Dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge or Dragonfruit1 can be amazing tools for making the most of your online dating experience. Sure, you may have sunk not inconsiderable time into your OKCupid profile and making sure you’ve maximized your compatibility with as many matches as possible, but not all of your potential Internet paramours are going to be on traditional dating sites. At the same time however, Tinder can be a different, more frustrating beast and one that a lot of guys never get the hang of. After all, the last thing you want is to put in all that effort just to never get any matches.
If you’re going to use Tinder, you have to know how to use it right. Here’s how you avoid the mistakes that make women skip over you and develop a profile that’ll get more matches than you know what to do with.
Pick The Right App
One of the first things to keep in mind is that just like traditional dating sites, apps like Tinder have their own culture, and that’s going to affect not just the people you match with but the approach you’re going to want to take. Tinder got it’s start primarily as a hook-up app and has never quite gotten away from it’s origins. Yeah, plenty of people are using Tinder to find love and marriage, but it’s still very much a “fuck yes or fuck no” culture that’s encouraged by its streamlined design. Apps like Coffee Meets Bagel and HowAbout We, on the other hand, tend to be slightly more thoughtful and slower paced while Bumble – where matches only get to message one another when the woman chooses to initiate – has a slightly more down-to-earth, looking-for-a-traditional-relationship feel.
Different apps are going to call for different approaches. What works on Tinder isn’t going to work as well on Bumble or Hinge, so you need to be ready to craft your profile to match to the feel of the app.
Your Tinder Photos Will Make or Break You
The first thing to keep in mind when using Tinder is that your photos are the first – and frequently only – thing your potential matches will see. That primary photo you share is going to be your first impression and you need to make sure that it counts. This means that you want to make sure you look as good as possible in that first image. But when it comes to apps like Tinder, you need to be aware about more than just how you look but how you come across. Even the best looking dudes are going to get a hard pass when they’re delivering the Tinder Cliches.
For example: Guy With Fish.
Other variations on this cliche include “Guy With Tiger,” and “Guy With Car”. Yes, I get the message you’re trying to send: you’re adventurous, you’re courageous, look at this awesome thing you’ve done and how cool your car is. No, she doesn’t think your truck is sexy and no, you can’t make this work. See that photo? That’s Hugh Jackman, AKA 2008’s Sexiest Man Alive, AKA Wolverine. Wolverine can’t make this look cool and you, sir, are not Hugh Jackman.
Similarly, there’s the Gym Bro photo.
Yes, you want girls to know you’re swole. They don’t care. They’ve seen more GymBros than they can count and none of it’s nearly as appealing to them as it is to you and other dudes. There’s a reason why you’re not seeing crazy-shredded dudes on covers of magazines aimed at women. Yes, women like fit guys. They also like dad-bods. That photo isn’t helping you. You know what does help?
This is a little lower key, but it conveys so much about the person – looks, personality, interests and an absolutely adorable doggie that testifies to a warm and cuddly side. That’s going to get more eyeballs and more right-swipes than posing awkwardly in a suit or your inspirational-poster-audition-Man-On-The-Silver-Mountain pose.2
Other important photo tips: make sure that you have a variety of different photos, not variations on a selfie. You want to show different sides of yourself: your interests, how you have fun. But keep in mind: the more cliche the image (including classics like “Dude On Mountain”, “DRINKS, DRINKS, DRINKS!” and “Sports? SPORTS!”), the more likely you’re going to get a pass.
While we’re at it:
Your Picture Gets Them, Your Bio Hooks Them
Here’s the thing to keep in mind about bios on Tinder: unlike traditional dating sites, they don’t show up automatically. Nobody’s going to see it unless they’re at least a little interested in you. At the same time however, your bio can also be what makes women swipe left instead.
As image-obsessed (both metaphorically and literally) as Tinder can be, your bio is an important part of your profile. It’s the creamy center that goes with the tasty candy shell of your images. You want to give a little bit of your personality while also giving your potential match something to talk about when the two of you match. Unlike dating sites where you can be as long-winded as you want (don’t), you only have 500 characters on Tinder and you need to make them count. That’s why your bio should be like a knife: short, sharp and to the point. This is your personal elevator pitch, and you’ve only got 30 seconds to sell yourself, so you have to make it good. Can you be witty in print? Now’s the time to engage your inner Hemingway and stick to those short, meaty sentences without unnecessary filler. A decent example might be:
Natural-born writer with a love of cheesy B-movies. Successfully pretending to be an adult; yeah, I’m gainfully employed, but I spend most of my meetings thinking about Batman. Will swipe right for breakfast tacos.
Alternately, you might go a little more reference-heavy but still an indicator of your personality:
Regular medical experiment subject for cash. Ask me about the time I was isolated for a psych study where they watched me watch cheesy movies, the worst they could find.
At the same time, however, there’s such a thing as too short. One line is almost as bad as nothing; it makes it seem as though you couldn’t come up with anything at all.
