In anticipation of a date, have you ever rehearsed a conversation in the mirror?
It probably doesn’t happen in real life as it does in movies, but making that winning first impression can set the tone for a wonderful or terribly awkward date. Nerve wracking as it is, first impressions in real life don’t really count because they allow for second, third and fourth impressions to overtake them.
However, when you reach out to say "hi" on dating apps, your approach can result in silence, a tennis match of quick-witted replies or a swift but brutal "unmatch".
Having tried a tested a few different techniques myself, I’ve found where my strengths lie: ridiculous questions that draw in men of a similar silly disposition to my own. The two question with the best results are:
1. In no particular order, what are your top three biscuits and why?
2. In your esteemed opinion, what are the three worst storylines that have ever played out on The O.C.?
Both questions have resulted in dates - good ones, dull ones and a truly disastrous one that I tricked myself into thinking was good because… well, desperate times. So, this copy and paste interview technique doesn’t always work.
Related article: Finding real love through real life
I start judging men on their love of plain digestive biscuits or blank them if they say they’ve never seen a single episode of The O.C. when neither of these thing really matter. But, by all means, steal these lines and test them out. If you wind up getting a good one on the back of them, think of me.
Knowing that the hit or miss ratio with every method varies, I spoke to a few people about their dating app opening lines and what technique works best for them.
Spoiler alert: there is no clear opening line winner and photos of dogs always help your cause.
This is so lame, but it worked. On my OkCupid profile, under the “Someone should message you if…” section I wrote: “They're SOUND”.
I got a message saying: “Hi, I'm vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person's or animal's ear”. Naturally confused for a minute, I then got it and replied: “That's of or at a fairly low temperature”. A geekmance was born and we’re still together two and a half years later.
I try to find something to comment on related to their bio or, failing that, some details of their pics. Also, I think it's against the spirit of Bumble when you match with someone and she opens with "hi".
I don’t put too much weight on what guys open with - unless they’re awful or off putting - the rest of the conversation is more important tbh. On Bumble, I try to say something interesting referencing their profile but if their profile doesn’t have much, I just say “hi”.
I'll tell you one thing, I've run out of things to say about the swing in Sophie's.
Susie: I do my best to open with something relevant to their profile, but some men don't make it easy. No bios, very generic photos, no pets… Just put up a dog selfie damnit! We all know they work.
I think opening lines are not the easiest, so I give the benefit of the doubt. I met my boyfriend online. I think we shared dog gifs to each other with captions, if I remember correctly.
First messages from a guy’s point of view are tough. There is definitely a fatigue factor involved in opening lines as I think people lose interest if their genuine efforts aren’t successful. So they resort to default “hey how are you?”
I met my husband on Tinder. His first message was just a “hi, how are you?” but Tinder was acting up so it sent about 35 times and he thought he’d blown it from the get-go.
Sarah: I don’t know why, but the funniest opening line I got on Tinder was “I don’t know how all this works. When do we have sex?”
I try to stay away from generic or boring lines as I’m sure girls probably have 20 or 30 blokes writing to them so you need to stand out.
My friend had a genius idea where you can ask one question that immediately filters out the chaff. Something like "what's your favourite Bill Murray movie?". If they answer with a movie name you know, they are sound. If they don't know any BM movies, ditch 'em.
I don't find much weight in opening lines because they're going to be nice to you for a while but it doesn't last. I made my profile really funny as a way to make people comfortable to message me. I thought my stunning looks would put them off!
I've tried all approaches. A boring “hey what's up?”, a comment on their bio or pic, stupid gif... and none seem to be more successful than the other. The reply rate is TINY.
I met my boyfriend online but it was, like, 10 years ago. Pre-app times. I had a weird Mighty Boosh quote on my profile and he was the only person who got the reference. His first message to me was a bunch of other quotes and we hit it off.
Ugh. I just deleted all apps. I’m going back to 90s dating. But my preference is for witty over earnest. I won’t meet for a date unless they’ve made me laugh. A gift is to have a question in a profile, so the opener is a reply to the question.
All interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity. Some names have been changed.
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