Now I know Tinder has been around a while, has gotten plenty of social media publicity and there have been plenty of guides and articles written about great success stories, funny profiles, etc. But what I haven’t seen is a simple, honest guide on how to have success with dating apps without using any funny “tricks” or whacky pick-up lines. Note: I have also used Bumble a bit, and this applies to that as well as any other dating app.
This guide is long – but if you’re looking for a simple, honest way to get more matches and convert them to dates in a quick, efficient way, it’s well worth it.
Step 1: The Profile
The fact is, if you don’t have a good profile to attract any matches, you won’t have anyone to talk to. There are plenty of articles and guides out there that discuss how to make the best profile, so I will focus on the 3 most important points. Pick photos that you a) look good in, b) show you doing fun stuff that you’re interested in and c) gives an accurate reflection of what you look like.
For A, your first and at least half of your pictures should be ones where you look your best. These are your pictures that will make the other person think “oh wow, I’m attracted to this person and would consider talking/going on a date with them.” Pretty straight-forward, and a good tip is to ask a friend of the opposite gender to help you go through your photos to pick the best ones.
For B, you want to mix in a photo or two that doesn’t necessarily show how good looking you are, but it shows that you have hobbies/go on adventures/do more than spend your whole life on dating apps. Good examples of these would be of you playing a sport, camping, traveling, cooking, etc. These can be great conversation starters if you match with someone with a similar interest, and it gets them thinking “cool, this person is passionate about something and there’s more to them than a pretty(ish) face.”
C is a little less self-explanatory. While you do want to show yourself at your best, you also don’t want to mislead anyone. Hiding a “bad angle” is one thing, but hiding your body completely or photo shopping every picture to make yourself look better is a bad idea. Why? Because sure, you may match with a few more people, but if they are disappointed when they meet you in person (sorry if this sounds shallow, but after having some of these experiences and discussing it with many people of both genders, it’s the reality), you won’t get much farther than that first date. So if you’re looking to either seriously date someone or have something more than a one-time thing, I highly suggest accurately portraying how you look.
As far as posting a bio goes, this is pretty subjective. I don’t use one, but having a clever/original one-liner or 3-4 of your interests never hurts and may even attract some matches that wouldn’t have swiped right otherwise. This is up to you, but keep it short, as in 1-2 sentences at most.
Last note: Height- whether girls admit it or not, this matters to over 90% of girls out there. I’ve never had to deal with this issue because I’m just under 6’4, but keep in mind that girls do consider this. If you’re above average height, hopefully that comes across in your photos or maybe you want to list it specifically (I know some guys that do and some girls that appreciate it). If you are shorter, it’s your call. I can’t say I have ever dealt with this issue so I won’t pretend to know what works, but either way, be confident no matter what. Good confidence can trump any physical aspect any day of the week.
Step 2: Deciding What You Want
Before you start swiping and talking to matches, figure out what you want to get out of the app. This will help you down the road as you’ll see in the next few steps. What you want could vary widely: long-term relationship, casual relationship (eg. Fwb), one night stand, person to talk to, etc. As well, what you want can vary from one day or month to the next. For example, maybe you just got out of something serious and want something more casual, or maybe you’re sick of one-night-stands and want a serious relationship.
Knowing what you want will help in two ways: First, it will help guide how you swipe and talk to your matches, and second, it will play into your “game” down the road when you’re talking to your matches about why you’re on the app (these will both be discussed in the next few sections).
