Online dating: How to get the conversation started

Originally published on the UK Daily News, Aug 25, 2015 by Neqtr’s marketing manager.


“I just started my first online dating profile and I’m struggling with knowing how to get a conversation started with girls. I don’t want to come across as creepy or awkward, but it’s hard to know what to say online. I see you help run a dating app so I figured you might have some tips.”

Kevin S., Santa Cruz California

Hi Kevin,

You are not alone – this is such a common question! When we were developing Neqtr, we surveyed hundreds of singles about their top online dating struggles. It can be confusing because there are actually lots of advice articles about this topic, but much of it is overgeneralized or just plain bad advice.

Advice often comes in articles like: Top 10 icebreakers for online dating. But to assume that all women respond to a given series of questions is a lazy approach to dating. The real solution is simpler, but requires more of your time.

Screen your matches.

Before you even begin messaging, screen the profiles of your matches based on the type of relationship you are looking for. If you’re looking for something serious, disregard the hot party girls. I realise online dating forces you to make assumptions based on their profile, but people put things on their profiles for a reason – so pay attention.

It’s amazing how many singles make dating choices primarily based on appearance and end up disappointed when they don’t have much to offer beyond adorable couple selfies.

Bottom line is, take responsibility for the sort of people you pursue in the first place. Otherwise the remaining tips on this list won’t do you any good.

Focus on quality over quantity when it comes to messaging.

Rather than trying to find one clever icebreaker to send to 10 women, spend more time researching one profile for something meaningful to ask her about. People put things on their profile so others can get to know them, yet not everyone takes advantage of this. Women receive so many meaningless, spammy messages that we are thrilled when someone actually takes the time to ask something personal to us.

teen girl texting with smartphone

Be genuine.

This may seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people feel they need to fake interest or play a role in order to impress a potential partner. You have heard this advice a million times for a reason: be you, not a rehearsed version of you. This is dating, not a job interview. Treat it as such. If you don’t vibe with them naturally, then move on.

Comment on personality and passions, not looks.

She may be gorgeous, but starting out by complimenting her looks will not flatter her and you’ll likely be ignored. Women want to be seen beyond their physical exterior. That is, unless she posts nothing but cleavage shots – in which case, you should probably pass her up, unless it’s a hookup you’re looking for.

Find your common ground.

It’s so much easier to spark conversations over topics you are personally interested in because you’ll have so much more to contribute to the conversation.

For example, maybe she has two pugs and you have a terrier. Talk about how much you love your dogs and ask her to go on a dog walking play date! If your dogs like each other, there’s a good chance she will too.

Perhaps you’ve been to the same music festivals. Talk about the show and what albums you’re each listening to. Keep the conversation light at first – you’re testing your chemistry, not conducting a background check.

Young couple and a dog

If you have chemistry, set a date to meet.

Endless messaging is another common mistake we have seen too often. People spend too much time messaging only to realise months later that the person wasn’t who they thought, or their online chemistry didn’t carry over into the real world.

Once you get comfortable and get to know each other, don’t be afraid to schedule a time to meet up. Try to avoid dinner dates and bars – plan a date inspired by your shared interests. Infuse some fun into it. Get creative. You show the best side of yourself when you are doing what you love.

To recap: Screen profiles and find your common ground. Use that to spark conversation in a genuine way. Spend more time sending meaningful messages to a smaller group of women who share your passions and interests.

Our passion is helping people find love online through shared passions, so I’d love to hear feedback on how these tactics work for you. Good luck, Kevin!


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