How to Come Up With That Initial Tinder Message, Because We Know It's Low-Key Stressful

Getty / Luis Alvarez

I never know what to say to my Tinder matches. No matter how many friends I consult or how excited I am about the match, I find myself struggling to come up with the right way to strike up a conversation. “Hey” feels like not enough, but asking someone to coffee immediately seems overeager. It feels nearly impossible to strike the right balance of expressing interest but not appearing too interested before you really get to know them. Luckily, Nicole Moore, a love and relationship coach, has some helpful advice. And she’s extra qualified to give it because she met her husband on Tinder. Here’s Moore’s advice for the best way to start a conversation on Tinder or another dating app.

Pinpoint a Specific Detail

Rule number one, according to Moore, is to tailor your message to your match. “The best thing to do when you match with someone you’re interested in on a dating app like Tinder is to comment on something very specific that you noticed about the other person’s profile,” Moore told POPSUGAR.

Look through their profile and find something, anything, that you are interested in or have in common with the person. Of course, bios are a great place to draw inspiration, but you can also take note of Spotify artists they linked or details in their photos. “If someone doesn’t have a ton of text in their profile, comment on one of their pictures and ask them a question,” Moore said. “For instance, if someone has a picture out in nature, ask them about that picture and what their day was like on the day it was taken. If someone has a picture of them out at a coffee shop, ask them what their all-time favorite coffee order is.”

Whichever detail stands out to you, bring that up in your first message, and your match will feel like you’ve made a small investment in them. “All people want to feel special and noticed,” Moore said. “When you point out a small detail about someone’s profile that you loved, it instantly creates rapport and shows you’re not looking at them like they’re just an option.” Making your message specific to your match shows them that you paid attention to their profile, and it’s a flattering step that not everyone takes.

This also means you probably shouldn’t just be sending “Hi” or “How are you doing?” as your first message. “It’s boring, unoriginal, and will make people feel like you’re not putting in any effort,” Moore warns. “Notice the small details, and people will be way more likely to respond to your initial message.”

Pretend You’re With Them in Real Life

If you’re still feeling a little stuck, take some pressure off yourself by pretending you’re with your match in person. When things are written out and memorialised in our Tinder messages, it can feel like we have to be extra careful with our words.

But keep in mind, there’s no “right” way to have a conversation, no “perfect” thing to say. “If you were talking face to face with someone you just met, you would just go with the first words that came out of your mouth, and often those are the most authentic words to begin with,” Moore said.

Pretending you’re in person will help you find a more natural way to approach the conversation. “Think about what you might say to this person if you had just met them at a bar or a coffee shop and say that,” Moore suggested. “Or, imagine that you’re talking to a friend where the stakes don’t feel high so you can just be yourself. If you were seated at a dinner party next to this person and had to make conversation for an hour, what would you say to them first?”

Be Yourself

“Be yourself” is always good advice, but it’s especially relevant when it comes to dating. First, you don’t want to have a conversation with someone over Tinder pretending to be someone you’re not; you’d be attracting the wrong person. Second, being yourself is the best way to stand out from the crowd.

“The important thing about your message is that it contains the essence and energy of you,” Moore said. “People are experiencing very high levels of dating app fatigue these days, and they feel like it’s just the same old boring people on dating apps over and over again. They’re craving individuality, someone that stands out, and someone who actually wants to get to know them as a person, not just as a potential number.”

By being authentic, you’re helping yourself identify a better match while increasing your chances at making an impression. This was a key aspect that worked in Moore’s dating life. “I ended up attracting my husband on Tinder, and he is deep and intense, too, and absolutely loved the energy from my profile and our conversations right away.”

Bring the Conversation Off Tinder

As much preparation as you’re putting into your Tinder messages, your goal should be to talk to your match through another medium as soon as possible. “I’m a big believer in using dating apps just to establish an initial connection and then jumping to an in-person or over-the-phone conversation ASAP,” Moore said. “We’re all busy and we simply don’t have time for two-week-long dating app conversations that ultimately go nowhere.” By meeting in person or talking over the phone, you’ll be able to see if you actually like your match, if you have that spark.

Moore suggested changing your mindset on how you use the apps. Imagine that you met the person you’re messaging at a bar instead of on Tinder. “You would likely get their number or give them yours, and then hopefully go on a date quickly,” Moore explained. “If someone took your number at a bar and then messaged you back and forth for a few weeks without asking you out, you would think they weren’t that serious, and it’s the same thing with online dating.”

Send the First Message

This is a major game-changer: Don’t wait for your match to message you. Sometimes we feel like there are unspoken social codes about who should message first and what it all means, but if you want to get to know someone, you have to start the conversation.

“Remember that all great love stories start with one thing: a date,” Moore said. “You can’t have the epic romance, the crazy dating adventures, the meaningful connections you’re seeking without first getting to a date, and that’s what dating apps are all about.” Whether you’re new to dating or a pro, it can seem intimidating to send a message to a stranger. But, you have to send the message if you want to end up hanging out with your match.

Not every message will be the start of an electric conversation, but that’s okay. As you get better at noticing the small details in profiles, sharing the things that make you unique, and moving the conversations off of the dating app, you’ll find (at least) one person who matches what you’re looking for. “Love is like a boomerang,” Moore said. “If you send out the energy it will come back to you over time. So, be brave and take the risk.” No matter the reason you’re on dating apps, your first message matters and can help you get whatever it is you’re swiping for.

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