Dating Apps, Decoded

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Some words of wisdom.

Two years ago, I decided to get Tinder so that I could write an article about dating apps. You know, for research purposes. I couldn’t imagine actually trying to meet somebody through an app. After all, what would we tell the children if it worked out?!

As a matter of fact, though, according to the Pew Research Center, 5% of married American couples met their significant other online, and—if they are honest— that is what they will tell their children. Although 5% does not seem like many people, it is important to note that the use of online dating sites or mobile apps has nearly tripled since 2013; 5% will surely increase to a larger proportion in the future.

Part of this increase in the use of dating apps has been the proliferation of dating apps themselves. It’s not just Tinder anymore. There is Grindr, Bumble, Hinge, Happn, and Coffee Meets Bagel, to name a few. Another reason for the increase is that online dating is starting to lose some of its stigma. When I told friends two years ago that I had downloaded Tinder, it was obvious that they thought I was desperate for love. Which, you know, may not have been entirely false. However, two years later, I am now happily dating someone I met on Coffee Meets Bagel, and those same friends have since downloaded Bumble. Entirely new to the world of swiping right, they came to me, our blocking group’s resident expert of dating apps, for some advice, and here is what I told them:

  1. Keep an open mind. If you hold any stigmas against dating apps, put them aside. You never know whom you will meet! Yes, there will likely be some weirdos, but you could also meet some really great people with whom you might end up being friends, hooking up, or even dating.
  2. Choose pictures that reflect your personality and interests. Put up a real bio about yourself. Some people argue that dating apps like Tinder, where you decide whether you like someone based on their profile, are superficial and are basically glorified versions of “Hot or Not” in which people pick people they find attractive. Of course, this is true; whether we like to admit it or not, we tend to use our attraction to someone as a basis for if we will like them as a person. But what is the difference between swiping right on someone because they are hot versus approaching someone in a bar because they are hot? In either situation, you want to put your best foot forward, so craft a profile that is really reflective of you and your personality. Don’t use pictures where you are in a large group, and try to avoid using professional headshots. Instead, use pictures in which you not only look good and like yourself, but also are of only you (or maybe 1-2 other friends). Also, if you plan to use a picture of you with a puppy or another cute animal, keep in mind that people may be swiping right on you because of the cute animal, and not because of you.
  3. Dating apps are supposed to be a way to meet people, not a way to actually get to know them – that part should be done in person. Once you match with someone and start talking with them, avoid getting to know each other virtually. So much gets lost in translation via text without body language and eye contact. While you may find it easier to be cute and funny over text, nothing beats real human interaction. If you ever do meet in person, you won’t have as much to talk about because you’ll have already covered most of the first date conversation topics while chatting through the app. Instead, try to establish a time to meet in person as early in the conversation as possible. Here is a nice example of how this could be done:

    Hey ____, how is your week?
    So far, so good. Currently watching some Netflix with my roommate and eating sushi. How about you?
    What are you watching? I’m on my way to meet some friends at a bar
    Some good old How I Met Your Mother – do you watch?
    Yasssss. Love that show. Almost as much as I love sushi!
    Lol, maybe we could go get some sushi together sometime soon?
    * mic drop *

    Of course, if you don’t feel like you’ve established enough of a rapport to ask someone to hang out, wait until you have! The point is to eventually meet this person, though.

  4. It really does not matter who messages first. While many will say that the guy should message first, or the other way around (as you’ll see in the data from the sex survey) the vast majority of people, regardless of sex, prefer to be approached. So, since everyone would rather be approached, you might as well take the initiative to talk to someone you want to talk to!
  5. If someone cannot carry a conversation with you, do not waste your time. Nobody wants to talk to, let alone hook up with or date, someone with the personality or conversational skills of a piece of toast.
  6. Just because there are so many options, does not mean you should devote less time to actually getting to know someone. With so many options, it may feel like there is always someone better out there, so why settle? However, everyone has flaws, and writing someone else off for a minor flaw or aperceived stereotype before getting to know them is silly. For example, my boyfriend (or, my Everything Bagel, as Coffee Meets Bagel likes to call him) goes to MIT. I could have totally written him off as a nerd who plays video games in all of his spare time. But I didn’t, and I got to know him well enough to find out that, yes, the latter is all true, but he is still an awesome person and I am so glad I took the time to get to know him better. That being said, if he were a cocaine dealer or something, I totally would have ghosted him. Which brings me to my next point…
  7. If you do decide to meet up with someone, definitely make sure they are who they say they are. A quick search of Google and social media will do. You don’t want to get catfished! Also, for a first date, try to go somewhere in public where there will be lots of witnesses in case your date tries to kidnap you! Safety first!

Caroline Gentile ’17 ([email protected]), despite her approval of dating apps, will still likely tell her children that their parents “met through mutual friends.”