Step 3: Swiping
Swiping is also very subjective. Everyone has their own physical preferences and certain bios might appeal to some but not others, so for this you’re on your own. However, I will give a few pointers and “lessons” I’ve learned from swiping over the years:
- If they aren’t showing full body/clear shots of themselves, it’s generally for a reason. You can take a chance if you’d like, but I learned this the hard way
- For the same reason, I avoid profiles where the first few/all of the pictures are in groups. If they are afraid of clearly showing you what they look like, it’s probably for a reason. Also, my low patience level might have something to do with it…
- Very long bio generally means crazy. Now the level of crazy can vary, but if someone posts a 3+ paragraph life story as their bio, again, it’s generally for a reason. A reason I like to avoid
- Adapt your swiping to reflect your “wants” from Step 2. What this means is that I will swipe differently depending on what I’m looking to get out of the app. For example, if I’m looking for a long-term relationship, I’m looking for girls I’m genuinely attracted to, closer to my age and keeping an eye out for things such as similar interests, a good degree/job, etc. On the other hand, if I’m looking for something short term or casual, I widen the level of attractiveness I swipe right on (“Ya I’d bang her” as opposed to “I could see myself with this girl long-term”), don’t care much about age and care less about interests/schooling/job
- Have fun and don’t overthink it. My general rule is: when in doubt, swipe right and re-evaluate if you match. Some people swipe just off the first photo, but for me it depends. If I’m lazy and only have a few minutes, I’ll swipe based off the first picture, but if I’m in bed trying to kill some time, I’ll look through the profiles that peak my interest
Side note: do NOT get down on yourself due to a lack of matches, non-responses or being unmatched by people. Especially as a guy, I and other male friends have far fewer matches than our female counterparts, and many girls just won’t respond. This could be due to “boring” openers, but we will discuss those in this post. I’ve spoken to multiple girls who have told me they use (insert dating app here) just to swipe because it’s fun or an ego boost and never respond.
Bottom line: don’t forget to have fun and don’t take the app/yourself too seriously. Now let’s move on…
Step 4: The Opener
This is huge, especially for guys. I like to think I am a good-looking guy who gets a good amount of matches, but girls barely EVER message first. In fact, I’ve seen dozens of bios that even say they won’t. This, coupled with the fact that girls get way more matches and are constantly being opened on by guys means that this is a very crucial step for us dudes.
My strategy involves one of two openers, depending on my goals of using the app as discussed in step 2, and on the girl I match with. Also, I do not use “pick-up lines” and copy/paste those into chats to start a convo. Some may work well, some may not, I don’t know and don’t care. If you’ve had success with them, awesome. It’s just never been my strategy but I have nothing against them if they work well. Here are my two approaches:
1) The customized greeting: This is my go-to opener if the specific match allows me to. Let me explain. The customized greeting is an opening, greeting, tease or joke that relates directly to something mentioned in the person’s bio or in one of their pictures. For example, if they have a travel photo of a place I recognize or many different adventurous ones, I could open with something like “Oh wow, how was your trip to so and so?” or “Someone looks like they’re very adventurous :p”. If their bio mentions that they work as a yoga teacher nearby or have a particular hobby I know something about, I will ask them something about that. For example, one bio said something about being a sex therapist in training. I asked her about what that was like and we ended up having an hour long conversation about a class on porn she was taking.
The key here isn’t in what you’re saying exactly, it’s that you are referring to a specific detail of their profile and usually doing so in a question form. This a) shows that you took the time to properly look at their profile, b) are interested in that topic/hobby/etc., c) immediately gets their mind thinking of an answer instead of thinking you’re boring, d) gets the conversation flowing and e) separates you from the creeps who are messaging about sex right away.
With time you’ll get better at picking the right details to focus on, but look for themes in the profile or unique topics that come from it (eg. The sex therapist in training). If their bio mentions a few interests and one of them is shown in one of the pictures, ask or comment about that one.
Instead of a question, an innocent tease can also work great. For example, teasing about a favorite sports team, school they went to (these are usually listed from their fb account) or hometown. If their bio ever mentions “I can probably beat you at X”, I almost always open with “I can pretty much guarantee I could beat you at X” or “What do I get when I beat you at X?” Doesn’t matter if you actually can, just get the convo flowing. Just make sure not to be offensive and keep it light. An emoji may help as well if you are worried about the message being misinterpreted.
