How Fast Should You Answer Online Dating Messages?

Fast Fireball

Ding! We all know that exciting feeling when we hear that someone sent us a message to our online dating account.

If you haven’t given online dating a shot yet, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about the first time you get a new message from someone. It’s always a moment of nervous excitement.

Is it a response to a message we sent? Is it someone new? Are they someone we’re interested in? Is it someone we flirted with? Are they excited to talk to us or brushing us off? Is this the start of something new and exciting?

All of those questions plus about 80 million other emotions course through our bodies as we check our phone or computer to see who they are and what they said.

But then the anxiety for some of us sets in. We start worrying about what we should say, how we should say it, and when we should say it. If you’re not worrying at least a little bit about these things, you’re either Superman or Superwoman or you’re not thinking at all before you respond. Not thinking before you send a message to someone you just met online dating is not a recipe for success.

Today we’d like to talk about the last part of that equation – when you choose to respond to a new match. If you don’t think this matters at all, you’re in for a good little lesson today.

Why Does Your Response Time Matter

Before we tell you why it matters, we’re going to tell you why it doesn’t matter. Leave it to us to turn something simple into something confusing. Let us clarify. We want to make sure you know that while this is important, you shouldn’t over think things and end up not sending a message back because you can’t decide when to send it. Sending an ill-timed message back to a potential date prospect is much better than not sending anything at all.

That being said, you can significantly improve your chances of success by paying a little attention to how long it takes you to respond to messages. If you respond too slowly, your match may move on or become interested in someone else. They may also start to think you aren’t interested and begin focusing their efforts elsewhere. If this ends up being a match you like, this is not something that you want to happen.

On the flip side, if you respond too quickly, it can come across like you have nothing better to do than sit online and wait for messages all day. Think about this. If every time you send someone a message, they respond in under 30 seconds, would you be a little thrown off? Would you start to wonder if this person did anything else with their day other than sit online and date? We would, and we can tell you that other people do as well.

Chatting vs. Messaging

The first big distinction that you need to make to decide how quickly you should respond to a potential match is whether you are chatting or messaging. Chatting is when you’re in an instant messenger type situation. Messaging is when you are sending “notes” back and forth. The problem with a lot of online dating sites is that these features are combined and it can be hard to tell which it’s supposed to be.

What we recommend that you do is respond how the other person is responding. Here’s the trick. If they are writing their messages almost like a letter with “Hey” or “Hi” at the beginning and then signing their name at the end, you should treat it as a message format. If they send you a quick one-liner that isn’t signed at the end, you may want to treat that as a chat. If it’s a chat, you can respond right away without any fears of making things weird. If it’s a message, you may want to give it a little time before you respond.

For example, if they send you any of these messages, you can assume it’s a chat.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Hi there, I’m Angie. How are you?”

If they send you something like this, though, you should view it more as a message/letter.

“Hi,

I’m Angie. I noticed you really liked dogs. I’m a big dog lover too! Do you have any of your own?

Talk to you soon,

– Angie”

If they send you a message, take a few minutes to respond. Take that time to think about what you want to say and craft a nice response that shows you read their profile and are paying attention. This will, of course, need to take into account whether this is the first message from someone or if you’ve been chatting for a while.

New Messages vs. Ongoing Conversations

The answer of how quickly you should respond to an online dating message (not chat) has a lot to do with whether it’s a brand new match or someone you’ve been talking to for a while. If they’re brand new, there’s nothing wrong with responding quickly to the first few messages. Now, we’re not talking about responding in 10 seconds every single time, but it’s ok to get the conversation going.

After that, you’re going to want to follow suit with how the other person is choosing to respond. If they are responding to your messages super quickly, then it’s not going to seem weird if you respond quickly. If they’re someone who is busy, though, and it takes them a few days to respond, they might be a little turned off if you’re always responding in lightning speed.

The idea is this. If they’re a brand new match, you can respond quickly to the first few messages because there is nothing strange about that. After that, though, try and follow suit and get into a nice rhythm with the person. If they’re taking ages to respond, though, you don’t also have to take ages. It’s rude to not respond in a timely manner, so you may actually want to rethink whether that person is a good match or not. If its constant because their life is busy, it’s possible that their lives may be a little too busy for dating at this time.

The Bottom Line

We said a lot about messaging time frames, but let’s condense it down into some actionable steps you can take with you. If it’s clearly a chat box you’re talking in, you can respond quickly. If you’re sending messages, don’t be creepy fast, but don’t be rude and take forever. Try and get into a rhythm with your match and response times should gradually and naturally be getting quicker as the two of you get to know each other better and start to get more excited about actually meeting!

Remember this. Don’t over think the time frame. If you just don’t respond to every message in 10 seconds and make sure not to be rude and take 19 years to respond, you’ll be just fine. A natural rhythm always presents itself as long as you’re paying attention and looking for it.


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Written By: Jason Lee

Jason Lee is a journalist with a passion for writing about online dating, relationships, personal growth, healthcare, and finance. In 2008, Jason earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida, where he studied business and finance and taught interpersonal communication. His work has been featured in the likes of The USA Today, MSN, The Motley Fool, NetHealth, and The Simple Dollar. As a business owner, relationship strategist, dating coach, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base with the rest of the world. Follow Jason on Facebook here