Updated: Aug 26
Dating apps cop a lot of shit and frankly i’m not shocked. They’re often slapped with the label of responsibility for cultivating a transactional hook up culture. Usage comes with the accompanying adjectives: boring, disingenuous and surface-level. Yawn. No wonder we’ve become a bunch of apathetic cynics. But could this be another case of the chicken and the egg? Dating apps themselves haven’t done anything wrong. In reality, dating apps are clever technology driven platforms produced to connect people. It’s the humans doing the swiping and pressing the relevant buttons to drive them. Common gripes with dating apps worth acknowledging are that it’s difficult to chemistry match via technology (True). We have a limited scope of connection, particularly in seeing beyond looks (True). This is further complicated because we can’t gauge energy and observe behaviour via apps. (Also true) It’s here that the surface driven interactions seem to do us a disservice, not because of what we’re tricked into but because of what we might miss. I’m of the opinion that you’re less likely to be fooled by someone’s personality on a dating app than you are likely to miss out on a connection with them because the medium of communication doesn’t do their bubbliness/humour/intelligence/wit justice. Believe it or not approaching someone on a dating app isn’t overly dissimilar to approaching someone in a bar, supermarket, coffee shop or on your commute. You’ve never interacted with them before and you’re making an initial assessment about them based on a limited amount of observation. If anything you could be privy to MORE info on a dating app. Here’s my top tips for starting conversations on dating apps. They’re also applicable for approaching anyone in a bar/cafe. And yes, before you ask I have tried everything written below.
The best thing you can ever do for any new conversation or connection regardless of whether you apply a romantic lens or not is to say something relevant. Dating apps give you photos and small amounts of text as insight into another human on purpose. These insights allow you to gauge whether or not you are drawn to this person, and they give you a head start in communicating with them effectively. It’s fairly obtuse not to take this shortcut and use it to your advantage. Your opening comment should hinge (haha) on one of the photos or comments that the profile highlights. Do their interests include cooking? Ask what their favourite dish is to prepare or what they would eat for their last meal on earth? 2. Ask a question The easiest way to engage anyone is to ask a question. It’s even better if you can ask a relevant question but if that’s a stretch then just get creative. Unique questions are more likely to ignite conversation and spark attention, particularly if they actually make you think. Some of my favourite ones are: “Would you rather be a dolphin or shark for the rest of your life?” “What 3 things would you take with you to live on a desert island?” 3. Cute/Charming or Nice If you can’t be either of the above (sometimes you don’t have enough information or insight) or you’re simply not feeling particularly creative, then just be cute, charming or nice. There’s also absolutely nothing wrong with giving a compliment “Hey Will, cute smile!” or simply being nice “Hey Will, Happy Monday!” 4. Shoot to kill The most important piece of advice I can share for approaching someone (either on a dating app or IRL) is this: SHOOT TO KILL. Just do it. Yolo. Go for gold. This might seem counterintuitive to a lot of the rules that you know/see/read about dating that are based on subtlety. By no means am I encouraging you to be abrasive, brazen or abrupt but considering the odds it’s likely that you won’t ever cross paths (or profiles) with this human again. If you are interested, then make a move. If nothing eventuates, or they show no interest back you’ve lost nothing. Do it.