What's a better line: "How you doin'" or "How you doin'?" The dating app Hinge (it's like Tinder but based more on your Facebook friend group) did some experimenting to find out what kinds of opening messages work best once you've been matched with someone.
Normally, on Hinge you're free to use whatever opening line you want — it shows you mutual friends and interests then gives you a blank canvas to write whatever you want. But for one month, Hinge gave a random 22% of users the option to use a clever prewritten opening line in addition to writing their own messages. Hinge came up with over 100 prewritten lines that ranged in tone from quirky ("best discovery: Netflix or avocado?") to straightforward ("Drinks soon?).
They then tracked which of those prewritten lines were most likely to get a reply, using the data to determine which lines worked best based on gender, location, and how fast you sent a message after getting a match.
Here's what they found out.
The five best opening lines:
1. Two truths and a lie; ready. set. go! (this one improved your response likelihood by 31%)
2. Sunday priorities: exercise, sleep, or aggressive mimosas?
3. Better discovery: Netflix or avocados?
4. Katy Perry or Taylor Swift?
5. Breakfast preference: pancakes, waffles, or sleeping til lunch?
All of these worked better than the standard "hey" or "hey, what's up" that is the baseline greeting most people use.
The five worst-performing lines:
1. Would you rather have weekly hiccups or never sneeze to completion ever again? (38% less likely to get a response, eep)
2. What's the most awkward movie you've watched with your parents?
3. Worst piece of advice you ever received?
4. Jorts... or cargo jorts?
5. Settle this once and for all: are they called fireflies or lightning bugs?
These were actually WORSE than just saying "hey." Apparently nothing gets people out of the mood for love more than the term "cargo jorts."
People were not particularly good at predicting what opening lines work best.
Of the top five most commonly selected lines (users were given three options per match), only two of those lines were high-performing.
Here were the most frequently used lines:
1. Hi! How are you?
2. Describe yourself in 3 emojis.
3. Sunday priorities: exercise, sleep, or aggressive mimosas? (good performing line)
4. How's your week going?
5. Two truths and a lie: ready, set, go! (best performing line)
Timing matters, too.
Another data point they examined was how long you should wait to message someone after you get a match. They found it varies for men and women.
They found men are impatient: If you don't message within six hours of matching, the likelihood that he'll respond drops by 25%. However, women don't mind waiting — there's only a 5% drop in the chance she'll respond if you wait six hours.
Men and women respond to different types of lines (duh).
Men were most likely (98% more likely than usual!) to respond to messages that were assertive in tone, and a straightforward invitation, like "drinks soon?" or "free this week?"
Women were 40% more likely to respond if the message somehow involved food. The lines "chocolate, red velvet, or funfetti?" and "best discovery: Netflix or avocados?" worked best.
The types of lines that work best vary by city:
San Francisco's top two lines are nostalgic (average of 68% higher likelihood of response):
What movie scared you the most when you were little?
What the first CD you ever bought yourself?
Los Angeles's top two lines are about entertainment (average of 75% higher likelihood of response):
Do you think Leo will ever get that Oscar?
You can only keep one: Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, or John Oliver?
New York City's top two lines are esoteric. (average of 45% higher likelihood of response):
How was your 2004?
Choose: adult treehouse or the ability to talk to animals?
Washington, D.C.'s top two lines — apparently anything cheese-related works on Washingtonians (average of 58% higher likelihood of response):
Do you string your string cheese or bite it?
Choose a dream job: puppy photographer or pizza critic?
Chicago's top two lines are about '90s nostalgia (average of 58% higher likelihood of response):
What '90s song would you use as the title of your autobiography?
Who's your go-to Mario Kart character?
And weirdly, Boston was the ONE city where the standard "Hey, what's up?" actually worked just as well as the clever prewritten lines. The top prewritten line was:
Please confirm you're not one of those people who claps when the plane lands.
If you're looking for a clever opening line but totally uncreative, I'd recommend just stealing them from the First Date Questions Twitter account (by BuzzFeed's Matt Bellassai):
vote votesTwo truths and a lie; ready. set. go!
vote votesWould you rather have weekly hiccups or never sneeze to completion ever again?
vote votesWhat’s the most awkward movie you’ve watched with your parents?
vote votesBreakfast preference: pancakes, waffles, or sleeping til lunch?
vote votesKaty Perry or Taylor Swift?
vote votesJorts… or cargo jorts?
vote votesWorst piece of advice you ever received?
vote votesBetter discovery: Netflix or avocados?
vote votesWhat the first CD you ever bought yourself?