Even if you’re at the very top of your online dating game, it doesn’t mean that making progress in an app-based convo suddenly becomes simple. The world of virtual romance can feel like a bit of a black hole — everything moves a little slower — and the usual rules about response time don’t really apply. We turned to three online dating pros to get some suggestions for how to best move your online flirting past the point of “hey” so that IRL dating feels like a more attainable possibility (imagine: a drink or dinner!). These tips will help you show your online crushes that you’re serious about moving outside app-land and that you’re actually looking for an opportunity to really win them over.

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1. Ask one basic question. What’s the trick to moving forward with your online crush? According to Paul Brunson, a matchmaker and dating expert at Match, it’s a lot simpler than you might think. Just say this: “I would love to talk. Can I have your number?” If that makes you nervous, try this slight adjustment: “I would love to talk. Can I give you my number?” The longer you keep your interaction in the awkward gray area of websites and apps, the more likely the conversation is to lose energy and direction, so if you’re genuinely interested in exploring a relationship with someone, you’ll want to move it into “real world” space ASAP. If the answer from your potential S.O. is lukewarm, it’s a good signal that you should redirect your energy toward someone who will be more receptive to everything you have to offer IRL.

2. Show you’ve done your dating homework. If you still have cold feet about striking up a phone conversation and would prefer to keep your interaction limited to messaging for a bit longer, that’s okay, but make sure that your crush knows that you’re interested in what they specifically have to offer by personalizing your outreach to them. Your messages will stand out from the rest if you address details from their profile, like their interests, hometown, or even a subtle joke or pop culture reference buried in their bio.

“You’ll score points when you [show] that you’re reaching out because you found them interesting as a person,” says Rhonda Milrad, founder and chief relationship advisor of Relationup. Your potential partners will be more eager to jump headfirst into a conversation if they sense that you’ve taken the time to actually read their bio before saying “hello.”

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3. Be upfront with your intentions. Confidence is attractive IRL, and there’s no reason that it can’t be just as much of a turn-on in the world of dating apps. Jeremy Arnold, co-founder of Launch, suggests an opening line like this: “Hey there. I hate the gamesmanship that comes with these apps. It seems like we have some core values in common. I’d love to go for a low-key date to test our chemistry in person.”

If you’re looking to pack an extra punch with a confident first message, you can also take this opportunity to tell your crush that you’re on the app in search of a real relationship — and not simply chatting with every person that catches your eye (as long as that’s the truth!). “Outline your philosophy for reaching out,” Jeremy says. “For example, ‘I try to message only one person at a time based on what seem like strong commonalities.'”

How do you get past “hey” with your online crushes? Tweet us @BritandCo!

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