The Ultimate Guide To Communicating On Dating Apps
How to talk to people and get dates on the apps: everything you need to know
Ahh, dating apps. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t delete ‘em all forever and throw your phone against the wall.
Dating apps present unlimited opportunities to meet people and connect, but not without a cost. Inherent in the use of dating apps are new challenges that people never had to contend with before – not the least of which are how to keep someone’s attention virtually and present yourself in the best possible light in the online world.
The quality of your profile is important of course, but keeping someone’s attention and presenting yourself well all comes down to how effectively or poorly you communicate on the apps. People will come for your profile, but they’ll stay for what you have to say.
To that end, in this article we are going to spell out everything you need to know about how to communicate with people successfully on dating apps.
We define “successful communication on a dating app” as meeting any (but not necessarily all) of the following criteria:
- You are sharing interesting things that both show your interest and keep the other person engaged
- The conversation is flowing smoothly and consistently
- You are able to exchange phone numbers and/or plan a date
But before we tell you how to meet the above criteria, first we need to tell you what not to do. You could be the best communicator in the world, but if you’re committing any of the following grave errors, you might be shooting yourself in the foot.
Below are the Seven Deadly Sins of Online Dating, and they should all be conscientiously avoided:
- Cheesy compliments. As a general rule, people hate receiving overused compliments. Don’t comment on someone’s body or looks; they hear that all the time. Don’t be overly effusive in your praise; you barely know them. People can smell a disingenuous compliment from a mile away, and they can’t stand when someone is being fake. Tip: Compliments go a long way when they are authentic and unique. Find something interesting you actually appreciate the person you’re talking to, and compliment them genuinely.
- Boring questions. How’s it going? How was your weekend? What’s up? Come on y’all, we can all do better than this. More often than not, we don’t ask uninteresting questions because we are uninterested in the other person; we ask uninteresting questions because we are being lazy. Tip: Start by asking detailed questions about the other person’s life, daily activities, work, hobbies, family, or goals. People love to talk about themselves, and everyone has something interesting to say. We just have to give them the opportunity.
- Boring responses. What is worse than a boring question? A boring (and short) response. Doing good how bout you? Thanks you too! Oh that’s cool. Really? Could you make yourself seem any less interested? Nobody cares that you are “bad at texting” or “never check your phone,” so that excuse won’t work. Tip: Online dating takes effort! There is no way around it. If you want someone to spend their time on you, you’ve got to show them that you’re willing to put in more than the bare minimum with your responses.
- Taking forever to respond. This is one I hear about from my personal Coaching clients every single day. Why do they always take 5 hours to reply? How hard is it to send a text? Nobody is that busy. And my clients who lament the phenomenon are completely right. Again, nobody cares that you are “bad at texting” or “never check your phone.” We understand, some people get busy and forget to respond; some people get easily overwhelmed and want to wait a while before responding so they can respond thoughtfully. Thankfully, Keys is right at your fingertips and we’ve already done the thinking for you. Tip: As soon as you see a message, grab a line from Keys and fire off a response so that you don’t have to remember to do it later. If you are working or won’t be able to reply for a long time, just tell the person “hey, I’ll be busy for the next several hours but will message you after.” Easy!
- Love-bombing. For those of you who are unaware, love-bombing is the process of inundating a person with affection, affection, words of affirmation, and overtly generous gestures right off the bat. Sometimes it is well-intentioned; we get so excited about them that we just can’t stop telling them how much we like them. But sometimes it is not so innocuous, and can in fact be manipulative. When you love-bomb someone, yuo are essentially sending them the message that things are way farther along than they actually are and your feelings are way deeper than they actually are. You might think that people can recognize love bombing when it is disingenuous, but you’d be surprised. As someone who has been both the bomber and the bombee, I can tell you that it is never an attractive thing to do and it will only cause damage in the long run. Tip: take it slow. If they’re the right person for you, you’ll have plenty of opportunities over time to show them how much you care about them. There is no reason to overwhelm someone in the very beginning.
