Updated: August 16, 2022
PHotographed by Refinery29.
My dating app inboxes are full of dozens of conversations just like this: “Hey,” a match messages me. “Hi,” I respond. “How are you?” they say. “I’m pretty good, you?” I answer. “I’m good,” they say.
Then, the conversation ends. Maybe a few weeks later, they’ll message “hey” again. This time, I probably won’t answer. (While I could put more effort into my responses, I tend to save that for convos I’m initiating… or for people who say a little more than “hey.”)
Turning your dating app match into a real-life date isn’t impossible, but it generally requires more effort than a three-letter word. We talked to the experts to find out what you should be doing differently.
Actually fill out your bio
If your bio is blank, or contains nothing but the emoji for your zodiac sign, your matches might not be able to think of much to say besides “hey.” Even a few lines about yourself can make it much easier to get a conversation flowing. “Your bio is a space to set your intentions, so if you’re someone who likes to get to know your potential match over a drink or through an activity, make it clear upfront,” a Tinder spokesperson tells Refinery29.
They suggest, “Include some fun activities you’re interested in trying this winter or bars, restaurants you want to try — let your match choose one and you’ll be checking off a bucket list item while on a first date!”
She adds, “One thing so many people are guilty of is sending ‘hey’ as a first message. This doesn’t make anybody want to engage in a conversation with you, and actually has an 84% chance of being completely ignored.”
So, if you can’t say “hey,” what should you say? “Instead, take a look at their profile and comment on something specific that you like,” Hobley suggests. “Maybe you noticed they love hiking or going to concerts. If they like traveling, ask them about their last trip! This will help get the conversation going, and make the person interested in meeting up with you to chat more.”
Once the conversation is flowing, ask your match if they’d like to grab coffee or a drink — ideally within the next few days, not three weeks from now. “If you’re interested in meeting with someone, make plans quickly! Everyone’s busy, so don’t find excuses not to meet up,” Hobley says.
The Tinder spokesperson adds, “Don’t play by the rules and wait 24, 48 or 72 hours to ask someone out! If you’re enjoying the conversation and it’s flowing, see if your match wants to hang. Throw the rulebook out the window and take a risk — you never know where it may lead you.”
Instead of asking, “do you want to get drinks sometime?” name a time and a place. Something like, “Hey, there’s a new bar that opened up nearby that I’ve heard great things about. How about we check it out together this weekend?” is far better, says co-founder and CEO of Coffee Meets Bagel, Dawoon Kang.
“This kind of interaction will lead to a very different direction (an actual date!) than spending time with small talk in chat purgatory,” she adds. “I know that it can feel awkward to make the first move. You might be wondering, ‘Am I going to come across as too aggressive or desperate?’ I’ve been there. But the truth is, is that nothing is more cool, confident, and sexy than someone who is comfortable taking the lead.”
Don’t be afraid of a phone call
Yes, we know millennials hate talking on the phone… but sometimes it’s easier to make plans that way. If you’re struggling to find a time and day that works for your date, Kang suggests working it out with a call. “Pick up the phone and ask them out! You can set up the date in five minutes and spend your time and energy on getting ready for and enjoying the actual date,” she says.
“Plus, there’s the added benefit of actually being able to connect live and get to know the person at a deeper level before spending the time to meet up,” she adds. “This would prevent you showing up for a date and realizing within the first five seconds that the person wasn’t who you thought was going to be.”
Keep the first date casual
Hobley suggests beginning with a coffee date rather than a more time-consuming dinner date. “If time is working against you, ask them to coffee!” she says. “In fact, 85% of people on OkCupid love coffee dates and when asked, a majority of people said going for coffee is the best first date idea — more than dinner or drinks.”
So click that “edit” button, spruce up your profile, and get matching — just don’t begin with “hey.”