Say More With Your First Message on Dating Apps
When we first meet someone in person, there's nothing wrong with saying, "Hello," "Hi" or even "Hey." But when we're talking about starting a conversation via a dating app, we need to go a little deeper and get a little creative to stand out. After all, your potential mate could be flooded with notifications from other love-hungry smartphone users. What will make yours worth a response?
There's no need to jump off with your entire life story, but you need to get a conversation started beyond a bland greeting. There has to be a better way than a smiley face and "What's up?"
Introduce yourself and ask pertinent questions
Start with an introduction. This may seem redundant, but it's an excellent way to begin a conversation, just like you would in real life. Your profile should have most of your relevant information, but you don't want to put too much out publicly. Save some traits, hobbies and anecdotes for private messaging.
Look over your prospective new lover's profile and photos. Do you recognize places in the pictures? If you've been there, too, that's a great way to spark further conversation. Do you share similar hobbies? Talk about that. If they have interests you don't know anything about, start a conversation by asking them to tell you more about them.
"I suggest asking the person about something they have on their profile and inquiring more about it," said Emmi Fortin, a breakup and relationship coach in Massachusetts. "For example, 'I see in one of your profile pictures you are riding a horse. Is that a passion of yours?' or 'You caught my attention when you describe yourself as being adventurous. Can you tell me more about your most recent adventure or one you're planning in the near future?' This shows the person you spent some time learning about them and that you're interested in finding out more."
The goal is to get to know one another, so convey that in your conversation. By showing your personality, speaking about your goals and talking about the things you enjoy doing, you're giving your date topics to ask you about. If they're continuing the conversation, they want to get to know you and vice versa, so give them something to talk about.
People like knowing others are paying attention to what they have to say. If your date tells you they enjoy walking in a specific park, you can mention this later as a way to meet in public. If they say they like a local craft brew, find out where it's served and offer to meet them there for a drink.
Don't be a ghost
You wouldn't walk away from someone in person without saying goodbye, so don't do it online. No one likes a ghost, after all, according to Erika Ettin, a Wasington, D.C.-based dating coach from A Little Nudge.
"Ghosting, it's never OK," Ettin said. "Even the most confident of people take a hit when ghosted."
If something comes up or they send you a message at an inconvenient time, try something along the lines of, "Hey, I would love to talk right now but I have something going on, would it be OK if I message you when I'm finished?"
"Unfortunately, ghosting is a harsh reality in the online dating world," Fortin said. "It can be damaging to your self-esteem when you think you've made a connection with someone only to be ignored or abandoned altogether." For this reason, she agrees with Ettin. "I believe you should act how you would want to be treated, which includes you not ghosting others and being honest about how you feel."
By treating these message exchanges like real conversations, you can truly connect with someone before meeting them.
Don't be afraid to ask for the date
"There are no set rules on when to ask someone out on a date on an app," Fortin said. "I would suggest having a phone conversation or Zoom chat first, because even that next step can feel very different from text-messaging interactions."
You're both on your app of choice to meet someone, so it's OK to ask them out. While it may not be OK to ask within the first conversation, once you've messaged back and forth for a while and it feels right, there's nothing wrong with floating the idea.
"Momentum is really important, so if things sit for too long, they often don't happen," Ettin noted. "How to do it: 'I'm enjoying our conversation. Would you be up for a drink this week, maybe Wednesday or Thursday?' Giving two days of choice makes it easier for the other person to say yes."
Ask yourself, have they participated in the conversations with questions of their own? Does it seem like it's time to take things to a real-life conversation? Then go for it: Propose a date and set it in stone.
Once you've set your date, be sure to follow through and show up on time. You don't need a script, but it's nice to consider what you'd like to talk about or learn more about.
No matter where you meet a partner, being thoughtful and considerate wins more often than not, and even if it doesn't, that doesn't mean this approach won't ever work in the future.
"You will go on great dates. You will go on awful dates. It's all part of dating," Ettin said. "And remember that no singular person represents everyone. Each person you meet gets you closer to someone you might connect with."