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6 Practical Tips For Starting A Conversation On Tinder

A dating coach shares her best advice.

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As a relationship coach, people hit me up for dating advice a lot. Time and time again, one of the most common questions I get asked is: “How do I start a conversation on Tinder?” It seems deceptively simple to send a message to someone and get the ball rolling — but when you match with someone who makes your heart race, composing the first message can make even the wittiest person get all tongue-tied and twisted.

There are many things to consider when it comes to striking up a conversation with someone new. You don’t want to come across as too eager and inundate them with too much information — but on the other hand, you don’t want to be too measured and risk not cutting through the noise and standing out from the crowd. Suddenly, the first “hello” becomes high-stakes. The introduction is no longer about seeking connection, but now you’re trying to impress them and show your viability as an eligible match. However, meeting potential matches shouldn’t feel this tough.

Through my coaching practice, I’ve found that starting a conversation on Tinder isn’t necessarily about crafting the most ingenious, astute message. The vibe starts much sooner than that — it’s really about setting yourself up for success before the introduction so that the first message does exactly what it’s supposed to do: spark the initial connection and gauge compatibility for a potential IRL date.

If you’re ready to get started, here are some tips for how to start a conversation on Tinder with someone new.

Use Their Profile As A Conversation-Starter.
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Contrary to popular belief, starting a conversation on Tinder isn’t always about the first message and having the perfect introduction. In fact, the conversation could quickly fall flat if you come in with a rehearsed line right off the bat. When you’re ready to slide into someone’s DMs, try mentioning something about their profile that’s personal to them.

Just like you’re using their profile as a conversation starter, remember, they’re probably doing the same with yours! Since Tinder offers limited room to write about yourself, make every line count. Think of the app as a virtual hype page working to set you apart from the other profiles out there. So, take full advantage of it by making sure each photo and tidbit is intentional this is a chance to “hook” your potential match so they can learn more about who you are. Instead of listing broad topics like your love for traveling — which many others have probably listed, too — try mentioning one of your niche interests, like your passion for ‘80s synth music. Mentioning specifics can help others get to know you better and help you stand out among a sea of dating profiles.

Example: I saw you love going to concerts, I’m obsessed with making playlists! I’ve been listening to Kate Bush’s stuff lately but I’m always looking to discover new sounds. What music are you into these days?

Lower The Stakes.
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When you’re starting a conversation with someone on Tinder, treat it lightly and casually. After all, you’re basically strangers at this point. At the current moment, your match is just a figment of your imagination, and until you meet them in person, you won’t really know what they’re like — or if you’ll even be romantically attracted to them. So, try easing into it with genuine interest. Chances are, lowering the stakes will help you feel less stressed about the interaction. You’ll be less likely to overthink the situation, and more focused on being curious and simply having fun talking.

Let’s say you’ve been chatting with someone on Tinder for a bit. Your match has a ridiculously adorable smile and you love how passionate they are about their work. The conversation is fun and sharp, and you’re surprised about how much you have in common. Over time, you may find yourself idealizing your match and imagining the glossy version of who they could be. If you find that happening, it may be time for a gentle reality check. Remember that things don’t have to line up perfectly right away, and you can always lower the stakes and take your time getting to know someone. Keeping this in mind will help you adjust your expectations accordingly so you aren’t too invested before meeting them — and most importantly, not making them out to be something more.

Example: I’m perpetually on the search for the best Mexican food, too. This is a cheesy app question, but I have to ask it anyway. Outside of taco hunting, what do you like to do for fun?

Use The ‘Comment And A Question’ Formula
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If you’re feeling nervous to start a conversation with someone, first, visit their profile and see if there are any opportunities for a shared connection. Then, when you’re ready to send them a message, remember the winning formula for a great DM: a comment and a question.

Damona Hoffman, the host of the Dates & Mates podcast, previously told Elite Daily, “My philosophy is to send a message that is personal, yet doesn't require a huge investment of time or energy to craft it.” To do that, she recommends going into the conversation with a two-fold operation where “the comment acknowledges that you’ve read their are reacting to something specific in it, and the question is an invitation to explore the connection with you.” Wise words indeed.

For example, do and your match have the same taste in TV and movies? If so, talk about your love for foreign shows and the time you spent a whole weekend watching all three seasons of Dark. Conversations tend to work best when you show something unique about yourself while simultaneously unraveling something new about your match. The “comment and a question” approach can help things feel more dynamic and pushes the conversation past typical small talk.

