After creating my Tinder account a few months ago, I've lived by one rule: "Girls do not message boys first."
As a proud feminist, I don't know why this one traditional gender role still sticks with me — but it does, and I'm not alone.
Many women who have no problem asserting themselves when it comes to their jobs, their friendships, and their personal goals, become timid in communicating with the opposite sex. Our reluctance doesn't just happen on dating apps, but good old-fashioned texting, too. It's why silly flowcharts like this one exist:
Of course, apps such as Bumble were created with the express purpose of encouraging women to start conversations, but that doesn't make the actual act any less intimidating. To get over my "first message fear" in the most ridiculous way possible, I challenged myself to a little experiment.
I rewrote five classic pickup lines for online dating:
1. What's a nice guy like you doing on an app like this?
2. Is it hot in here or is it just the cellular radiation?
3. Swipe here often?
4. Do you believe in love at first swipe or do I need to download another app?
5. If I could rearrange my keyboard, I'd put U and I — oh wait.
And then sent them to 38 guys on Tinder and Bumble.
Sure, they're not the work of Shakespeare, but I thought they were pretty funny. Apparently, I was the only one.
"What's a nice guy like you doing on an app like this?" was the most successful pickup line, while "Swipe here often?" was verbal boy repellent. The more you know.
As my handy-dandy chart shows, my experiment "failed."
Of the 38 guys I messaged, 26 (almost 70 percent) didn't respond. Even when someone did, the conversation usually fizzled out after a few messages. Out of 38 guys, only one conversation continued for a long time — probably because it centered on Gilmore Girls and its upcoming revival. To me, that alone made this experiment a raging success.
Having been on the other side of the screen for so long, I'm not surprised at the results. Women often have negative responses to pickup lines because they seem impersonal, and no one — regardless of gender — wants to feel like they're just a number (even on a dating app). Still, someone, somewhere must reply to these pickup lines, otherwise people would've stopped using them in the '70s
Beyond my experiment's immediate results, I did gain a new appreciation for the discouragement guys often feel when trying to make the first move. Even if you say something sweet and genuine, the other person might not respond. I've done that — and for reasons that had nothing to do with the other person.
I didn't totally overcome my "first message fear." But now that I've tried — and struck out hard — to start conversations with guys, I know the worst thing that can happen is not receiving a response. And if that's the worst thing that can happen, it's not so bad.
Though I'll probably never send one of those pickup lines again, I will say … something.
Cover image via Comedy Central