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Standing out in the crowded digital playground of dating apps can be challenging, even for the most tech-savvy singles with the best photos and a profile penned by a professional writer.
Research from sociologists at Stanford University and the University of New Mexico shows that couples today are meeting most often online — to the tune of almost double the rate (39%) of those being introduced by friends (20%).
So what happens after you’ve swiped right or gotten matched? If you don’t grab someone’s attention in a second, chances are you won’t get a response. If your message is too short or too long, it can run the risk of being deleted or having someone swipe left, permanently sending you to the outpost.
Here’s where the first conversation kicks in, and, in the blink of an eye, you need to make a great initial impression worthy of a response.
Saying “hey, wsup” won’t get you very far, but this lazy approach seems to be rampant online. I have to keep reminding clients that horses hang out in hay, and you probably don’t want to date a horse, so ditch the word “hey” please!
Before you start agonizing about precisely what to type to someone who’s probably chatting with 10 other people, keep it simple and unique, and you’ll get you past the first round.
Always use someone’s first name or username, and read their profile before you write your first message. No one wants to feel like they’re being spammed with a copy-and-paste message — no matter how witty it can be.
If you’re looking for a two-way conversation that will lead to a date, I recommend you always ask a question. A text like the one above will get a reply because it’s simple and brief — just three sentences. It shows you’ve viewed their profile and can relate to their favorite rock and roll band, and then asks a question.
Most likely, you’ll get a response on how much they wished they could have gone to the show. Or, if you’re lucky, maybe your potential date has two tickets and is looking for a partner who will love their favorite band as well.
Dating is a numbers game, but some apps, such as Match and OkCupid, actually list your match percentage. While no one knows the secret sauce behind the mysterious algorithms, they can be used to your advantage as you ramp up your flirting skills. My rule of thumb is anyone who is a 90% match or higher should have that pointed out to them in the first message.
The conversation starter above usually gets an instant reply, so expect the recipient to check out your profile. Most likely, they’ll reply saying they’re curious as well and will strike up a chat.
Some people will take it further and respond with reasons why the algorithm is correct, so don’t be surprised if someone says: “That must be because we were both fans of ‘Game of Thrones.’ Did you watch the show’s finale?”
Sure you’ve written in your profile that you’re looking for someone with a good sense of humor, but how do you show it? I asked my followers on Facebook to share some of their favorite funny opening lines. My favorite one came from Gary:
If you’d like to see a selection of quotes on how to be funny, you can find a humorous quote from someone who was paid to be a comic. Brainy Quote has a vast collection to borrow from, and make sure to cite the person behind the humor.
When you’re not sure what to write to a guy, checking the current news cycle helps. Guys like chatting with women who are smart and know how to hold their own in a conversation.
The weather can often be a dull topic of conversation, or sometimes it can become the hard news story of the day. If you’re in a rainy area or near tropical storms or hurricanes, use the conversation starter above.
If you live in an earthquake area such as California, ask this: “Did you feel the Earth move?”
This message always gets a reaction and reminds a guy that the clock is ticking. You’ll probably receive a message about how clever you are and that they wouldn’t let that happen. The next thing you know you’ll be swapping digits.
Speaking of Bumble, did you know the app now provides conversation starters for those of you who are stumped?
When you match with someone, as you get ready to type your first character, above the message field it will say, “Need a good opener?” Click on the right arrow. A few suggestions include:
Flattery gets results, so if you comment on her adorable smile, it’s guaranteed to make her swoon. If you notice something in her profile that resonates with you, such as a travel photo, mention it in your message. Some examples include:
What woman wouldn’t reply to that, even if it’s just to say thank you?
If you spot a profile with photos from her vacation in Europe, try:
You’ll stand out by writing in French, and, if you don’t know how to write in a foreign language, use Google Translate to perfect your language skills.
Since music has become part of so many dating profiles, ask her a question like this:
Remember to keep it brief and avoid saying “Tell me about yourself” as no one wants to rewrite their profile or send you a novel.
The days of playing the waiting game are over. When I coach single women, they’ll often say they have old-fashioned values and want the man to make the first move.
There’s a reason that Bumble is such a popular dating app, and I believe the squeaky wheel gets the digital love deal. That means women should make the first move in today’s digital world.
What women need to realize is that men get frustrated after writing to 10 or 20 women, only to receive one or two responses. Most men are flattered when they hear from a woman, so make that first move. Then you can pass the baton and let the guy lead and ask you out on a first date.
Chatting builds momentum and helps you get attached to someone you’ll hopefully get to meet. It’s hard to keep 10 conversations going at once on three dating apps, so strike when the match is fresh.
When you notice the response time increasing and the word count decreasing, it’s time to get creative and send the person you’ve been chatting with a GIF to stand out.
Both Bumble and Tinder let you simply use Giphy in your messages, and Tinder reports that messages with a GIF are opened 30% more often than those without one.
While chatting and messaging can be fun, don’t lose sight of why you’re on a dating app, which is to meet someone you like. You need to find the time to schedule and actually go on a date.
After three or four exchanges, it’s time to ask for their phone number to call and hear their voice or set up a time to meet in person. If the geography is in sync, try to meet during the same or following week because connecting while the spark is still hot really matters.
Another tip I want to offer is to remember to appear as smart online as you really are offline. Watch out for typos or confusing acronyms before you push the send button.
A PlentyOfFish survey of 2,000 U.S. singles over 18 revealed that 58% of singles say bad grammar is a bigger turnoff than bad sex.
With all of these tips in your toolkit, you’ll be armed and ready to start chatting and filling your date card.