One of the most intimidating elements of dating these days is what on earth you say when you get in touch with someone online – or how you reply when someone makes the first move.

We are all so different, and that’s what can make it interesting. What one person feels is an appropriate message for someone they like the look of, for another it may be well out of line.

But whoever you are and however used you are to dating online, there should be certain standards that have to be remembered. That means you should display good manners and be polite and respectful at all times. Think about the other person receiving the message, what would make them smile?

That said, being over complimentary or too forward can come across as a little cringeworthy.

The best thing to do is to read their profile and make conversation alluding to something they mention. Perhaps they say they listen to soul music, why not tell them you love Otis Redding or if they say they enjoy Mediterranean food you could let them know you do too.

Debbie, 46 says: “The best introductions are those that seem the easiest, like it’s unforced. I suppose that’s a skill in itself – appearing to look like you have come up with a perfect uncomplicated message when really you have completely over thought it!”

For Beverly, 51, a real turn-off is someone being too formal.

“You don’t want someone to speak to you in the language you’d use in a stuffy business meeting,” she says. “But I understand finding a balance can be a challenge – if they were to use text speak I suppose that wouldn’t appeal either.”

Barrie, 56, suggests that first messages should be short and to the point. “I don’t know if women tend to say more than men but I think it’s a waste of time to go on and on – why not say something short and unique and take it from there?”

Honesty is of course a given but humour is a controversial topic!

Always bear in mind that your potential date simply might not find the same things funny. So that comes back to courtesy and respect – never make a joke at the other person’s expense.

It sounds such a minefield doesn’t it? Bottom line is – you have to find your own way. Be positive, confident and respectful and go for it!

But if getting things right in an initial approach is complicated, replying to someone who gets in touch with you can bring a whole new level of consideration! And the first thing you have to weigh up is, should you even reply to all messages?

Sam, 34 says: “I found that answering everyone who got in touch was too much of a pain. That is not me being big-headed or arrogant, it’s just I messaged someone after they messaged me once to say thanks for getting in touch but they weren’t for me and this led to an abusive message back. I understand manners cost nothing but I protect myself now by not replying unless I really want to.”

Pete, 47 takes a different view.

He says: “I always reply and I am always positive and wish people well. Sometimes I have messaged a woman back who may not have seemed my ideal date on first impression – but that led to an interesting conversation and some very agreeable dates.”

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