The online dating journey is laden with potential stumbling blocks. There’s not a physical attraction. You don’t have any common interests. You’re a night owl, he’s an early bird. Or everything seems to be perfect — but his grammar is just appalling.
Yes, it’s a real concern for today’s Internet daters. Mix up “their” and “they’re” and you might never progress to an offline date.
In a world where an ever-increasing amount of interaction takes place online, it’s only natural that how the words typed by a person on a screen appear is scrutinised almost as much as their meaning.
“Grammar snobbery is one of the last permissible prejudices,” John McWhorter, a linguistics professor at Columbia University, told the Wall Street Journal. “The energy that used to go into open classism and racism now goes into disparaging people’s grammar.”
“My friends call me the Grammar Police,” admitted 36-year-old Paula, who’s been using dating apps for almost a year. “But I can’t help it. If I get a message from someone and it has a comma in the wrong place, I won’t even reply. I know it’s something that would grate on me so much, so there’s just no point.”
“For me, it comes down to effort,” explained 40-year-old Jeff, who first tried online dating three years ago. “If a message is littered with typos and grammatical errors, it suggests that they’ve just fired it off without really thinking about what they’re saying.”
Dating site Match asked more than 5,000 American singletons what factors were most important in assessing potential dates. A person’s grammar came second only to the state of their teeth — which 71 percent of women and 58 percent of men valued most. The survey found 69 percent of women and 55 percent of men said they cared about grammar most, placing more importance on it than a person’s clothes or hair.
It’s not just about grammar and spelling mistakes. Launch into “text speak” when chatting to someone who doesn’t know their YOLOs from their BRBs and it could be the end of a beautiful virtual relationship. The same goes for emojis: your love life really could be hanging on a smiley face.
“I find overuse of emojis a huge turn-off,” said 29-year-old Emily, who’s been online dating for a few months. “I don’t use them at all, so when a guy starts bombarding me with little faces blowing kisses to me, he really goes down in my estimation.”
Not only can a badly written message be a red flag to prospective dates, a well-written one can really tip the balance in your favour. “An articulate, thoughtful message with no grammatical errors or text speak definitely makes me sit up and pay attention,” said experienced online dater Sam, 33. “Online dating can be really, really harsh and competitive. Making sure your message stands out — in a good way — is something everyone should be doing.”