Dating App Conversation Tips, Topics, Communication, Rules, Initiating Messages, Response Time, Responding To Messages, Do’s & Don’ts For Online Dating Etiquette

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 covered 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.


Unwritten Rules Of Online Dating: Do’s & Don’ts Of Online Dating, Dating Site Messaging Etiquette

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. Also, understanding if he or she is stringing you along without any intention of meeting up is an important skill to develop.

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 and frustrating. Canceling last minute dates and not rescheduling is not uncommon when on dating apps. Here are some conversation etiquette and tips to manuever through online dating.


Online Dating First Message

This is a crucial step in the online dating experience. Don’t assume that if you get a like or a match the person is attracted to you. It merely means they are possibly interested in learning more about you. Online dating first message examples like Hi, Hey, Heyy, lack substance and effort.


Is It Rude To Ignore A Message On A Dating Site? What Should You Not Do Online Dating

Absolutely not especially if the message feels copy/pasted, the person clearly didn’t read your profile, or uses poor grammar and etiquette. If a person makes a genuine effort, clearly read your profile, is polite and clearly curated the message toward you, it’s recommended to at least say you are not interested and wish them the best of luck. Similarly if the person comes off as creepy, rude or too forward, no need to respond or acknowledge message.


Online Dating Etiquette: Asking For IG, Instagram, Insta, Snap, WhatsApp

Asking for a phone number, Instagram handle or Snap account can seem too intrusive, creepy, insecure for most people especially if asked immediately. 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?


How Often To Message Someone On The Dating App, Online Dating Response Time

It’s a bit subjective but enough to keep engaged, respond in a timely manner but not too much that you are going to become penpals. Some people are better than others about keeping the conversation going on dating apps but if one person runs out of things to say, the conversation will die and matches will fade.

The other thing to factor is balancing response time. For guys, you don’t want to reply instantly, all the time but you should note that when a girl messages you, she signals that she has time to engage in a conversation for a bit of time so your first response should be quick enough to meet her availability but not instantly all the time as too sound too eager. It’s a delicate balance but something you will learn to master over time.

The other reason for slight pauses is so you can interpret and process tone in messages. Sometimes things sound better in your head than written out. CAPS, commas, dashes, ellipses, emojis, memes, all are important tools in a conversation toolkit. Knowing how to carefully inject them into conversations can be the difference between getting a date and getting unmatched instantly. It’s fine to sound like a dork or clutz if genuine and accidental but something offensive or mean can be hard to take back.


Online Dating 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.


Online Dating Slow Response: How To Reply To Messages: 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. These are queues people use to decide who they want to continue messaging with. 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.


Online Dating Messages: 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 – Don’t Settle For Less

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, etiquette, responsiveness 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.


Online Dating Etiquette: How To Get A Guy To Ask You Out

Some guys are nervous or unsure about how you might feel about them. Other guys try not to be overly aggressive thinking they might squander their chances with you. Regardless of the reason, there are subtle ways to nudge a guy to ask you out without seeming desperate or emasculating.

For the record, if you are talking to a great catch, it’s best to ask him out sooner than later or else someone else will. It’s not uncommont for women to ask out guys in 2020 especially when they check all the boxes. Guys like to be pursued too! 

If you are talking about drinks, for example, ask him about a place or type of drink you are interested in. If you like Irish Coffees, ask him about recommendations for winter cocktails. If he mentions a place or a type of cocktail you want to check out, mention that it’s on your list of places to go or check out but haven’t been able to find the time. He should pick up on this rather quickly and ask if you would are free to go to said place.

If you want to go about this a more indirect route, post in one of your prompts or bios that you are eagerly exploring winter cocktails this holiday season and ask if anyone has any recipes or under the radar suggestions. Not only are you more likely to get tips, advice but you can also measure how reliable his tips are if you happen to be an expert yourself. The damsel in distress vibes always do the trick.

Dating Etiquette: Not Interested, Indifferent & 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.

If you are not sure what you want be honest. Say you are interested in meeting people and going from there. Too often people go the extreme route and state they want a hookup or long-term relationship. It’s not always that easy. You have to learn to walk before you can run and with dating, it’s imporant to get to know someone, see if you like spending time with them. Enjoy the courting process and use it as an opportunity to try out new places, share new experiences and get to know someone you find cute.

Read: Online Dating Rejection, Etiquette


Ghosting On Dating Apps: Etiquette Guide + Online Dating Rules

Avoid ghosting if you have exchanged many messages, have a date set or have already met in person. Guys and girls ghosting matches is poor behavior. Similarly, do not respond to ghosting. If people have a good, sincere reason for going dark, they will be upfront and honest.

