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How To Make Dating Apps Suck Less

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

In a recent online discussion group I moderated, someone asked, "Once you match with someone, how do you keep the conversation from fizzling out?"

Picture, if you will, Jeremy Renner as an IED (improvised explosive device) specialist in The Hurt Locker. He's all suited up and trying oh-so-delicately to diffuse a bomb. Which wire does he clip? What if he cuts the wrong one?? EVERYBODY IN A FIVE MILE RADIUS COULD DIE!!!!!

Writing messages is kind of like that.

There's a delicate balance required; you don't want to seem too invested nor do you wish to seem aloof. Respond too quickly and you look desperate. Take too long to answer and you could get unmatched.

That intro message sets the tone for what comes next. That's why you need to keep it simple.

First things first, though. Read their bio. If it's blank, sparsely populated or full of cliches and over-used adjectives, lower your expectations. Like, a lot.

NOTE: Because this is Bumble Dating conversation, the woman sends the first message.

Bumble dating text exchange

I'm sure the woman who wrote that intro message thought she was being sassy, but her greeting actually comes off obnoxious and abrasive. This is why, when someone complains that their dating app matches are terrible at making conversation, I want to see what they're saying before I make a judgement call.

Anyhoo, the guys responds with a half-hearted, "Hey." The fact he couldn't be bothered to write more than four or five words in his bio should have been a tip-off this guy is either dreadfully boring or not taking the app seriously. I wouldn't have swiped on him in the first place because of that bio. But she did, so this is what she gets. The writing was on the wall from the start. That's why you should pass on dating profiles like this. SIDE NOTE: The whole two different names thing should be an immediate red flag. He could have changed his name from Michael to Aaron. The app has that option.

Now, let's say their profile shows genuine effort. They list a couple of hobbies, post pictures of vacation spots, or otherwise give you a glimpse inside their world.

Greet them a say something that refers to a hobby or interest or photo from their profile. Don't ask them a question, just make an innocuous observation about their bio or photos and hit send. That observation is the springboard to further messaging You want to cut out the 2-3 banal messages people usually send that are nothing but "Hi" and "how's your day going?" Users of dating apps get bored very quickly these days. You have to jump start that message exchange with an effective first email.

"Hey there, Tim/Tina. I love that pic of your dog/try to cycle at least three times a week/tried an Improv class last year. If you want to chat drop a line back."

Simple, light, and to the point. When they respond, pay attention to whether they mirror your enthusiasm. If they respond with something brief and don't ask a question, give them one chance - ONE CHANCE - to redeem themselves. Some people suck at making small talk but are great in other areas. All you have to do is switch gears and talk about something else, something safe like, "Any big plans once quarantine is over? I'm dying to XYZ again."

This is it. This is the defining moment in your blossoming romance. How they answer will dictate what you'll do next. If they respond and don't ask you a question, bail. Don't unmatch them! Just abandon the conversation. If they're genuinely interested in getting to know you but horrible at making chit-chat, they will likely send one additional message checking to see if you're still interested. If they don't, they were never all that interested in the first place and responded because they were bored, low on options or just socially clueless.

Now, if they perk up and start to engage, give it maybe 2-3 more messages each and suggest a video-chat sometime later that day. If they agree, GREAT! If they don't, you just saved yourself a hell of a lot of aggravation and confusion.

Conversations fizzle on these apps because the apps are not meant for extended back and forths. By forcing people to message using only their phones, dating apps and online dating sites are making messaging as annoying as possible so you won't loiter. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.

Either move to video or suggest and offline meet-up if quarantine in your city has been lifted. The key is not to linger.

Good luck!

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