I know many women still harbor a lot of anxiety when it comes to making the first move. In person, I get it—saying hi first is scary face-to-face. Online, you have no excuse. With Bumble, an app where women must initiate the conversation, you don’t have a choice, but I would make a case for doing it no matter what app or online dating site you’re using.
The New York Times published an article last year revealing that women who make the first move in online dating are often rewarded. But also, research aside, why not? You have little to nothing to lose. While there’s safety in a cursory “How was your weekend?” prompt, I have a few (slightly) more creative ideas.
01. ‘[Three waving hand emojis] How’s it going, [insert name of guy here]?’
This is the line I use about 90 percent of the time on apps. So what makes this greeting stand out from your standard “What’s up?” or “Hey, how are you?” It’s all about the three waving hands. The emojis make all the difference. There’s something about the hands that signal a cheerfulness, friendliness, and enthusiasm that words alone cannot. The waving hands are cute, friendly, and as one guy put it, “pretty adorable.”
Truth be told, I wait until I’ve garnered a handful of matches and then copy/paste the message to all of them while being sure to change the name each time. That’s right, I am guilty of sending the same thing to everyone all the time. And I’m here to tell you: It works. Back in June, a few contributors and I wrote about how it really is possible to meet a nice guy on a dating app. At the time, I happened to be dating a nice guy that I met (you guessed it) on an app. And you know what line I used to introduce myself? Yes, yes you do. The relationship didn’t last, but the line—like a particularly flattering top or my favorite eyeliner—has yet to fail me.
02. The Kelly Kapowski GIF
I recently sent this GIF of Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell to about ten guys in a row. (What can I say, I’m doing the leg work for you!) The combination of nineties crush nostalgia and the flirtatious approachability of a wave make this GIF an easy intro. (Great for those of you who are shy about reaching out first.) One guy responded after only a few minutes with, “The Kapowski. Diabolical.” Two others sent back a GIF of Zack Morris. From there, the conversations were easy and engaging. Boom, connection made.
Fun fact: Tinder conducted a study last year and found that “users are 30 percent more likely to receive a response if they use a GIF.” So while you may be more of a waving bear or Lionel Richie kind of gal, don’t discount the power of a funny image to get you to your next first date.
03. The Wildcard Question, aka, ‘Have you ever been to Niagara Falls?’
This intro line might sound obscure, but hear me out. A few years ago I did go to Niagara Falls on a wacky 36-hour road trip with some girlfriends. For whatever reason, I find both the natural beauty of the falls and the quirky history of the area to be really fascinating. I get so animated when I talk about Niagara that whether or not the person is into waterfalls or Upstate New York, I can have them ready to jump in a car and go in about five minutes.
So, I decided to see if my love for The Falls could inspire a dating connection. Curious social scientist that I am, I kept track for a spell—of the sixteen guys I asked, eleven of them responded, and I went on a date with one. Not terrible odds, right?
If you’ve been to Niagara, by all means use this line right away. But if you haven’t, here’s what I suggest: Think of a funny, weird, or unique place you’ve been that could inspire some good banter. Tourist attractions, quirky local restaurants, or museums—anything that genuinely excites and interests you. Unexpected topics and specific questions are memorable, which will serve to set you apart from all the “Hey…” girls out there.
04. The ‘Dad Joke’
This was a suggestion from one of my guy friends who met his girlfriend on Bumble. (Which feels like reason enough to give the dad joke a try, right?) For the uninitiated, a dad joke is one of those “so bad it’s good” jokes that will make you laugh only because it’s so low-brow. Here are a few examples:
- What did the bartender say to the ham sandwich? Sorry, we don’t serve food here.
- Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? Great food, no atmosphere.
- Want to hear a joke about paper? Never mind, it’s tearable.
- What's the difference between a poorly dressed man on a tricycle and a well-dressed man on a bicycle? Attire.
You get the idea. The goal with a dad joke is to break the ice with a built-in humor barometer. You instantly out yourself as a silly and self-aware person, and if the guy can appreciate the “so cheesy it’s adorable” factor—you’re in.
In my experience, the dad joke works really well. Two of the three guys I tried it on this week responded right away, and the conversations were lively and fun. In fact, I’m nailing down a night to go out with one of them as we speak.
05. ‘Hey, [insert name of guy here]! Love that pic of you [insert activity here]. Where is that?’
This is perhaps the most classic and applicable line of the bunch, which is why it comes in last. Odds are, if you’ve been doing this for a while (or even a week!) you’ve tried some variation on this line. And, I’d wager you’ve had moderate success using it, right?
The guys who make the best candidates for this intro line will be easy to spot. Their photos will show a range of destinations and/or activities—chosen for the explicit purpose of inspiring conversation. Even if you’re not a fellow hiker/skier/scuba-diver/chef/dog-owner/concert-goer, he’s probably hoping you’ll be curious enough about it to ask. Guys who are looking for something real are hoping for someone to come along and notice something specific that interests them—and pursue it.
The point of each of these intros is to get away from the kind of standard, forgettable conversations that rarely ignite a spark. Making a real connection through your phone is hard enough, so the sooner you break down the wall and share a bit of your real self—the easier it will be to get to that next step and test out that connection in the real world.
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock