Dating apps are a great way to meet new people, have new experiences and connect with potential partners. But they aren’t always easy. Whatever your age, it can be hard to know how to start a conversation with someone you don’t know much about.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to dating apps. Whether you’re just getting started with online dating or you want to improve your game, we’ve put together some top tips on breaking the ice on a dating app.
Don’t just say ‘Hi’
Starting a conversation on a dating app is not like starting a conversation in real life. When you’re talking to someone through a dating app, they may already be in the middle of a few other conversations. When talking through a screen, you feel less connected and in the moment with someone. So you need to hook them in and get them interested. A brief ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey’ probably won’t get you a great response, if any response at all.
You want to show the other person a bit of your personality and start the conversation with something interesting that will get them invested in the conversation. The initial ‘Hi’ and ‘How are you’ will be boring for you as well! Small talk like this takes up both of your time without helping you get to know each other or figure out if you’re a good match.
Open with a question
A question is a great way to kick off a conversation and find out something interesting about the other person at the same time. It gets you both straight into the fun part of the conversation: connecting and getting to know each other. Don’t worry about thinking of something ground-breaking. It just needs to be ice-breaking!
If you’re new to dating apps and nervous about how to open the conversation, think of a few ice breaker questions, and then use them a few times to test the response you get. If people give you one-word answers or it doesn’t spark a great conversation, park it and try something else. Start broad if you’re unsure. Ask about what music they’re listening to or what book they’re reading at the moment. Or ask what their favourite thing to do in their spare time is. These are easy questions that anyone can answer, and perfect to get you comfortable with starting conversations on dating apps.
Remember – no one knows what they're doing on dating apps, it's all about trying things and seeing what happens.
Tailor it to their profile
This, of course, depends on how detailed someone’s profile is. As people get older, they often have a better idea of who they are and what they want. So older people will generally include a few details in their biography or photos that you can use as a way in.
The biography is the best place to start. If you share one of their interests, whether it’s mountaineering, reading biographies or travelling, ask them about it! It’s an easy way to start on the right foot. Ask them how they got into it, what they enjoy about it or what they've done in that area recently. It can sometimes take a while to find that common ground, so if it's already there, use it.
If their biography doesn't include any useful information, have a look at their photos. If you look closely, usually you can find something to talk about. Are they in an exciting location? Or doing an activity? Ask them about it!
By the time you’re over fifty, you generally have some dating or relationship experience under your belt. Some people have a very clear idea of what they’re looking for. If that’s you, don’t be afraid to use that as a starting point. It’s great to know what you want and go after that. And it might save you both time in the long run.
Maybe you’re looking for someone to travel the world with. Ask them where the last place they travelled to was, or their favourite place to go, or if they have a funny travel story. Or if you’re a big foodie, ask what their favourite restaurant or cuisine is.
This doesn’t have to be related to a specific interest; it can be about their values or personality traits. If you’re looking for a partner that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, ask about their most embarrassing moment. If you want someone who values family, ask about their most treasured memory or which family member they are most similar to.
Think outside the box
Just because you don’t know each other (yet), there’s no reason you can’t open with something unique. Confidence is attractive at any age, so being bold might be the key to securing that first date.
Think of a question that’s a bit different, but anybody could answer. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be? If you got to choose your last meal on earth, what would you pick? What are your desert island discs?
If you’re struggling to think of something, give them a multiple-choice question that can spark a broader conversation or even a healthy debate. The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? Beach or city break? A night in or a night out? Theatre or cinema? This is perfect if you think they might be a little shy. They don't have to think too hard about what to say – it's already spelt out for them.
The best advice we can give is to be confident. It shows that you’re secure in yourself and puts the other person at ease at the same time. Dating apps can seem scary at first but remember it’s just two people having a conversation. Don’t put too much pressure on it. Have a laugh. Dating can be great fun – enjoy it!