Maximizing Your Effectiveness In The Dating App World
Updated: Oct 19, 2019
By: Jennifer Klesman, LCSW
Online dating is hard. Actually, dating in general is difficult. While we all know it, it’s become a necessary evil if we want to find a partner. After college, it becomes much harder to meet people outside of the workplace and your established friend group. Sure, you could let a friend set you up, but oftentimes you end up with only two things in common with those people: they’re also single and you both know the person who set you up.
In recent years, online dating has lost some of its former stigma and become a far more common way of meeting people. It has greatly evolved over the years for better and for worse. While it once took a great deal of time and effort to construct a profile, now it takes less than five minutes to connect to your Facebook (which might get your name wrong and you can’t change it) and sync your Instagram and Spotify. While we used to have to invest hours into creating content for our dating website profiles, now we can simply type in some hieroglyphic emojis in the “about me” section and start swiping.
Much has been written about the issues of endless options at our fingertips and always wondering if something better is just one swipe away. It can be difficult to sift through countless options in pursuit of “the right person” - especially when there’s the constant threat of getting ghosted or someone not even responding to your first message.
I am of the belief that while people may show up when you’re not looking, they are more likely to show up when you are looking, so if you really are serious about finding a partner, you will need to put yourself out there. Whether it’s Tinder, OKCupid, Bumble, Hinge, or any of the other countless apps out there, you will reap what you sow, and putting yourself out there is an important first step. I have been dating for some time, and while I don’t believe anyone ever really gets “good” at dating, I have found a few tricks, things that stood out as major red flags, and more efficient ways to find what you’re looking for.
What works and doesn’t work for a profile:
Get rid of the group picture.
I’m going to get this one out of the way right off the bat because it has been addressed time and time again in dating articles, but get rid of the group picture. Crop it. Block out everyone else’s faces with emojis. Anything! If the first two or three pictures in your profile are group pictures, I’m not going to waste my time hoping you’re the cute one and playing detective.
Let’s see your face
Be sure your face is easy to see in more than one picture. I don’t want to see pictures of beer you crafted or your dog, I want to see what you look like. When I’m using an app like Tinder or Bumble, that picture is all I have to help me determine whether or not I’m attracted to you. People want to know what you really look like before they meet you in person – otherwise they may be met with some not-so-great surprises. Simply showing your picture up front is a better alternative to finding out the hard way that someone’s not interested when you finally swap numbers, they stalk you on Facebook, really see what you look like, and then ghost.
Take off the sunglasses
A lot of people will only have pictures with their sunglasses on. Sure, you may only take pictures when on vacation or out with friends in the summer, but that really hinders someone’s ability to see what you look like. Today’s styles can cover up a third of your face! One picture with sunglasses is fine, but keep it minimal.
Keep your pictures updated
No one ever wants to go on a date after messaging for a few days or a week to meet a person who looks completely different from their profile. Every few months, it’s a good idea to update your pictures with new ones. Sites like OKCupid have reported that keeping it fresh will attract people who may have overlooked older pictures the first time.
Avoid the pixelated picture
I’m not entirely sure how or why this happens - I believe it’s from zooming in too far on an app - but no one is flattered by a grainy, pixelated picture. Your last good picture can’t be from a 2003-era digital camera. It is 2018 and we all know that your phone has the ability to take a better picture than that. So finding those pixelated pictures on a profile tells people swiping that either you A) don’t have recent or better pictures or B) don’t know how to use a basic dating app. Swipe left.
Guys, do not post pictures of yourself with a pretty girl or booth babe
I don't care if it's your sister, I guarantee it does not help girls become attracted TO you. Let’s be real about women - we see that picture and think, “Is that his ex?” “Wow. He looks really good standing with that woman who’s way more attractive than me,” said no girl ever. Yes, we do look at the women in your pictures.
If it is not your kid, why have a picture with them?
This is more of a personal preference, but if you have to write “it’s not my kid/it’s my nephew/niece” in your 300-500-word-limit profile, then don’t use it. If I see a guy with a kid in multiple pictures, I assume it is his. I’m sure the motivation behind posting those pictures is to show that you are kind, good with kids, want kids, or something like that, but it’s a waste if you have to then explain who the kid is.
Even on Bumble or Tinder, just give it a go. If there’s nothing to draw upon, it becomes difficult to send that first message or carry on a conversation for people who don’t know what to even ask about. And in the modern dating world, there are "catfish" out there, so if I see that you’re attractive but only have one or two pictures and no content with your profile, I’m not going to risk it. Say something about your hobbies, life mantras, a quote, a funny reference, anything! I have found that saying less about who you are can produce more comments about your physical appearance because that is all the person looking at your profile has to be attracted to. This can be flattering, but you may want to be more than just a pretty face to your potential date.
Say something about who you are
I’ve seen guys write only “I’ve been stung,” “I’m tired,” and “Lover of the arts,” in their profiles. What about any of that is attractive or engaging? I don’t even know what to say to that and neither do most people swiping.
My own personal experience has reshaped how I present myself. I used to think: “I like video games and a majority of guys like video games, therefore that would be attractive to put out there so that guys will like me”. I even integrated it into a username on a dating site, figuring that it would attract the “right” kind of guy. However, when advertising that right off the bat, I found that was the primary thing guys focused on. Many would start conversations about video games, asking which were my favorites and what I thought about specific games.
This made sense because that was what they were given to work with, but it also left the conversation rather shallow. I may identify as a gamer, but that’s not who I am. It leaves us with "playing similar games" being the only thing we have in common. While some people can build a relationship from that, it never felt more than surface deep for me.
So I learned to expand my personal content by not only listing video games but also running, writing, and traveling internationally as my interests and then speaking more on each of those topics as well. I added things that represent me as a person such as my education, a goal from my bucket list, and what I am looking for in a partner.
Don’t ask for the generics
Saying that you are looking for someone who is “fun-loving” or that you want someone with a sense of humor really says nothing about what you’re looking for. Everyone loves fun. Everyone has a sense of humor; it just might not be the same as yours. State what you like to do for fun, what movies you like or which comedians you find funny. Be a bit more specific than "another fun-loving person with a sense of humor".
Ultimately, the way you present yourself online matters. Some people will read everything you write, while others will look only at your face and use their gut before swiping right or left. You never know whether your content will be considered or if you’ll be given only a one-second glance, so it’s pretty crucial to at least put your best face forward.
In the second part of this piece on online dating, I’ll offer tips and share experiences about the interactive aspect of dating through apps.