No matter what goal I have for the app, I use this opener if I can because I find it has the most success in terms of getting responses and getting the conversation flowing right away. If I’m looking for something more serious, I will generally stick more to questions about interests/programs/work, but if I’m looking for something more casual I will try and use some teasing if I can.
2) The simple opener: Now this may have some backlash, but a lot of the time when I can’t think of a good customized greeting, I like to keep things simple. But in a careful way. What I do when I can’t think of anything creative is I open with the following, which, contrary to popular belief, has actually been quite successful:
Hey X, how’s your (insert day here) going?
Now I know a lot of guys and girls will comment about how that’s super boring and it may in fact have cost me some conversations, but here’s why I think that exact opener is good enough to get the convo going. First, an opener isn’t what’s going to get you to the finish line with a girl/guy. Sure, a really clever or personal line might peak their interest or get them excited, but ultimately, the rest of the conversation will decide whether you get that first date or not. The opener is simply there to start the conversation, and in my experiences, this line has done so.
Second, it’s discretely personal and caring. By including the person’s name, you are still showing that you took the time to regard and write out their name (it’s 2016 here people, we’re all busy :P), and by asking how their day is going, you are being present and showing interest in their life.
Contrast this with “hey, what’s up” or “how are you?”. Those are short, unpersonalized messages that don’t give off any warmth at all. My message caters to the individual and asks specifically how they are doing on this day.
Third, similar to the customized greeting, it gets them thinking right away. Instead of them just typing out “nm u” or “good and you?”, I usually get more thorough answers because they have to take the time to think about their day and reflect on how it’s been. It’s very common to get answers like “it’s been great, I did X, Y and Z! How is yours?” or “not too good, A happened today so it’s been B, C and D.”
Not only are these more involved answers, but they give you plenty of info to follow-up on. For example, you could then say “oh wow, I’ve always wanted to try Y, what’s that like?” and boom, you have a conversation. Remember, the purpose of an opener is not to woo the other person with one message, it’s to get the conversation started.
Step 5: Building Comfort/Getting the Number
I know I said the main purpose of this guide is to get you a first date, but I think that getting the person’s number is also important as a transition out of whatever dating app you are using. While it is not required and you can simply follow these steps to set up a date without moving to text, I will include it for a few reasons.
I like to get the person’s number mainly because a lot of the apps suck/crash/take up data, and I much prefer texting. Not only that, but I believe moving to texting may subconsciously bring you up a step in that persons head because you are no longer connecting yourself or the conversation with the app. Take tinder for example: major social stigma around tinder and some girls/people refuse to use it. Many people think it’s “creepy” or “weird” or whatever. That’s fine, their loss. But by moving your conversation to texting, you are now a part of her “regular” means of communication and that could build comfort.
Here, in my experience, is the quickest/easiest way to get a girls number and to get her excited about a possible date. Keep in mind that this is probably the most crucial step of the guide. The rest is easy and could be done by a robot, but this step depends a lot more on adapting to your situation/their responses. If you can get this step down, I can guarantee that you’ll convert more matches to dates.
First, match and use one of the openers above. Hopefully this generates a response, and you follow-up with another question related to her answer. I can’t spell out exactly what they will respond or exactly what you should respond, but I will leave you with this general advice:
- Be interested but don’t message/answer with your life story. Less is more
- Be polite (don’t be an overly apologetic softy but you know what I mean)
- Avoid shitty spelling/grammar. This doesn’t need to be perfect, but avoid sounding like a twelve year old. I have had girls comment on my proper grammar before
- Keep the conversation flowing with good, simple questions (ask about interests, what they’re doing these days, how they are enjoying those things, what they like doing in their spare time, etc. Nothing too personal or crazy)
- Don’t respond immediately every time, but do make an effort to respond as soon as you can within reason. Not answering for a day or more can really kill the flow
- Be normal and friendly…there is so much crap and strategies out there about tricks and special openers to use, and I genuinely think that this is just people over-thinking things. Start the conversation with friendly, interesting discussions and read on to learn how to build off of that
The point of all of this is to build COMFORT. That is the absolute key to this whole guide. Think of it like this: you already know the person is attracted to you, they are on the app for a reason, now they just need to be convinced that it is safe and worth it to meet you in person.
