First Messages + Get To Know Each Other Questions: How To Start A Conversation with a Girl, Guy on Dating Apps. Funny, Witty & Creative Opening Lines To Get More Responses

There is a tremendous amount of information and coverage around photos for online dating profiles these days – endless source of tips, tricks and secrets circulating all over the internet. 

As an online dating photographer and consultant, my goal is to not only make sure clients have great, natural photos but also have the supporting captions and profile to entice conversations beyond matching. If you have managed to successfully navigate those waters and happen to match with a special someone — great! Congratulations!

People often think choosing photos, setting up a profile with a witty bio and prompts is all it takes to have success on dating apps but many people fail when it comes to opening lines, replies. Below are some tips on how to improve the quality of your communication to get more replies.

For additional tips on all things dating apps including photos, prompts, bios, app choice and first date ideas, check out my blog:

You’ve Got A Match! Now What? 

You might think the hard part is done but many people fail to turn matches into successful conversations let alone dates! There is a tremendous pressure to play it cool yet be charming, witty and smooth but many men end up going nowhere at this stage. It is not uncommon for less than 10% of matches to end up with a first date, for some <1% is not uncommon. 

Opening Lines, Pickup Lines, Online Dating Questions

So many things can go wrong that it is important to highlight some tips to minimize the low responses from matches. In the age where profiles can be created instantly with Facebook, online dating has led to uncanny amount of one word opening lines… Hi, Hey, Hello or if you are lucky two words — What’s up, Hello there etc. No other words in online dating are as anti-climatic than these right here.

Men have been notorious for this behavior for years and with the rise of Bumble (the anti-Tinder) women have fallen into the same habits that have been condemned for years. My rule of thumb is that online dating apps are merely an introduction and are still governed by the same old rules chivalry and common decency as offline approaches. This goes true for opening lines. 

Original Thoughts + Custom Messages = Getting To Know Each Other

If you are a man who says hi to a girl at the grocery store and say nothing more, that would be awkward. Same goes for online dating apps. So why would you open up a conversation with so few, effortless words? I am not advocating people pour out their life story, exude every emotion or even use a pick up line but what I am advocating is putting some more thought and effort into your opening lines and ice-breakers.

Women get bombarded with messages constantly offline and online and chances are your line has been used on them before and will be ignored. Customize your messages, be original, be vulnerable and make it clear you read their profile and make sure both of you are in alignment with what you want.

Timeliness Of Messaging and Responses 

Respond in a timely manner. Apps like Bumble or Coffee Meets Bagel force you to respond with a set time-frame so that is taken care of but other apps like Match, OkCupid or Tinder have no time limit. Follow up in the same amount of time you would to a friend’s email or recruiter’s email. That can be a matter of hours (3–6 hours or 1–2 days). 

There are exceptions to the rule i.e. out on vacation or dealing with a personal matter but in those cases you can mention the reason for the delay. i.e. Hi, sorry for the delay, I was out at Yosemite or Napa with friends this weekend. Glad we matched! You have some interesting hobbies — where did you learn to develop a passion for XYZ?

This does two things, one explain the reason for the delay, two illustrate you are social, have friends and are busy on weekends and three are thoughtful in focusing your time with said friends.

Find Talking Points In Your Dating Profile 

A simple hi, hey, heyy, what’s up will not suffice – you need to find something that illustrates effort and creativity. Find a good talking point. As much as I don’t like people waiting to respond to messages, I do think it is important to think about what you write. 

Review the person’s profile, find something interesting, unique or quirky to comment on and be sure to spell check, be specific! If you write something like I noticed you like tacos, I like burritos, we should meet, that might not be effective unless you have a sense of humor that the other person gets but this can be tricky.

However, if you mention that you did a taco crawl recently and found some amazing place under the radar that challenges Nate Silver’s calculations, that might be more successful. The point is, being specific acknowledges the fact that you paid attention and put the time and effort to come up with an opening line.

Talking Points in Your Dating Photos and Bio 

Have good talking points in your profile. If you do not have any interesting details, insights, random observations or items in your profile, it will be difficult for someone to find something to reference in conversation. Details in photos and captions provide assistance in keeping the conversation going. 

Having a logo t-shirt from a place you have been to, art, sculpture or view in the background, a podcast you like or an accessory or article of clothing that is eye-catching can help to invite more introductory messages by making it easier to find a unique entry point. An empty bio is a sure fire way to drive people away from your profile. For ways to craft your online dating bio check out this guide.

Texting in Dating Apps – Grammar, Emojis 

Use good grammar and avoid unnecessary emojis. This seems super obvious but this is sadly a fading quality in conversations these days. A little goes a long way in using full sentences and appropriate punctuation. I am not saying you have to ditch ‘Lol’ and ‘OMG’ but if your repertoire includes ‘TL;DR’, ‘UR’, ‘BCUZ’ you should rethink your approach. 

Also, if you want to eat tacos, write it out (no emojis). I am not saying tacos will lead to a first date but using emojis in conversation will hinder your chances of ongoing conversation and dates (more so for men than women).


In the event there is not much in the profile, bio, photo captions or prompts, you can try generic but timely icebreakers based on current events, new shows etc. I will say people who have incomplete profiles are not worth the time but if you are going to try, be relevant and timely.

First Date Topics of Conversation

One of the biggest mistakes people make on dating apps is messaging too much. Some people want to build chemistry and rapport but many people don’t want to waste time talking to a stranger and want to meet sooner than later. As a result, conversations can fizzle and die if there is no imminent date and time set for a date to occur (case in point – online dating during the coronavirus). Leave something for the date, the imagination.

Food, travel, volunteer work, classes, events, shows are all good topics of conversation. They can be as superficial or insightful as you want them to be. The key thing here is to show enthusiasm and energy. If you can’t get motivated for things you spend your time on what can you get excited about? Most people fail here because they sound like downers and lack any passion, curiosity, wonder or interest.

Dates should not resemble interviews. Yes, I understand some people are more urgent on meeting others and figuring out if they want to have a relationship, want kids, get married and live in the burbs but those questions don’t have to be so forceful or intense. There are subtle ways of seeking this info.

These things take time – you can’t force chemistry and love. Yes, some people in your social circles and work might have met and gotten engaged in 6 months but that is not common. Also, who knows if they will be together for the long-run. Stop comparing yourself and situations to others.

How Long To Wait To Reply Back To Messages

Generally you want to build chemistry, momentum so you should reply asap as that person was available to send you that initial message and is likely to continue a conversation with you. With that said, you don’t want to reply asap every time but most times is recommended. If you wait to long or are not responsive enough, out of sight, out of mind.

About Eddie Hernandez 

Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas.

Dating Profile Critique

For those of you who are remote or virtual dating help and are looking for an online dating profile critique you can read more about my services here.

For other helpful online dating tips check out my blog for more helpful advice:

Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More):

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