When you’re dating online, the first message you send someone is key.
Of course, you could say “Hi, what’s up?” But, it’s very likely that the person has a lot of “Hi, what’s up?” messages in their inbox already.
What’s more, they probably aren’t very eager to respond to these messages, and they might not respond to them at all.
So, how do you make sure that you get a response?
Well, you need to pick a great conversation starter. Simply sending “Hey” or “Hi, what’s up?” is very generic, and, even if the person responds, you will have to come up with something new to keep the conversation going.
Conversation starters are called that because they don’t require only one response. Instead, they inspire a long conversation.
Coming up with something creative could also improve your chances with your possible match.
Here’s how to craft a perfect first message (with examples):
1. Quality over quantity.
A lot of people make the mistake of messaging a bunch of potential matches instead of focusing only on the best ones. Some even come up with one or a few creative messages and copy-paste them to everyone.
The thing is, people can tell when someone’s doing that, and they rarely respond when they notice it. So, this is making you lose potentially great matches.
Don’t think about online dating as a numbers game. You don’t need twelve people interested in you. You only need one person, and you should narrow the search down to the best candidates.
After that, engage in meaningful conversations with these few people to pick out the one that seems best for you. Look for those who have similar goals, beliefs, and interests and connect over the things that you have in common.
Hey, I’m Bob, I noticed you like books, and I love a good detective novel. What’s your favorite genre?
2. Research their profile.
Online dating gives you an opportunity to learn more about the person before contacting them, so use that to your advantage.
Don’t start with “Hi, how are you?” when there’s information on their profile that you can use to craft the perfect message.
What do they like? What are they looking for? Did they write about their hobbies or interests, or is there something you could ask them about one of their pictures?
Learn everything you can about them based on their profile and see if there’s something that you can comment on or ask about.
Maybe they have a picture with a pet, and you could mention that you’re a dog person too. Perhaps they’re into a band that you also like, and you can ask them whether they’ve ever heard them play live.
Hey, I had to message you when I saw your picture with a dog. What’s his/her name? I had a dog as a kid, and I was considering adopting one now. Do you know which breeds are most suitable for an apartment? Either way, your dog is definitely cute and so are you!
3. Find common ground.
When you research their profile, the most important thing that you should look for is something that you have in common with them. Maybe you listen to the same music, you engage in the same sport, or you like the same cuisine. Anything that you have in common can be a great way to start a conversation.
If you don’t have anything in common, consider their passions and interests and try to find something that you might also like. For instance, maybe they love comic books, and you love superhero movies. It’s not the same, but they would probably be happy to explain why and talk about their favorite hobby.
Hi, I’m Sarah, and I read on your profile that you like Chinese food, which happens to be my favorite! Which restaurant do you like best? I frequently go to [insert restaurant name here]because they have the best chow mein! What’s your favorite dish?
4. Share something about yourself.
You should mention things from their profile. Just remember, they already know who they are, but they don’t know who you are. So, include something about yourself in the message.
It could be something that you have in common with them, but it could also be something related to it. For instance, if you compliment their photo where they’re engaging in an outdoor activity, you could mention that you like hiking but haven’t had much time for it lately.
Mention something that’s not written on your profile, or give more details about something that you did mention in your profile. For instance, if you wrote that you like traveling, you could ask about their favorite travel location and mention yours. You could also share a short anecdote that might make them laugh.
Hey, I’m Mike, I see that you’re from Italy. What’s it like there? I travel a lot, but I’ve never been to Italy. I have been to Europe, and it was lovely, although they lost my bags and I had to go thrift shopping and wear cheap, ill-fitting clothes the entire time I was there, lol. Where would you like to travel next?
5. Ask an open-ended question.
Don’t ever ask questions that could be answered with either a yes or a no. Ask open-ended questions that require a longer response and some elaboration. For instance, instead of “Do you like to read?”, you could ask “Which genre do you like to read?”
When you don’t have an open-ended question, making it more specific will usually do the trick. It’s always a good idea to include an open-ended question in your message or end the message with a question.
Be careful not to ask too many questions though. Two, maybe three questions should be enough. Any more is overwhelming and exhausting for the person to answer. Remember that you also need to include things about yourself and find common ground; don’t just ask them questions.
Hi, your profile looks interesting, and I wondered whether we’re on the same page about movies. You mentioned that you like sci-fi, but are you a Star Trek or a Star Wars fan? The answer to this may determine whether we’re a good match 😉 btw, I really liked your picture at the lake, where was it taken?
6. Compliment them on their personality.
Why do you want to contact them? What is it that you like about them? Be careful about complimenting them on their physical appearance. You can, but make sure to compliment them on their personality too.
Women get a lot of messages from guys who only compliment them on their looks. Instead, mention that they seem funny, hardworking, ambitious, or creative. This will make you stand out from the crowd.
Don’t only send compliments. Mentioning something from their profile and asking a question is again encouraged. Maybe the compliment could relate to some of their interests.
