Dating advice is as varied as daters themselves. But if there’s one nugget of wisdom that most people seem to stand by, it’s this: just be funny.
This is great news for those who can think up clever openers, sarcastic rebuttals, and quirky, self-deprecating bios on whim. But being a riot isn’t easy, especially online, where non-verbal cues like the wink, eye-roll, and smirk aren’t accessible. (Emojis aren’t the same.) This does not, however, mean that the non-funny amongst us are doomed to an eternity of empty inboxes. These six tips make sure of that.
1. Recognize your other qualities.
You may not be the wittiest, but you’re still a catch. Before crafting your profile or messaging potential dates, psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina Ph.D., LMFT, author of “Dr. Romance’s Guide to Finding Love Today” recommends making a list of what you do bring to the table. Are you a good listener? High-energy? Generous? Methodical? Humble? Actually write it down. “This [exercise] will show you that you have qualities that are appealing in a partner and that someone would be lucky to date you, just as you are,” she says.
2. Don’t even try to be witty.
“Trying to be witty when you’re not can backfire,” says Jaime Bronstein, LCSW. Gone wrong, it can make you sound unnecessarily self-deprecating and as if you hate everything.
“I don’t care if my date is funny, but I do care if they’re mean-spirited or nihilistic,” says Caitlin F., 27. “I’ll unmatch or stop responding if I start to get that vibe.”
3. Instead, be yourself.
“Not every [online dater] out there is expecting their date to be funny. A lot of people have qualities that they prioritize way more,” says Bronstein. “You have to actually show off the qualities that you do have.” In other words — *cliche alert* — just be yourself.
“There’s no winning by being fake witty (or fake something else),” says Courtney Kocak, comedian, co-founder, and co-host of Private Parts Unknown, a podcast exploring sex, love, dating, and gender around the world. “Best case scenario: You find yourself in a relationship that isn’t right for you.”
Tinder user John B., 23, for example, says he’s seeking a partner who is down to earth, authentic, and creative. Kellie B., 21, is looking for “a book-nerd who is smarter than average.”
“Not every [online dater] out there is expecting their date to be funny. A lot of people have qualities that they prioritize way more,” says Bronstein.
4. Share some personality shots.
Look, we all have a few photos that make us look like an extra in “Euphoria” (read: hot AF). Using one or two of these gems in your profile is totally kosher. “But make sure you also have a few photos that are conversation starters,” says Tessina. “Showing photos of yourself doing your favorite outdoor activity (biking, skiing, hiking, sitting on the beach) or with your favorite musician or celebrity is a good way to advertise your interests.” This opens up the opportunity for a match to message you about something you actually want to talk about rather than with a standard one-liner.
Jessie R., 22, uses two photos of her snowboarding for that very reason. “Other boarders see it, and we immediately have something to talk about. And non-boarders always start by asking me about it,” she says.
5. Use your bio to your advantage.
“Posing a light and fun question that’s related to your interests is a great way to encourage like-minded matches to connect,” says Bronstein. If you’re a foodie, inquire, “What was the last meal you ordered on Seamless?” or “If you could only use one condiment for the rest of your life, what would it be?”
Another option is to tell people exactly what to message you. For example: “Tell me your three most-played songs” or “Tell me about the book you just read that I should download to my Kindle right away.”
6. Redirect the conversation.
Let’s say you matched with a cutie and their first message makes you feel pressured to lob back a sarcastic retort. Now what? Tessina recommends sending a “hahaha” or a string of laughing emojis and then asking an open-ended question to try to get a real conversation going. If they bite, respond to their answer thoroughly enough to get a back and forth going. If they continue to try to engage in witty banter — you don’t want to constantly feel pressured or uncomfortable — it’s probably not a good match, and that’s OK, she adds.