What’s the best way to message someone on a dating app? Go for (clever, not cringey) humor

NEW YORK — Two in three singles claim “goofy is the new sexy.” A new poll of 2,000 single or casually dating Gen Z and millennial Americans reveals that 60 percent are more likely to respond to the first message they receive on a dating app if it’s funny or clever.

Three in four consider a shared sense of humor a turn-on. Yet for the majority (55%) of people, crafting the perfect first message is stressful.

Over half (58%) of singles wish they knew more about the person on the other side of the screen before sending or receiving a message from them. However, 48 percent would prefer to skip the small talk and claim the process of getting to know someone they’re interested in can be awkward.

Commissioned by Plenty of Fish and conducted by OnePoll, the study finds that nearly two in three (63%) believe that breaking the ice is the hardest part about meeting new people. Perhaps this is because singles are most likely to experience anxiousness (50%), shyness (48%), and excitement (39%) when they try to impress others during the first interaction.

dating questions

How do online daters break the ice?

Respondents are interested in both deeper and more light-hearted questions when getting to know someone, as 60 percent are hoping to find out the timeline of their last relationship and 61 percent want to know if they want to have kids. They also like to find out what someone they’re interested in likes to do for fun (79%), where they are from (79%), their hobbies (78%), and their favorite shows to binge-watch (76%).

Forty-three percent of people say they feel pressure to ask the right questions upfront.

Respondents agree that the most important things to learn about someone on the first interaction are what they do for a living (47%) and how close they are with their family (45%). Meanwhile, perhaps surprisingly, the most “outdated” question encompasses anything about political ideals (51%).

Traditional ways of dating and getting to know someone are changing,” says Kate MacLean, resident dating expert at Plenty of Fish, in a statement. “People care less about what car you drive or where you’re from. Instead, they believe connections are more likely to form based on shared interests and a sense of humor.”

It can take while to ‘click’

More than half (59%) of singles feel like they can only let their guard down and be themselves on a second or third date, rather than the first.

The survey finds 44 percent believe it’s important for dates to check every box on their first interaction, and can take an average of four interactions before they feel comfortable and “click.” Yet, for many, feeling more comfortable on dates has to do with the setting: 60 percent think getting to know someone in a group setting helps take the romantic pressure off them.

The ideal settings to meet someone new are getting a meal together and seeing if having a meaningful conversation feels easy (42%); meeting for coffee or drinks because it’s less pressure (40%); and activity-based dates (39%).

Results also show that the easiest ways to flirt with others are by texting (40%) or meeting in person (37%), rather than FaceTiming (12%) and phone calls (11%). Whatever you do, though, keep your flirting PG-rated — 42 percent find it disrespectful to receive unsolicited nude pictures, and 36 percent say the sender comes off as immature.

“We often overthink crafting the perfect first message, but really there’s no such thing as long as you are being yourself,” MacLean continues. “Consider sending a joke or a genuine compliment as your first message to break the ice.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 single or casually dating Gen Z and millennial Americans was commissioned by Plenty of Fish between September 19 and September 22, 2022. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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  1. You never mentioned the many scammers on these sites, or the many false profiles, and the stolen pictures. Hard to trust or try to establish any kind of relationship because they all start with lies.You never know who you are really communicating with until you check off your own boxes. These scammers follow the same pattern, every time. So you see it does matter where they come, mostly Nigeria or the UK.They have poor spelling skills, mostly the same story. They have Either
    lost their wives to a major accident or cancer.

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