I Messaged 225 Men Just One Word From Their Online Dating Profile — And 73 Percent Replied

You know how every other online dating message says "hey," "hi," or "hello"? There's power in brevity and leaving people wanting more.
Publish date:
February 5, 2015
relationships, online dating, Dating, love, men, Sex,

Editor's Note: Mandy is working with PlentyofFish and writing about her dating life in the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day. She is receiving compensation for the project. This is the first of three posts she'll write about the experience for xoJane.


I'm dating online a lot right now, and it's making me increasingly trollish in my behavior. After receiving about 25 different messages that often dropped a single word by way of courtship, I decided to try the technique myself.

My method was as follows: I would click on a guy's profile, read it, find one word that popped out at me, and then simply quote it back to the guy to see how he responded.

Here's what I discovered happens when you do this:

Guys. Write. You. Back. Like, way more than they normally do.

I counted, in fact, and the percentage worked out to be 164 of the 225 guys that I messaged in a 24-hour period replied — all to messages that were short, pithy, and quoting the guy's very own profile. To wit, a few of my messages:

  • Sarcasm?
  • Traveling?
  • Real.
  • Cars?
  • Cozy?
  • MacGyver?
  • Kindhearted?
  • Contrarian?
  • Creative?
  • Hiking?
  • Game?
  • Chill?
  • Entrepreneur?
  • Activities?
  • Zest?
  • Casual?
  • Romance?
  • Unique?
  • Surprised?
  • Cruise?
  • New?
  • Ask?
  • Best?
  • Wonderful?
  • Interesting?
  • Proper?
  • Unexplainable?
  • Goals?
  • Simple?
  • Wild?
  • Debating?
  • Brutally?
  • Ambitious?
  • Simple?
  • Relaxing?
  • Creating?
  • Playfulness?
  • Active?
  • Beach?
  • Discussions?
  • Movies?
  • Inspirational?
  • Intuitive?
  • Fullest?
  • Disco?
  • Evolve?
  • Connoisseur?
  • Spontaneous?
  • Easygoing?
  • Comedy?
  • Communications?
  • Karma?
  • Metaphysics?
  • Movies?
  • Sports?
  • Lksdfjsld;kj?

Somehow that last word really encapsulates everything anyone ever needs to know about online dating and writing an online dating profile.

Lksdfjsld;kj? Absolutely. Lksdfjsld;kj.

I remember dating one dude years ago, and he had this dark sense of humor where he would say things that were so terrible they really made me laugh. One time he said (and keep in mind, we dished it out to each other equally): "I like you best when you don't say anything." That's what this entire experiment reminded me of: The power in brevity and in leaving people wanting more.

My God, you google me and you get way more than you ever wanted to know, so how refreshing to perhaps get a message from me that simply quotes you back to you, and asks, "Easygoing?"

In fact, that might be the tightest writing I've ever done.

They always say to kill your darlings in any writing endeavor, and perhaps this is all that men are actually doing when they are writing us to say "Hey" or "Nice smile" or my personal favorite "GM." Really? You couldn't write out "Good morning?" It really put you out that much in our very first interaction? But hey, it's concise. I get it.

In fact, it reminds me of another piece of writing advice I often give people.

What I always say is if you're tackling putting together a piece, look at it like you're attending a party: You get there a little late and you leave a little early. In the end, it leaves people wanting more. (And they can use their imaginations to fill in the holes and to spice it all up, creating an even deeper emotional investment in what they've read — rather than exhaustively detailing everything in an incredibly clinical, on-the-nose manner.)

So often with the guys that you message online, all of your interactions end up going nowhere. So maybe there's something to be said for one-wording it after all.

Here were my seven favorite replies below.

#1. The wiseass who won me over.

#2: The "anything you want to know, just ask" guy who finally had his bait taken.

#3. The dude who seemed a little out there and did not disappoint.

#4. The guy who played me at my own game. Funny? Synergy? I like this guy. Well-played, sir.

#5. The no-b.s. guy who didn't mince any more words than I did. He's cute, too, if you can't tell by the blurry blur.

#6. The dude who used "mmm" to explain himself then realized the error of his ways then realized the cuteness of my puppy. Any man who likes my dogs is, mmm, awesome.

#7: The guy who recognized the one-word reply as the mating ritual it truly is. I kind of want to keep going like this, especially since he seems like he can keep up.

I have hundreds more, and I wish I could show you pictures from my favorites of the bunch who are stone-cold babes, but I won't bore you with the intricacies. Suffice it to say: If you want an answer when you send messages online do it like this:



Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.