you do, don’t wonder why your single! Enough said.

DO start each email with a greeting (Dear, Hi, Greetings, Wassup?) and end with a closing (Sincerely, Regards, Cheers, ‘Til soon) and your name.

DON’T use profanity or tell off-color jokes.

DO have reasonable expectations and take it in stride if a relationship doesn’t work out.

DON’T take things too personally-some people have no manners 😉 .

DON’T email someone’s ear off. In other words, don’t “talk” too much and don’t tell your whole life story right away. Leave something for when you get together.

DO ask questions to create an open-ended conversation.

DO respect the other person’s privacy. DON’T ask for personal contact information or answers to extremely personal questions right away.

DON’T push anyone. If they say they don’t want to communicate with you, need more time before opening up, or are not ready to meet in person, they’re not playing hard to get. Get it?

DON’T hesitate to ask someone out once you get the feeling that you’re both into it–use your intuition, just like you would offline. This applies to guys and gals alike. Traditional or non-traditional offline? Be true to yourself in the cyber-world–it’s real too.

If you’re interested, DO go out with someone you meet online, but start with a short date in a public place. That way, if your feelings differ offline, you have an easy out.

DO send a follow-up email after an offline date, whether it’s to say thanks, but no thanks, or to reaffirm how much fun you had.

DON’T string anyone along just because you don’t know how to say “no” or like the ego boost.

DO play the field. Just as long as you’re being honest and having fun, it’s okay to keep contacting as many people as you like until you find someone you’re interested in. After all, meeting new people is what dating is all about.

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