For those interested in getting into the world of online dating, it certainly seems to be a great time for it. Never before has there been so much choice for people when it comes to meeting a special someone through the Internet. Choice is one thing, but the fact is that dating hasn’t exactly gotten easier in every way. Connecting with people might be easy, but knowing what to say, and acting in a way that helps to nurture a strong connection and eventual relationship is another thing altogether.
What should you say when you connect with new people on dating sites and apps? How do you craft that perfect first message to make those initial impressions count? How does one best keep the conversation going instead of just petering out after a few pleasantries? All of these questions and more we will try to answer in today’s blog.
What is a Good First Message?
Everything starts with building a good first impression, and kick-starting the conversation with a solid initial message. What should that be? Below are some good ideas to get you started.
Simple, Classic Greeting – “Hello, how’s it going?”
Sometimes, the “old ones” are the best, which in this case means just sticking with a simple greeting like “Hey, how’s it going?” or even just a straightforward “Hello.” There are many occasions when sticking with something simple is the best course of action, such as when you don’t really know what to say, or when in the past you might have tried too hard and gotten nowhere with a new potential date.
When in doubt, keep it simple. There’s always plenty of scope for being funny and flirty later on when you know the person a bit better.
Finding Common Ground – “I see that we both…”
Another great way to kickstart a conversation is by identifying something that the two of you have in common. This can usually be done by reading the other person’s profile and listed interest, as well as looking at their photo album to see if they reveal common interests and hobbies. “Hello there. I see you’re a skydiving fan as well! When was the last time you went?”
It’s always nice to discover that someone you might be interested in shares a hobby or interest. It can help to accelerate the process of coming closer together as the other person now finds it easier to imagine spending time with you doing things they now know that you both love.
Tickling the Funny Bone
This is perhaps the riskiest of the given conversation-starting strategies, and there is quite a lot that can go wrong. However, when you get it right, being funny in an opening message can prove truly golden. The easiest way to open the conversation with a laugh is to send a gif or animated sticker, hopefully depicting a joke or pop culture thing that you know the person likes.
For instance, if you know that your new connection is a big fan of “The Office” then why not send a gif from the show to not only tickle their funny bone, but at the same time reveal your common interest? If you’re going to try and do a funny one-liner instead, then at least avoid the following:
- Controversial or overly edgy jokes — they can easily offend rather than amuse
- Cheesy or old-hat “dad” jokes — they may well fall flat
- Sleazy, over-sexualiszed jokes — they’re inappropriate, even in a dating scenario
The Hypothetical – “Would you rather…or…”
One more approach is to offer something more thought-provoking for your new connection to answer. An easy way to achieve this is by offering them a hypothetical question to ponder and answer. You can combine this with what you’ve learned about their interests and create something that’s both interesting and engaging.
“I see you’re a fellow film and TV lover. If you had to give up either films or TV series, which would you choose?”
It might look a bit corny at first, but hypotheticals can be fantastic ice breakers, and they really are thought-provoking, even the seemingly frivolous ones. It can be an instant spark to an animated and rich vein of conversation which carries you new connection forward quickly.
Some Things Not to Say
To wrap up this part, here are some things that it’s a good idea never to use as your opening line on a dating site or app:
- Overtly sexual comments or requests — “Hey beautiful, check my huge #&$*#”
- Negative comments — “Ugh, I’m so sick of online dating!”
- A personal essay — “Good morning, allow me to list the many reasons why…”
- Classic controversy: religion and politics — “So, you’re a Democrat?”
- Desperation — “Look, I just HAVE TO get married this year!”
Your profile is the first impression that potential dates will have of you when using a dating app or other web-based platform. It’s a static set of information that offers a personal introduction that will hopefully get someone to swipe in the right direction, or send you a message trying to connect with you.
Here is some key information that you definitely want to include in that profile:
- An appellation – your first name or common nickname that you go by
- What you’re looking for in the online dating realm – be honest
- Your hobbies and interests – how you like spending your free time
- A ‘call to action’ – a short note inviting people to like or message you
Some platforms allow you to make a hugely detailed profile with a long bio and much more. We suggest keeping it simple. If people can read it almost entirely on a single screen, that’s the best way to keep people’s attention and get their interest. A long-winded bio not only takes too long to read, but also removes any sense of mystique about yourself.
