I think we can probably all agree that Tinder is the devil.
In an increasingly disconnected world, the progress of technology supposedly connecting us seems to know no bounds, and I now regularly find myself—on public transport, walking around in the park, in line for a film—surrounded by people and completely alone.
I installed Tinder extremely reluctantly when I left university and realised that I now had a more-than-full-time job working online, and subsequently spending very little time around actual people. Approaching my 28th birthday, I worried that I had backed myself into a corner of social isolation and that my chances of ever having the happily-ever-after I had dreamed about so voraciously since I was a little girl were fast disappearing.
As I grew up and watched my parents’ thinly veiled hatred for each other become less of a smouldering layer of ash beneath the surface, and more of a raging forest fire of destruction, I developed a passion—an inherent, deep need—for a long, happy relationship. Not a particularly maternal person by nature, and even less of a socially comfortable person having grown up an only child in a small country town, I found myself surprised at my definite want to be a parent.
I wanted to find someone to weather the storms of life with. I wanted wide open arms and warm smiles. What I found was something entirely different. I found love, without a doubt. But I also found physical and emotional abuse. I found gaslighting—the kind the makes you seriously consider whether your friends and family would be safer without you around. I found betrayal and deception. I found exactly what I had been running from.
And although it feels intimate and unique and intrinsically mine, I don’t think this story is a particularly unusual one. Over the years, I’ve picked myself up and dusted myself off, and decided that a life lived without the family I so wanted was worth risking it all again.
And so here we are, flipping through endless faces I’ll never meet and three-hundred-character profiles that consist mainly of height measurements and emoticons.
The more I play the modern dating “game” (though it doesn’t feel very fun most of the time), the more I see the same frustrating patterns emerging over and over again. I grit my teeth as I swipe left seemingly endlessly and find myself less and less hopeful every time I open the app (or any of its sister-applications, before anyone pipes up with a lecture about what Tinder is really for).
So this is my gift to you, gents of Tinderland—the no nonsense, uncensored (sort of) what-not-to-do guide from a normal girl looking for her partner in crime (author’s note: this may or may not indicate actual crime, but more than likely consists mainly of drinking tea and holding hands at family events).
1. I don’t care what your height is, or any of your other measurements for that matter.
This is a big one for me.
How does the fact that you’re over six foot help me? I know, I know…I know what this is for. I know the kinds of people who actually need this information. But, if we’re being completely honest, even if I were one of those people (which would be totally fine!) how tall you are is not the determining factor in whether or not I decide to sleep with you. And, really, maybe we should stop reducing the sexual chemistry between two (or more, whatever floats your boat) people to the distance between the tops of their heads. Come on guys, you can do better than this.
Much like there are aesthetic stigmas for women that seem to determine their roles in societies—and in relationships—so, too, do men have these types of archaic restrictions. A taller man is more likely to be given a promotion, and more likely to be chosen for leadership positions and re-elected to office. There are a number of hypothesis related to why society—and women, particularly—prefer taller men, and these range from an evolutionary argument which postulates that early in our evolutionary history taller men were often also faster and stronger, and therefore more suitable as reproductive mates, to a more social argument, which suggests that assortative mating and differences in cultural preferences for reproductive partners contradicts the evolutionary approach, and that our penchant for tall men is a result of modern social conditioning.
In other words, there’s no definitive evidence to suggest that we inherently care how tall a guy is—and there’s mounting evidence to suggest that our current love of them is more of a self-perpetuated fad than anything else.
2. Actually write something meaningful in your profile. At least write something.
This one sort of goes as an extension to number one.
Essentially, if all you have in your profile is a handful of emoticons, a song lyric, or a generic pick-up line, I’m going to assume that you either have no meaningful personality, or you don’t think that whatever personality you do have is relevant to the type of relationship that we’ll be having. Both of those are an instant no.
And if you haven’t written anything at all, I’ll assume that the only thing you care about is how quickly you can flip through people to find a pretty face and a hot bod.
