A Beginner's Guide To Tinder
Dating in 2018 is a strange beast; ghosting has nothing to do with the paranormal, cuffing has nothing to do with your shirt, and bread crumbing has nothing to do with chicken goujons or fish fingers (actually scrap that last one). It’s a scary time to be single and for every brave soul that puts their phone in their pocket and strikes up a real conversation with someone, there are five more who will head to the App Store, download (or re-download) that little red and white icon and start swiping. That’s right, I’m talking about Tinder.
I know a lot of people have a love-hate relationship with Tinder (it’s more hate than love for me), but it’s also not hard to understand why it’s so popular. It ticks all the ‘instant gratification’ boxes to which we’ve become so accustomed. There was a time when if you needed a question answered you’d ask a person who might know or perhaps search for the answer in an encyclopedia, now you ask Siri or search Google. Similarly, back in the day meeting a potential partner took a hell of a lot more work than downloading an app. Rather than having to wait for a look or a smile of approval to know you have a connection, now you get the thrill of the jingly bell and “It’s a Match” flashing across your screen. I don’t mean to sound too negative or judgmental because I have been on Tinder in the past so I totally get the allure of it, but I can’t think of one positive story to come out my Tindering experiences to date which is why I decided to talk to a few seasoned pros and gather some helpful information before my next dip in the ‘Social Media Dating App’ pool. So, if you are a Tinder novice like me or you’re just really really bad at it, then you might find this Tinder user manual helpful. If not, just delete the app. Again.
Might as well start with the photo because, whether you like it or not, people are going to judge you on your photos, especially the first one. Firstly, and this should go without saying but sadly it doesn’t, make sure your photos are actually you. It’s one thing to have gained a few pounds since that holiday in 2003 but deliberately using a photo of someone that’s - you know - not you, is a big no-no! A few years ago, a friend of mine who I was living with at the time, returned from a Tinder date with a look of shock and disbelief on his face. When questioned as to what had happened, he told me that when he’d gone to pick up the girl he’d been chatting to on Tinder for weeks, a completely different girl sat into the car. The girl made no reference to the fact that she looked nothing like her photos and my friend had to stop her and ask, “Uh sorry, but who are you?” She casually informed him that she uses her cousin’s photos for Tinder because her cousin is “a big ride” and assured him that it wasn’t a big deal and then asked, “So where are we going?” While you kind of have to admire the neck on that young lady, you’d have to admit that you’d never really want to find yourself in that situation, either as the catfishee or the catfisher so please, use your own photos.
Group photos are another thing to avoid as people are usually loath to swipe right when they don’t know whom they’re swiping right for. If you do use a group photo then try to limit the potential games of Where’s Wally and keep it to two or three mates. Don’t pick your best looking friends either because while it might get you more matches, you don’t want to start chatting to your dream girl only for them to ask for your friend’s phone number. If you’re in really good shape then it might be tempting to flex and take a mirror selfie for your Tinder profile but be warned, studies have shown that the more attractive a man appears to consider himself, the more likely it is that people will associate him with negative characteristics like arrogance and selfishness. More weights does not, in fact, equal more dates and the last thing you want people to think is that you’re too self-absorbed to carry a conversation.
So what should you do? Well interestingly, studies have shown that the guys who do well on Tinder aren’t necessarily the most attractive ones. Signaling that you’re actually a decent human being works a lot better than looking like a Greek god. Smiling (with teeth) has been shown to increase your chances of a match by 14%, while pouting has the opposite effect. A photo with a dog is also a proven winner, but make sure you have a backstory about the dog (and make it sound believable). And if you have an intersting hobby then use a photo that gives rise to a question about said hobby. Into surfing? Smile and hold your surfboard. Do a little DJ-ing on the weekends? Get someone to take a snap of you behind the decks. You get the idea...
You have 500 characters to make a good impression so keep it short, make it humorous if possible and try to include a potential conversation starter. Try not to lie because as we’ve seen with the catfishing, the short-term benefits are far outweighed by the long-term detriments. If you need a few tips on what not to write, then ask a seasoned Tinderer to show you their phone and have a look at some of the dregs they’re forced to filter through to find Prince Charming (or even Prince Not-A-Sociopath). One of the biggest mistakes you can make is thinking that you’re the funniest guy on Tinder and that everyone has the same sense of humour as you. I asked a female friend for an opinion on this and her reply was “No Anchorman or Stepbrothers quotes in your bio”. She’s hot, so take heed. I know this sounds a bit negative, but try to focus on not sounding like a knob. Avoid statements like “Enjoys good food, good company and good sex”. You don’t come off like James Bond, more like a bit of a ‘James Blunt’. Use a conversation starter like “Ask me about the time I....” and keep it short. Save the life story for the date.
Assuming you’re not paying the premium for Tinder Plus, it’s important to use your 100 daily swipes wisely. Usually the first ten or so profiles you’ll see will have already liked you so keep an open mind on these ones. Past that, take a little time to look at the profile and remember, if it seems too good to be true then it probably is. Tinder is full of bots and dodgy cam sites trying to sign you up to porn sites, so don’t get taken in by people that look like super models but have little or no info in their bio.
Your opening line is important, as it’s the final hurdle that your match has to overcome before making a decision on whether to engage or ignore. A good place to start is to reference something they’ve written in their bio – preferably something funny. Something throw-away and humorous can work, but if you’ve seen something hilarious in a meme on Facebook then chances are so have a load of other guys, so don’t count on them never having heard it before. Best not to fawn all over them too much either, as you’ll come off desperate and probably end up getting blocked. Most importantly, try to steer the conversation in the direction of an actual date. Faffing back and forth for weeks might feel like cute flirting to you, but it could be a sign that the other person isn’t really that in to you, so if you like them and you think there’s a chance that they like you then suggest meeting for a drink or a coffee. If they don’t go for it then grab your (fishing) rod and go back to the seas of Tinder and try again.
Or you can just delete it. And if you find that it has a negative effect on your self esteem then do. Tinder should be something fun, but if you find that it isn’t then you’re better off without it. Revert to the old days and go out and chat to a fellow human. It’s how our parents met after all.