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Dating app Hinge tested 100-plus opening lines. These got the most replies.

"No way! I'm also paralyzed with anxiety right now and want to curl up into a tiny ball forever. We have so much in common."
"No way! I'm also paralyzed with anxiety right now and want to curl up into a tiny ball forever. We have so much in common."
Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

Dating apps like Tinder have solved one of the core problems of dating: wanting to tell someone you like them, but only wanting to tell them if they also like you. Matching people who swiped right on each other deals with that marvelously.

But Tinder and its competitors haven't gotten around the fact that after matching, you still need to write an opening line. You still have to craft a brief question or greeting that somehow taps into what's unique and special about your match despite knowing approximately nothing about the other person. It is an absolutely mortifying genre of writing.

Luckily, Hinge — Tinder's classier, borderline elitist cousin — ran an experiment designed to help first message writers. Hinge wrote more than 100 opening lines, varied by length, structure, content, etc., and then selected 22 percent of users at random to take part in the experiment. "For one month, when those users matched with someone new, they received an in-app prompt to send one of our conversation starters (the conversation starters were randomized)," Hinge spokesperson Jean-Marie McGrath writes in an email. The company then compared response rates for the various lines, and how often they were used after prompting. In total, the experiment produced 8 million user impressions, which is a pretty impressive reach for this kind of thing.

Hinge found that older and younger users responded to different types of openers. Here are the top two questions by age group:

Hinge's experiment results, in infographic form

Hinge tries to group these according to theme, which feels a bit methodologically suspect, but all the same, it's interesting that "Katy Perry or Taylor Swift?" was the most replied-to question among 35-and-up users.

Hinge also found a great deal of geographic variation; it similarly tries to theme the results, which I'd take with several grains of salt:

US map with top openers

In general, lazy greetings like "hey, what's up" didn't do well, while standard freshman year icebreaker games like "two truths and a lie" performed nicely:

"Two truths and a lie" outperforms "hey, what's up?" by 31 percent.

The experiment also confirmed that men are the worst at responding to messages. If they don't get a note immediately after matching, the odds of a reply fall 25 percent:

Men have shorter messaging attention spans

For more, check out the full report at Hinge's website.

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