Nothing beats the satisfaction of Liking someone on Tinder and immediately getting the *It’s A Match!* screen. But oh boy does that feeling wear off when you realize that you’re not sure what to message your new match. Do you use a witty opener, or should start off strong and compliment one of their photos

Flirting, which is, in essence, what you’re doing when you start talking to a new match, can be overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean you should delay starting the conversation. For those of us who aren’t the greatest at flirting on Tinder, here are seven ways to pull it off without coming off the wrong way.

1. Call on your wit.

If you’re someone who’s good at witty banter, use your skills. Whether you type a smooth pickup line or a clever joke, wit will help you stand out in a sea of “hey” messages. According to psychosexual therapist and couples counsellor Cate Mackenzie, MBACP, some light teasing can also work, so long as there’s no way to perceive it as offensive and it doesn’t center around your match’s appearance.

“If you’re someone who’s bold, you might want to soften the joke,” says Mackenzie. “But if you’re laid-back or shy, consider making [what you consider] a bold statement with a playful tone behind it.”

2. Ask thoughtful questions.

Questions are the bread and butter of getting to know someone. Avoid turning a conversation into an interview by asking meaningful ones about your match’s hobbies, favorite books, or music genre of choice. Sex and relationship therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D. recommends being specific, which creates a unique opportunity for your match to respond with their opinion.

“If you’re talking to someone about their favorite TV show, ask them who their favorite character is or how a certain event in the show made them feel,” says Fleming. 

Using your match’s profile as a cheat sheet is also a great way to come up with questions. If your match took a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower, ask about their trip to Paris. If their bio mentions them being a gamer, ask them what game is their current favorite.

3. Be positive.

If you’re excited to talk to someone, show it. You may know that “I” statements are effective in fights — Mackenzie says they are also a good way to punch up your conversation with positive emotion. For example, if you want to tell your match that you’re both into “Harry Potter,” instead of saying “me too,” consider saying, “I love ‘Harry Potter,’ too! I’m so glad I’ve connected with  someone else who likes it,” and follow up with a thoughtful question about whether they’re a Hufflepuff or if they think Snape is truly a villain (he is).

If this feels like too much, try sending a GIF that reflects how you’re feeling without having to actually write it out. But be sure to follow up with some words — you don’t want to leave them staring at a GIF of Cardi B cackling after they tell a joke.

You don’t want to leave them staring at a GIF of Cardi B cackling after they tell a joke.

4. Flatter them.

Everyone loves a good compliment, and offering one up is easily among the most effective ways to flirt. Highlighting something you like about your match, whether it’s physical or intellectual, makes it very clear that you’re interested in them. Fleming suggests positive statements about your match’s sense of humor or artistic abilities might go over better than saying something about their appearance, which could come off weird. Praising a personality trait is more meaningful, anyway.

5. Don’t leave them on read.

Everyone has schedules, and people are busy. But if you want to let someone know you’re interested, you have to hold their attention. Remaining responsive to your Tinder matches shows that you both value their time and respect them enough not to ghost them. According to Mackenzie, this is the best, if not “the easiest way to make your match feel good without trying too hard.”

6. Keep up the good work.

Flirting, like any skill, is something you only get better at with practice. Put yourself out there, and see what does and doesn’t work for you. According to Fleming, flirting is, to some degree, a numbers game that will eventually yield results if done effectively and enough times.

“If you have [matches], seize it as an opportunity to play, explore, and get to know yourself better,” she says.

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