Stuck in Zero Response Limbo
Molly uses data to explain the reasons dating app users don’t always respond to their connections’ messages.
Q: I get a lot of matches, but none of them respond to my initial messages. Why would someone choose to “connect” with me but have no interest in starting a conversation?
Wayne, 28, New York, New York
(That’s the primal scream of every dating app user ever being annoyed at lack of responses.)
First, I’m sorry this is happening to you. Unfortunately, this is a problem dating app users on all platforms experience, and sadly, straight men have it harder than women across the board. Not only do straight women get more attention than straight men in general on dating apps, 97 percent of men said they feel they should be the one to ask someone out. Basically, many men are aggressively competing for the attention of all women.
But back to your specific issue — you’re making connections, but you’re not getting responses. You want to know: why do people do this, and second, what can you do to stop it from happening?
To figure out why this happens, we took a survey of our users and asked the following: What is your reason for not responding to someone after you’ve connected?
The good news? Our results all pointed to things you can fix.
The majority of women and men (57 and 60 percent, respectively) said the main reason for not responding to someone they’ve connected with was because they “took a closer look at the person’s profile and realized they’re not attracted.”
This stat may seem discouraging, but it’s not. You are in total control of your pictures, and there is so much you can do to improve them. Check out the following best photo practices for men and women:
These may seem like small things that don’t make a difference, but clearly, they could be costing you conversations. Take a look at our photo report — it will tell you exactly which pictures to include to increase your chances of making connections and starting conversations.
Next, let’s tackle your opening messages — the reason 30 percent of women and 16 percent of men cited for not responding to a connection.
I’m going to trust your openers are polite and respectful. This means nothing overtly offensive, like making fun of someone’s name or body, or anything sexual. Beyond that, here is a list of reasons women said they were turned off and chose not to respond to an initial message:
“I don’t like anything with misspelled words.”
“Just saying ‘Hey, what’s up?’ is a no go. It shows minimal effort to get a conversation going.”
“Anything like, ‘Hey Beautiful!’ or ‘Hey Cutie’ turns me off. I don’t like people commenting on my looks.”
“Anything that’s not an intelligent question.”
For women reading and wondering what openers turn off straight men, here are a few of their answers:
“It’s a combination of their message and their profile. If the message is just ‘hi’ and their profile isn’t that engaging, I probably won’t respond. Just because I’m a guy doesn’t mean I should always have to think of something interesting to say first.”
“I won’t respond to anything that seems superficially flattering, like a comment on my appearance.”
“Boring messages, or just low effort with one word replies.”
Are you seeing a pattern? Both men and women are less likely to reply to messages that indicate low effort (one word answers), and openers that focus on appearance.
Next time you connect with someone, take a minute to think of a fun and engaging opener. If she’s playing a sport in one of her pictures, be bold and ask when you can join her. If you’re on Hinge, respond to one of her profile answers with a follow-up question. For example, if she answered the “Last Meal” question, ask what her favorite restaurant is to get that specific food.
Yes, these openers take more creativity and effort, but the chances of you getting a response are much higher.
Finally, our survey did offer a third answer option to the question, “What is your reason for not responding to someone after you’ve connected?” That option was the least chosen, but it’s still worth mentioning. 24 percent of men and 13 percent of women said they were “more interested in talking to someone else,” and that is why they chose not to respond to a message.
This is a bummer, but it happens. Dating is a numbers game, and the important takeaway from is that it’s not personal. Work on your pictures (get a friend to take new ones if need be), craft some fun and quirky openers, and try not to get too down when someone doesn’t respond. It happens to everyone (really!) and the right person will appreciate your efforts.
Molly Fedick is the Editor-in-Chief of IRL. She has written extensively on the role of technology in modern dating for publications including Glamour, NBC, the Chicago Tribune, Elite Daily, and Huffington Post. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @mylifeasmolly. Send Molly questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.