For instance, if you see that they enjoy painting, you could say that you like that they are creative. If you notice from their pictures that they are very outgoing, you could say that you like that because you have a rich social life too.
Hey, you seem interesting and fun, so I thought I’d send you a message. I noticed from your pictures that you have a rich social life and like to go out often—I’m the same way! What’s your favorite club in town? My friends and I hang out at [insert club name here], but we want to check out [insert club name here]. Have you been there?
7. Ask them for opinions or advice.
People enjoy expressing their opinions, and they like being asked for advice too. The point is, everyone likes to feel smart and show off their knowledge.
So, asking for their opinion or advice is a great conversation starter. Starting a question with “What do you think…” gives you endless possibilities to ask about anything.
You could even ask for advice about online dating. Tell them that you want to improve your profile and need feedback. Ask them what they think about your picture or what your description reveals about you. If you’re new to that particular dating app/website, ask them about their experience with it so far.
Hi, I just created an account here, and I’m not sure that my profile really reflects who I am, what do you think about it? Is there anything I could improve? Do you think it’s possible to find a good match on here?
8. Talk about shared experiences.
Online dating is only one of your shared experiences. You can talk about that, but you can also mention something local since you probably live in the same area. Maybe there was a big local event that you assume they attended or a local recreation activity that you think they enjoy.
While you can ask them about their favorite places, don’t get too specific about where they will be at a particular time or else it might come off as sounding stalkerish.
Holidays and big news are also something that you could talk about. For instance, you could ask them what the best gift they got for Christmas was or whether they plan to go anywhere on a summer vacation, depending on the season.
Maybe you could ask them what they did to stay social during the recent pandemic or mention some other big news that they must have heard about.
Hey, I do think that you are hot, but you’re not as hot as the temperatures outside—no one is! What do you do to cool down? I like to go to the pool, but I was thinking of going on a vacation somewhere near the beach. Do you have any plans for the summer?
9. Ask for a favor.
When a person agrees to do you a favor, they’ll like you more and engage more with you. Again, you can ask them for advice about your profile. Say something like “I need a favor, I just finished working on my profile. Could you tell me your opinion?”
However, you could also ask for something related to their profession, hobby, or interest. For instance, if they mentioned in their profile that they are a great cook, you could ask for a new recipe or some cooking tips.
Asking someone for help related to something that they’re good at makes them feel flattered. You’re acknowledging that they’re better at it than you, and you value their opinion. That’s always a good way to get someone interested in you.
Hey, I’m Jeff, and I’m a terrible painter, but I really love art. I noticed on your profile that you like to paint in your free time, and I would like to ask you for some pointers. I haven’t painted much so far, but I really want to give it a go and improve, so what do you recommend for a beginner?
10. Share stories.
Do you have a funny story from your past that could serve as a great conversation starter? Share something about yourself and ask the person to do the same.
For instance, you could mention a funny, but slightly embarrassing thing that once happened to you. Ask them about the funniest thing that happened to them when they were in a similar position. Maybe you were in high school back then, and you could inspire them to share their funny story from high school.
Being able to laugh at your mistakes is a positive trait that you also want your match to have. In addition, sharing vulnerabilities helps you feel comfortable with each other faster than you normally would.
Hi, I’m John, and you’re not going to believe this, but I wasn’t always this hot. I was a nerdy-looking kid in high school, and I once asked a girl out in Klingon. She responded in English and asked me whether I’m having a stroke. I knew she wasn’t right for me then and there. You mentioned in your profile that you love Star Trek, so you might understand me (: What funny thing happened to you in high school?
11. Desert island or the last thing.
If you were going to spend your life stranded on a desert island, what would you bring with you? You could ask a person which book they would bring, or simply ask about any object.
Alternatively, ask them about the last thing they did/read/watched/listened to/etc. You could ask about a concert, a movie, or the last location they visited while they traveled. Asking about the last thing gives you an opportunity to learn more about their interests, and it’s also a good, fun way to start a conversation with someone you’ve never met before.
Hi, I noticed on your profile that you’re a big Elvis Presley fan. I’m more of a Freddy Mercury person myself, but I definitely enjoy old rock music in general. Don’t let me assume that you only listen to rock though. What’s the last song you listened to?
12. Talk about dreams or the future.
Everyone has a dream, and if you ask them about it, you can learn more about them and what they really value in life. What do they fantasize about? What is their idea of a perfect life?
You could find out by asking them what they would do if they had millions of dollars available to do anything they want. If money was not an issue and they could quit their job today, what would they do, and where would they go? It’s a creative and fun question that will make them think about all the possibilities that come with having a dream… and meeting someone new.
You can also talk about your plans for the future. What exciting projects are they working on? How many kids would they like to have? Asking something that indicates that you’re looking for a serious relationship and in the right circumstances will go down well. Just make sure to sound funny, not like you’re already imagining yourself at the altar.
