Who here likes to be left on read? Anyone? Nope, didn't think so. Unanswered messageswhether it's a text convo with your crush, a group chat that none of your friends responds to, or a hopeful conversation starter on Tinderare just one more way living in this digital age can make you feel all-caps crappy.
But unlike those first two examples, when it comes to dating-app conversation starters and Tinder openers, there's some art involvedand it's incredibly important.
Of course, first impressions are critical in any context, but especially when there's a potential relationship on the line, says Jess Carbino, PhD, a former sociologist for Tinder and Bumble. That's because humans have a natural desire to "thin slice"as in, digest small amounts of information (like, what's in your bio) to determine bigger decisions (read: whether this person is worth a date...or more).
And how you perceive someone in the first 30 seconds or three minutes of interaction is as lasting an impression as how you'd feel about them after three whole hours with them, Carbino says. Which basically means that that opening message is kinda make-it-or-break-it (sorry, I don't make the rules).
"How you perceive someone in the first 30 seconds or three minutes of interaction is as lasting an impression as how you'd feel after three whole hours with them."
To make that intro count, all you have to do is be a little thoughtful and creative in your Tinder opener, but you don't need to rely on cheesy pick-up lines (please don't!). The easiest (and most duh) solution for finding love on an online dating site: "Use what their profile gave you," Adam Lo Dolce, relationship coach and founder of SexyConfidence.com says.
Not sure exactly how? I rounded up the best tipsand real Tinder conversation starters (that can be used just as expertly on Bumble, or Hinge, or Coffee Meets Bagel, or Facebook Dating or...insert dating app here)to make at least one part of life a little easier on ya. But one caveat? If you end up engaged, I want an invite to the wedding.
First, keep your Tinder opening message short.
"A lot of people overly invest their time and energy into sending a message and custom-tailoring it. But at the end of the day, its truly a numbers game online," Lo Dolce says, noting that you should keep in mind that the person you're reaching out to could be getting lots of messages (especially on Bumble, where the woman has to initiate).
That's why he recommends keeping your message short and sweetno one wants to respond to a paragraph. But make it playful and slightly personal:
- "Howdy! You seem..."
- "I find it fascinatingly wild that you..."
- "You look funhow's your week going?"
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Know that its okay to tease them a bit.
There are plenty of people on Tinder sending "Hey" and "Hi" messages, which is why yours could be easily overlooked. That why Lo Dolce encourages his clients to make their first message stand out. "Teasing someone is a great way to differentiate yourself," Lo Dolce says. Those of you who are naturally sarcastic might have to be careful with this one. The teases should still express interest and come off as playful and flirtynot judgmental.
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- "You mentioned you love The Killers (or insert band/musician here). A bit old school, but I still dig it. :)"
- "You said you hated ice cream? I need details."
- "Be honest. Is that dog really yours or just for props?"
- "Umm, you don't like The Avengers? Let's talk!"
Dating apps are just one part of the modern-romance landscape. How to navigate the rest:
Ask about where theyre from.
When engaging with someone for the first time, its important to signal you're interested in them," Carbino says. (As in, actually interested, not just trying to fill a void of having someone to text.) This means learning more about where they're from and what makes them...well, them.
"The safest question to ask is, 'Where are you from originally?' because everyone is from somewhere, Carbino says. Other location-based conversation starters include:
- "How long have you lived in...?"
- "What's your hands-down favorite restaurant here?"
- "Wow, a true Texas native. Are you a football fanatic?"
- "Ever been to the Grand Canyon? It's on my bucket list!"
- "I noticed you have pics in Rome. I went there last spring. Are you Italian?"
Feel free to throw in a compliment.
"It's okay to compliment someone if they're doing something really cool in their profile," Lo Dolce says. But he usually encourages his clients to stick to general compliments rather than physical ones (for obvious reasons). General compliments also leave room for more of an open conversation. Try something like:
- "I can't believe you cooked that Friendsgiving dinner in your picture. You must be a great cook."
- "Whoa, you went skiing in Switzerland?! You must be quite the athlete."
Take advantage of in-app features for a good conversation starter.
Many people forget that the app has its own features that make it easier for people to connect. Garbino recommends checking out a match's embedded Spotify playlist or latest Instagram post. And no, it's not creepy to do! "People spend a lot of time thinking, What do I say about myself? and they're putting it out there publicly," Carbino says. So don't be sillyuse it.
- "I saw your Spotify playlist. I'm a big Springsteen fan, too. Ever seen him live?"
- "OMG, I saw your Six Flags post on Instagram. What's your favorite rollercoaster?"
Ask about their hobbies and interests.
This is a pretty simple one, but it's the Tinder conversation gold. Most people will post photos of themselves doing something they love or write about their interests in the main bio. People want someone who signals investment to them, Carbino adds. And both experts agree that being interested in someone hobbies is a great way to do that (especially if you're lucky enough to have a few in common). Related: 50 Questions To Ask Your Crush If You Wanna Get To Know Them Better.
Pro tip: Go for open-ended questions that invite more than a yes-or-no answer, or ones that make someone want to talk about themselves (which, btw, unless they're not interested in you at all, they do). A few good ones:
- "So, you're a skier, eh? I just got back from Breckenridge. Where's your next trip?"
- "I see you're a D.C. sports fan...how crazy was the city after the World Series win?"
- "You ran the Chicago Marathon?! How hard was that?!"
- "So you're Food Networkobsessed, too. How 'bout a cook-off?"
- "A drummer! Is that a side gig or just a cool hobby?"
- "I see you went backpacking in Peru last summer? How was it?"
When in doubt, stick to the basics.
If someone has a dreadfully bare profile, you're feeling particularly nervous, or you're just drawing up a blank on the right conversation starter, relax. Take the pressure off yourself and go with an easy Q that can actually tell you quite a bit about a person, based on their cultural interests.
- "Whats your favorite film genre and film?"
- What's the last book you read?"
- "Where is the last place you traveled to?"
Dont forget to avoid some common Tinder mistakes.
Most dating experts agree that you don't need to get into super deep issues on the first date, let alone the first Tinder message. Remember: You're still feeling out if you have chemistry, so there are some bridges you can cross a little later. Keep the conversation light and fun, but also avoid anything that could come across as creepy (see: body compliments).
The bottom line: Your first Tinder message should convey that you read the person's profile and are interested in learning more about them. Keep the conversation light and brief! Worst-case scenario, they don't respondand you can label them a boring bot whom you don't want to talk to. Onward!
Alexis Jones is an assistant editor at Women's Health where she writes across several verticals on WomensHealthmag.com, including life, health, sex and love, relationships and fitness, while also contributing to the print magazine. She has a masters degree in journalism from Syracuse University, lives in Brooklyn, and proudly detests avocados.