Online Dating App Conversation Tips, Topics To Discuss, Best Practices for Communication, Rules, Initiating Messages, Response Time, Responding To Messages

So you managed to get a match on a dating app, congrats! So what now? Many people focus on their profile, photos and bio but fail when it comes to communication. As difficult as it is to get a match with someone you are particularly interested in, it is that much harder to convert matches to dates.

In my previous post, I cover intro messages to help start conversations. After you manage to beat the buzzer and beat that shot clock before matches expire, you now have to figure out how to keep the conversation going to secure a date. One should not wait too long to respond (reply same day if not next morning) or reply instantly all the time. 

There is a fine line between too chatty (more like a pen pal) and too distant, anti-social. The key to balance is to be interesting and enthusiastic but while being succinct in your communications. Too many side conversations, split communications across multiple platforms and slow response times can kill momentum.

Back and forth conversations that take forever are one of the most widely cited reasons clients have become flustered with messaging. Being piece-fed questions, details, answers etc. is inefficient.


Be Specific With Dates, Times

Rather than ask vague questions, be specific – doing so will increase the chances of continuing the conversation and securing a date. Are you available these dates/times? Interested in meeting here or there. If the other person is unavailable, they should provide alternatives. If they are indecisive or unenthusiastic, it might be a red flag to move on with your matches.

Many folks fail to notice red flags in conversation because they are just happy to have matched at all. Don’t ignore red flags but don’t always assume the worst either.

If you can’t make a date, don’t accept the invite. If something comes up, give as much notice and provide an alternative day/time. If you break the plans it’s up to you to re-initiate. Don’t make excuses for others and don’t be the one always taking the initiative. Dating requires both people to be present, engaged.

Asking For IG, Instagram, Insta, Snap, WhatsApp

Asking for a phone number, Instagram handle or Snap account can see too intrusive, creepy, insecure for most people. People use it as a way to screen matches, validate that the match is not cat-fishing them or find a better way to communicate rather than the app. I recommend WhatsApp as it is the least intrusive of the options. You don’t have to add phone-numbers, share your photos nor grant a stranger more access to your life than you are comfortable with. 

If your match does not give you their IG handle, do not stalk them and ask to follow – this is super creepy. Even if the match has his/her IG account on his/her profile, that just signals someone who is either vain, looking for followers etc. If someone give their IG to anyone, and everyone, what does it reveal about them? Do you want to date someone like that?

In rare cases someone might list their Instagram handle on their dating profile to avoid sending the first message i.e. women on Bumble. This happens fairly common, especially if the profile is private but if it is public, proceed with caution. Analyze the photos, are they suggestive and sexual in nature?

Messaging Frequency After Date Is Made

Once a date is secured, many people become unsure how often or when to message a date before the date occurs. This is a tough spot to be in as you want to be enthusiastic yet don’t want to run out of things to say. It’s hard to have good conversation with someone you hardly know.

Some people try to act too chummy or inquisitive i.e. how is your day? What are your career ambitions? Do you want kids? These questions are too private and involved and demand an in person conversation before being asked and answered. Many people try a bit too hard to filter matches asap and that it is difficult to do. Keep it casual and light-hearted before you meet for the first time.

Matching Length, Enthusiasm & Sincerity 

One thing to look out for is look out for when messaging others is general effort, message length, enthusiasm, creativity, uniqueness and insight. Messages that are short, take a while to respond to and are suggestive and abrupt can be seen as seeking a hookup or testing people to see how they respond.

While not everyone is great at texting, it’s polite to give a heads up if you are busy or will not get back to a person in time or explain what is going on in one’s life. Cryptic messages and messages sent only at night and on weekends could be seen as someone only interested in something casual. Opening up emotionally over time and with matched effort is a good way to filter people who are playing games.

How Do You Stay Calm When He Doesn’t Text You Back

Some people are busy, some people are inconsiderate. Life happens. This is why it’s important to talk to others, date others until both parties decide to be exclusive. Some guys are emotionally distant while others are trying to play it cool. Others lack experience and can learn a thing or two about how to be a better conversationalist. Perhaps he is better at talking over the phone, video or in person.

Get off social media and go on with your life. Don’t try to worry about if he is interested in you. Don’t look for validation or attention from strangers. Focus on people who match your enthusiasm and energy. If you have questions about a relationship, r/relationship advice is a good sub on reddit for advice like this on your unqiue situation. R relationship advice has a pretty helpful group of listeners who are brutally honest yet considerate.

What Does It Mean If She Never Texts First

All relationships require balance, mutual effort. Sometimes people need to take up the slack at times for others but overall, balance and equality are needed for healthy relationships. If you find that she or he is not texting you first, asking questions or is giving short one-worded answers, take that as a red flag. It could mean the person is too busy for you or is too inconsiderate. Don’t make excuses for people. Focus on those that exert some effort, energy and enthusiasm.

If you can’t find such people, perhaps it’s best to take time off away from dating apps and evaluate your profile, photos, well-being and current situation.

Not Interested, Indifferent or Ambivalent

If not interested, let the person know. If someone is mean or harassing, not explanation is needed. In fact report the profile but be aware he/she may know who reported him/her based on limited interactions, recency etc.

A good way to let someone down early is to say you are focusing on someone you met on the app or don’t think you are seeking the same things. No need to go into detail or over explain. Keep it short and direct. Avoid ghosting if you have exchanged many messages, have a date set or have already met in person.

Be Honest, Candid

Life happens, sometimes you are busy or have things come up. It’s better to be transparent with your matches. If finals are coming up and you need to focus on studying or if you are going through some trouble with your work, let your match know what’s up (especially if you are interested in them and hope to develop a relationship).

Making excuses after the fact is seen as defensive whereas being honest is being interested and trusting the other person will understand. If not at least you know where you stand.

Confirm The Date, Place & Time

As the date approaches, I recommend confirming dates 24-48 hours in advance. A simple looking forward to meeting you or looking forward to those negronis with you at XYZ is sufficed. Check to make sure there are no early closures nor private events.

Come up with back up plan in case you need to change venues because it is too packed, loud. Plan your day in case you are meeting the person after work. Give yourself time to arrive comfortably vs being stuck in traffic or running across town to make it in time.

Most conversation should revolve around bios, photos, answers as well as the first date. Anything more than that can be a bit too forward or presumptive. The rule of thumb is to manage conversation like you would with someone you met at a bar. Conversations can be light-hearted, superficial, candid, random but never too personal.

Don’t follow someone on Instagram or ask for their IG before you meet them.

As for exchanging numbers, I think it is completely unnecessary to exchange numbers before a first date unless you don’t have access to the app or you may not have good reception. Most people these days have a cell phone, Wi-Fi.

Similarly, if a man is putting too much pressure on you to give him your number, you might need to acknowledge this as a potential red flag. Numbers should be exchanged after a first date or when you feel comfortable doing so.

If it is not obvious, do not search for someone’s profile online and message them off a dating app, that is super creepy.

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.

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