Hey, I’m Philip, I’ve never been married and have no kids, but I’m hoping for that to change one day. You mentioned in your profile that you also want kids someday, so how many are we talking, two, three, more? I’m all up for starting a family, but if it’s more than three we’ll be starting a band too. Are we on the same page about the genre of music? ;D
13. Make them laugh.
If you have a great sense of humor, use it to your advantage! Make your potential matches laugh, and they’ll be more likely to respond to your message.
Science has shown that women really value a good sense of humor when they’re searching for a man. However, men will also be more likely to respond to a funny message.
If you’re looking for a woman, start with a joke to break the ice or tell a funny story. If you’re looking for a man, tease him a bit by mentioning something from his profile. Was it really necessary for him to be shirtless in that photo?
Hi, I’m Emily, tell me—and be honest—was it really hot that day, or did you take off your shirt just to attract the ladies? 😉 I’m talking about your profile picture of course! Where was it taken? It took me a while to notice the background, but now that I have, it looks like a good vacation spot.
14. Don’t ask them out right away.
You should get together with your match soon after meeting them online. After a few messages, you could ask them out. However, don’t ask them out in the first message. Most likely, they’re not going to want to date you until they get to know you at least a little bit. So, use the first message to start a conversation, not schedule a meet-up right away.
Consider mentioning something that could be turned into a date idea later on. For instance, if you exchange a few messages where you talk about your shared interest in jazz, it makes sense to invite them to a jazz club.
Hey, you seem fun, and we seem to have a similar taste in music! What was the last concert you went to? I’ve been busy with work lately, but I could definitely start going out more often.
15. Keep their age in mind.
People respond differently to conversation starters depending on how old they are. So, keep their age in mind when coming up with a good opener.
If your date is 18–23, they will probably like something creative, fun, unique, and surprising. For instance, you could ask them which character from a currently popular show they are most like.
If they are 24–28, ask them about their lifestyle. Are they an early bird or a night owl?
Those who are 29–35 often prefer personal questions. So, you could play a party game like “Have You Ever?” or “Two Truths and a Lie.”
For those who are over 35, talking about pop culture and referencing something from the past might be the best choice.
So, you like romance movies… But if you had to choose between The Notebook and Casablanca, which would it be?
16. Talk about pets.
Do they have a pet? Do you have one too? That’s a great thing to have in common!
Tell a funny story about your pet, or ask them about their pet’s name in your first message.
You could ask them about their pet even if you don’t have one. Make it funny by saying that you have a special power where you are able to guess the names of people’s pets. Then take a crack at the name of their pet. Who knows, maybe you’ll even guess right!
If they have a picture with a pet, ask whether it’s their pet or if they’re using it to get more matches. Make it sound funny, and they will be happy to respond. You could also connect over the fact that both of you are a dog person or a cat person.
Hi, I’m Sam, and my furry friend is chewing on my slipper as we speak. How did you get yours to stop long enough for a photo? Glad to know that you’re a dog person too, what’s his name? I’m getting Snowball vibes…
17. Trigger positive memories or ask about a negative experience.
See if there’s something on their profile that you could use to trigger positive memories. Maybe they mentioned the place where they grew up or a concert they’ve been to. What was it like growing up there? Was the concert fun?
Don’t ask about their relationships, stick to things that you can safely assume they have positive memories of.
You could also ask them about their negative experience. For instance, ask them about the worst date they’ve had with someone they met online. You’re both dating online, so this is a shared experience. At the same time, it gives you the chance to find out what you should avoid on a date with them.
Hey, I see that you’re from Texas. I’ve visited on several occasions and had a wonderful time there. What was it like being a kid in Texas?
18. Proofread your message and send a follow-up.
Messages that contain grammar or spelling mistakes make it look like you’re either not putting any effort into writing the message or you’re not educated enough. So, always make sure to proofread your message before sending it.
When you don’t get a response, you can send a follow-up. Maybe they were busy, they forgot to respond, or they had some other reason for ignoring your message. After a day or two, send one more message. Show that you’re interested, but don’t seem desperate for a response.
Ouch, I got ghosted. Well, it happens. But in case you can’t answer because you need to be rescued, let me know. Do I need to put on my cape?
19. Move on if you don’t get a response.
Sending one follow-up message is perfectly fine, but make sure to stop at one. You don’t want to seem like a stalker, so if you don’t get a response after one or two messages, move on. The person might not be interested in you.
On the other hand, they might have hooked up with someone already or stopped using the app. Whichever it is, don’t take it personally and keep looking for matches.
So, there you have it—some tips for crafting the perfect first message to send to someone on a dating website or app. To help you remember, this simple messaging formula often works wonders:
Something from their profile + something about you + an open-ended question = a perfect conversation starter
Now get out there and hit the send button!
You may also like:
- How To Date Online Successfully: 30 No Bullsh*t Tips!
- How To Write A Dating Profile That Gets Matches: 31 Top Tips!
- 24 Online Dating Rules + Etiquette You Must Follow