“Hey” is the conversational equivalent of the bread restaurants serve before the meal.
If there’s anything I’ve learned from using dating apps half-heartedly for the better portion of the past few years, it’s that nothing seals your fate like kicking off a conversation with the greeting, “Hey.”
Personally, I don’t find anything overtly offensive about the word. But I guess I’m mistaken, because I’ve got 20–25 conversations chilling in my “matches” section, all of which start and end with “hey,” that prove otherwise. Mind you, this is the MATCHES section. These are women who—at one point, at least—expressed some degree of interest in me, seeing as how they swiped right in the first place (unless these were all accidental swipes). Am I supposed to believe that this interest just disintegrated after reading the word “hey?”
That remains to be seen but, regardless, I had to swear off dating apps (which, for me, usually has the same rate of success as swearing off cigarettes) to try and salvage whatever is left of my waning dignity.
Granted, “hey” is kind of boring; I won’t argue that. But so is the bread that every restaurant across the planet serves you before the actual meal. We still eat the bread. We don’t just walk out and say, “Bread is boring—I’m done here,” and go find a different restaurant. Show me a place that puts a basket of foie gras on the table as soon as you sit down, and I’ll start penning Emmy Award-winning introductory messages on dating apps.
See, boring as “hey” might be, I don’t think I’m that boring of a person—nor do I think opening up a convo with “hey” is an accurate reflection of who someone is as a conversationalist. Some of us just believe in a more slow-burn approach to shooting the shit. I mean, come on—”hey” is a jumping-off point. If people would just answer it, they’d (more than likely) be at least slightly impressed by where that jump could take them.
Take the movie “The Usual Suspects,” for example. For those of you who have never seen it, it’s a thriller starring Kevin Spacey—and, I’ll admit, it starts kind of slow. But it’s also one of my favorite movies (and has one of the greatest endings in all of film). Now, there have been times when I’ve tried showing the film to some of my friends, and after 20 minutes or so, they’ve seen enough. “This shit is boring,” they’ll say, or something along those lines, and I’ll repeatedly have to assure them to, “Keep watching—it’ll get better.”
“Give it a chance,” I’ll tell them—and I’m telling you guys who feel inclined to ignore potential love interests who say “hey” on dating apps to do the same!
Just like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, a candy bar by its wrapper or a film by its first 20 minutes, you shouldn’t judge a conversation by the first text (no matter how boring that text is). Take it from me: “Hey” can be deceiving.
I like to think of “heys” as the tips of conversational icebergs. “Hey” is just the little bit of ice peeking out above the surface of the water that you can see. But underneath the surface of the water, hell, you have no idea how deep that baby goes unless you dive right in. So I urge you all: Dive in—see how deep the iceberg goes. Don’t assume everyone who says “hey” is a boring sap. Yeah, maybe 75% of people who say “hey” are, in fact, boring saps. But if you consistently refuse to respond to “hey,” you’re going to miss out on that other 25% by not responding. And you know something? I’ve got confidence in that 25%. I’m part of that 25%.
I don’t know, I just don’t see the benefit of going all-out on an opening message. I don’t see why we feel so compelled to win people over before they even get a chance to respond. Like, what’s to be said about the receiver of “heys?” For Christ’s sake, are we supposed to just assume everyone we match with on Tinder is some wordsmith poet laureate? Because I’d rather not spend 15 minutes of my life trying to pen the perfect message to someone who might reply with a “Ha, nm just chillin.” That would just be deflating. Now, if the first few dialogue bubbles we exchange prove some texting prowess, of course then, I’ll raise my level (like a tennis player). But it’s not like I ever approach a conversation on a dating app thinking, “Man, if I could just make this intro message charming enough, she’ll want to marry me on the spot!”
Just because we open up with a “hey,” it doesn’t mean we’re not planning to attack more high-brow topics, like foreign culture or quantum physics, sometime down the line. But by not replying, you’re eliminating that possibility.
To this day, I have not the slightest inkling of what “works” with regard to starting up a conversation over dating apps. But I know “hey” doesn’t. Some of my friends are pros. I’ve seen ’em in action—it’s like every night they have a different date with a different girl from a different dating app; it’s like they’re building a fire with kerosene and a blowtorch, while I’m rubbing sticks together. They use these pickup lines that are completely off the cob, and the worst part about it is: They work. And I know they work, too. I’m just too stubborn to give in at this point and, frankly, I’ve become fixated with using “hey” as my intro, regardless of its blatant ineffectiveness.
And, yes, I’m aware that my fixation is actually the bigger problem.