How NOT to Start an Online Dating Conversation and What to Say Instead

starting a conversationWhether you’re a guy or a woman, you have surely started an online conversation with someone you’ve matched with or someone whose profile you like. After all, it’s a necessary step to increase your chances of happily ever after.
The question is, whether you’re doing it right. There’s a number of things which are quite commonly said online but are, in fact, terrible conversation starters. Here they are:

1. Hi!

I may surprise you, but “Hi!” (or “Hello!” or any other greeting) isn’t a great conversation starter. It’s lazy and you’ll most probably only get either a “hi” or nothing back.

2. How are you?

Used with or without “Hi” a “How are you?” question is another thing to say that doesn’t really add any value on its own.

3. Asking a question that was answered on the profile

Some people polish their profiles until they shine, others say just a few words about themselves. While a sloppy profile may be a red flag in terms of whether it even makes sense to talk to a certain person, asking a question an answer to which you can find on someone’s profile is simply rude.
You’re showing you have not enough interest in the person you’re talking to, to even read the few lines about them, they considered crucial as their life’s synopsis. Why even bother talking to them at all?

4. Hey! U cute. 

This one is more for guys than women (I think, but correct me if I’m wrong!). Now, I may be a bit biased here because I love words and languages but from complaints I’ve heard from my  single girlfriends I gather that many find this kind of a conversation starter annoying.
Firstly, a sentence requires a verb so if you insist on using abbreviations at least say “Ur cute”. Secondly, you may find that saying a full sentence “You’re cute” instead is actually not that much more of an effort and yet, it will make a better impression on your prospective date. Last but not least, she knows she’s cute and hears it all the time. Say something else, like about her personality and shit? Otherwise you sound like this guy from the best rap song ever:

5.  Hey! What u up to?

For tips on how to make sentences please refer to point 4. This question is not very enticing to your future date because you’re giving them no reason to want to answer it. Perhaps it strikes you as weird that people don’t always feel like explaining to absolute strangers what they’re doing but, well, they don’t.
It’s yet another lazy conversation starter that makes a person feel not special at all and not inspired to talk to you.

I’m not writing this post to just criticise, though. For some people these conversation starters may be lazy moves, but I’m sure others simply don’t know what to say. You should remember that you’re one of many available options, so if you want to be able to spark interest in someone whose profile you like, you need to do a bit better than the bare minimum.
What works instead?

  • Showing interest in the person you’re talking to

This means reading their profile. You may think it doesn’t matter during an initial conversation but the respect you show to the person you’re talking to suggests a lot about the way you treat people. Whether you’re inexperienced or simply unwilling to put any effort into the initial conversation, it looks all the same to the person on the other side because they don’t know you.
The easiest thing to do to strike up a conversation that may win you a date is by saying something related to the profile or something you’ve picked up from their pictures that shows that you have something in common.
Something as simple as “I see you like running. Me too! Have you ever run a marathon?” will work well. Two things to remember: don’t share a long story in your first message (tldr) and don’t talk only about yourself.

That’s it! Here’s the secret of a good conversation starter: it needs to be personal, show that you have some interest in that person and point out something you have in common. No one likes to feel like they’re just one of the million people you’ve approached, even if it’s true.
The follow-up conversation will prove whether you have enough of a spark to go on a date and from there… statistically nothing will happen! You still need to keep trying and eventually, the luck will strike.

Are you guilty of using any of these conversation starters, Dear Rinser? What’s your best line ever? Share your thoughts with me. 




  1. So your next post should be things TO say, haha. I say the first two a lot because a lot of women’s profiles don’t have enough information to start a conversation with. Especially the ones that are just pictures. I had a lot more luck with online dating when I was on a mega dose of Paxil and was hyper-aggressive. I don’t know how to be that way without it, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did say what to say in the last paragraph 😛 I know this method to be quite successful. Why do you even contact these women then? To me if someone has very little on their profile to “sell” themselves it was always a turn off. I don’t think I’ve ever swiped a person right if they just had their picture up with no description.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know, I just meant some good one liners. 😉 Kidding though. I won’t lie, my attraction for women is purely physical at first, that’s why I contact those women.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That isn’t the best approach, if you’re looking for a partner you would be compatible with, though? Also a woman who just puts her photo up seems quite vain to me – kind of I’m so hot you’ll talk to me, anyway. Also, a bit silly. As a woman you get a lot of “traffic” so it’s actually good to put something real about you out there to cut out people you’ll definitely not be a good match with. Otherwise you just have a million of “hi” messages from random guys. Receiving and replying to them must feel like having a conversation with every guy who catcalls you 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. So the other day, I was literally rejecting a guy a minute for some the things you listed. I think why it irritates me so much is because I’ve been on/off online dating for a while and so I feel by this stage I’ve fine-tuned my profile quite nicely and it covers all the bases. And given away enough about my interests, hobbies, background and personality for a person to start up a vaguely enticing question. That first interaction is important…you’ve got to grab a persons attention so having them roll their eyes because you’ve been basic isn’t the best way to kick things off. There are also people out there who cut to the chase and its a bit revolting – e.g. one guy asked me if I live with my mum – it was like the second question he asked me after hi! how are you?

