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When my girlfriends and I are sitting around sipping Sancerre and talking about our romantic lives of late, there’s one topic we come back to again and again: Those of us who are single all seem to have different approaches to how we use dating apps. Some of my friends exclusively use Bumble but fumble over how to introduce themselves. Some still use Tinder but get frustrated waiting around for a nice guy to say hello first.

I see both sides of this problem and experience them, too! Even though I write about this stuff all the time, I haven’t found any magic formula guaranteed to deliver Mr. Right from your phone directly into your open arms. The simple explanation (that isn’t really simple at all) is that everyone, and I mean everyone, is different. The opening that appeals to Greg, 29, who works at Citibank may not be the same one that piques the interest of Josh, 32, who’s in law school at Fordham University.

That said, sometimes it’s best to go to the source, so I decided to ask some real, living, breathing men about what kinds of intros piqued their interest on dating apps. My hope was that talking to men who have been on the other side of the screen would give me some kind of secret intel that we women could really put to use. I think you’ll find their thoughts both reassuring and inspiring.

Take Initiative to Move the Conversation Forward

“It was a while ago now, but what I seem to remember is that she asked me something about Marley (the dog in one of my photos),” says James about meeting his now girlfriend on Bumble. He noted that she was really engaging straight out of the gate and didn’t wait for him to drive the conversation forward, which he liked.

“Back when I was dating, I also thought it was fun and clever when a woman would open with a super-corny joke. It showed that they had a sense of humor both in life and, like, about this whole thing,” James recalls. “Honestly though, anything is better than ‘Hey!’ I just wanted to talk with someone who seemed interested in me, not just trying to tick boxes or something.”

I asked his girlfriend what she remembered about her first conversation with James, and she couldn’t pinpoint exactly what her opening line was. “I know it was probably something travel-related or about his dog because those aspects of someone’s life are really important to me,” she said. “What I do remember is that we talked like close friends very early on.”

If Cute/Corny Lines Are Not Your Thing, Don’t Sweat It

When I asked about dating app opening lines, the first thing Eric mentioned was if I could please tell the single women of the world to stop using the, “Going to Whole Foods, want me to get you anything?” line from season two of Master of None. So take note, ladies. (But honestly, I still think it’s pretty cute, so whatever.)

Unlike James, Eric actually isn’t too turned off by generic introductions. “I get a lot of ‘Hi/Hey,’ which doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I think that the pickup line part is, in many cases, still meant for the guy, even if you’re waiting to hear from a girl on Bumble. It’s just sort of a green light.”

I found this feedback to be a bit of a relief and an annoyance. I appreciated his sort of traditional, “Let the guy do the woo-ing” perspective, but wait a second—Had I been trying too hard all this time? Could a simple “Hi” have found me the love of my life years ago? I pressed him to tell me more, and eventually he conceded that while a simple greeting is fine, it’s not anything that gets his attention.

“My favorite is when it feels a bit personal,” he continued. “Either a callout from my bio or making fun of a picture of me, whatever seems most playful. I think that shows the most personality.” So yeah, if cute (OK, fine—corny) intro lines are not your thing, don’t worry. Keep it playful and personal, and you will capture his attention.

Authenticity Is the Clear Winner

So, I was right! Different guys like different things (duh!)—but it’s actually the same thing. Does that make sense? Rather than trying an array of silly jokes or a slew of funny GIFs, you can actually take the same approach to each introduction: authenticity. Compose a short but unique comment or question, tailored to each guy’s profile. You don’t have to exhaust yourself or spend tons of time trying to be clever or funny, just take a moment to be observant or complimentary. If funny comes naturally, I say go for it, but don’t stress yourself out over it.

It’s an old-school approach to new-school dating. Now, the sincere approach may not work every time (because nothing on dating apps ever does), but being authentic and thoughtful enough to mention something specific is a surefire way to attract the attention of someone who is also thoughtful. These kinds of opening lines—the ones that reference a callout in a guy’s profile or photos—show that you’re not just looking for a date but a genuine connection and possibly a relationship.

If all else fails, you can try quoting Jane Austen.

Photo Credit: Marjan Grabowski