I remember when Tinder first came out. I had been in a long-term relationship for a few years and thought to myself: “Who would ever want to use an app like that unless it’s for random hookups?”
I somehow equated it to something like the Craigslist personal adds such as Men Seeking Women or Women Seeking Women. From my high horse relationship standpoint, it just didn’t make sense.
Fast-forward to about six months ago when I found myself single and trying to figure my way through the multitude of dating apps and websites. Some of them wanted an entire history about me, others just needed a couple of photos and a few words, still others wanted me to answer so many questions it was just too tiring.
And then there was Tinder.
It had always been referred to as a hookup app, but it was so easy to use that I decided to just try it. I was by no means looking for a hookup, but at the same time I wasn’t ready to list my entire life on a dating website either. My tinker with Tinder only lasted a few months during which I learned some important lessons about how to Tinder successfully and how we tend to swipe.
Let’s take it step by step from swiping, to having a good profile, matching, talking and eventually meeting up.
There were usually a few instances that kept leading to my friends and I staring at our phones and swiping away: right before going to bed; when we were too tired to do anything else, but didn’t feel like falling asleep yet;
when we were together having drinks or brunch and we wanted to compare what’s out there—this one was probably the most fun as if gave us ample opportunities for an online version of “people watching.”
Your Tinder Profile
Your first photo has to be of you and just you. The subsequent photos can include one of a group of friends, but if someone has to guess who you are or you’re a silhouette in the sunset, well let’s just say you’re going in the Left pile. I can’t tell you how many people have said that if the first photo is bad, they don’t even open the profile.
Enough with the airbrushed model shots. Everyone can get a set of professional photos done and with a little Photoshop, everyone can be a model. While you want your photos to show you in a good light, you also don’t want people to cringe when they compare the photos to the real you. I remember soon after I joined Tinder, I matched up with this young director who used to be a male model. I figured, smart guy, good looking, let’s check it out. Imagine my disappointment when I showed up for a first date and I could barely recognize him.
As for your profile, keep it short, interesting and maybe mention something that could actually be a conversation starter once you match up with someone. There’s a trend right now for men to put their height in their profile, a consequence of the fact that they’ve been asked so many times by so many women they’ve matched up with. Men, if you’re comfortable putting it up, then by all means mention it. Women, if you ask men about their height so much, be prepared to be asked about your weight.
Keep it light in the beginning. Talk about funny things that happened during the day, current events, why you’re such a big fan of a specific sports team or even something cute and quirky about you. Just don’t do the whole:
“Hey, how was your day?”
“Good. How was yours?”
At this point, you want to have forward moving conversations.
It’s great to text back and forth, get some feedback from each other, but you didn’t come to Tinder to get a pen pal. You want to start meeting in person or at least having a phone conversation so you can get a real feel of the person.
We’ve all been known to suffer from a version of Tinder ADD. There are just too many matches out there and at this point we don’t know you enough to get invested in anything. So if you don’t bring your A-game to the table (aka texting and phone conversations), chances are you will be left in the dust.
Meeting in Person
I believe these things to be true about any type of first date, not just one where you met online so here goes:
Dress for a date, not for a hangout at your house watching TV. I cannot stress this enough. You can be casual in jeans and a t-shirt or top, but make sure whatever you put on doesn’t make the other person wonder if you just rolled out of bed and didn’t even bother to shower.
If you’re out there thinking something like: “Duh, of course I would make sure I look my best.” I have to tell you that it’s not a given. I once went on a date for brunch where the guy showed up in a dirty pair of jeans and a smelly t-shirt. The sad part was that he was actually a cool guy, smart, educated, but sadly he had broken up with this idea of showering and putting on clean clothes a long time ago. Needless to say, there was no second date.
Be your best self. If you had a tough day at work and you’re in a bad mood, maybe it’s better to move the date to tomorrow or another day when you won’t be wasting your time and the other person’s time because all you can think of is whatever happened earlier during the day.
Ladies offer to split the check even if the man ends up paying. We live in a culture where we have become so sensitive to equality between men and women and feminism is at an all time high. Regardless of where you stand on that, it’s only polite that you offer to split the check. If he insists on paying, you can let him pay or not, depending on your convictions, but always be prepared to share the cost.
Be clear about what you’re looking for from the start, but don’t push people away or judge them for not wanting the same thing you do.
Be honest. You don’t have to reveal everything from the start, but what you do decide to reveal should be true.
Some of the people you meet online will be unbearably awful just like some of the people you meet in life will be, others will be incredibly sweet, again, just like in life. While my Tinder adventures are behind me now (because I am in a relationship that started on Tinder!), I have to admit it the return was exactly what I invested in it.
The trick is to know what you want, be clear about what your deal breakers are, train yourself to spot them right away and keep moving on.
Until then, happy Tindering!
Author: Lavinia Lumezanu
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Emilie Rhaupp