Navigating Dating Apps: What To Say On Dating Chat?

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Navigating Dating Apps What To Say On Dating Chat

It’s no secret: the dating world has drastically changed in the past decade. We no longer have regular “meet cutes” while living our daily lives. Let’s face it, most of us see people with their heads buried in their phones every day. Whether or not they’re swiping through Tinder or checking emails, our phones truly do rule our lives. 

Whatever your opinion may be on this dating trend, it seems clear that it won’t be going away any time soon. So, for those of us who are single and looking to date, it’s likely that at some point you’ll be on some sort of dating app. 

However, anxiety and stress may set in when trying to figure out what to say on a dating chat. Do you go flirty, cute, laid-back, or funny? How can you make an impression via dating chat that leads to an actual in-person encounter?

Why is figuring out what to say on dating chat so difficult? 

It was all fun and games when you were just swiping through the endless stream of unknown faces on the dating app of your choice. But then the reality of what to say to these strangers sets in. 

Your fingers stagger across the keyboard of your phone as the transpiration begins to form. You try something coy, then doubt it and delete it immediately. You think a standard “hello” will suffice, but then you doubt your words again. After what seems like hours, you just close the app without having messaged any of your matches. 

Figuring out what to say in a dating chat is difficult. You’ve never actually met in person, so you really don’t know what kind of chemistry you may have. Will you have the same sense of humor? Do your values align? These are likely things that you won’t learn about your matches from their minimal profile information. 

If you had met in a “meet cute” that we so often see in traditional romantic comedies, then you would have some sort of common connection or interaction to build upon. It’s likely that if the in-person interaction was good enough to warrant an exchange of information, then the pressure of sending the perfect texts is lightened. However, dating on apps is a whole different game. 

It feels like a lot of pressure to say the right thing in your first message. It is easy to dismiss someone you’ve never met on an app. I’m guilty of it. If I’m unimpressed by the first message that was sent, I’ll ignore it. Sometimes, I chat with someone for a while but then lose interest. 

Having a conversation that leads to a meet-up with a potential match is quite daunting. Over the past year of being on dating apps, I have only met up with one person in real life. I’ve had many dead ends and mini-exchanges via chat. 

So, how do you know what to say on a dating chat that leads to some real-life romance? Or, at the very least, a new friend or a nice in-person interaction?

The importance of the first message

The importance of the first message
The importance of the first message

First impressions are important; you’ve heard this a thousand times. It usually sets the tone for the rest of the interaction. While, of course, long-lasting relationships are defined by much more than just the first moments of interaction, first impressions are a huge factor in the dating app world. It usually determines whether or not the chat will lead to an in-person date or meet-up. 

It sets the tone 

The first message that you send someone on a dating app chat can set the scene for the rest of the relationship. People tend to be less forgiving of mistakes made when they happen from behind a screen. It’s so easy to just ignore or simply “unmatch.”

However, most people are on dating apps looking for connections. And most of them know how tricky it can be to say the perfect thing. So, try not to stress too much. You won’t always have the perfect message, but you certainly can do better than just a “hey.”

Knowing where and how to start may be hard. Do you start light or go deep? Generally, you probably don’t want to kick things off by asking someone about their outlook on the meaning of life. However, you never know; someone may certainly be into that. 

For the most part, something light, friendly, or maybe even quirky is likely to be a good first message to get the conversation rolling. 

What do you want from the interaction?

It’s important to know what you’re looking for on these dating apps. Are you hoping it will lead to a relationship? Or are you just looking for some casual fun?

What you want can help determine the type of the first message you send. For example, someone looking to just hook up probably won’t be asking you about your childhood and your deepest, darkest fears. It will likely be light and casual, and probably pretty flirty. However, if someone is looking for a relationship, they may not jump right into the sexy messages. That passion will build while getting to know each other. 

Don’t send an eggplant emoji if you’re looking for a relationship. But don’t tell someone they’re a person you could marry if you’re looking for just a hookup. These signals are confusing. 

Sparks will fly– or not

The first message sent will either spark someone’s interest or not. That’s a lot of pressure. People tend to judge more harshly on screens than in real life. So, you may have to do some trial and error in the dating app world before perfecting your messaging. 

You want to start things off right, though. You’ll need to do more than just say “hi. How are you?” That’s certain to get no response or one lackadaisical response that goes nowhere. Trust me. I’m on Bumble. I’ve done the lazy first message, and it will get you nowhere

Dating apps can be exhausting. It can often seem like an endless exchange of energy that often leads to nothing but disappointment. However, a lot of people are feeling the same way about dating on apps. That being said, we’re being a bit more understanding and hoping to have interactions that lead to in-person meetings. 

If you have a couple of tricks up your sleeve with the first message, then you’re more likely to have success with a third or fourth message, and eventually, an organic conversation will take shape. After all, that’s the dream, right?