Although research now suggests that the idea that women require more of an emotional connection in order to be sexually satisfied is antiquated at best and socially damaging at worst, that doesn’t mean that the sexual pleasure of women and the journey towards it is the same as men’s. Whilst men, if erect, tend to experience orgasm around 98 percent of the time, women are a little more difficult to predict. Emotional and mental factors all combine together in one big pleasure soup to produce the female orgasm—it’s not as elusive as we’ve historically believed, but it does take a little more attention to detail. Whilst an ultimate goal of safety and security is not, by and large, the spark for women’s lust, feelings of insecurity and an inability to mentally relinquish to the physical experience of sex is a major factor in determining whether or not a woman will reach orgasm.
So, lads, even if your only goal on Tinder is to get laid, not telling a woman anything about yourself isn’t a great way to get there. And if you’re looking for a relationship? Nuh-uh.
3. The Obligatory Animal Selfie.
If you have a photo with a puppy, you’d best be sure I’m going to want to meet that puppy. I’m almost as interested in the puppy as I am in you. But really, what I’m actually interested in is the idea that you are the kind of person who owns a puppy. There’s a lot of hoopla bandied around about women liking men who have pets because it’s a precursor for a child, but what all of that means in real-world terms is that women tend to like men who can demonstrate that they have empathy.
The patience, gentle nature, generosity and genuine curiosity that it takes to go through the process of owning an animal are fantastic qualities. I do not mind being put second to a dog (or much else), if the kind of man I end up spending my time with is one who possesses these characteristics.
Photos on dating profiles are meant to give someone a taste of who you are. There’s no formula here. No one has devised a rule that says you need to have at least one gym selfie, one photo of you on a ski slope, and one with an animal if you want any chance of dating a woman. The personality traits that usually come with people who own and love a pet aren’t exclusive to pet ownership, and they can be demonstrated in other ways. Do you go out of your way to help your community? Do you volunteer somewhere and help those in need? Do you make sure you go and visit your grandma every weekend? Show me the ways in which you express who you are.
4. Endless photos of your friends.
I get it. You have friends. That’s super—no, really, that’s great! It’s important. I don’t want to date someone who can’t sustain a friendship long enough to get a photo or two.
But, if I can’t tell which one of the people in the photo you are, it’s going to make deciding whether there’ll be much chemistry between us difficult. If this is paired with number one or two on this list, then you’ve really not given me any information to base this decision on, have you? Same goes for only having one or two photos, all of them blurry or taken after you’ve sunk one too many.
You and your mates—Hawaiian shirts blowing gently in the wind and half unbuttoned to show off your glorious chest hair—at a music festival sipping on rum and coke, with epic red eye, isn’t the only thing I want to see about your life. Unless that’s legitimately all you do, in which case, I’m probably not the girl you’re looking for.
5. Asking me out straight away.
I like that you’re keen, genuinely, and I’m not really here for penpals so the fact that you actually want to meet me in real life is a great sign. But, hold up there cowboy. Can you even remember my name yet?
There’s a reason dating apps like Tinder have a chat function…it’s so that you can chat, and figure out whether the tiny glimpse you got of each other in that incredibly small window of smiling faces and keywords is going to translate into an actual conversation.
Tinder makes finding a life partner feel like window shopping, which is something I hate. The last thing I want to do is go from feeling like I plucked you off of a shelf, to feeling like I’m simultaneously conducting and participating in a job interview. Give me some time to settle in to the idea that we might actually share some common interests, and remember that we’re both human beings, not just an idea, or faces on a screen.
6. Dull conversation.
Conversation is an art form. There have been countless writers, philosophers, and scientists throughout history that have spent their lives essentially dissecting and perfecting this subtle path to connection. “Hello” is a perfectly fine opener to a conversation, and I’ll never fault a simple approach by someone who fancies me….but you really have to go somewhere after that. There’s only so many days in a row that I can tell you how my day was and ask you how yours is shaping up before any initial spark fizzles out.
And without that spark, that first date is absolutely awkward. Think about what we’re doing here: we’re picking each other out of a line up as “items” we like, and then we’re sitting opposite each other in a dimly lit restaurant looking directly into each other’s eyes in one of the most intimate social settings there is. And, if all we’ve had is the equivalent (or, in some cases, the literal version) of conversing about the weather, we’re going from 0 to 100 real quick. No wonder it feels so icky.
