You saw, you swiped, you matched. Now you’re staring at a blinking cursor wondering what you can possibly say to stand out from the dozens—or hundreds—of dudes trying to seal the deal.
Welcome to dating in the 21st century.
You can find a lot of online dating gurus who sell courses that are “guaranteed” to get you responses from your Tinder messages. But the truth is the best Tinder openers don’t fit into a formula. You have to consider the context, the other person’s profile, and your own intentions.
So, rather than giving you a long list of pickup lines, we’re going to teach you the principles of starting a conversation on Tinder (which aren’t that different from starting a conversation in real life).
Whether you’re looking for a soulmate or a hookup, you’ll learn how to craft a convo that makes you stand out from the crowd. Grab your notebook—Tinder class for dudes is in session.
Prime Your Profile for Conversation
Before you send any messages, take a step back and review your Tinder profile. No matter how talented of a wordsmith you are, a lackluster profile will crush your chances of having a good conversation.
First impressions are quite literally everything on dating apps, so make sure you put your best foot (or face, rather) forward. Here are some quick tips:
- Use good quality photos that are recent
- Showcase your hobbies (candid pictures are ideal)
- No group pics—keep it to three people, max
- Smile, but maybe avoid soy face
- Write a short Tinder bio that shows your sense of humor
- Link your Instagram or Spotify feed to your profile
- Get feedback from a trusted female
Once your profile is polished and you have a match in your queue, it’s time to draft your first message.
5 Tinder Conversation Starters
The bad news about Tinder is that your competition is stiff: it’s the most popular dating app with more than a million downloads every month. The good news is most guys suck at starting conversations, so your barrier to entry is probably lower than you think.
Your first Tinder message should meet at least one of three criteria: clever, funny, or customized.
Don’t slide in with something boring like Hey, What’s up, or How’s it going? Your opening line needs to be an icebreaker, and all these basic one-liners lead to is small talk. “If the best you can come up with is ‘hi,’ why would I show any effort back?” says Lana, 27.
Let’s explore five ways to message your match that won’t bore them to death.
1. Ask a Question
We’re not talking about bland, open-ended questions like “How are you?” The natural response to that is “Good, how about you?” So romantic.
You also don’t want to ask questions that might make people uncomfortable like the ever-dreaded “Wanna come over tonight?”
Your best bet is to ask a question based on something you find on their profile. Maybe their hometown is across the country (or a different country altogether). Ask how they ended up here. For example, if you’re in Chicago you could say: “Did you move here for the deep dish pizza or the brutal winters?”
If they have a picture at a restaurant, park, concert, or anywhere else that piques your interest, ask where or what it is and let the conversation flow from there.
2. Find Something in Common
One of the best ways to avoid small talk is to find a topic you’re both into. You’ll notice there’s a place in Tinder bios for “passions” where people list things like cooking, reading, working out, hiking, and more. These are all potential segues into a conversation.
As much as people like to say opposites attract, finding common ground tends to be way more efficient when it comes to dating apps.
3. Focus on the Details
If your opening line can be copied and pasted for every person, it’s not good enough. Put in some effort to show you spent more than two seconds looking at their profile. You don’t have to lead with a compliment (more on that next) but your message should recognize them as an individual.
If they link their Spotify in their profile, that’s a good opportunity to say something like: “Saw you like [insert artist], how do you think the latest album compared to the one they dropped last year?”
Or maybe she’s showing off her dog in her profile. Say something witty, like: “Hello, I’m here to submit my dog dad application.”
Don’t be afraid to sprinkle some emojis into your conversation to liven it up. Tinder even lets you add GIFs and songs in messages, so take advantage of those if it feels right.
4. Send a Subtle Compliment
Contrary to popular belief, it’s popular to compliment someone without sounding like a scum bag or a simp. Saying “Nice ass” or “You’re hot” won’t get you very far, especially the first time you message them. In fact, it might get you unmatched.
Instead, offer a tasteful compliment about their style, taste in music, career, or accomplishments. “Some of the best compliments I get are non-physical,” says Jen, 28.
Remember, you can be flirty without being creepy.
5. Try a Pickup Line
Pickup lines can easily send off the wrong vibe and backfire. But if they’re clever, well-timed, and original, they can be the most effective way to score a Tinder date.
Cheesy pickup lines are a one-way ticket to ghost town. For example, “If I could rearrange the alphabet, I’d put U and I together.” However, pickup lines aren’t entirely off the table, especially if your Tinder match specifically says something like: “Send me your best pickup line.”
Here are a few you can steal:
- ….🏀 Sorry my ball rolled in here. But while I’m here, what’s up?
- Hey Tinderella, can I be your Tinder fella?
- On a scale of 1 to America, how free are you this weekend?
- Titanic. That’s my icebreaker.
The key is to use pickup lines ironically—not as if you expect the recipient to fall head-over-heels.
Keep the Momentum Going
The first message is always the hardest. But once you prove you’re not a psychopath and are capable of having a conversation, you’ll be well on your way to a first date IRL. Remember, a lot of people are sliding in with “Hey,” so the bar is low.
If your match doesn’t respond, don’t take it personally. You can follow up after a day or two, but don’t be pushy. If you can’t get any responses or you absolutely suck at sliding into DMs, download Bumble where the women have to make the first move.
Our internal data sources show that 69% of dating app activity happens on the toilet, so while you’re swiping right, make sure you get your wipe right.