Focus on those that match your effort, enthusiasm, responsiveness and etiquette. If you don’t have options, work to improve your profile and self offline. Don’t let loneliness influence others and the way they treat you. People who ghost are people you want nothing to do with anyways. They are selfish, inconsiderate, unable to think of others, not ready to date, insecure and generally awful people.


Be Honest, Candid & Curious

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.


1st Date Etiquette: Should You Confirm A Date? How To Ask If We Are Still On?

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.

Depending on how soon a date is made, typically a confirmation is expected by the one making the date which is typically the guy in most dating scenarios. If the date was made more than 3-5 days prior, one should confirm the day before. If the date was made 1-2 day out, confirming the morning of is great. Not everyone is on dating apps everyday so depending on prior reply times, adjust notifications accordingly.

–For tips on date activities for first dates, check out this post.–

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.

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.

If you are not comfortable asking about confirmation of a date because you don’t want to feel needy or uncertain or give off the vibes you get ghosted often, you can toss something casual out there like looking forward to tomorrow, hope the weather is good or can’t wait to try out that drink on the menu. Confirming the date not only shows you are thinking of the other person but are respectful of their time in planning for a date. It also allows for insight into their etiquette.

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

Exchanging Numbers, Unmatching Still Texting, Unmatching On Hinge, Bumble

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. Only message them on the platforms they give you information for. Similarly offer up a phone number as another means to get in touch as the day before the date in case anything comes up. It’s not uncommon for apps to be buggy, profile/chats unavaialble or people to not check the app too often.

It’s not uncommon to want to transition from dating apps to getting numbers but at the same time there are a few reasons to be concerned when someone unmatches after they get your number. If you are concerned about privacy, consider getting a Google Voice Number for dating apps. This will allow you to get a local number, use your existing phone and protect your real, main phone number until you are comfortable giving it out.

Some people unmatch so you can’t see their activity on the apps. A few others unmatch to make it harder to identify them if they do something creepy or threatening in person or on other apps. I also recommend keeping communication on the app until you meet the person and feel safe.


Texts After First Date Etiquette Examples: Hinge Etiquette, Bumble Etiquette 

If you are really interested in the person, you will drop subtle or not so subtle queues that you wish to see the person again during the first date. Some examples of this are to build moment and then suggest a somewhat hypothetical scenario i.e. we shoult totally check out xyz when it opens up. If you want a less obvious and more subtle way to suggest interest, you can say “that sounds super fun or I have been wanting to go that forever but have been unable to coordinate with my friends”.

These statement questions should give you an idea of where your date stands. It also can help them relax as they no longer have to guess or worry about how the date is going if you are into them. At the culmination of the date, verbally state how you felt about the date. Don’t leave any ambiguity in the air.

If you want to see the person again, state that you had a great time, would love to see the person again and then suggest a possible date/time at minimum. If you are unsure about exact plans or locations, suggest a vague idea or two. If you did drinks suggest a walk, if you did coffee suggest a hike, if you discovered something new about your date, suggest a related activity to show you were paying attention. Research ideas to present a few options if possible (shows more interest, effort).

Text after first date example: Hi (insert name), it was great to meet you. I had a great time and would love to see you again. Would you possibly be interested in going to (insert date idea) on (insert date, time)?

Unless someone made it clear during date #1 and they wanted to see you again and they also followed up immediately thanking for the date and suggesting another specific date, don’t expect a second date to happen. You should only date people who are enthuastic about seeing you again and make it clear.

Online Dating Bad Etiquette: Online Dating Messages

-Asking for full names.

-Asking for Instagram or Snapchat randomly, quickly.

-Asking for more photos.

-Asking for a date quickly without getting to know someone.

-Suggesting a first date at your place.

-Ghosting and coming back.


How Long Should You Wait To Respond To An Online Dating Message?

Be quick but not overly eager. Time is of the essesence. When a women messsages you, she is ready to chat. If you take too long, she will find someone else who is interested. Women are more likely than men to focus on one person at a time for sanity and bandwidth preferences.


Bumble Etiquette For Women

Don’t use hi, hey, what’s up for first messages on Bumble.

Tinder Etiquette: Who Messages First? 

Anyone can, should.


Personalized Online Dating Profile Critique

Strategy (App Choice + Timing + First Messages), Photo Critique, Bios + Prompts + Photo Captions, Wardrobe Feedback, Body Language, Smiles & More

About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, 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, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally. 

Dating App FAQ's  |  Online Dating Resource Guide  |  How To Be Successful With Dating Apps

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