How Much Does a Polar Bear Weigh? Enough to Break the Ice!

A guy writing an online dating first message.

It’s not easy to approach someone you don’t know very well, even if you’re just writing a message online. You’re staring at that blank message box, you’re not sure what to say, and (more than anything) you don’t know now where to start.

Well, until now.

If you’re stuck looking for a way to begin a conversation, start with these tips! We’ve looked into the data provided by social science and real online daters to come up with a few ways to help you successfully break the ice and get responses to your online dating messages.  

Don’t Use a Line
Lots of people think pickup lines are funny. And ya, whip out a good one and you may even get a few laughs from someone. The thing is, pickup lines don’t actually help you start talking. According to a study conducted by University of Alaska psychologist Chris L. Kleinke, most daters prefer opening lines that are innocuous or direct, over those characterized as cute or flippant. That means you’re more likely to be successful with something generic (How do you like living in Kansas City?) or something upfront (I really like you, want to go out sometime?) than you are with something silly (Do you like my shirt, because it’s made out of boyfriend material.

Go Straight for the Date
Believe it or not, a lot of online daters who propose a date idea right way get good results. After analyzing over 3 million conversations between online daters in the U.S., the online dating site Zoosk found that messages that included words like beach, park, or film got 39%, or sometimes even as much as 91%, more responses. If you’ve got a good date idea hidden away or if there’s a movie you’d like to see, it’s worth bringing it up in that first message.

For Women, More Is More
It may be tempting to say something short and sweet. After all, a lot of online dating is a numbers game and you don’t always have time to write a long, heartfelt message to every person who looks interesting. But it just might be worth your time to make your messages at least a little bit longer. According to the same data from Zoosk, women respond to messages that are longer than 140 characters 40% more than those that were shorter. That’s a pretty big lift for just a few more words.

It’s All In the Details
So you already know that innocuous opening lines do better than flippant ones, but if you really want to get a response start getting specific. Zoosk’s data also showed that messages with generic compliments that included words like sexy, cute, beautiful, or gorgeous actually made responses go down. However, even adding just a little bit about what makes that person beautiful and unique made responses go up. Words like eyes, tattoo, or glasses results in as much as 30% more responses.

Next time you’re looking at that message box, let these four simple tips guide your thoughts—Don’t use a line, write more than a tweet, talk about what makes that person unique, and propose a date idea right away.  You may be surprised at how many responses you get. 

Megan Murray

Editor-in-Chief of The Date Mix

Megan Murray is the Editor-in-Chief of The Date Mix and works at the online dating site and app Zoosk, that has over 40 million members worldwide. She splits her time between writing for The Date Mix and working on the Zoosk product, which gives her behind-the-scenes knowledge about the world of online dating.

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