The Opening Line

For those of you who haven’t had the joy of online dating here’s a quick summary of how it works. You make a profile on the dating app of your choice (see this post for that process). Once that’s posted the app shows you profiles of singles in your area. You then swipe left or right (and I forget which way is the good way 100% of the time so sorry to the people I accidentally matched with and never contacted) on each profile based on if you are or are not interested. For those you are interested in one of two scenarios can play out. Option 1 is you said yes to them but they either haven’t seen you or said no. In this scenario nothing happens. You’ve put it out in the universe and sometimes they will eventually match with you but usually you never see their face again.

Option 2 is you said yes and they said yes and now you are a match. Here is where the “fun” begins. As you remember the current app of choice is Bumble-the female empowerment app. This means that once you have matched the woman needs to make the first move-as in the man cannot reach out to you until you start the chat. So you need an opening line. For your reading pleasure here are a few of mine-feel free to steal if you are also online dating.

“Favorite kind of apple? FYI there’s no right answer but there’s definitely a wrong one…” For the record, anything with the word delicious in the name is a wrong answer. Macintosh is clearly the best apple but I can be flexible. This opening line did generate some great responses, everything from “iPhone” to “this sounds like a trick question so I’m gonna say pineapple.” There was even the jokester who came back with “them apples.” This was a solid opening line; however, it really only works for fall. I don’t want to look apple obsessed say in March….that would just be weird.

So as Fall turned toward winter my new opening line became, “It’s a snow day, you’re trapped inside your house. How do you fill your time?” I thought this was gold. Literally not a single other person agreed as this line generated zero responses. So I simplified and went to “Coffee or Tea?” This line was not particularly successful though it did have the notable response of “boobs.” Boobs was, in fact, not one of the options but thanks for playing .

I finally settled on “favorite book you read as a kid?” This is an excellent opening line because you immediately know if this person has good taste. It also gives you a surprising amount of info into what their childhood was like as it easily segues into some nostalgic conversations. It also lets you eliminate the people who say, “I don’t really read.” That response tells me we are absolutely not going to be a match. On the whole, his opening line has lead to some really great conversations and a few dates.

But here’s the problem. Eventually, you always get to the “so why are you single” question. That is a hard question to answer. Not because I don’t know the answer, the answer is obvious. I’m single because my husband is dead. But there is no way to say that that isn’t shocking. I know the person on the other end is not expecting this and will probably have no idea what to do with it. I’ve tried to finesse it, to somehow communicate “well I’m a widow-but like a super healthy, well-adjusted widow” and the reality is there’s just no good way to communicate this information.

The other reality is that people, the men on these dating apps specifically, cannot handle this information. Sarah, that’s unfair of you to say-what makes you say that? Because 100% of the time once I reveal that information the tone of the conversation changes drastically and then they ghost. (Quick slang lesson: ghost=you stop talking to that person, don’t wrap up the conversation, don’t give an explanation or goodbye, you just vanish). I know the fact that I have a dead husband is shocking to hear (just imagine how shocking it was to live), and I don’t expect a perfect reaction. You are allowed to feel surprised and awkward and thrown off. But I have to live this every single day. The least you could do is have the balls (and I mean that in the most demeaning way possible) to admit it’s too much for you instead of pretending it doesn’t bother you and then disappearing.

Because here’s the other reality. My history is going to be too much for some people and they are completely entitled to feel that way. That is truly fine because if my history is too much for you, you are clearly not someone I am interested in dating. But instead of ghosting, perhaps try these responses:

Thank you for sharing that with me. That’s really difficult for me to connect with, I’m going to need some time to process.

Wow-I wasn’t expecting that. So sorry for your loss. My reason for being single sounds so petty now. Is it ok for me to share that or would you like to share more about your past relationship?

I’m so sorry that happened to you. I am insecure person with little life experience so I won’t be able to handle this relationship and I need to disappear now.

Wow I am really freaking out. Instead of being a mature functional person, I will refuse to make even the slightest effort and instead just pretend like we never met.

Ok so those last two were a little petty-maybe don’t use those. If you have other suggestions either to avoid ghosting or for opening lines drop them in the comments. Otherwise-happy dating!

4 thoughts on “The Opening Line

  1. I hope the comment you receive one day is something more like shit you are brave, I’m glad we met. Where are we going tomorrow so I can learn more about this bad ass woman. Sorry for the language I am on summer break.


  2. Usually a few evenings a week my wife and I will have one of those “Hallmark” movies on. And the plot lines usually involve some nice young widow with two adorable kids or widower, who meets some random Danish prince or princess, and usually will kiss in the end, no sex please, this is Hallmark. And that sums up about 12,000 of those movies they generate any given year. Well, as a counselor for many, many years, real life and relationships are not a scripted show. But there are some myths of relationships that we tend to tell ourselves time and time again.

    Myth 1: “I will only ever have my one “soul mate”. Whatever that may mean, the fluidity and randomness of life, or how our personality profiles tend to either attract or reject others means the potential pool of “soul mates” or those of close approximation are always there, you meet and talk to them daily in life and doing your business. Relationships are complex and wonderful things. As in all other matters of life, it just a matter of timing, situation, circumstance and life dynamics when we meet. My wife of almost 40 years and I met at a random event in college, when I was involved in a relationship with her roommate, sort of how we met, awkward yes, but life and love, found a way. Always does.

    Myth 2: We always want a custom “fit” in an off the rack world. All these so called dating apps and pricey meet for lunch computer matching algos. Sort of perpetuate myth #1, that science and technology can screen out the weirdos or slimy types and will match you with Mr/Ms/Non gender specific/whatever your flavor is Mr Right. Bogus. We are all broken people, we have baggage, all of us. We all have our issues and secrets, we are all scared and vulnerable, we all need our space, we all need affection and affirmation, we need to feel safe, we need for the “other” to accept us baggage and all, imperfections and all, piercings and all. And if your computer matched whoever cannot do that, accept that, or wants you to change to fit some notion or profile you fill out on some form. Fire your matching site and do what people have done since about 200BC, go out to a restaurant, bar, concert, church, mosque, whatever. Find another human being and strike up a conversation. Or turn on a Hallmark movie.

    Myth #3. “No one, no one, will replace “X”. Post the death of my mother, my father visited her grave daily, Kept all her pictures up, and could not part with her cloths. That’s something I did, after he died. Was that odd? By no means, we all grieve and mourn in our own ways and space, and we all cope and process death and loss differently. I have people in my former church who have kept the ashes of a loved one on the fire mantle for years. Again, a matter of individual make up and coping. But in the process of time my father had other female friends, relationships, what have you. One even asked to marry him. He declined. Point being, we may lose a loved one to whatever means. They die. We do not. We are here, they are not. And we find a way. We wake up every day and put one foot out and then the other. We do “life”, we have no choice too. And repeat tomorrow and day after, and in that repeating and in the daily living of life, we, love, finds a way, and an X or Y becomes the Beloved. You just have to be open to that possibility.


    1. I never really subscribed to the concept of a ‘soul mate.’ There’s definitely people who you just don’t match with but for the most part I think if two people share the same core values and are committed to each other it will work. Though I am very open to a Danish prince..


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