Two women looking together at a cell phone as a symbol for how to successfully start a conversation on a dating app

How to Start a Conversation on a Dating App

start free today
I am I am looking for

You can add more detail about your gender in your profile

For your security, use the following password format:

  • At least 8 characters
  • Letters AND numbers/special characters
  • Must not be the same as your email address
by eharmony Editorial Team - April 26, 2024

The dreaded first message. It’s been the source of many staring contests with empty text boxes since the dawn of online dating. How to start a conversation on a dating app seems like it should be straightforward but why is it so hard?  

The first message on a dating app is crucial because it lets you stand out from the crowd and gives a sense of your personal energy. Remember, a large proportion of online dating users (44 % in total) are annoyed bylazy messages like “Hi”1. It’s important to take your time when writing your first message, butwith a little practice it’s easier than you think. 

Tips for your first message

You shouldn’t just ask how to start a conversation on a dating app but also why?. So let’s explore some things to consider while  staying true to yourself and your goals. 

  • Know what you’re looking for before you start 
  • Think about the kind of people you want to attract instead of aiming for volume 
  • Pay attention to spelling and grammar 
  • Being proactive about getting in touch first leads to greater success 
  • Honesty is the best policy. A proper connection can’t be built on deceit  
  • Move conversations towards meeting in person rather than letting your romance languish online 
  • Safety and caution should always be at the top of your mind. Never reveal personal details and make sure to meet in a public place for your first date 

Top tips for starting a conversation on a dating app from of eharmony’s relationship expert Laurel House 

We also asked one of eharmony’s relationship experts Laurel House what are the top three tips for starting a conversation on a dating app from a relationship coach perspective: 

  1. “The purpose of in-app conversation is to share and extract information. You can only do that if you make sure that every exchange is actionable. Be interesting and interested.  
  1. What would inspire you to respond? Whatever would interest you is what you say to them. Expand your conversation and connection so that you get to know the basics of each other. You are prequalifying your date, and setting up conversations that you can expand on when you are meeting in-person. 
  1. Have at least 3-5 substantial exchanges first, and then set up a phone date. Try not to text in between or before your first in-person date. It can take away the excitement before you’ve even met up for the first time.” 

Obviously, online dating can be a little different when talking to men, women, or any gender identity so we’ve also gone over some good dating app conversation starters:  

Conversation starters with a guy

Looking for some conversation starters with a guy to kick off a genuine connection? We explore how to start a conversation with a guy on dating apps.

Conversation starters with women

Learn how to talk to women on dating apps and keep the conversation going with these tips and find some conversation starters with women that work.

What to avoid with your opening lines

When you’re looking at how to start a conversation on a dating app, missteps are easily made. Often these are natural and just indicate a lack of compatibility. There could also be things you’re doing.  

1. Being creepy

Sounding too forward, sexual or focusing only on the physical is a big no-no and will almost always elicit a negative response.  

  • “You look good in a bikini. Would love to see you out of one though.” 
  • “I looked at your photos and I just have one question, how aren’t we married already?”   

2. Being lazy or unoriginal

We all know ‘Hi!’ is the laziest line in online dating but you should also avoid generic things that every person says.  

  • “Hi there, how’s your day been?”   
  • “So I see you work in x. What’s that like?”  

3. Unconsciously putting people off 

There are also more subtle things that can make people drop a conversation before it starts. Things like bad grammar or poorly structured messages show you just don’t care.  

Revealing too much of yourself too soon or sending long, elaborate messages can also put people off. Regardless of whether you two matched, it’s always important to remember you’re still relative strangers.   

Top 3 no-go’s of eharmony’s relationship expert Laurel House 

We also asked Laurel House what are the typical no go’s for starting a conversation on a dating app from a relationship coach perspective: 

  1. “Think about what questions on a dating app that would intrigue you to answer. Probably not “Hey,” “What’s up” or “looks like we have a lot in common.” Delete these. 
  1. Questions are essential in order to get to know your potential match better before meeting up. Be specific. One great question to ask is: “Tell me something you find interesting about yourself? Here is my mine, how about you?” 
  1. Keep it positive. No one wants to start messaging someone on the wrong foot. One question to ask would be: “What one thing made you smile in the last two days that keeps popping into your mind?”

4 good online dating Icebreakers 

An opening line can sometimes feel arbitrary in the grand scheme of a relationship. However, dating apps’ popularity and convenience have made them a noisy, active space so in online dating, the first message is just cutting through that noise. Because daters hope their next partner “gets” their personality (43%), sense of humor (35%), and interests & passions (34%)2. That’s what the first conversation should be about! Here are some examples of how to start a conversation on a dating app on the right foot.   

