Finding love in a digital age – sigh.
Let me break it down for you real quick. I recently got out of a year-long relationship and am in the process of getting back out there. And I am pretty positive when I say, I’m not alone in thinking it’s hard out there. Once you’re out of post-secondary and into the real world, where do you meet someone? Work? The club scene? I mean seriously, unless you’re one of the lucky ones with a rom-com-esque story of running into your prince on the street (in which case, where do I sign up?), you’ve probably given online dating a shot. And there is nothing wrong with that. I repeat, nothing. So drop your online dating stigma here.
One thing you will soon realize on any dating platform is that, just like in real life, everyone has a different motive – whether that be for better or worse. Do you want to just hook up? Great, all the power to you! There is definitely someone on here for you. Do you want a long-term relationship? Amazing! There is definitely someone on here for you. Seriously, whatever floats your boat, I’m not here to judge. But the bottom line is, regardless of what you’re looking for, it is important to a) be straight up about it from the get-go, and b) optimize your own profile to attract the type of person you’re looking for.
Point A) – There is not much that I can do there; just be honest, people! Liars never win.
Point B) – Keep reading, I got chu!
People may initially find navigating online dating daunting but what is actually required from a dating app is quite simple (in fact, swiping left or right is no more complicated than scrolling Instagram). However, there are a lot of unwritten rules that go along with this.
Now yes, I have my fair share of dating app #truths but what’s that age-old saying? I get by with a little help from my friends? Yeah, that one – it applies here. I have my own opinions but I decided it was time to turn to my Instagram friends and my trusted girl gang (AKA sorority sisters) to create the ultimate guide of online dating essentials. From what you need to consider, to what you want to avoid, we want to help you swipe right to lurrrrvvvve. Or avoid matching with a serious crazy person – whatever works.
So let’s talk basics … the platform and the profile.
PSA: I’m no doctor of love (neither are my friends); we are just a bunch of twenty-somethings trying to find a special someone, so take this ‘sage wisdom’ as seriously (or not) as you please.
Step 1: Choose wisely
Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, Hinge, Grindr, eHarmony, The League… the list goes on. Seriously, are you overwhelmed yet? Because, same! If it isn’t obvious from the above, there are countless ways you could go about online dating. Naturally, some are better than others. My best advice, in order to not waste your time with fake accounts and bots, or people you’re not interested in, is to choose an established app with millions of users (read: Bumble or Tinder). This will ensure you have a lot of selection, which is the entire point of these apps in the first place.
Some feedback re: Hinge.
“I love the concept of Hinge but again, not enough people use it.”
“Hinge would be ideal if more people actually used it, but they don’t. And don’t get me started on The League. I’ll pass on my ‘exclusive’ five options a day; talk about false advertising. Who do I need to pay to get me on Raya?”
Step 2: First impressions
Ok, so you’ve made the leap and done the download – woohoo! Now to get that profile in tip-top shape. This starts (and could end) with your photo selection. It’s not breaking news when I tell you that a swipe left or right is based on looks. Sad? I guess, but that’s the name of the virtual dating game, folks. Now this doesn’t mean you have to look like an everyday Adriana Lima (if you do, that’s epic, congrats) but there are ways to present your best self, God-given looks aside. When I say this, I mean you just need to look like a normal person (read: not a serial killer). Do you have a hobby? Have you traveled? Do you love your family and friends? Give me something to work off of that screams well-rounded, normal human being. How hard can that be, right? So what’s make or break for me? Personally, a mirror selfie – even worse, a gym selfie – is an automatic no in my books. But alas, I’m only one person, so I turned to my friends to see what they had to say about the matter.
“Please have updated photos of yourself. You may have been cute in 2010, but we all know how those tables can turn.”
“It’s a no-no if you only have group photos. One or two is fine, but I don’t want to play “Where’s Waldo” with you and your friends.”
“Automatic no is first picture being a group shot, or worst of all, all group shots.”
“Auto no: If you can’t clearly see their face in any of their pictures, (all sunglasses pictures or far away). Something is sketchy there.”
“If they have a picture with a girl that’s an automatic no. I don’t care if it’s your sister, like dude get a life and take a picture alone and/or with a pal. This is a dating app, weirdo.”
“For the love of God, don’t blur out your ex-girlfriend’s face on your profile. Take a new picture, man.”
Step 3: Tell me about yourself…
We made it over the hurdle of picture selection – phew. The main takeaway being – be yourself! Cliché, I get it. But now it’s time to get a little more personal, and this is where the bio comes in. I personally keep mine short and sweet. On most dating apps, your profile will have your job description (if applicable) and your age, so I don’t feel I need to give up much more. I do have my Instagram handle included in my bio but that’s about it. For me, an Instagram handle is one of the most important things you could have on your profile. This is because right off the bat this lets me be a little detective and ensure you’re not a catfish. Now some of my friends feel quite differently. Some enjoy a nice, witty bio and others… well, just don’t. Read on and prosper!
“Keep your bio short! I don’t want to read a (probably boring) novel and realistically, if you’re cute, I won’t even look at it anyway (but I DO appreciate it if you open with something about my bio)”
“It’s not often I see a guy I am interested in enough to read his bio, but a guy whose bio makes it look like he spent way too much time writing it is an auto no for me. I don’t know why per se, but this bothers me A LOT. I guess I like guys who are more mysterious than ones who divulge too much info up front.”
“It’s not a good idea to list things about the opposite sex that annoy you in your bio, it makes you sound like a prick.”
“Don’t use a Will Ferrell quote as your bio. We get it, you’ve seen Anchorman.”
“Include your height. Yes, I know this is shallow. I don’t care about your fragile ego, I care about what shoes I’m wearing on a date.”
“There is no such thing as an automatic swipe right but anyone in law school, medical school, post grad is a bonus for me.”
“If you have in your bio ‘Toronto for a few days’ I just can’t help but think you’re a) incredibly desperate or b) only here to hookup … no, thank you.”
“An automatic no is when they’re snarky in their bio like, “If you can’t drink beer and hang, swipe left” … done and done.”
“It’s a no from me if their Snapchat name is included in their bio.”
“Automatic swipe yes: if the occupation looking GOOD. Does it say sports team? Doctor? Swipe yes.”
“Don’t use the “Stand up guy – New York Times, 10/10 son – my mom” bio. This is the red flag for being a fuckboy (and odds are, you are none of these things).”
“A yes for me is if they’re taller than 6 ft. as stated in their bio – especially when you’re a tall gal like me. If you’re 5’5 it shouldn’t matter but I think most girls (short or tall) will use this to decide whether to swipe left or right.”
So there you have it. It’s clear that dating apps have changed the way people, much like myself, go about finding love. I’m pretty Bumble-proficient by this point and have sat through my fair share of terrible dates, filled with forced conversation, fake laughter and pricey bar tabs that will never be returned. But I’ve also met two boyfriends (now ex-boyfriends, mind you) off the app. That being said, my point is that where there is bad, there can also a lot of good – the key is patience. Be sure to do your research as there are a lot of nuances between the various apps and what may work for you and what may work for others. Much like the real world, don’t feel obligated to meet someone out of courtesy and trust your gut.
“MOM, we get it!” … ok ok, I’m done.
In part two of this series we will talk opening lines and making the first move (date ideas, anyone?).
But first, what are your thoughts on dating apps? Do you have any do’s and don’ts? We would love to hear them below!