- Untimely sexual comments. At Keys, we are fans of respectful flirtation and joking around, even if sometimes it pushes the boundaries. However, we do not encourage unsolicited aggressive sexual comments or any type of sexting (except in cases where it is explicitly asked for and consent has been expressly provided). We hear constantly what a turn-off it is for most people. There is a time and place for overt sexual flirtation, but that time and place is NOT in the beginning of getting to know someone. Tip: bottom line, don’t do it until/unless you know it is appropriate.
- Mind games. As our CEO Taylor likes to say, “It’s 2022, the game is dead!!” We’re all adults and we all want the same things, so there is no reason we should be messing with each other psychologically. Examples of games that nobody should be playing: taking forever to respond, being hot and cold, giving backhanded compliments, playing hard to get, leading someone on, etcetera. Tip: Even if it appears the other person is playing games with you, rise above it. Be honest, be authentic, and state your intentions clearly. If they can’t get on the same page, move on.
On dating apps? You need Keys.
With that out of the way, let’s get into the best practices for strong communication on the apps. The following principles are not ranked in any order of importance. They are all crucial and should all be practiced.
- Starting the conversation: How to hook ‘em and reel ‘em in
Starting a conversation on a dating app is truly an art. It is a balance between distinguishing yourself from others without trying too hard; being funny without being cheesy; making a statement without being aggressive.
Luckily for you, Keys has hand-written every possible opener to suit every possible occasion – and they’re good. We’ve spent thousands of hours curating engaging, funny, and interesting opening phrases & lines so that you don’t have to. Not to mention, if you’ve already scoured our hundreds of lines and phrases and still need something else, our incredible AI feature will generate brand new lines for you on-command in real time. With Keys, there is no reason why your opening shouldn’t be a slam dunk.
The very beginning of the conversation is where you either hook the person and reel them in, or lose them forever – so rely on us, don’t rely on yourself. You’ve pretty much got one shot, but we’ve got your back.
Crucial tips for beginning the conversation:
- Use their photos to your advantage. It is always a great idea to say something interesting about one of the photos a person has on their profile. Try to separate yourself by making a comment or asking a question that 1000 other people haven’t already asked. For example, if they post a nice photo of themselves traveling, “where was that photo taken?” is a stale and boring question. Instead, try “how does this place stack up against the best places you’ve ever traveled to?” or “You look pretty happy in this photo, so I’m assuming your luggage wasn’t lost at the airport. I do not recommend it.” As mentioned earlier, avoid cheesy compliments and sexual comments about their photos.
- Humor always works. Say something light and funny in the beginning; you’ll get to all the serious stuff later. If you can make someone laugh, you’ve won a chance at keeping the conversation going. My personal-favorite funny opening lines are in Openers > Dog, Travel, and Seasonal.
- State your intention sooner rather than later. Feel free to ask “So what brings you to the dating apps?” or “I hope you don’t mind my asking, what are you looking for here?” And of course, respond by telling them your intentions. Whether you’re looking for a random hookup, marriage & kids, or anything in between, tell them and be honest. You wouldn’t want someone to mislead you and waste your time, so don’t do that to them. Furthermore, there is no point in keeping a conversation going for 3 days, exchanging information, and going on a few dates, only to find out that you are on completely different pages and want completely different things.
- Maintaining the conversation: How to keep their attention
The middle-stage of the conversation is perhaps the hardest. It is the no-man’s-land between the initial connection and moving things forward, which is often exactly where the conversation dies. The difficult thing here is that people usually want to spend a little time conversing with you and learning about you before they agree to go out with you, but it is difficult to discern exactly how much time that should take. For some, it is a few hours; for others, it is a few days. It is your job to keep the momentum going, but read the situation and know when to pivot. Nobody signs up for a dating app in order to find a penpal.
Crucial tips for keeping their attention:
- Be fascinated and fascinating. Being fascinated means that you show you are interested in getting to know the person – you ask questions about their lives, who they are, how they like to spend their time, and so forth. Being fascinating means that you share interesting information about yourself, your life, who you are, how you enjoy spending your time, and so forth. People are interested in people who are interested in them, but people are also interested in people who are interesting. Be sure to use the Banter category in Keys to ignite substantive conversations.
