How To Talk To People On Dating Apps (And Also In Real Life)

Holy shit, you’ve been matched with someone on a dating app! Or maybe it’s a dating site. Maybe you’re using a site that doesn’t have the now-ubiquitous left or right swiping mechanism,  but you found a profile you liked. Maybe you’re really old-fashioned and you just see someone you like at a bar, or coffee shop, or in the park.

But let’s say you’re on Tinder, and you see this ever-familiar screen while Jeopardy music begins to play:


Don’t be like me and let this happen to you, kids!

You could do one of two things. One, you could keep staring at the time go up as you and your match play a fun game of romantic chicken, or two, you could talk to them.

Okay, but how do I talk to them? What do I say?

Good news: there’s a really super simple formula, and it goes like this: “Hi! [Friendly statement about whatever stands out to you about this person that has nothing to do with their physical appearance.]” As a bonus, you can even add a related question or tell them why it stands out to you.

That’s it?

That’s it.

How the heck is it that simple?

Because there are over 6 billion people in the world and all any of them wants,  romantically speaking,  is to find someone who thinks they’re  cooler than everyone else.

Also, because establishing common ground is the oldest and most successful interpersonal technique in the book.

So what kind of things should I mention?

Anything that stood out to you and isn’t shallow. Why did you want to talk to them in the first place? Do they have a cute pet? A cute kid? Like the same band/movie/TV show/sport/team/game/whatever as you? Do you share similar politics? Have you traveled to similar places? Did they travel somewhere you wish you’d traveled? Does their job sound cool? Do you have the same alma mater? Are they wearing a sweet-ass Hawaiian shirt?

You can mention clothes?

Tricky to go with that, but yes, since clothes are things people choose to put on their bodies. It’s something I’d avoid unless your match is wearing a costume or really unusual piece of clothing.

What if I’m not looking for a relationship and just looking to hook up?

This still works. Think of it as conversational foreplay. You’re just opening the talking, it doesn’t have to stay there.  It’s the same reason you don’t walk across a room to someone who’s been checking you out and immediately drop trou. You should, in all social situations, maintain a polite level of chill.

Will they message me back?

Hah, just kidding. It rarely works.

Wait, what?

No one messages back. Ever. I’ve tried every type of message with hundreds of guys over many years on many different sites and apps. I’ve gone with in-depth essays for some, I’ve just said “hi” to others. No matter what I do, even if it’s an app where a guy had to like me in order for me to ever message him, or even if a guy super-liked me and I message, sometimes he just never responds.

Don’t take a lack of response personally. People lose their phones, delete apps, delete e-mails, get bored, and sometimes message back months later. (This has happened to me.) Before getting upset, play a fun game of Would You Rather with yourself. Would you rather:

a) No response
b) A conversation where no matter what you said, the person responded with “lol”, “no”, or “ya”?

Because if someone can’t respond to a basic “hey, I see you like Beyoncé! I, too like Beyoncé, what’s your favorite song of hers?”, choice b is the peak level of conversation you were ever going to achieve with them.

Also their favorite song should be Countdown, because Countdown is the shit.

Why is dating literally the worst thing humanity has ever created?


My name isn’t Leslie.

Doesn’t make it less true.


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