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Online Dating Messages: The One-Line Hook

If, try as you might, you can’t get a lady interested enough to wink on instead of writing messages, and there’s a special woman you’re set on contacting, I’ve got a tip for you. Nothing I’ve found works better than “the one-line hook.” This is a one-sentence question that is relevant to something in the profile that interests you, that “hooks” your target into responding.

Remember, when you are making first contact, you have one goal, and that is to get a response, which will show that she is, in fact, also interested in you (while also helping build that interest), and ready to get a follow-up message, and eventually go on a date.

Some one-line hooks that have worked for me include:

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  • To a self-proclaimed Thai food lover: “Hey there, I’m new in town, and I haven’t been able to find a good Thai restaurant, what do you recommend?”
  • To a girl who said under “Education” that she had a Master’s Certificate in Project Management: “You can get a Master’s in Project Management? Interesting, I didn’t know that.”

The main criteria are that it concern a subject that is of interest to them, as expressed in their profile, and that it poses a compelling question that they will hardly be able to resist answering. Now, don’t get controversial, or attack anything about them with this question. Find something in their profile that genuinely interests you, that you would like to know more about, and ask about it. If you can’t find such a thing, you should probably move on, as the attraction is probably strictly based upon looks, and is a dead end.

Does it absolutley have to be a one-line message? No, but this compelling question should be the main focus of the message. If you have an interesting story to introduce this question, even better!

The reasons this is a great tactic are:

  • It gets them talking about everyone’s favorite subject: themselves (this is where you are building their interest in you)
  • It’s focused around a topic that you already know interests them, since they’ve talked about it in their profile
  • It conserves energy. Don’t get me wrong, this is almost always more effective than a longer message, but you don’t want to expend too much energy writing a message to any one woman because 1) only paid members can even respond to you and you have no way of knowing if they are even a paying member, and 2) you’ll be spending time that you could be spending writing messages to other potential interests on writing to someone who, for a variety of potential reasons, may not respond.

There are three typical potential outcomes from this message you write:

If you want to get really technical, you can learn about specific keywords that will get you responses in opening messages.

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  • datingpapers

    The only issue I see with the education remark is that she seems to have already answered the question! I like the concept of asking easy, open-ended questions to get a response! Great information. I look forward to continued reading.


  • True, @datingpapers, but it DID work. I got a lengthy response full of comments about specific things in my profile. I dated her for almost three months. I guess, as long as they are actually interested, you at least open the door for them when you ask them a question.

  • RGT

    Well.. having been on for a couple of years now I thought I had the hang of it.
    Ran across Russ Ruggles site so thought I’d try his strategy. This was after.. I had sent a
    first message to someone who had winked at me. My message got nowhere and I thought she may not be a paying member.. but then I figured what the heck.. and sent a shorter 2nd first message..using info from her profile to elicit a response. Well.. it Worked! She sent back a long response referring to both of the messages I had sent. I learned something valuable today.. and will be using it in the future.

    Thanks Russ


  • russruggles

    That is so awesome to hear Robert! I always love hearing the success stories (and even when things don’t go as planned). Just let me know if you need any more advice.

  • This is a no-brainer… but it deserves mention. IF YOU ARE UGLY, TRY HARDER. Lol. I’m not the best looking guy, so I know that I need to send 2-3 times more mail out than other folks. That’s how I get lai- I mean dates.

  • russruggles

    Ha, Luke! Well, clearly you’re a funny guy, and since all the ladies love to laugh, that’s got to get you somewhere.

  • Bill

    I sent out a message before reading your article and realize that I may have hurt my chances of hearing back. Looking back at my first message I see that it is too long and doesn’t focus enough on her interests. I’d like to try again now but with a short one line hook. Should I reference the first message or write as if it never happened?

    Thanks Russ!
    – Bill

  • russruggles

    Hey Bill,
    I guess if you can give a qualified reason for re-contacting her, you might not put yourself in too bad of a position – if you’re *sure* she isn’t going to respond to your first attempt.

  • Paul

    Russ, thank you so much. I have not tried keeping my messages to one sentence hooks yet I will try that!

    But, I have been brief, and I have tailored my comments to what I genuinely like about their profile…and I’m not getting responses.

    it could be that they’re not paid members or it could be that I’m just too ugly.

    How can I know what I’m doing wrong or right? How many times do I have to fail before I know I’m doing something wrong/I’m not good enough?

    I just started–have sent 6 messages, and been viewed 29 times. No winks, no replies.

    any help would be appreciated sorry for rambling!

  • Jay

    Hey, Boss..

    Cool article. Would it be possible, in any way, for me to get a example of an effective message sent to my e-mail address? Thanks.

  • Russ, you state: “1) only paid members can even respond to you and you have no way of knowing if they are even a paying member, and …” but I do see ladies in green. They are paying members I believe, premium membership.(after some googleing).


  • Good idea to truly be interested in the profile–even mentioning things that you liked. However, my perspective as a chick when guys send the aforementioned “oh what’s a good Thai restaurant” message…I feel thats a cop-out, or a cheap “one-liner” with not enough interest or desire to pursue me. Just the fact that you email asking about something you can get on or what-not does not make me want to email you back. Try to add something about what you have in common with the other person, what you liked about their pictures, or just simply that they seemed interesting and you’d like to get coffee. I try to be open but crappy lines are just simply not good enough. Good luck!!

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