Online Dating First Messages: 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. People spend so much time trying to perfect their photos that they let other aspects of their profile and communication fail them.
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. 91% of people say a person’s opening line is important. A one-worded introductory line lacks effort, shows lack of imagination and is unmemorable (boring).
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. Matches are usually established when two people like each other’s profiles but to really set yourself apart, send a message along with your like.
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. Spend anytime on Bumble and you will notice many women defer first line messages altogether by listing their Instagram handles so that men message them first.
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. General etiquette for dating apps suggest one should put some effort into bios and messages and show interest and enthusiasm. Laziness, cliche photos and bios and one-word messsages and answers will not cut it.
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.
Make sure to use the person’s first name in your messages to increase response rate by 60% on apps like Bumble. It shows additional effort and reduces assumptions that you are copying and pasting your messages across matches.
No Replies, Stop Responding On Dating Apps
It happens to everyone. Eventually you will meet someone you really like only to experience no replies or the other other stop responding. Guys stop responding on Bumble all the time. Sometimes they are jerks, sometimes they are lazy, sometimes they meet other women. Stop making excuses for guys. If he wants to talk to you, he will. He won’t need to be prompted. Similarly if you match with a woman on Bumble, that doesn’t mean anything. She could have matched with someone else who she is now focusing on. Unlike guys, girls are more likely to talk to fewer guys at once – it’s exhausting.
Exchanging a few messages might feel like something can be there but don’t get overly invested in a stranger you just met. People reveal their true colors over time and repeatedly. Some guys might entertain women only to see if she is interested to meet up quickly. If this doesn’t align with what you seek, don’t make excuses for him, move on and focus on those that seek what you seek and don’t rush you. Similarly, you aren’t competing in a silo, the person you matched with likely matched with others.
Good conversation skills are key to keep someone’s interest and continue the conversation over a few days and weeks. People can lose interest easily, quickly if you don’t reply quick enough, don’t initiate conversations or have mostly one-word answers. Replying too quickly can come off as too eager, taking too long can come off as disinterested or likely talking to others.
Double Messaging, Follow Up Messages
Many people on dating apps become anxious after sending that first message or not hearing back immediately from a messages they sent their match – buggy apps only add to that paranoia as users are left wondering if the other person even received their message. General etiquette suggests you do not follow up with a check in message on most individuals. You should only focus on those that match your etiquette, responsivess, enthusiasm and intent.
With that said, if there is someone that seems to be worth it (less than 5% of profiles are), then it might be worth follow up with a message. If the previous message was a date request, you can follow up and say something like “Hi (insert name), are you interested in checking out (date activity)? I hear (list reason why it’s fun, unique, etc).” Most people don’t deserve this follow message as they are disinterested, busy, not ready to date etc. but there are always exceptions to the rules (just remember, exceptions are not the norm).
if you must send a follow up message on a dating app, never double message with the same message previously sent. Add something new, interesting to it. Make sure you are enthusiastic (one can only be as excited as you are so set the tone).
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).
Online Dating Icebreaker Messages
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.
One tip is to open up Google Trends and see what people are Googling these days. Narrow it to within the last 7 or 30 days and your country or even region i.e. San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas-Forth Worth etc.
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, How Soon To Respond To Online Dating 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. Typically that night or next morning is suffice but the more interested you are, the quicker you should respond. Also, if a date is made, expect to make/receive confirmation 2 days to day of the date.
How To Reply To Online Dating Messages, Should You Reply To Online Dating Messages
Contrary to popular believe, not all messages deserve a response. Some are so lazy, vulgar, boring or cliche that one shouldn’t feel obliged to reply back to messages on dating apps.
If someone write a sincere, thoughtful message, shows they read your profile and don’t look like a douche, then just say thanks but not interested or say you met someone else and are focusing on them. Unmatch afterward to remove all doubt as users (especially lonely guys who have never dated) have a hard time taking a clue if you are interested or not.
How To End Online Dating Conversations
If you have been talking for a while or have met, it’s best to let people know sooner that later you are not interested. No need to get too detailed or give a laundry list of reasons. Keep it short, sweet. Let them know you appreciate the time, effort, enjoyed talking to/meeting them but ultimately don’t see this going anywhere or are focusing on others.
Giving vague, ambiguous reasons like taking a break from online dating might invite users to follow-up or stalk you. Unmatching without reason is mean but also increases chances people will not get the message. Be direct.
Golden Rule Of Online Dating
Only focus on those that match your interest, enthusiasm, responsiveness, thoughtfulness and etiquette. If you can’t afford to be picky, make sure you are on the right app. If you are on the right app based on your location, orientation, age, lifestyle and intent, make sure you have a good profile, bio, captions and photos so you can get more matches and afford to be more picky.
Additional Reading: Is Online Dating Worth It?
Popular Read: What Do Your Online Dating Photos Signal?
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. https://eddie-hernandez.com/contact/
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: https://eddie-hernandez.com/blog/
Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More): https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-frequently-asked-questions/
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