When Starting a Conversation
After delivering your first line and initiating the conversation, how should you then introduce yourself? Firstly, you mustn’t forget that you’ve already revealed a few things about yourself in your profile, so that gives you room to expand on that a little when it comes to introducing yourself in the conversation. For example, you could say:
“Besides what you saw on my profile, I’m also interested in…, …, and … and one day I hope to… How about you?”
This kind of expansion on your profile information is a nice, simple and fool-proof approach to a self-introduction. Alternatively, you could also take a more humorous approach, perhaps by using a little self-deprecating humor about one of your photos:
“Hey there, thanks for being willing to ignore how daft I look in my photos and still swipe right!”
Self-deprecating humor is far from negative or showing a lack of confidence. In fact, quite the opposite is true. When you can joke about yourself, it demonstrates a great sense of security in oneself, and people generally respond positively to that.
How Do I Keep the Conversation Going? Some Tips
Tip #1: Keep it Light
There will be plenty of time for heavier conversation topics later on when you’re more established and settled as a couple — assuming you get there. So, there’s no need to clutter up your early, fun conversations with topics that don’t belong. Keep things light and breezy, chatting about each other, hobbies and interests, swapping funny stories and whatnot. When you try to dive into a conversation with something overly philosophical, controversial, or academically deep, it’s hardly conducive to that fun, electrical sense of excitement that should be part and parcel of any early online dating experience.
Tip #2: Question – Comment – Question
Follow a pattern of conversation where you ask a question, comment on the answer, and then either await a response question from your connection, or simply ask a new question. The fuel of any good conversation is well-posed and thought-provoking questions. When you’re not sure about how to keep the conversation interesting, following this simple formula is good advice.
Tip #3: Stay Positive
There’s nothing like a fatal dose of negativity to bring a conversation to an abrupt halt. Not only does it bring people down and make them want to stop chatting, but it can even leave those willing to chat unsure as to how to proceed. If even a light, frothy and mildly flirtatious online dating conversation can bring you to negativity, then what might you be like when things get really serious? Keep your mood and reactions positive, and as we mentioned before, keep topics light.
Tip #4: Know When to Cut Your Losses
Finally, while we do want to keep a conversation going for as long as possible, we should also know when things might have just run their course. It’s worth remembering that when you have a good match with someone, the conversation tends to flow more easily. If you are struggling to keep it going, you might want to ask yourself if it’s really worth keeping up the effort.
How Long Should I Wait for a Response?
Another key thing to think about when engaging in a conversation on a dating app or dating site is the length of time it takes the other person to respond. It can be a serious source of worry for some, who take every delay, no matter how innocuous, as a sign that the other person is completely uninterested in them.
So, how long should you wait for a response? For someone you like a lot and have been getting on with, it’s reasonable to wait for up to 24 hours for a response. We’ve outlined some scenarios in the table below, along with a recommended waiting time.
Recommended Wait Time (Hours)
First chat, no idea on their actual level of interest, no response to first greeting
Up to 24 – give them a chance
Chatting with a connection you like, conversation has been flowing, but has suddenly stopped
Up to 24 – anything could have caused them to stop, give them the benefit of the doubt
Chatting with a connection you like, but who hasn’t been responding so warmly or eagerly, and/or has been giving short responses
Up to 2 – they might have been caught up in work, but more likely they’re just not that into you
Chatting with someone who says they’ll “be right back”
Up to 1 – if it goes more than an hour, they likely just used it as an excuse to get away
Chatting with someone on a weekday morning who then goes dark
Up to 10 – they’re likely on their way to work, and then at their workplace
Chatting with someone on the weekend who suddenly goes dark
Up to 2 – chances are they have shifted to another chat window
These are only rough guidelines, of course, but they are quite typical of most online dating conversations. One of the good things about online dating is that you can always talk to more than one person at a time while you’re in the early stages. So, if someone stops responding, you might not notice if you’ve got another several conversations going on.
When Should I Message Back?
Following on from the previous point, it also makes sense to wonder when you should message someone back. There are all sorts of ideas out there about not wanting to sound too eager or desperate by replying instantly. Does it really create more sexual tension and electricity if you leave them hanging for a few extra minutes?
In this age of online dating, texting, messaging and social media, it’s fair to say that people are actually a lot less sensitive to these things. Waiting for replies is normal, and it doesn’t matter when you already have other conversations going on at the same time that can keep you occupied.
So, when should you message someone back? We say that if you like someone you’ve connected with online, you should only make them wait as long as it takes for you to think of the perfect response. If you like them, why wait? Why take a chance that someone else connects with them and chats with them first? Grab every chance with both hands.