After chatting for a day or two, one of my matches challenged me to a game of online trivia, and it was the best fun I’d had in a long time. It also turned out to help create the best date I’d had in a long time, because we’d been connecting as people in a lighthearted way that made us both forget what a manufactured experience this was. There are so many ways, given the technology we have at our fingertips, to engage one another before you meet. It helps to give a break from the continual “how was your day? Oh, wow, you’re an engineer! That must be cool. Do you like it?” small talk which is definitely a necessary part of getting to know one another, but not always the most imaginative. Make it fun!
7. “Coffee” is not one of your “interests”.
Unless it is, in which case, more power to you.
By this, I mean that unless you’re actually interested in coffee—unless you spend your time contemplating and researching the process of coffee making, hunting down the perfect bean, or literally own a coffee shop—then “coffee” and other arbitrary things like “hanging with friends” and “movies” are very likely not your interests, they’re just things that you do, like most other people in our privileged and problematic society. It’s the same as saying “yeah, I’m into all the normal stuff: breathing, eating when I’m bored, avoiding eye contact….the usual.”
Yes, you enjoy drinking coffee and hanging out with your friends, most of us do, but what I actually want to know is what you’re in to. Does painting and art get you all fired up? Do you like talking about politics? Are you a bird watcher? Do you play the lute—what?!
What if someone took away all those “normal things” that people do like coffee and movies and travelling and Spotify? What would you do with your time?
This is another reason why conversations on dating apps usually just die, because there’s only so long that two people who drink coffee and hang out with their friends can talk about coffee and hanging out with their friends. Give me more! If you’re into something that I don’t know anything about, you can teach me something new. Worst case scenario, we each walk away with knowledge we didn’t have before, which we can bring up in conversation when we’re drinking coffee and hanging out with friends.
8. Listing your occupation as “Rocket Scientist” at “NASA”.
You’re soooooo funny.
Has anyone ever told you how funny and original and unique and cheeky you are?
I’m in stitches…
9. Not having any pictures of yourself.
This feels silly to have to explain to people, but…
For real, if I come across another profile with nothing but screenshots from sitcoms and pictures of suped-up cars, I’m going to throw my phone out the window.
Are you a car? No? Then why is that your only photo. Will there be a car sitting opposite me on a Saturday night, ordering himself a nice bottle of 2014 Unleaded?
Physicality is not everything, but to deny that it’s a big enough chunk that it matters is just a lie. Of course it matters. It’s not the only, or even the most important thing I use to make decisions about who I’m going to date or not, but it’s not non-existent either. Put bluntly, we need to know whether we’re attracted to each other. And besides all of that, scientific research has long postulated that your facial features offer clues as to your possible personality traits, and to your physical and possibly even mental health.
Your car doesn’t rev my hormones—see what I did there?
10. Being downright rude.
“No FAT girls. No GOLDDIGGERS. No DUMB B*TCHES. Don’t like it? Sue me.”
This is what I opened my Tinder app to this morning.
If you don’t think this is a thing, I encourage you to check out the Instagram account ByeFelipe. I’m bisexual, and as such, I see women’s profiles as well as men’s. I see less women’s profiles, but I definitely do see them, and not once have I come across a profile that displayed this level of rudeness. That’s not to say that they don’t exist, I’m sure they do and I’m sure there are men who have experienced this—but, statistically, I’d wager that there are significantly less.
Being impolite doesn’t really fly out in the “real world” and it doesn’t fly on Tinder either. If you can’t bring yourself to have some manners for the 30 seconds it takes to write a profile, how are you going to manage a relationship that would probably only last minutes?
Everyone’s experience in the modern dating world is different, and what bothers one person could very well be the ultimate eye-catcher for someone else. The real message here is: be real. Be genuinely yourself, not a caricature of what the world tells you you should be. That’s how you find your happily-ever-after.
Author: Erin Lawson
Editor: Lieselle Davidson