Dating apps are extremely popular with millions of users worldwide. From finding a date to finding your soulmate, dating apps make it convenient to keep your love life alive. All you need to do is download a dating app, upload a few good pictures (or yourself), add some personal tidbits in your bio, and BOOM! You're on the market. Now what? Well, friend.... now you have to actually talk to people. This is where the dating app experience can tend to be the most daunting.
People have been isolated for over a year due to COVID, and some of us are aching for some good ole' human interaction in our lives. Don't worry, it's like riding a bike! Whether it's a long-term or short-term relationship that you seek, a conversation is a conversation (but a conversation starter, isn't necessarily a pickup line!). But, on a dating app, conversations may work a little differently than they do IRL. Why? We have become comfortable with hiding "behind the screens". It's really up to you and the people you interact with to decide if that's a good or a bad thing. It's very comforting and freeing to some people, and very frustrating to others.
So, how do you start a conversation on a dating app? I, personally, believe meaningful conversations can lead to meaningful relationships. 🤯 I know, novel concept. But, the struggle is real.
Let's compare Person A on a dating app that has a 3-4 photos of themselves being fun and adventurous, and no words typed on their bio.... to Person B, who has 1 or 2 photos and spent even 30 minutes to tell the world that they're interested in architecture, sports, foreign foods, and believe e-Bikes are the best things since sliced bread. Who would you lean towards having a conversation with?
Here are 5 tips to consider when you start a conversation on a dating app:
1. Play icebreaker games!
Starting a conversation with someone you don’t know can be awkward, especially if that someone may as well be a brick wall (Person A, referenced above) giving us no starting block. Enter, icebreaker games.
Icebreaker games can be extremely effective conversation starters that quickly reveal a person's personality, which paves the way for a lengthy and enjoyable conversation. They can take on many forms, including games, questions, or just a random topic on which you exchange thoughts and ideas (textbook definition for "conversation"). You can play “Two Truths and A Lie”! It's easy to come up with two things that are true about yourself and one lie. Your partner then guesses which of your statements is a lie. It's pretty common to have a story behind one of these, so this would be a good "starting block" to uncovering common interests and similar experiences.
Pssstt! Don't forget to pass the proverbial talking stick. This is a two-person dialogue, not a monologue.
2. Ask for a recommendation
Once you get the conversation rolling, you can lean in - dig deeper - into their values, interests, and aspirations. Asking for recommendations is a way to indicate to someone that you are interested in their opinion, and you may even trust it. That makes people feel good, and people that feel good are more open, and easy to talk to. (This is important, whether you're conversing IRL or on a dating app.)
Do you like to read? You may have similar tastes in books, or you may venture to step out of your comfort zone and explore another genre because you value captivating writers. Movie buff? Is there a movie that you both watched and can dissect for hours with different perspectives? Caffeine-head like me? Maybe you can recommend a good bean for my next pour over.
There is so much to understand about a person's motivations, interests, and how they make decisions. You may find some new interests and experiences because you chose to follow a recommendation.
3. Ask genuine questions, not fillers
On dating apps and IRL, people tend to be overly consumed with... anything else. We forget that there is a real human in front of us, and not every conversation needs to be a job interview. Let's get past who you know, what you've done, and what school you attended. Do you really care how their day was or what they did this weekend? I'm betting that you don't, because you weren't there or you don't know yet if you would have wanted to be.
These are surface-level questions, so here are a few questions you can ask that may lead to more than a 2-3 word responses:
How do you like to spend your time when you're not working?
What's one thing you wish you knew more about?
What's your favorite and least favorite thing about this city?
Remember: it takes two to tango.
A conversation is a back and forth exchange of thoughts and ideas between two people, which is hopefully interesting and engaging for both parties. You can find out someone's age, occupation, and some basic interests by looking them up on social media. Even then, you'll see the version they want you to see. It's by interacting with them genuinely and authentically that you'll learn about the person behind the curated social media or dating app profile.
Talk about your goals
No, this doesn't mean talking about your work. Again, you're on a dating app, not a job interview. Enjoy this experience, and talk about something else. You're not a robot! Maybe you are training for a marathon or harnessing your inner Julia Child and writing your own cookbook. When you talk about your passions and hobbies, you let someone in to share them. When you're blocking someone from getting to know you, they'll either get bored pretty easily, or they'll try really hard to get through your walls in the most annoying way (to you) as possible.
A goal can be related to personal growth (we all have something to work on!), or it can be a hobby. I used to play the tenor sax, and I miss it. I love jazz, and a movie's music composition makes or breaks my entire experience. If someone asked me about my goals, playing the tenor sax again would be high on that list.
Throw in a compliment or two
Who doesn’t enjoy a compliment? That's why "Words of Affirmation" is a love language. People love to give and receive compliments because it makes them feel good (sound familiar?). Giving someone a genuine compliment is one of the most generous things you can do for someone. Receiving a compliment generally makes a person feel seen, heard, appreciated, respected, supported and loved - all things that build and foster the connection between two people. The key here is to be genuine; there's a difference between flattery and a compliment.
There's also scientific proof that praise is an effective motivator. So, give them kudos for training for that marathon - a lot of blood, sweat, and tears will be going into crossing that finish line!
So, where do you start?
XO is the only dating app with icebreaker games, designed to alleviate the stress and anxiety one can feel when starting a conversation on a dating app by facilitating light-hearted, yet meaningful conversations. The world of superficial swiping and surface-level interactions can be overwhelming to navigate, but online dating IS worth the effort. In fact, more than 20% of Americans have dating apps to thank for their (current and previous) relationships.
Choose from several fun games like "Ask Me Anything" and "Two Truths and a Lie", or take fun quizzes and see how your results compare. Or, try one of XO's "match modes" like Blind Date (get paired up with someone for a game, and your profiles are hidden to each other until you complete the game)!
Find authentic, genuine love connections by playing dating games (not mind games), on XO!