If you’re looking for a relationship online, congratulations! You are one of roughly 48.6 million Americans using a dating app or site today, which means the possibilities are endless. Out of those 48.6 million people, roughly half of them have asked me for advice on how to make these apps work for them, instead of the other way around. Judging by the amount of blank bios I’ve encountered on men’s profiles, a lot of y’all don’t know what to write.

Recently, I got an email from a reader asking a really simple question: What are the best ways for guys to start a conversation on a dating app? The answer is there is no one pickup line that will work every time. If that magical pickup line existed, every guy would use it. That said, I have received my fair share of first messages from men. Here are some examples of what not to do.

Of course, if you’re looking for a one-night stand, you can stop reading right now. You won’t get anything out of this article. Because if a woman is looking for the same thing—a simple hookup—you can legitimately just open with “Hi.” If she thinks you’re attractive, she’ll probably answer your message. Now, if you’re trying to date and give finding a relationship the ole college try, read on for how to better position yourself online and make your first impression really stand out.


USE MORE THAN 10 WORDS
I don’t think men realize how many messages we get in our inbox on a daily basis that are simply “Hey,” “What’s up” and “How’s your day going?” We will delete these. You’re putting in zero effort, so will we, too. Right now you may be thinking to yourself, “But I send these one-word messages because I don’t know what to say, Dana!” I gotchu, bb. Keep reading.

DON’T START BY COMPLIMENTING HER APPEARANCE
I know you’re trying to be nice, but almost every guy assumes we love receiving these messages, so we get a lot of them. If you’re trying to stand out amongst the competition, this isn’t the way to go. Also, because we live in a society that values a woman’s appearance above her other qualities, when a woman receives “You’re sexy” as a first message, what she tends to read is “I only care about your body.”

INSTEAD, COMPLIMENT HER ACCOMPLISHMENTS
“You’re a surgeon? That’s awesome. I have a few friends in med school and know that is NO joke.” “Wow, you’ve been published? How cool—what was your piece about?” “You have four brothers? You must have the patience of a saint.” Also note: Women will more likely to respond to questions than statements.

PROVE THAT YOU’VE READ HER PROFILE
I cannot stress this enough. When I’ve been on apps, the more successful men have asked me about my job (what I like about being an editor, what I write about for magazines), told me that they also don’t drink and that a joke in my profile made them laugh. Showing someone that you’ve taken the time to learn more about them before messaging shows that you care. It makes a gal feel special—and respected.

YOU CAN ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT HER PICTURES
As long as the questions are respectful. One of my favorite profile pictures shows me wearing these amazing plush T-rex slippers, so I’ve gotten “Where did you get those?”-esque messages a lot. I also have a pic of me doing aerial yoga, so people will ask what yoga studio I go to. If she has a picture of her traveling, ask what she thought of that place.

RECOGNIZE THAT SENDING THE FIRST MESSAGE IS ALWAYS AWKWARD
Have a sense of humor. I once received a message from someone that showed he didn’t take himself too seriously: “Hey, I really liked your profile, so I thought I’d go for the awkward first message. Are you originally from NYC?” Simple, to the point and effective. It led to a first date.

ASK AN ORIGINAL QUESTION (THAT ISN’T ABOUT COWS)
A few examples of first messages I’ve sent that were effective: “Your username cracked me up. Do people really hate on you for being from Jersey?” * *“How long have you been working at SNL? That’s awesome.” * To a dermatologist: *“Be honest. Have you ever checked someone for moles while hooking up with them?”

If a first message is sent and the woman doesn’t respond, you might be tempted to send another message. But don’t. I can’t tell you how many women I know who have received a message and, having not had time to answer, get inundated with a bunch more from the same person. Some turn passive aggressive and end up messaging things like ‘Uhhhh…hello?“ and "So you’re just going to ignore me?” If a girl doesn’t answer you right away, it means:

  1. She’s not interested, even if you matched. Having matched on a dating site does not mean she owes you a response.
  2. She’s busy.

If it’s number one, let it go. Seriously. Dating is full of rejection and if you can’t handle rejection, you shouldn’t be dating. If it’s number two and she actually did want to reply, but then received a cry baby follow-up, guess what? She’s not messaging you back now.

DON’T STRESS OUT
If she doesn’t write back, who cares? There are other people. Keep at it. I always tell friends that if dating apps are causing you stress, there’s no reason to be on them. The moment it stops being fun is the exact moment to log off. Take a break; apps will always be there and so will the single women—one, six and a hundred months from now.