How to message on Tinder

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.


Before I met my current girlfriend, I decided to master Tinder. I know Tinder is not a game. I didn’t necessarily want to win Tinder, but I did want to be good at it. And the reason was simple: I was terrible at dating. And the reason for that was simple, too: at the age when everyone else was learning how to date, I was extremely closeted.

I came out at the very end of college, and I struggled. I didn’t know how to meet girls. I have always been an extroverted introvert, a contradicting duality I often attribute to being a Gemini, which makes connecting with people difficult. But I’ve been connecting with people on the internet since high school. Some of my best friends today are people I met on tumblr years ago. There’s something about the structure and culture of the internet that makes it easy for me to open up to people, bond with them, and eventually take our relationships into the real world.

Dating apps immediately seemed familiar, and not all that different from other ways to build relationships online. Hooking up with girls and connecting with other local queer people no longer seemed insurmountable. Tinder can be exhausting, and my relationship with it was extremely love/hate. But I had some fun. And none of it would have happened if I hadn’t dived into the part of Tinder that can be the most anxiety-inducing: sending the first message.

Some Tinder philosophers maintain that you should never send the first message. I personally think that approach is bullshit. You swiped right; they swiped right. You’ve both expressed interest on a very surface level. Why wait? Send the first message! Don’t open with something generic or weak that isn’t going to prompt them to answer. Start with a question. My recommendation? Ask an absurdly specific and slightly bizarre question about pop culture. (If you don’t care about pop culture, ask a specific and slightly bizarre question about something you do care about, duh.) It’s an easy way to see if you have similar interests, to talk about culture and art, and to have a fun back-and-forth before making plans to meet up.

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