A girl trying to find her match on a dating app
A girl trying to find her match on a dating app

6 ways to chat with someone new on a dating app

I’m saying all this about the important first message, not to psych you out but to hopefully hype you up. Now, let’s get into some actual tips for how to get the conversation flowing on a dating app. 

Comment on their profile/shared interest

This is a great way to kick off the conversation. It shows that you paid attention to their profile and that you like it. It’s even better to get specific. If you have a shared interest that’s obvious from the photos, comment on that. 

For example, if you see that you both love backpacking, you might say something like, “Hey. Looks like you’re an avid backpacker, too. That view in your second picture is amazing. Where is it?” 

This is a good opener and a great way to get the conversation rolling on something that you both enjoy. It’s likely to generate more conversation about your backpacking experiences. Who knows? Maybe it even leads to a first hiking date. 

Commenting on any picture or interest will work. But be sure to end it with a question. You’re more likely to get a response this way. 

Open-ended question

Okay, we know that asking questions is a great way to get a response. So, maybe you don’t notice a shared interest from the photos on the other person’s profile or bio. That’s ok. You can try to start the conversation with an open-ended question. 

While it may seem a little boring or generic, you could just ask how their day, week, or life is going right now. If someone is truly interested in getting to know you, then they’ll likely offer up something about themselves. 

This is also a great opportunity to see how they continue the conversation from there. Do they just talk about themselves without asking you any questions in return? Or does it spark an exchange of natural questions that creates a conversation where you get to know each other better? If it’s the latter, an in-person meeting is more likely. And if not, then at least you know that it’s not clicking now, and you can move on. 

Something funny

This is one of my personal favorites. However, it can be tricky to master as humor is extremely subjective. But if having a similar sense of humor is important to you, then this is a great way to weed out some matches that won’t lead to fun and laughter. 

A funny first message, sent to the right person, can hopefully lead to a fun date at the very least. Who doesn’t love to laugh? After all, it’s scientifically proven to set off endorphins. So, if you can get someone to laugh, they’re likely to want to continue the conversation. 

Here’s Bustle’s list that will likely get you to LOL just by reading their suggestions for a funny first message. However, if you’re funny and creative, have some fun making your list. Use your sense of humor to come up with some funny first messages to get the ball rolling. 



While some people may get awkward when receiving a compliment in person, via the app, it’s much more likely to just be met with a “thank you” and maybe even a follow-up response. After all, it’s nice to get compliments. It makes us feel seen. 

It also feels good to give them, as long as they are genuine. So whether you’re giving or receiving the compliment, you’re already winning. 

Smiles are huge for me. If I see a nice smile on someone’s dating app profile, I’m more likely to swipe right. I’ve definitely been guilty of complimenting a smile in my first message as well, and it’s always been met with a genuine thank you and then a follow-up conversation. 

Are you mesmerized by someone’s eyes? Do you love their sense of fashion? Do they have a cool piece of art featured in one of their photos? Compliment them on something you genuinely like on their profile, and you’ll likely get a response. 

Random getting-to-know-you question

What do you find interesting in a person? You can likely work that into this random getting-to-know-you question to make the most of your interaction. 

What do I mean by that? Well, are you looking for someone active in their free time? Ask what they like to do on the weekends. Is having an intellectual conversation important to you? Ask what they’re reading lately. Do you want someone with a sense of adventure? Ask them the most spontaneous thing they’ve done in the last month. 

There are endless options with this one. And if you share a common interest or set of values with the person on the receiving end of these messages, genuine sparks could fly. 

Make a plan

If you’ve ever been on any dating app, then you’re familiar with the general abyss where most of the conversations end up. Conversations rarely lead to a meet-up. That’s why it’s important to make an actual plan. 

If your first messages went well, then lock down a date as soon as you can. You may want to start by moving the chat to another platform, like a text message or WhatsApp. From there, set a time to do something together. 

I am much more likely to meet someone for the first time in a public space. Any time some guy asks me to come to his place for “dinner” or “drinks,” which are usually codes for hooking up, it’s always a “no” from me. Usually, that ends the interaction completely. 

Take the pressure off the situation by meeting up for coffee, lunch, a beach swim, skating in the park, etc. But be sure to do so relatively quickly. Otherwise, you risk never actually meeting the person. 

Don’t take it too seriously

In my dating app experience, these exchanges can often lead to disappointment. Try to just have fun with the experience. Maybe you’re looking for a long-term partner, and maybe not, but if you put too much stress and pressure on every interaction, then they will likely lead to nothing. 

Try not to take any snubs on dating apps personally. They are going to happen. It’s happened to all of us. Just be yourself, and eventually, you will click with someone. And, remember, when those dating chat sparks flow, be sure to lock it down by making a plan for a date. Happy messaging (and hopefully dating)!

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Sarah is a writer at While she enjoys writing on a variety of topics, her favorite is dating and relationships. She’s curious about dating trends and how they continuously evolve. When dating gets hard, she likes to find humor and reason in the situations that she affronts. Through a combination of personal experience and research, Sarah loves connecting with readers through her pieces on their shared dating experiences.