Step 6: Drop the “Line”
This step is very important. After some back and forth (this can vary by match, how smooth the convo flows or time of day that you match) and at a time when you can sense that you have built a comfort level with the person, you message them asking for their number and suggest grabbing drinks or a coffee one night soon.
With regards to timing, this shouldn’t take very long. I am not a fan of talking to tinder girls for days and days without at least getting their number and agreeing to set up a date, although sometimes because of conflicting schedules, it takes longer to actually go on one. Bottom line: within the first 48 hours of matching, assuming there has been at least 3-4 messages sent by each party, you should send a message along the lines of:
“(Quick comment/answer referencing their last message/question)” followed by “I’d love to continue this chat by text, can I get your number? We should definitely grab drinks or a coffee one night soon”
I have literally used a variation of this message dozens and dozens of times, and since I make sure that there is some form of comfort between us already, I have never been denied a number. Ever. Now if the convo is really dull, there’s no connection or the girl is just extremely slow or doesn’t respond, I usually just ignore the convo and move on. But whenever I can tell the convo is moving well, I fairly quickly move to this message.
One thing to note is that this isn’t a script. You could change the first part to “I hate chatting on this app, can I get your number so we can move this to texting?” Or you could change the last part to better suit your convo, like “I’m glad you love hiking too, we should go for one next time we’re both free” (I will discuss why drinks or coffee are my top choices in the next post).
A very common variation I use is at the end of the day. Assuming we matched and had at least some good conversation that day, I’ll say “well I’m just getting to bed, but I’d love to get your number and we should set up drinks or a coffee one night soon. Have a good night!”
Just like with the opener, it’s less about the exact words you say and more about the message you’re conveying. And in these situations, the message should convey that you enjoy chatting with the person but would like to move it to texting, and that you’d like to meet them in person sometime soon. I can honestly say that 99% of responses I get are something along the lines of “that sounds great! I hate messaging on here anyway, here’s my number xxx-xxxx”.
Step 7: Where to go?
Where you prefer to go for first dates can be very subjective, but I’m going to make a strong argument in support of either going for (alcoholic) drinks or a coffee/tea. Now if you’re strictly looking for one night stands and think this sounds absurd, then that’s fair, but convincing a girl to come over or invite you over for the first time can be difficult. Even so, they may not sleep with you that first night. If you’re able to then great, but even when I’m looking for something casual, I still find that suggesting one of my options makes them more willing to meet you in person.
Going for drinks or coffee is great for a first date for many reasons:
- It allows for easy conversation
- It’s personal
- It doesn’t have to be a long time commitment (but can be if things go well)
- It’s relatively cheap
- It can lead to more things
- It shows you are interested in getting to know the person
Referencing my last post, the most important thing you want to do, whether you are trying to find someone to date or just have sex with, is to build comfort with them. And in my experience, drinks or coffee is the most efficient way to do that. You are having a fun (hopefully), one-on-one conversation with the person in a non-pressure environment that gives lots of flexibility. Because of this, you can leave after an hour (or less) if it doesn’t go well, or you can continue for hours or take it to another location or person’s apartment/house if things go really well.
Also, even just suggesting drinks or coffee will build some comfort. It shows that you are willing to get to know the person a little more and are not in it 100% for the sex (this has won me plenty of fwb’s because yes, they were mainly looking for sex too, but knowing I was a normal, down to earth person who they didn’t feel awkward around in person made them that much more willing to hop in bed quicker). For example, the last fwb situation I had resulted from going for drinks on a Monday night that went extremely well, to a kiss good night, to some flirty texts the next day, to having sex with her two nights later and for the next 2 months until I moved away.
