The world of dating apps is booming – with 300 million people using them worldwide. And there’s no shortage of choices, including Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, and Facebook Dating, to name a few.
Yet, while dating apps are now one of the most common ways to seek out a partner in 2024, starting a conversation with matches can prove challenging. How do you stand out from the crowd and get a response from someone you like? And how do you avoid awkward or boring conversations that go nowhere?
The good news is that there are things you can do to overcome these hurdles and start building meaningful connections – from asking open-ended questions, to commenting on something specific or unique on a match’s profile.
With that said, here are eight ways to start a conversation on a dating app.
Note: It’s worth keeping in mind that how you choose to start a conversation on a dating app will be largely as a result of your personanility and communication style. Some people might prefer to use humour while others might feel more comfortable sending a more honest and direct message.
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to breaking the ice with a new match – and, chances are, they will be just as nervous about what to say in those first few messages!
1. Read their profile carefully
The first step to starting a conversation on a dating app is to read the other person’s profile carefully. Look for clues about their interests, hobbies, personality, and preferences. What do they like to do for fun? What are they passionate about? What are they looking for in a partner?
These details can help you craft a personalised and relevant message that shows you’re genuinely interested in them and not just sending a generic or copy-pasted message.
For example, if their profile says they love traveling, you could say…
“Hi, I noticed you have a lot of travel photos on your profile. Where is your favorite place you’ve been to?”
Or, if their profile says they are a fan of a certain TV show, you could say…
“Hey, I saw that you’re a big fan of The Office. Who’s your favorite character and why?”
2. Ask open-ended questions
The key to keeping a conversation going on a dating app is to ask open-ended questions that invite more than a yes or no answer.
Open-ended questions allow the other person to share more about themselves, and their opinions, experiences, and feelings. They also show that you’re curious and attentive to what they have to say, and can lead to more topics and opportunities to keep the conversation flowing.
For example, instead of asking…
“Do you like movies?”
You could ask…
“What kind of movies do you like and why?”
Or, instead of asking…
“Are you having a good day?”
You could ask…
“What was the best part of your day today?”
3. Be positive and playful
Another way to start a conversation on a dating app is to be positive and playful. People are more likely to respond to messages that make them smile, laugh, or feel good.
You can use humour, compliments, emojis, or gifs to add some fun and flair to your messages. You can also try teasing them a little – though, be careful not to cross the line and offend them. The goal is to make them feel comfortable and relaxed, not annoyed or defensive.
For example, you could say…
“Hi, I have to say, you have the most adorable smile 😍”
“Hey, I’m impressed by your profile. You seem to have it all: brains, beauty, and a sense of humour. What’s your secret? 😉”
4. Start a game of ‘this or that?’ or ‘would you rather?’
Starting a game, like ‘this or that?’ or ‘would you rather?’ isn’t only fun but is also an effective way to learn more about a match’s preferences, personality, or interests. You could ask things like “Beer or wine?”, “Dogs or cats?”, or “Would you rather swim with sharks or jump out of a plane?”
Depending on their answer, you could share your own opinion, ask them to elaborate on their choice, make a light-hearted joke, or use emojis, gifs, or memes to express your emotions and reactions. The goal is to keep the conversation flowing and engaging.
One of the best things about this game is that it encourages quick and easy responses. In the early stages of conversation, asking questions that require long or loaded answers can be overwhelming for some people – and be a reason why people don’t reply or conversations run out of steam. Long paragraphs and complex questions are often better left until later, once you’ve established a basic connection.
5. Use a thoughtful opener
Keeping things brief, positive, and lighthearted doesn’t mean that you can open with a thoughtful question – as these can help you stand out and be interesting for a match to answer.
Examples of thoughtful openers could include…
- “You have a great sense of style. Where do you get your inspiration from?”
- “You have such a beautiful smile. What makes you happy?”
- “You have a very intriguing profile. What’s the story behind your [insert something they mentioned]?”
- “I’m curious about your bio. You said you’re a fan of [insert something they like]. How did you get into that?”
6. Use emojis wisely
Emojis can be a helpful tool in the dating world – as they can make people seem more open, interested, and playful. However, this is usually when they’re used in moderation and as part of a written message, rather than by themselves.
Sending emojis on their own may, at times, come across as lazy or suggest that you don’t have the best communication skills. And, in contrast, accompanying a message with too many emojis can alter the meaning behind your message – by making it feel less sincere, for example.
Some examples of ways that emojis could enhance a written message could include…
- “I’m so glad we matched. You seem like a really cool person 😊”
- “That’s hilarious. I can’t believe you did that 😂”
It’s best to see emojis as something that can enhance your original message – like a simple glace cherry on top of an ice-cream. A single glace cherry on its own may be a little underwhelming, but a dessert with five glace cherries and loads of sprinkles might be too sickly.
7. Be honest and direct
Finally, one of the best ways to start a conversation on a dating app is to be honest and direct – which means not beating around the bush or playing games. It’s also important not to pretend to be someone you’re not or to lie about your intentions.
One approach is to confidently tell a match exactly what you’re looking for, while being respectful and polite.
For example, you could say…
“Hi, I’m looking for a serious relationship with someone who shares my values and goals. What are you looking for on this app?”
What to avoid when starting a conversation on a dating app
While starting a conversation on a dating app can feel daunting, there are some things that it can help to avoid if you want to make the best first impression.
- Starting a conversation with “Hi”, “How are you?” or “What’s up?”. These are unlikely to catch your match’s attention or show your personality. Instead, try to be more creative and personal, and use their profile as a source of inspiration.
- Sending long or complicated messages that are difficult to read or respond to. Try to keep your messages short and simple, and use proper spelling and grammar. It’s best to make it easy for your match to reply and continue the conversation.
- Being rude, offensive, or disrespectful. This means avoiding asking questions that are too personal, sensitive, or controversial – such as about their income, religion, politics, or sexual preferences, unless you’re sure that they’re comfortable with those topics. It also includes not making jokes or comments that are mean, judgemental, or insulting, such as “Are you smart?” or “Do you have any redeeming qualities?”. Try to be polite and respectful, and show that you’re genuinely interested in them as a person.
- Waiting too long to reply to or initiate a conversation – as, they might lose interest or think you aren’t interested in them. People will generally want to know that you’re enthusiastic and available, and that you value their time and attention.
- Restricting your conversation to the app. If things are going well, don’t be afraid to move the conversation to a phone or video call, and eventually a real-life date. Romantic connections that stay online for too long can languish, and it can also be difficult to know if you truly have chemistry and compatibility until you meet in person.
Starting a conversation on a dating app can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding and fun. By following these tips, you can hopefully increase your chances of finding a compatible partner and avoid wasting time on dead-end conversations.
Remember to read a person’s profile carefully, ask open-ended questions, be positive and playful, and honest and direct. Most importantly, be yourself and have fun. You never know who you might meet on a dating app. Good luck and happy dating!
How do you start a conversation on a dating app? Will you be using any of the tips above? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.