1. Show interest

People like to be asked about themselves. Including details from their profile shows you were interested enough to take the time. 

  •  “Hey, I saw your diving pics. I’m too scared to go past snorkeling! Do you dive often?” 
  • “Your dog is so cute! But I swear that’s not my only reason for getting in touch, lol.” 
  • “What’s guaranteed to cheer you up on a bad day?”     

2. Go deep

Don’t be afraid to go beyond the usual small talk and light-hearted jokes with someone.  

  • “So what event would you say is the thing that shaped your life the most?” 
  • “Why is traveling so special to you or do you just enjoy new experiences?”  

3. Explore expectations

This can help you get on the same page.  

  • “So what are you looking for on this app, love or some new friends?”  
  • “Hey, you seem really cool. I’m looking for someone special on here so I hope you are too.” 

4. Be fun and upbeat

At the very least, this makes you seem like you’d be fun to chat with.    

  • “I’m free on Saturday if you want to skip all the messaging and buy me a coffee instead.”  
  • “I want to be the reason you delete this app.” 
  • “What’s the one movie I could bring you to make your perfect rainy day?” 

However, when you’re low on ideas, two of the most effective ways to open are with some good old-fashioned humor and flirting.  

Starting off with a laugh: 7 funny opening lines

A sense of fun is great when you’re figuring out how to start a conversation on a dating app. It breaks down certain social barriers and gets the conversation moving.  

A 2013 study found that laughter in an interaction can lead to more positive emotions and intimacy in subsequent interactions, making laughter a key social bonding mechanism3. And a survey of eharmony members found humor to be among the most desirable traits in a partner, with members partial to wordplay, self-deprecating humor and dark humor4.  

Here are some examples of humorous openers:  

  1. “Do you like bad girls/boys? Because I’m really bad at dating apps.” 
  2. “What’s the worst opening line you ever got? Please say it’s not this one.” 
  3. A gif is always a good opener. For instance, a penguin falling through some ice and the message, “Is this big enough to break the ice?”  
  4. “I’ve got a game. Tell me your life story in 12 emojis or less!” 
  5. “I’m researching important dates in history. Want to be mine?” 
  6. “Last meme you got sent describes our first date. Go!”  
  7. “You seem really busy but is there any chance of adding me to your to-do list? 

Turning up the heat: 7 Flirty conversation starters for texting

Flirting is always a good option to open with. This, after all, is online dating and being a bit forward gets people’s attention. On a dating app, opening lines that are flirty should steer clear of being cheesy or overtly sexual and be more playful and complimentary.  

Some good flirty first messages.    

  1. “Your photos are stunning and your life seems amazing, just in case you needed an ego boost.” 
  2. “You’re too cute to be single. What’s the catch?” 
  3. “I’ve got a feeling you would get me into a lot of trouble.” 
  4. “Apart from being an absolute cutie, what else can you tell me about yourself?”  
  5. “I won’t lie – you are SO my type. Your smile is amazing! Are you free Friday?” 
  6. “We make a perfect match. At least, this app thinks so.” 
  7. “Hey there. Want to play truth or dare? Or should we skip straight to spin the bottle?” 

80 questions to ask a guy

It can be hard thinking of good questions to ask a guy. We collected flirty, deep, funny, personal and other questions you want to ask him.

70 questions to ask a girl

Coming up with the right questions to ask a girl can be daunting – which is why we’ve compiled 70 good ones you can use in a variety of situations.

Learning how to start a conversation on a dating app organically

These are some good examples on how to approach your opening message when figuring out how to start a conversation on a dating app. However, it’s important to modify your approach to your personality and communication style, so you come across as natural and authentic, which is what’s most attractive. 

But whether you decide to come in with a joke, a flirty pick-up line,  or just come right out of the gate and ask them out – according to Healthy Framework, this has worked with 29% of online daters5 – it’s important to remember that no matter how good your opening line is, you might not get a response. There are so many reasons you might be ghosted and few of them are personal.   

The most important step is getting yourself out there, finding new people and turning some of those passing flirtations into genuine connections and hopefully, a date. eharmony can help you find these connections, nurture them and help guide you to a lasting, happy relationship. So try out your best opening line on eharmony today. 

How it works

Your search for a great relationship has never been easier with groundbreaking overhaul of the eharmony you know and trust.