Life Advice



Swipe, match … now what? Crafting the perfect opening message

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

You know the feeling: You’re swiping on Bumble, Hinge or any other dating app when boom -- it’s a match! Now comes the hard part: figuring out what to say.

There’s a unique art to crafting the perfect opening message, one that will stand out from the crowd and then lead to a response. If you take anything from this article, remember this: Anything is better than a generic opener like “Hey,” “What’s up?” or “How’s your day?” These lead to banal conversations … or none at all.

Instead, think short and sweet, and always include a question. The more specific to their profile, the better. This gives the other person something to reply to, the idea being that it leads to further conversation.

So what exactly should you ask? The first place you can look for “message bait” is the person’s photos. Maybe they went on a vacation somewhere recognizable and you’ve been there too. In that case, you could say something like, “Gotta get that phone booth pic in the U.K. I actually studied abroad in London. Did you make it to the British Museum? If not, you need to add it to the list for next time.” If there’s a photo taken on a scenic mountain top or tropical beach, a good opening message could be, “Where was that photo taken? I might need to add it to my (continually growing) travel wish list.”

Bumble, Hinge and other dating apps use prompts for users to fill out, and those answers can also provide a great jumping-off point for an opening message. One popular prompt is two truths and a lie — and the person is practically inviting you to guess the lie. It doesn’t matter if you’re wrong — the point is that you’ve kicked off a discussion! I definitely recommend using this one and seeing who gets it right. Who doesn’t like a guessing game (or being right)?

One prompt I like to use for clients on Bumble is “My real-life superpower.” This gives you the chance to brag a little bit about one of your best attributes, which could be anything from empathy to dancing. It also gives the person reading your profile something concrete to relate to. I recently answered the “superpower” prompt for one of my clients like this: “Cooking... never with recipes. My meat sauce and strawberry cake are legendary, but chili has won me championships. May be open to sharing my secret…” There is a ton of message bait in just a couple of sentences here! Someone might decide to message them to ask where they’ve entered chili competitions or might be intrigued by the secret.

Other fun prompts are “If loving this is wrong, I don’t want to be right” or “I geek out on” since you can gush about one of your passions. I recently used the “geek out” prompt for a client who loves history, writing: “History in all forms—podcasts, internet rabbit holes, travel spots, or shows like 'The Crown.' Fair warning: I will nerd out after a museum visit.” Someone might be interested in messaging her to find out her favorite museums in the city, sharing their own picks, or recommending a podcast with a history element.


Of course, there are also plenty of profiles out there that don’t share a ton of useful information but you’re still interested in starting a conversation. In these cases, it’s still important to ask a question. Try these:

1. You seem like someone who likes ___. Am I right?

2. Best place for [insert favorite food or drink] in the city?

3. Early bird or night owl? Just curious.

4. Since you enjoy travel… dare I ask: window or aisle seat?

While it’s true that you have no control over whether someone will send you a message back or not, you can give yourself the best shot by putting some extra effort into your opening line. It makes you stand out from the sea of “hi” messages — and makes the person feel good — when it’s clear that you’ve read their profile and found something interesting to ask about, making them more likely to take time to respond. Get their attention first… then who knows? The heart might come next.

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