And, as with your profile pictures, you’re going to want to avoid some well-known Tinder bio cliches. First of all, there’s just giving your stats. You’re not a Pokémon; there’s more to you than height, weight, jobs and the fact that you like whiskey. Similarly, compliance tests, demands and “don’t bother if…” are all good ways to filter out just about everybody from your matches. Pretending you’re “above” the whole Tinder thing or “I don’t know what I’m doing on here”? Lame. The ever classic “Going out or staying in”? Tired. Netflix and Chill jokes? Very tired. “Not looking for games” – nobody is. And those 4-letter personality types are the 21st Century version of astrology.
Your Matches Don’t Count, Your Messages Do
One of the mistakes people make on Tinder is that they get hung up on the number of matches they are or aren’t getting. Yes, swiping right on everyone ups the likelihood that you’re going to match with someone. Of course, that also means that odds are higher you’re going to match with someone you don’t actually like or have anything in common with. Matches are great, but matches are only the first step. The real challenge starts when you message someone.
Not coincidentally, that’s also where people tend to fall down the most. Messaging the wrong way on Tinder is a great way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. So let’s talk about the number one biggest sin of Tinder users. No, it’s not acting like a horny 13-year old who’s never seen a boob before, it’s the “hey”.
Also known as the “What’s up,” “How’s it going,” and “How’s your weekend,” “hey,” is hands down the killer of romance. It is the opening line of every single guy she has ever matched with and she would much rather amputate a random toe with a rusty hacksaw than have to try to build a conversation this way. It’s the one-way ticket to dead air, with both of you just doing the Internet equivalent of cringing in the awkward silence until someone gives it the kiss of death with a “sooooo….”
Similarly, you don’t want to start off the conversation with anything about her looks. “Hey cutie,” “sexy”, “gorgeous”, “I love your eyes”, etc. are cheesy at best (and not in a good way), creepy at worst and also examples that she has heard a thousand times before… probably as often as she’s gotten a “hey”.
Like I said: Tinder is fast-paced, and you want to behave accordingly. You want to catch their attention immediately and get that conversational ball rolling. Instead of a generic “hey,” you want to leap into something that will get a conversation started. The easiest and most obvious example is to comment on something in their profile. Between her photos and her bio, your match’s profile is a goldmine for conversation starters; she put those there for a reason after all.
You don’t want to start off talking about her looks. Not her smile, not her eyes, certainly not her boobs. Instead, ask about things in the photos that relate to her. Does she have a dog in one picture? Aww, he’s adorable, what’s his name and also, might he be available for tummy rubs? Is she in an exotic location? What was that trip like, does she have any exciting stories? If she has something in her profile – a reference, a quote, something – start with that. Complete the quote, riff on it, talk about how much you enjoyed whatever-it-came-from. Show interest in them in ways that aren’t immediately sexual; even the horniest online daters are going to want to make sure the two of you have some chemistry together before anything is going to happen.
Can’t come up with anything? Then lead with a joke or something silly to prompt a conversation. “Pirates are inherently better than ninjas, yes or no?” is a good one. One line that’s been popular online has been “I need to know: how many dates does it take before it’s appropriate to go to Disneyland together?” It’s silly enough that it doesn’t sound like you’re angling for a date, but also elicits a response; everybody has strong feelings about Disneyland.
Just remember: no answer is an answer. It’s a “no”. If someone doesn’t respond or turns you down, the only thing to do is unmatch them and move on. There’s no amount of yelling, haranguing or badgering that’s going to turn a “no” into anything other than a “hell no”. And likely also make you the latest entry on ByeFelipe.
Get Off Tinder As Soon As Possible
Remember what I said about Tinder being fast-paced? Hesitation is the killer in every aspect of a dating app. If you wait too long to start a conversation – even if you’re hoping they’ll make the first move – you’re going to get umatched. Similarly, the longer you spend chatting on Tinder, the less likely you are going to actually get a date. Emotional momentum bleeds away very quickly on dating apps, even more so than traditional dating sites. You’re one chat bubble in dozens and it’s very easy to get lost or to lose the excitement and become just another message to nowhere.
You don’t need to angle for a date right away, but you do need to move the conversation off Tinder, even if it’s just to Snapchat or What’sApp. Taking that extra step to communicate outside of the app is key to actually meeting up in person. Exchanging personal information – numbers, Facebook profiles, WhatsApp handles – is an investment in the two of you. It’s a quirk of the human psyche that doing something for others makes us like them. Even little things – like giving them something as noncommittal as your Snapchat address – becomes evidence in the folder in our brains that says”well, I must like him otherwise I never would’ve done this.”
Of course, that’s only half the battle. Now you have to make sure that your first date is going to be one to remember. But once you’ve gotten the hang of Tinder, you’re going to have more matches and more dates than you ever believed possible.