So, you’ve both swiped right, you’ve passed the awkwardness of the opening line, and your conversation is rolling. Congrats! There’s hardly a more exciting time with a dating app match than that initial phase where you’re getting to know each other (and, you know, stalking them on social media and fantasizing about your future plans). “Could this person be the one?” you ask yourself while digging through their photos and giggling at their quippy remarks. But keeping a dating app convo rolling takes work. Since you haven’t met them yet, you have limited information to work with in terms of conversation starters. And if you see potential, the last thing you want to do is resort to typical small talk. After all, you’re trying to get a sense of who they really are, and whether or not you’re compatible. Your run-of-the-mill questions aren’t going to achieve that (nor keep the conversation going).
Fortunately, there are lots of ways to spice up a dating app convo. The idea here is to maintain momentum in your chatting, use open-ended questions to reveal meaningful details about your match and find opportunities to flaunt your own personality. Here are just a few foolproof ways to liven up your digital exchanges.
Finding things in common is hands down one of the smartest strategies you can use for moving the conversation forward as well as igniting your match’s interest. The best way to go about this is to examine their profile. Even if they don’t explicitly list their interests or hobbies, you can probably find hints to work off in their photos. Do they always seem to be holding a glass of white wine? Feel free to ask if an oaky California chardonnay or a crisp New Zealand sauvignon blanc is their go-to. Did you notice that they have a lot of travel photos? Then you might ask about their last trip — and reveal some of the top locales on your wanderlust list, of course.
"If the person you’re chatting with has a beach shot, ask them where it was taken and if they’re a sun worshipper," says online dating expert Julie Spira. "If they’re wearing sunglasses, tell them you’d like to see their sparkling eyes, and ask what color they are. The more specific you can be, you’ll shine among the others who send a simple, “Hi, my name is Jill” message, which doesn’t require a reply. The further you can get away from making it feel like a list of job interview questions, the more exciting your chats can become."
So, what if you can’t find any signs in their profile? You can still dig for commonalities in your conversation. Asking “When we meet up, are you taking me to a brewery or a cocktail bar?” or saying “I need to know: Dog person or cat person?” can instantly reveal more about your match’s interests, giving you the opportunity to find common ground.
If your conversation has been slowing down and you’re feeling stuck, don’t be afraid to throw a relevant GIF into the mix. In fact, according to Tinder’s research on how its users interact, people who include GIFs into their messages are 30 percent more likely to receive a response. Not only that, but GIF users are also more likely to have conversations that last twice as long. Who knew a simple animated image could be so effective in sparking a digital romance?
It makes sense. GIFs can be funny, flirty, or a delightful combination of both. They keep things light, show off your personality, and can even act as a conversation starter (add in a GIF of Michael Bluth, for example, and you just might find out your match shares your obsession with Arrested Development).
You probably don’t want to rely on GIFs too much as a crutch — there should be a solid ratio of text to images throughout your chatting. However, they can prove to be a stellar jumping off point once in a while. Just make sure your GIFs are thoughtfully placed and relevant to your conversation, and odds are, you’ll instantly spice up your convo.
Don't shy away from digging into some deeper issues.
"Knowing how someone leans politically can ignite a healthy debate while helping you dig deeper to try to understand if their values and attitudes are in alignment with yours," explains Spira. "I know one woman who refused a date, just because she found out her date didn’t vote."
In other words, while you may not want to dive into religion and politics right off the bat, covering those topics will give your conversations a meaningful edge and also help you figure out if you're compatible with your match.
Here's one final tip from Spira: A compliment never hurts for keeping the banter going.
"Flattery goes a long way to warming someone up to a great convo," she says.
If you feel like you’ve covered enough ground to know you’re interested, it may simply be time to meet face to face. That way, you can take the conversation offline before it fizzles out — after all, there’s only so much you can glean from virtual interactions.
"If you don’t take the relationship from online to offline, the initial excitement of your new digital pen pal will wane, and it’s too easy to find someone else new to chat with," says Spira.
So if you sense some chemistry but are struggling to figure out the next step in your conversation, be direct. Saying “I’d love to hear that lol in person, when can we make that happen?” or “Since you’re a fan of IPAs, too, maybe we should meet at that new craft beer bar downtown?” could do the trick.
Your digital interactions with a potential date can tell you a lot about how things are going to pan out IRL. Try leveraging any of the aforementioned tactics to invigorate your conversations on dating apps, and you're bound to get one step closer to finding your future bae.
Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.