Dating App Conversation Starters

Because this shit is awkward


Call me old fashioned, but I much prefer to let someone else begin an awkward conversation for me. And call me paranoid, but the degree to which I “much prefer this” is further increased where dating apps are involved. Leaving a paper trail is dangerous. Leaving a paper trail of blundered opening lines is irresponsible. People screen shot the skins of innocent greeters to make memes and Tumblr accounts out of their botched salutations!

I’ll just sit here and flirt with my frozen waffle instead, thanks.

Coders of dating apps have grown savvy to this fact, along with the notion that many users swipe for game points and collect matches like they’re restaurant souvenirs. “Taking it offline,” especially for those who are curious but shy, isn’t every player’s intent. More brutal for some than the thought of being single? Saying “hi.” So these developers, dedicated builders of romance that they are, have had to find a way to keep those on the eternal companionship-hunt motivated while upping the gamers’ ante. They made it so that in 2016, if no conversation is started, matches on at least three popular dating apps — Hinge, the League, Bumble —  will expire. (No doubt this trend will soon permeate Tinder, etc., too.)

So blame Adele: “Hello” has once again regained status its post-poke status as the ultimate social lubricant.

But what if you’re allergic? What if you’re out of practice at crafting greetings?

You certainly don’t ask your friends what to say. I was advised by a close pal of mine to simply send the arm-raised Emoji.

So I did!


Hey girl. How fun is she?

Not fun at all, apparently, because out of 7 people to whom I sent “the wave,” exactly zero responded back.

Pretend this is my ego: ____________

Now pretend someone just slapped it. *THWACK*

I then consulted at least a billion other people who told me that the solution here was simple: in order to get someone to engage in banter, you have to (are you ready?) actually start a conversation. About anything.

Anything, you say? What about…

– Hey! On a scale of dragon to fish, what’s your favorite non-furry animal, potentially mythological and/or prehistoric animal?

– Hi there! Out of all your bathroom mirror selfies, which one is the most meaningful to you and why?

– Hola! You probably already know that “hola” means “hello” in Spanish — what foreign language did you take in high school, not pay attention to and then deeply regret later in life, which is why you look so sad in photo number five?

– How many hamsters did you own as a child?

– If you could be the hair of any American President and/or Canadian Prime Minister but you cannot say Justin Trudeau, whose hair would it be?

– What are your hopes and dreams?

– What are your neighbors’ aspirations?

– How would chairs be different if humans had inverted knees?

– If you sat between two ferns, from which doctors offices would you steal the plants?

– If hungry and given the ultimatum of “clothes on or no service,” would you stick it to the man and go balls-out? Or would you put on pants?

– Decode these emojis:


– Decode this silence: ____________________________

Oh, and apparently various iterations on “how are you” have a high, albeit boring, success rate.

(Readers: what do you say?)

Collage by Emily Zirimis.


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  • Loved this post! Dating online can seem daunting, serious, and almost like a job. These makes me realize it’s OK to take a risk… It’s just meeting someone new after all☺


  • for those who have tried bumble, i was given advice to open up with “let’s get ready to bumbleeeeeeeeeeee”

    i’m still single btw

  • Emy M


  • I met my boyfriend on Tinder and can confirm that sometimes a boring “Hey! My name is ___, how are you/what’s up?” can lead to success. I think it sounds more genuine, albeit simple, especially when you’re not just looking to casually hook up.
    Maybe I’m the exception to the rule (sorry not sorry), but I also think there’s nothing wrong with taking a risk and dropping some hilarious conversation starter/pickup line! PSA: I COULD BE WRONG WITH ALL OF THIS THOUGH

    • Alison

      Even if your name is Slim Shady?

  • Olivia Peake

    A boy named Oliver once broke the ice with a very cute and enthusiastic line:
    “Hi! Our names are twins!”
    It caught my attention and we chatted for a while before meeting for a drink. But it was no great love story and we aren’t together now, so maybe none of this matters. It can be a tough world out here for the single gals!

  • Living Paula Blog

    This sounds like so much fun and would create a perfect date.

  • Erica

    Haha I met my boyfriend on tinder, I started the conversation first with literally just the watermelon emoji.

    He responded with some strange swedish emoji joke but hey, it worked, we’ve been together a year and I stayed in Sweden for him!

  • I just do ” hi”
    I hate responding first. It’s an invitation to fuckboys who will later stand me up for dates they never intended to go to.
    luv the emoji question tho….

  • Tran Nguyen

    “beyonce or rihanna?” worked for me! it’s perfect because there is no wrong answer as they both fulfill something in me that the other doesn’t.

  • Emma Dunne

    I decided to employ some of these lines as a sort of valentines day social experiment. It would seem that my Tinder matches aren’t that keen on spilling their innermost hopes and dreams to a stranger on the internet.
    What a pity.

  • Ivana Ivanova

    I’ve been using the presidents hair one. Wildly successful. 👌🏻