Example: I loved watching WandaVision. I geeked out over how mind-bendy it was, and I appreciate watching anything with a WTF ending. What’s your favorite show to marathon-watch?

Pro tip: If the person’s profile is totally bare, when they ask you about yourself, make sure to lobby the same question back to them to ensure the conversation is leveled.

Practice Active Listening.
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Conversations are a two-way street and should feel fairly balanced. If you want to spark a connection with someone on Tinder, remember to keep the conversation natural and balanced. For example, if your match shares a little about themselves, you can share a little about yourself as well — but don’t feel pressured to spill your whole life right away if you aren’t comfortable with it. Pay attention to what the person says, ask follow-up questions, and try to show a genuine interest in what they’re saying.

The sweet spot is treating the conversation as an active act of curiosity. It’s not necessarily about determining what you can get out of the person (e.g., Can they really be my next partner? or Will they be able to measure up to my standards?). Instead, it’s about being excited to meet with someone who is also looking for connection and finding pleasure in that interaction. When you want to genuinely know someone based on pure interest — regardless of what they can do for you — the conversation feels new and exciting instead of like a job interview. (You’ll also learn more about them by conversing openly than if you were evaluating them based on a rigid checklist).

The conversation should feel like a shared, balanced investment on both sides. A helpful hint: Your text bubbles should match theirs — not too little with one-word responses and not too much where your messages vastly outnumber theirs. Try to match their energy so it feels measured, yet equal.

Example: I love that you’re into tattoos! I’d like to get one about my mother in the future and I’ve always been curious about them. What’s your favorite one you’ve gotten?

Treat Each Connection Like You Would A New Friend.
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Personally, I prefer to treat each match as a new friend with potential room for romantic attraction and I advise my clients to do the same. Dating on Tinder can be a pretty transactional experience, but keeping things relaxed can open up a realm of new possibilities for your connection.

When you treat a new match as a new connection, and not solely a romantic one, there’s less pressure and expectation to lock things in right away. Leaving a date with a new boyfriend could be great, but having a new friend you get along with is pretty fabulous, too.

This relaxed approach has surprisingly made me more successful on dating apps and even helped me meet my current partner. When we met, neither of us was looking for a relationship, but we loved spending time together. The connection just worked until we realized we wanted to commit and actively nurture the partnership more.

Now, when talking with someone new, I ask myself: Could I set them up with another person I know? Can we call out the awkwardness of first dates and engage with the moment honestly and just have fun? What can I learn about myself from the interaction? Even if there’s no magical “click” between us, asking these questions helps me avoid disappointment and see the interaction from a new perspective. Even if things don’t work out between us dating-wise, the connection still feels salvageable. It helps me remember that they’re still a person in front of me deserving of connection and kindness, regardless of whether or not they’re a romantic fit for me.

I know how tough dating apps can be, but treating connections like potential new friends can help you feel empowered and excited again. Besides, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Maybe you go on a date with someone and things don’t quite work out, but at least you put yourself out there and got some practice in, right?

Example: Your sarcasm is top-notch. Want to check out this comedy show next weekend? I think it would be totally up your alley.

Don’t Be Afraid To Show Off Your Personality.
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Embracing your unique qualities while online dating can be radical. When I worked as a matchmaker, I often told my clients that online dating wasn’t about being the most “matchable” person on the app. Instead of blending in with everyone else on the app, it’s important to showcase what makes you unique. Take the opposite approach by making your profile so tailored to your personality that you attract a hyper-curated list of matches that you’re likelier to vibe with.

Think of it this way: Would you rather be an obscure indie song with a dedicated following or a Top 40 banger that appeals to everyone, but feels generic? Be you, showcase your personality in all of its specialness, and you’ll be sure to start matching with people more authentically. It’s better to have a few exceptional matches rather than a bunch of lukewarm ones, right?

Example: I get uber-competitive during Settlers of Catan. I’m very into board games and strategy anything. We should play together sometime!

According to data from Tinder, 95% of matches are most likely to meet between two and seven days after matching. Chatting on the app beforehand can help you figure out whether the person is someone you’d actually want to meet IRL and get to know further. To do that, striking up an honest, engaging conversation on Tinder is key.

Talking with potential matches on dating apps can feel endlessly tiring, but it doesn’t have to be. Approaching Tinder with a new angle can make new conversations less of a drag and more like joyful interactions with people who are looking for connection, too. Like I mentioned before: When starting a conversation on Tinder, keep it low-stakes, fun, and light, and dating apps will feel like a breeze again.


Damona Hoffman, the host of the Dates & Mates podcast