How to Actually Get (Good) Responses on Your Dating Apps

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If you’re on dating apps, then you know that for every match you get, you’re doing a lot of swiping. And swiping. And…some more swiping. Even if you have plenty of matches, you’re still left asking yourself: Why aren’t sparks flying?

It’s easy to get discouraged when your inbox looks like a horse’s dinner: a whole lot of “hey.” (Please keep reading). Luckily, you’re not alone: New research in a Psychology Today article suggests that the future of online dating might reflect a growing desire for more authentic, “anti-superficial” dating experiences. Here are some hacks to dive into higher-quality conversations on your dating app of choice.

Show, don’t tell

Before anyone can make the first move, you need to get your profile as swipe-able as possible. Then, take a look at your profile and replace any adjectives (even if they’re true!) with actual examples. Instead of pointing out your “good sense of humor,” try to work in a joke that demonstrates it. Instead of talking about how you’re “grinding” (ugh), you could hint at a current project you’re excited about. Not only will you come across as more interesting, but specifics will help start a real conversation.

Of course, the major way to show-not-tell comes down to choosing the right pictures, which are usually worth somewhere around a thousand words. We’ve written about the art of choosing dating app photos. Another trick is to include a picture with the sole purpose of starting a conversation, like a “tag yourself”-style meme, or something as classic as a picture with your pet. So rethink that fifth selfie and try to find a photo that, as Match’s chief dating expert Rachel DeAlto told Bustle, “can make reaching out a little easier for people.”

Get more specific

In both your profile and in your DMs, specificity is key. A friend recently revealed to me one of their tricks to always getting responses: Asking a question that demands a concrete answer. Instead of asking, “what did you do today?” (boring, cliché, vague), lately she’s decided to ask, “what did you eat for lunch today?” (specific, unexpected, kicks off a conversation about a shared love for Thai leftovers that effortlessly transitions into plans to grab Thai food at their favorite spot). Another key element of this trick? Make sure you’re actually asking questions.

This sort of specificity is where your personality comes through, and it makes it way easier for the other person to match your tone with a fun and flirty response.

Personalize your messages

Like with cover letters, it’s obvious when you’re shooting your shot with the same lines over and over. Melissa Hobley, Global Chief Marketing Officer at OkCupid, told Refinery29 that sending “hey” as a first message has an 84% chance of being completely ignored. That’s a solid passing grade, as long as your goal is getting ignored.

Putting effort into your opening line is key to making sure you stand out, says dating coach Logan Ury, Director of Relationship Science at Hinge and one of our recent guests on The Upgrade. Her hack? Comment on something on the bottom of their profile, since it’s probably less common that someone else has responded to that.

Have a friend look over your profile

This one is simple. We’re not always the best at portraying ourselves accurately, so your friends might be able to fill in some gaps to make the profile seem more “you.” At the very least, good friends might just be able to give you the necessary ego boost so that you have the confidence to make the first move.

Keep an open mind

As clinical psychologist Jelena Kecmanovic wrote for the Washington Post, consider relaxing your criteria. This might mean expanding your age and location filters, or it could mean being the one to initiate contact with profiles that wouldn’t typically catch your eye. Think about it: swiping is designed for snap judgments, when in real life, you’re probably more thoughtful and open-minded toward prospective partners.

Make real plans ASAP

The dominating advice across platforms is to make in-person plans sooner rather than later. In her Washington Post article, Kecmanovic also wrote that the most common complaints she hears from online daters involve “frustration about how rarely they meet someone in person and how even more rarely they end up liking the people they meet.”

Minimize this frustration by making plans right out the gate—just as long as you feel safe. It’s the most important way to make intentions clear and to close the window for possible online deceit. Now stop reading and start asking strangers hyper-specific questions online. Good luck out there.

 

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