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Downloading a dating app is the easy part. What’s not easy is sweating over the pictures that best represent you (or the ones you want to present to hundreds of single women). It’s also not easy to painstakingly craft a bio that’s equal parts informative and humorous.
But toughest of all? Coming up with that first perfectly witty message the minute you match with someone decent. These days, now that women have seen and heard it all on dating apps, making a lasting first impression seems freaking impossible.
So we asked 20 real women to divulge the perfect one-liners, questions, and messages they wish men would send on mobile apps or dating sites. Oh, and by the way: ‘Hey, what’s up?’ isn’t cutting it. But cheese references might. (No, we don’t get it either.)
Here’s what they said:
“I like when a guy tries to get off the app immediately and says something like, ‘Hey, I’m interested in getting to know you. If you’re down, shoot me a text (insert #).’” – Cara J.
“Run with something I have on my profile. Personally, I’m obsessed with cheese. The perfect first message would be something like ‘Saw you’re a cheesehead. I’ve been dying to go to this Italian place that serves four-cheese gnocchi—or pairs wine with half a dozen local cheeses. Interested?’ Um, yes, yes I am. Because A) who wouldn’t be into that? And B) you took the time to be unique. Even if we start messaging and I come to find you’re a wackjob and cancel the date, you still astronomically upped your chances than the guy who sent ‘Hey.'” – Victoria G.
“Something related to my profile or picture that’s relatable. I’ve had a guy say: ‘I’ve been skydiving before, but how incredible was jumping in New Zealand?’ because of a photo I had. I feel like that’s the easiest way to connect with someone—through shared interests.” – Rae P.
“‘Top 3 things you can’t live without—ready, set, go.’ Disarm me, throw me off (without being creepy), and be original. I’ll be way more inclined to play along. And this shows you actually have a personality…or at least a semblance of one.” – Anne S.
“I’m actually totally cool with ‘Hey! How’s it going?’ It’s more grown-up and confident than ‘What’s up?’” – Sasha B.
“Bring up something that’s in my bio or one of my pictures you relate to. Perfect example: ’Hey, What kind of race were you doing? I’m big into fitness, too.’ It shows you’re interested in learning about me (rare among dudes). Remember, the conversation shouldn’t be one-way. And we get to skip the small talk and get right into the conversation.” – Marie L.
“I’ve actually gotten funny memes as a first message. The one that made me die laughing was a cartoon with pounding heart eyes—basically saying he thought I was attractive but not in a completely weird way. It’s just a better icebreaker than ‘Hey.’” – Samantha M.
“Start with something like: ‘Totally into your profile and interests. Where were you traveling to?’… or, ‘How long did you live in San Francisco for?’ Target bits and pieces of my profile. I chose to highlight them for a reason!” – Caitlin D.
“I honestly like a simple ‘Hey, how’s your day going?’ Ultimatums like, ‘Coffee or sleep?’ or ‘You’re gorgeous.’ annoy and freak me out.’” – Amy S.
“Send a question that relates to something from my profile. It shows you actually took the time to craft a response and didn’t just send a generic ‘Hey, what’s up?’ to every girl on the app. For example, if one of my photos was of me at a concert, make a connection to a concert you recently went to.” – Caroline T.
“I think the perfect first message is direct. ‘Hey, you seem really interesting. Would love to go out sometime.’ Stay away from stupid pickup lines.” – Rachel D.
“Point out how awkward dating apps are and poke fun at yourself without being too self-deprecating and blindingly insecure. Say something like, ‘Trying to come up with a clever one-liner to hit you with gave me more anxiety than the SATs. So I’m just gonna go out on a limb here and say I would love to get to know you outside the confines of this app.’ You seem sincere and I’m WAY more likely to want to get to know you, too.” – Brielle A.
“Always something witty or about food. Or, start with a question about my pictures or bio. I have a lot with my nephew because he’s important to me.” – Laura W.
“Something that makes fun of the app and the situation. Like, pretend to be a character from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and say, ‘Hey, I’m Charlie. I like cheese and live with a guy named Frank.’ I would respect that. Though if I didn’t get the reference, then this would just flop.” – Amanda H.
“I like when a guy is engaging. It might be a little overdone, but asking for two truths and a lie is still, to me, a great conversation starter.” – Laura Q.
“Something unique and also relevant to my life via my profile. Ask, ‘Hey, what kind of nurse are you?’ It shows you’re generally interested in getting to know me as a person—not just what I look like. Anything beats ‘Hey, good lookin’.’” – Vanessa P.
“‘Your perfect Sunday morning: workout, movie, or brunch?’ Depending on my answer, ask: ‘If I play my cards right, would you like to join me for X, Y, or Z sometime?’ This is PERFECT. It’s clever and not too demanding or creepy, because it’s on me to decide when or if it actually happens. If our conversation goes well and I’m feeling you, then I can initiate picking a date.” – Candice H.
“I like for a guy to show his personality and humor. My now-boyfriend initiated a conversation with: ‘I don’t break apart Kit Kat bars. I eat them whole. Is that a deal breaker?’ I thought this was so weird and funny, I responded immediately.” – Marissa D.
“Anything that makes you seem not like a complete stranger. Make a connection. I’m a law student, so if a guy draws a connection to the fact he’s in grad school or asks about it, it creates instant dialogue.” – Marianna B.
“Compliment me on anything but my appearance. Say I fascinate you or you love that I’m really outdoorsy. Guys need to stop defaulting to cheap wins. We see past that—especially if we’re on here to find an actual relationship.” – Rose T.