    So, I tried to be less of a hater because they way I was rejecting them I felt like perhaps I was the problem. So I went back in my convos to find the last dude I had a good vibe with to see how he started the conversation. All he said was ‘ Well, you certainly know how to smile. I’m intrigued about this ‘sex’ blog of yours?’. Perhaps a little cheesy but its a fairly safe compliment (not saying you have a nice ass) and shows he read my profile. The conversation just took off from there.

    Todays tinder interactions also raised something important. I think if a the person on the other end replies with one word answers or generally seems short, I think its a sign to cut your losses and move on. I have guys that I haven’t spoken to for weeks, now messaging to ask how my day is? Oh, sorry I totally forgot about you existence.

    Despite, Bumble’s noble attempt to empower women, men still generally make that first move – at least on most other platforms. I’m also curious to find out what they think of us ladies in general. Perhaps, to them we are just as dull? Maybe we could have better profiles? I know one guy told me that he most women he matched with said they’d give him their digits if he’d buy them airtime. LOL. Tough times. But I’m sure it does work both ways, and there are probably things we could do better too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, I guess it’s about a good conversation starter and where the conversation takes you. If it takes you nowhere just forget about it.
      I don’t think people get that, though. I remember one of my most traumatising experiences with a guy with whom a conversation started to fizzle out soon after we moved to Whatsapp. He was just asking a lot of boring questions and sending too many messages. I was not engaging and just replying yes and no and he commented on it. I told him that the convo isn’t flowing and I think maybe let’s stop chatting. He got SO offended. He called me a fussy cunt who cuts people off, if they don’t fully entertain her and then quoted some made up stats of men to women in Cape Town and said I should keep them in mind and realize I’m not the one with a choice there 😮

      Yeah, would be nice to read a male blog about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that boring people cross genders pretty evenly. I’ve said in the past on my own blog that I actually have better luck with women when I don’t fill my profile out at all. It’s like knowing something about me is a turn off (which is mildly saddening of course). With a profile like you’re describing I’d definitely come up with something better than “hi, how are you!” and use some of your interests to strike up something. A lot of women don’t provide anything interesting though. “I love God, my dogs, and family” doesn’t give a guy a whole lot to work with, lol.

    And you’re right on with the one-word responses. I usually just stop talking to the person after a few of those. I’ve had a couple of women tell me that that’s just how they text and they actually are interested. Well, it doesn’t bode well for chemistry!

    That said, it’s a woman’s game and I usually match with one attractive woman a month who almost immediately unmatches me (so they were probably just swiping right on everything they saw). I’ve decided to move on and just wait for something to happen in my personal life. If it doesn’t, well, it’s not my loss. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Funnily enough, just as I was starting to think that the art of conversation was lost I had a couple of interesting encounters. First, I was at the mechanic waiting for some work to get done on my car. I was busy minding my own business and reading the latest Malcolm Gladwell book ‘Talking to Strangers’ when the chick next to me start a conversation with ‘Oh cool! You have the new book but how about talking to a real life stranger!’ LOL. Anyway, we end up chatting about men, dating and life and swapped numbers by the end of it. Actually, made me realise that even beyond the world of internet dating people rarely strike up a conversation.

    Next I was out with some friends at a food market, when some random guy came and asked me what my time had been at the Park Run earlier than morning. Apparently, he had seen me running. He was probably young enough to be my child so there weren’t any romantic intentions my side….but what a good way to start a conversation.

    So, clearly there are people in the world that are capable of conversing!

    I’ve decided to move on and just wait for something to happen in my personal life. If it doesn’t, well, it’s not my loss. 🙂 — I must say I’ve heard this attitude from many people but I find it doesn’t get us very far, especially if having a functioning romantic relationship is something you want in life. If you are feeling a little jaded as it seems you are then I’d definitely take a break but don’t expect your next girlfriend to fall from the sky while you are watching Netflix. You should at least be out and about in social situations where you could potentially meet someone.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hmmm never got a notification that you replied! Thanks, WordPress. It did hit me this morning when I said hi to someone at the gym that YOU CAN JUST TALK TO PEOPLE. Crazy! Like you can walk by a total stranger and say “Hi, how are you?” and some of them will even answer. Not a lot of them, at least in America, but some. Depends on the context too, I’m sure. People who work in the same office building are more likely to say “hi” than someone waiting for a bus.

    I wasn’t trying to say I expected my next relationship to come from nowhere, just if I continue improving my life like I have been, I’m going to meet someone eventually. I think I become more attractive by the day simply because I am actually living a life now.


  6. I can’t say Hi how are you ???? Oh my …LOL actually it is the line I used to talk to my wife Hi I see you live here in town,do you like to go to…. It worked better than saying hey baby nice pic let’s hang out…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, but you said more than just “Hi! How are you?” 😉 You said you’ve noticed something about her = living in town 🙂


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