- Avoid lulls. It is acceptable to disappear from the app if you have only exchanged 2-3 brief messages with a person, but you don’t want to drop off the face of the earth mid-conversation. We want consistent communication, not peaks and valleys. Mid-convo lulls are an awkward turn-off to anyone who has started to engage in a fairly regular dialogue with you, so do your best to stay on top of it. (This does not mean you should go back and forth with them on the app for two weeks, by the way. As we’ll explain below, it is important to seize the opportunity to move the conversation off the app at the right time).
- If they stop responding: Use one of our excellent lines from Connect > Rekindle to restart the conversation. If they still don’t respond, and if you are really into them, try one of our lines from Disconnect > Ghosted. If they still don’t respond after that, drop it. Do not reach out again. We’re just trying to get a date here, not cyber-stalk someone.
- Closing the conversation: How to move things to the next stage
You’ve successfully opened and carried the conversation – now it is time to go in for the win! Don’t pace yourself perfectly throughout the race and then decide to give up and walk for the last quarter mile.
It is absolutely critical that you move the conversation off the app quickly. Do not delay. Assuming the conversation has been flowing fairly consistently, you should never continue a conversation on the app for longer than three days; ideally, you “close the deal” and get a phone number within the first day or two. If it’s not progressing, it is dying.
Crucial tips for closing the conversation:
- Don’t ask a question; advance a suggestion. Instead of asking for a number, suggest that you want their number. Instead of asking for a date, suggest you two meet up. Be straightforward and direct, stating your intention with confidence. “Can I please take you out on a date?” is passive and tentative, whereas “I’d love to get your number and take you out sometime” is confident and secure. You’d be surprised how much this little tweak works. Some good options to play with: “I’ve enjoyed chatting with you tonight, let me get your number so I can call you tomorrow.” / “Let’s definitely continue this conversation over drinks next week. What’s your schedule like?” / “You seem great, before you go I need your number!”
- Again, humor always works! If you’re looking for a quirky and funny way to get their number – remember, humor always works – go to Keys > Connect > Number. We also have slam-dunk lines for Pre-1st-Date, 1st Date, 2nd Date, and Plans. Like I said earlier, we’ve done all the work for you!
- Respect their reaction. This may seem self-explanatory but it is an important caveat that bears repeating. When asking someone out, respect their reaction and respect their right to change their mind. They might say no to your offer/suggestion. They might say yes to your offer/suggestion and then decide later they don’t want to go out with you. They might go out with you and then decide they aren’t interested in you. In any of those scenarios, accept it and don’t push. You shot your shot and hopefully tried your best – that is all that matters and that is as far as it needs to go. The reason this is so important is that you never know what the future holds with this person – or with one of their friends. You don’t want to be remembered as that pushy person who left a bad taste in their mouth. Not to mention, pushing back once someone has declined your offer smells of desperation and lack of respect.
- Once you have their number, act fast. Do not disappear. Just because you got a number or they agreed to a date does not mean you have it in the bag. You don’t want to move the conversation off the app and into calling/texting only to drop off as soon as you have momentum. One of the complaints I hear most often: “He keeps disappearing and then reappearing – I don’t have time for that!” Start chatting on the app, get a number, call/text, schedule a date. That entire process should take no longer than one week, assuming both parties are interested and responding fairly consistently.
- If you tend to get ahead of yourself, keep your cool. Just because you got a number or they agreed to a date does not mean you are riding off into the sunset with them tomorrow. This is one I struggled with personally for many years. I’d take a girl I like out to dinner, and while she was trying to decide which sushi roll to order, I was naming our future children in my head. Remember that the purpose of the early stages of chatting and dating is merely to put your best foot forward, learn about someone, and assess whether or not you are a good match for each other. Nothing more, nothing less!
So there you have it folks: the essential guide for how to hold a successful conversation, start to finish, on a dating app and beyond. Don’t forget to keep Keys in your back pocket whenever you need something funny, cute, flirty, interesting, or thought-provoking to say – while we know how creative and clever you are, I promise you that we have spent more time thinking about this than you have!
Furthermore, don’t forget that you always have the option to reach out to us directly for advice when you’re in a tough spot – by navigating to Keys > Text A Coach. We value your feedback and are always here to help. Good luck out there!!!
Sending good vibes,
Kevin Nahai & The Keys Team