“How you doin’” may have worked like a charm for Joey Tribbiani, but opening lines today, especially on a dating app, require a little more thought and originality to get you noticed.
“Opening lines, like first impressions, are really important — especially on dating apps or online-only contact — because people are so busy and so inundated with other responses,” says April Masini, a New York-based relationship and etiquette expert and author. “An opening line can make it or break it when you’re looking to date.”
Masini says to avoid opening with a sarcastic remark, as it’s too easily misinterpreted and to skip the sexual innuendo.
“Even if the person is in a bathing suit, avoid any opening line that mentions their body parts. They know they’re hot, that’s why they posted the photo they did. They want to know that you think they’re hot and datable,” she says.
The other reason why you should stay away from pointing out their sexiness is that it’s a given: “You wouldn’t be messaging them if you didn’t think they were hot,” says Toronto-based celebrity matchmaker and online dating expert, Carmelia Ray.
There are a number of tactics you can take with your opening line that will get someone’s attention, but above all else, Ray says, use that line on someone you’re truly compatible with.
“Do not message people if you’re blindly swiping left and right,” she says. “Read their profile and determine if you’re genuinely a match. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.”
These are some top tips from the experts on how to craft an opening line that will get a response on your dating apps.
#1 Give a little
“You’d be surprised how many people don’t give genuine compliments because they’re afraid of rejection,” Masini says. Go for something specific and genuine that shows you’ve really read their profile or noticed something about them that wouldn’t be obvious to everyone.
Terran Shea, a Toronto-based matchmaker and date coach, says the keywords with a compliment are “tasteful” and “specific.” She advises personalizing the compliment as much as possible, and if you’re going to reference a celebrity or something from pop culture, be vague. It’ll force the person to Google the reference and then you’ll be on their mind.
Suggested lines: “You look like someone I could take home to my mom and whisk away for a romantic weekend”; “My friends would be jealous if you went out with me”; “Has anyone ever told you that you look like [fill in name of obscure actor/actress].”
#2 Be funny
Admittedly, this isn’t the right approach for everyone, but if you can strike the right chord, humour is almost always a winning trait.
Masini says not to go too dark or shoot for “slip on a banana peel” humour: “Aim for charm and chuckle.” While Shea says if the person you’re messaging has written a funny profile, try to mimic that style of humour in your line.
Suggested lines: “What’s a smart, attractive man/woman like myself doing without your number?”; “I can feel you staring at my profile from here”; “I totally hear you that grammar matters; it’s sad how few people use semicolons in their Tinder messages.”
#3 Show some confidence
Confidence is a very attractive trait and could be the key to success when it comes to communicating through online dating apps.
“A bold opening line doesn’t just convey confidence, it also shows that you’re out there to have fun, regardless of the outcome,” says John Roche, a therapist and coach at Transformation Counselling in Waterloo, Ont.
It’s also the best way to stand out, says Laura Bilotta, a Toronto matchmaker and author of Single in the City.
“Now is not the time to play coy,” she says. “Even if you play it over-confident, most people will understand that you’re trying to stand out rather than being vain.”
Suggested lines: “This app says we’re 93 per cent compatible. I’d like to test that out in real life”; “I love that picture of you on the beach; I wish I were there”; “I woke up thinking today was just another boring Monday, and then I saw your photo on my app.”
#4 Invite engagement
Your ultimate goal here is to inspire a back-and-forth conversation that will lead to a face-to-face encounter, so invite engagement by posing questions.
“Make a reference to something specific,” Ray says. “Maybe they mentioned a particular type of food they like in their profile or they’ve posted a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower. Ask them a question that’s specific to that.”
By offering this type of engagement, not only have you demonstrated that you’ve really read their profile, but you’re also more likely to get a response and spark a conversation.
Suggested lines: “I love Paris. Did you go to the top of the Eiffel Tower?”; “You’re a real foodie. If we were to go out for dinner, where would we go?”; “What’s your favourite pizza topping?”
#5 Be authentic
Authenticity can seem like a pipe dream when you’re meeting people through a digital app, but being genuine and even showing a little vulnerability can be very charming.
“People appreciate authenticity in a first message. By revealing something you might not normally be forthcoming with, it shows that you want to build trust,” Ray says.
This isn’t the time to unload your deepest secrets or childhood traumas, but it’s OK to share your trepidation of using a dating app or that you normally wouldn’t have the courage to approach this person in real life. Honesty is an attractive trait.
Suggested lines: “I’m new to this dating scene and to be honest, it kind of scares me”; “I don’t normally contact people on this, but I find you very intriguing”; “How does a person like me get a date with someone like you?