If opening lines feel intimidating, you’re not alone — here are 7 tips that will help

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Once you’ve matched with someone new on a dating app, it’s time to send an opening line. If you pause and feel tongue-tied, you’re not alone. To be fair, sending that first message opens you up to rejection. What if they don’t respond? Was it because your message was bad, or they just didn’t like your profile *that* much?

Turns out, nearly half of opening messages are ignored:

According to a 2016 study of an unnamed dating app, 49 percent of people who message a match never receive a response. That’s in cases where someone messages at all.

If you’re…


No, not that kind of game. We’re talking about fun games.

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The intersection of love and games is filled with references that are anything but compassionate. Being a “player.” Having “game.” The pickup artist guide “Rules of the Game.” In her song, “Games,” Demi Lovato sings as if love is a standoff: “You might find out the hard way that two can play.”

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What we’ve missed is how fun games — like the silly ones you played at a friends’ house in high school when maybe your crush was there, too — can lead to love.


It’s not just technology companies that have tried to build shortcuts to love.

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Love is a core human need. It’s been around as long as any of us can remember and dominates our novels, movies, paintings, and poems. There are many products that claim to help you find love, faster and easier. Early dating websites promised the best match via a scientific survey, and today apps promise anything from a relationship to some variation on “hot singles nearby.”

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Streamlining our lives is a never-ending hunger, and we increasingly look to apps to help us do it. Uber gets us “a private car in one tap”; why can’t…


There is a special exhilaration that comes with launching a new app. You’ve spent countless hours tweaking and perfecting, and finally, you get to see how a wide audience reacts. Deciding to launch XO in the middle of a pandemic was not a decision my team came to lightly, but XO is a dating app with icebreaker games with the objective of helping people have fun and make meaningful connections, and we knew we could bring some levity to a difficult time.

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One thing no founder expects during launch week is for their app…


On the surface they look like the same concept with a different name

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The pastor, wearing pointy-toed white leather shoes, paced across the stage as he told the congregation about the time he felt called to give his car to his nephew who’d just turned 16, despite his wife’s protests. He believed God would provide them another car; and when that didn’t happen right away, he realized he needed to be more specific. He asked God for a specific design and customization, and sure enough, a week later someone in his congregation felt called to give him that exact car.

It wasn’t just cars; the pastor was known to hand out designer watches…


Mourning for past holiday gatherings and traditions

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My family’s longtime favorite Mexican food place in Phoenix is still in the same strip mall as a divey billiards club. When my parents, sister and I went with my grandparents, we were a party of six, and if my four cousins, aunt and uncle came, we were a party of 12. We’d go there Christmas Eve.

For holidays we’d meet at my grandparents’ house in Phoenix, organizing sleeping arrangements like sardines, sometimes backing my dad’s truck into the garage so a few of us could sleep on an air mattress in the truck bed. Every Christmas we’d make the…


Deep thoughts on whether belief is a choice, or has inherent value

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My earliest mystical experience was when I was 5 and felt God’s hand on my back when I was curled up under some couch cushions I’d turned into a fort at my house.

I was deeply familiar with the children’s worship song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” from regular Sunday School attendance, so I logically attributed the sensation of a large hand shape on my back to God. It was a sign he was there and cared about me personally, and a comforting memory for many years to come.

Many Christians who lose their faith can remember…


The concept of emotional granularity is helping me redefine how I experience and process my feelings

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“I hate emotions,” I texted a friend. In my early 20s I had feelings for a boy, or thought I did — one can never be sure, maybe. “Emojis are cool, though,” she wrote back. Her humor was enough to break through my moping, though the underlying question remained.

Even with a longtime journaling habit, I felt lost at sea trying to understand what was going on in my own head and heart. Then, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should be able to understand my own self.

This one-way link between emotions and actions doesn’t exist

What I…


Put these titles on your spiritual wish list

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The holiday season surfaces a spectrum of emotions ranging from joy to dread. It means reconnecting with family who may no longer share your convictions about the meaning behind the holidays. Depending on your work or school, the time off also provides an opportunity for reflection.

Processing takes time and energy. I’ve found myself home for Christmas, expecting a break from the stress, only to find there was even more buried inside me. Just when I expected release, I found myself yourself journaling countless pages on emotions I didn’t know I had.

One thing that makes me feel supported during…


My parents were just taking the ‘biblical’ approach to parenting

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Spanking was a last-resort punishment in my family, used only when timeouts and grounding failed. It wasn’t an outburst of anger, but thoughtful and premeditated.

I didn’t question my parents’ disciplinary methods until recently. As I’ve pursued therapy to unwind my fears, anxieties, and resistance to attachment, I found myself reading studies on spanking to better understand how my experience continues to influence my behavior.

Spanking your children is still endorsed by evangelical authority Focus on the Family, which calls it both biblical and non-violent. Meanwhile, spanking is banned in 52 countries.

The reason why spanking endures amongst evangelicals, despite…

Dani Fankhauser

Fiction writer, cofounder @joinxo, creator @the__salve @readthisnext, author @shameless_book, writing in @thecut @thebillfold @popsugar

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