The next decision you have to make is whether to go for drinks or for coffee/tea. Again, this is very situational. I like to go for drinks if I think there is a chance for sex on the first night (this depends strictly on the type of person you match with and whether you think he/she is the type to bang on a first date) or if I really like or get a good vibe from the person through the conversations we’ve been having and think it could lead to a relationship or fwb.
As shallow as this may sound, this is mainly because I prefer to pay for the first date, and going for drinks costs way more than coffee/tea. Therefore, if it’s a girl who I can see myself seeing more than once, I’m more willing to shell out a few more bucks. If I’m not as sure about the girl or she seems more innocent/not into drinks, I will suggest coffee/tea. Going for coffee/tea usually costs between 4-10 dollars total (pay for her as well, it’s cheap and makes you look gentlemanly as f***) and doesn’t give you a hangover if it’s during the week 😛
I have stopped going for dinners on first dates because if the girl doesn’t look like you thought she would or the date just doesn’t go well, it’s a much bigger time commitment and hit to the wallet.
So to summarize, if the girl seems like the type or has hinted at banging on the first date, or you have a strong feeling that you will go on at least a second date/start a fwb situation, I like to go for drinks. If not, or you’re tight on cash or are genuinely unsure about the girl, go for coffee/tea. Again, this is up to you and won’t make or break anything.
Lastly, this does not mean you shouldn’t suggest other options. Using the example I mentioned earlier, maybe you both are die-hard hikers and you suggest going on a hike. Great. The activity or date doesn’t matter if it’s something that gets the person excited, but I find that drinks or coffee is the most surefire way to building comfort and moving things to the next step.
Step 8: Set It Up
This is the easy part. You’ve already matched with the person, built comfort, got their number and decided on what kind of date you’d like to go on in your head. Now it’s just a matter of deciding on a time and place with the other person. This is directed more at guys, but once you’ve decided on the type of date, it’s time to get a little direct. Girls like a man who knows what he wants and is willing to make decisions, so DON’T try to set up a date like this:
“Hey, you said you wanted to grab drinks or a coffee, which do you wanna do and when are you free?”
Instead, use one of these (depending on what you decide you want) or some similar variation:
“When are you free this week? I was thinking drinks either Wednesday or Friday night” or
“Hey, how about grabbing a coffee on Tuesday night?”
The key here is to suggest a specific activity (drinks or coffee/tea) with days that work for you. Don’t just ask when they’re free, and don’t ask what they’d prefer. If you suggest drinks and they say they aren’t feeling well so would prefer coffee, or that they don’t drink alcohol then that’s completely fine and you can switch to coffee. They may also prefer drinks when you suggest coffee, and if you’re up for it, then by all means make the switch.
In this situation, there is a major difference between being soft and being accommodating. Being soft is asking them what they want and when. Being accommodating for the purposes of setting up this date is making that initial suggestion and adapting to a plan that works for both of you. For example:
“How about drinks, I’m free either Tuesday or Thursday?”
“I have X Tuesday night but Thursday sounds great!”
“Perfect, looking forward to it”
Be direct, be clear, and also don’t forget to be polite. Sometimes people are busy or you have completely conflicting schedules, so you may have to be patient before you can set a specific date. In the meantime, continue with the Step 5 banter to build some comfort, but try not to overdue the chatting. You don’t want to cover everything with the person via text and not have much left to talk about for the date, and sharing too much info about yourself too soon can take away from some of the excitement/mystery of your character as well.
That concludes my guide on how to set up a date using dating apps. However, I do want to reiterate the main theme of this post, which is to create COMFORT. The reason I’ve gone on so many dates with so many random girls I’ve never met (and they’ve told me this in person), is because we have friendly, normal chats that make them feel comfortable going on a date with me. Ditch the creepy openers or comments about hooking up and you WILL see results.
Thanks for reading!