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Best icebreakers for that first exchange to make you stand out from the crowd

A few weeks ago I read an article on Tech Insider on dating apps. There was one para that struck me:

“The most annoying part about dating apps or sites is breaking the ice. I have a hundred matches sitting in my Tinder app who I haven’t talked to for this reason alone — nobody wants to make the first move, or have their opening line derided for being lame, or be ignored for being unimaginative.”

That is so true. Certainly, from anecdotal evidence that first exchange can fall off really easily into the icy wastes of no communication, or into the bland pool of ‘Hey, how’s your week?’ which requires zero thought, effort or . Is is hard to know what to say when you want to contact them and start a conversation.

The American app Hinge has collected some US data on he best openers and icebreakers which you can read here. However there has been no research done in the UK, and we Brits have a different approach to our friends over the other side of the pond, which entails a little more humour and irony. When I first launched TBW in 2007 there was a forum and the witty men most definitely got the ladies interested and it was a sure-fire way to get a date:

Recently I’ve been asking friends what has worked for them. Let’s analyse three responses (these are either one-liners on profiles or icebreakers):

“I’m lean and mean and have some questionable tattoos” from Sam, who found that he got a good response from that one-liner.

By saying ‘I’m lean and mean’ he is saying ‘I’m attractive’. If he said just that, it might come across as arrogant and therefore unfriendly, but he softens it with ‘I have some questionable tattoos’. By using questionable he admits he may have made some mistakes with his body art, and so shows his vulnerability and at the same time is subliminally drawing your attention to his body. Clever Sam!

Christian used a classic ‘You look like trouble! Are you?’ Trouble translates as Sexy in men’s lingo, which doesn’t really work the other way round as women tend to mean it literally when used about men. So it really means ‘You look sexy, are you up for it?’ It seems to work well and it’s a positive start.

Lastly, Sorbé, who will be blogging for me on this subject on where I intend to collect and publish what works best in the UK, used ‘I’m a nightmare…ask my ex’ as she got so fed up with the bland and boring. She reckoned the ones that got the joke would share her sense of humour and the ones that said ‘I’m sure you’re not that bad’ would be hard work. So she used a witty line as a filter and it worked.

I’d love your feedback on the best lines or icebreakers you have used or ones that have been used on you. Please go to and fill in the questionnaire. If you sign up to the newsletter as well, you’ll get regular feedback on what works for other people.


Julia Macmillan



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