Technology is supposed to make things easier. But ask any single man or woman, and they’ll likely tell you dating apps do nothing to make dating easier. Sure, the process is simple: You swipe, you match, you message … but that’s when things go wrong.
We asked 1,400 women: “What’s the worst online dating mistake men make?” In their eyes, sexting too soon is by far the biggest offense, but it’s not the only thing that can turn women off. Your conversation skills also need some work, and some of you just need to ask her out already!
Score more dates—maybe even one that leads to a relationship—by trading the following mistakes for better, smoother moves.
Mistake #1: You Lead With a Sext
Opening with dirty talk might work if she’s only after a hookup, but if you’re looking for a woman who wants something more, this is a surefire way to turn her off. Sixty-one percent of our poll respondents said this is their biggest gripe about online dating and apps.
While you may think you’re just being flirty, she’d prefer to establish a connection first.
“More men than women look for physical attraction right away. But women who seek relationships want to connect with men on multiple levels,” says Laurie Davis, founder and CEO of eFlirt.
And if all you do is send dick pics or even ask seemingly innocent things like “Are you a good kisser?” she’ll think all you want is sex.
A better move: “Imagine you are walking up to a woman in a bar and saying hello,” Davis says. “What would you say in that circumstance? That’s what you should say on an app.” And if you still haven’t figured out what to say in a bar
The advantage of an app over the bar is that you usually have more information to work off of. So check out her profile. If you see she has a photo of herself in a race, ask about it: “I see you love running. What race is that?” Or if she mentions she loves sushi, say, “Tuna or California roll?”
“Find some connection point and ask her a question to get the conversation started,” Davis says, adding that two lines tends to be the best length for an opener.
Mistake #2: You Don’t Ask Questions
When Bumble was released in December 2014, it put women in the driver’s seat: When you match, she has to initiate the conversation. But many women say they ask questions and men only answer. So they ask another question … and the guy only answers. Fourteen percent of the women polled said their biggest frustration is that men don’t ask them anything.
Admittedly, women can be guilty of this too, and it can be hard to know what to ask. But the result it that she may think you’re not interested and stop messaging you.
“Not asking questions doesn’t show desire,” Davis explains. “You’re not showing that you like her and that you want to get to know her. And if a woman doesn’t feel that desire for more, most likely she’ll stop responding.”
A better move: You don’t need to interrogate her—after all, in a face-to-face conversation, you don’t typically volley questions back and forth. However, on an app or dating site, you may need to ask more questions, especially in the beginning, so the conversation can flow.
You can resort to “How was your weekend” type of questions and hope that she says more than “Good” and gives you something else to inquire about. Or, if there’s nothing else in her profile to ask about, say, “What do you like about living in this area?” or “What’s something I wouldn’t know about you based on your profile?” suggests dating and relationship expert Andrea Syrtash, author of He’s Just Not Your Type (And That’s a Good Thing). “It almost doesn’t matter what it is—just show you’re interested in learning more about her,” she says.
Mistake #3. You Put Off Asking Her Out
“Dating is about momentum,” Syrtash says. And while you want to establish a connection before you meet, 10 percent of women in our poll said men take too long to ask them out.
“Many women would rather not waste time in an e-relationship with a guy who isn’t taking initiative to pursue a plan and meet,” Syrtash says.
Davis adds that if you don’t ask her out, the woman you’re interested in could lose interest or think you’re not serious.
A better move: There is no “perfect” time to ask a woman out. While you don’t want to wait too long, you also don’t want to ask her out right away, because she needs to get to know you a little first.
Davis says that after about 20 total messages back and forth is a good time to ask her out. If that happens over a day or two, you’ll develop a rapport and build excitement to meet. But number of messages and days aside, “if you’re into a woman and you’ve communicated a few times, ask her out! Otherwise, she’s bound to move on,” Syrtash says.
Even better, have a plan. “With online dating, men don’t often know how to lead or it comes off like they don’t have a plan,” Davis explains. “If you do, she thinks, ‘Great, he’s actually going to pick a place instead of making me do it—that’s amazing!’”
If you’re not sure what to plan, think back to your conversations or check her profile, Syrtash says. “You can say something simple like, ‘I know you love pizza. Can I take you to my favorite spot in the city on Wednesday or Thursday?’” she suggests.