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Surviving The Swipe Era: The New Rules Of Tinder

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Photo by Taylor Birdsong


I can’t do this anymore.

Stop with the shirtless mirror pics. Take down the blurry selfies. Don’t get my hopes up with pictures of you and your much hotter friend. You’re only hurting yourself.

I guess no one ever told the men of America how to make a good Tinder profile as evidenced by the sea of hastily thrown together profiles leaving me to wonder how anyone finds anyone on this godforsaken wasteland of an app.

I know that what I’m about to say will come off as superficial, but it’s not.

After all, I’m talking about Tinder, which is a site built on first impressions and appearances. If you want a dating site where people take into consideration your intelligence or your humor or…well, that thing called a personality, I suggest trying one of those dating sites my mother keeps pushing on me–, OkCupid, and J Date.

Go take their fun personality tests and then be disappointed because you realize that everyone’s on Tinder anyway and everything else is so 2006.

This is the swipe era, where thumbs decide what you do this Friday night. Right, left, up, down–whatever. The truth is, you spend a fraction of a second glancing at a photo and with a small flick of the thumb you decide if that person is worth even a minute of your time.

And most of the time, you think they aren’t.

This is Tinder, we are adults and we all know what we’re doing here.

So play the game and play it well.

But before you do, gentlemen, keep these things in mind.

Rule #1: Make a profile your grandmother would swipe right on.

On Instagram, photos are carefully curated and cropped in order to present our lives in a certain manner–my younger brother calls it his “aesthetic.

I call it his “douchery.”

On Facebook we share our education and accomplishments. We are very aware of how we portray ourselves on social media, so why in the world is Tinder where we let it all hang out?

Your Tinder account is an advertisement of you. You get exactly 500 words and a handful of pictures to convince a stranger to date and/or hook up with you. Do you really think the picture of you shotgunning a beer is the way to go? Or the grainy photo of you on 4/20 clutching a giant bong? What about the one of you with your head stuffed down a toilet?

Oh, be still my heart.

By the way, these are all real photos I have seen.

Keep it PG. No pictures of you flipping off the camera–we haven’t even gone out and you already hate me? No photos of you naked clutching your junk and please don’t stick your tongue out like Miley at the VMAs. Also, cool it with the hand gestures. There are only so many peace and gang signs I can stand.

I get it. You like to party. It’s Tinder and you want to show people you’re fun and free spirited and wild and blah, blah, blah. That’s cool. But a lot of people like to drink and party. The question is why do I want to drink and party with you? I’m going to quote one of those college essay questions that I was asked repeatedly and always hated: What makes you so special?

One of the horribly magical parts of social media is your ability to manage exactly how and what people see of you. Take advantage of this. The effort you spend on Tinder should be equal to the effort you spend thinking up Instagram captions or updating your Facebook profile.

If you want someone to date you, make yourself appear dateable.

It’s as simple as that.

I was recently listening to a good perfectly dateable guy friend of mine complain about Tinder and his lack of matches. Our Tinder experiences were very different. He was getting zero matches, I was getting too many. I suggested he try Tinder Gold to expedite the process. On Tinder Gold you can see who has liked you before you have liked them. I tried it once while on vacation and was shocked by the numbers.

“You’d be surprised how many people swipe on you in just a day,” I told him.

He disagreed saying, “Tinder is different for you. You’re a hot young woman, of course you’re going to get a lot of likes.”

I mean, he’s right

But I also know how to advertise the hell out of myself. Of course I have a plethora of dumb photos of myself making weird faces, moodily flipping off the camera, and knocking back shots. I’m not posting those photos because I know better. They make me look insane and immature– two of the least sexiest qualities on the planet short of crocs with socks and not replying to my texts.

Rule #2: Smile

Just do it. Please. In at least two or more of your photos. If not, you look like a serial killer and if you kill me I will have no one to blame but myself.

Rule #3: Don’t pose with other girls

I don’t care if she’s your sister, your cousin, a friend, or even your mom. Stop it. It’s confusing and weird. I don’t know you, so why should I trust that the girl who you have your arm draped over is not your girlfriend?

Maybe you want to show that you’re a ladies’ man or have female friends. Maybe you just happen to look super hot in that photo of you with your ex. Too bad. Find a new photo or crop out the girl.

Nothing is more unappealing to a girl than a guy with his arms around another one.

But also there’s a picture of you with your mom? Come on, man. Why? Do you want to give me a look at the woman I may be battling Christmas dinners with? Are you exacting revenge on her? What did she do to deserve to be on a Tinder profile? Do yourself a favor and leave your Mommy out of this.

Rule #4: No selfies

Just don’t.

I can’t explain why, but there is something so unattractive about a man taking a selfie. I know. It’s a double standard. My phone is literally filled with selfies. Burt you know what? I have never used one for a dating profile.

There are a lot of things wrong with selfies. For starters they are hard to take. You have to find the perfect lighting, the right angle, and the best distance. It’s hard to do and very easy to mess up.

That’s why you see girls snapping selfies all the time–practice makes perfect, darling.

Selfies are also associated with superficiality and narcissism–two things about myself that I try very hard to hide. There is just something about a person taking a picture of their own face and posting it for the world to see that bothers me to my core. This includes mirror and gym selfies. Those are actually worse than regular selfies because no one, I mean no one, looks good in a mirror selfie. And if you do have a mirror selfie, please, for the love of god don’t be shirtless and don’t be flexing. It’s just too much narcissism all at once and it’s weird. It’s like me taking a mirror selfie in a bra while pushing my breasts together.

A bit too on the nose.

So grab a friend. If you don’t have any friends get a stranger. I don’t care. Do whatever you have to do so that I won’t have to see a blurry, up close photo of your face.

And by the way, taking a selfie from below is never a good idea unless you think your nostrils are the most attractive thing you have to offer.

Rule #5: Use your words (and use them correctly)

Unless you’re a fourth grade girl testing out her new iPhone, a line of emojis is never appropriate. What am I, a detective? How am I supposed to know you if all you give me is an American Flag, football, and beer?

I don’t need an essay. I have seen those rare profiles full of detailed descriptions of people’s childhoods and their hopes and dreams and fears and how their last relationship ended and their dad’s favorite book and the names of their future children. Please don’t do that. I want to know those things about you, but…gradually. Preferably in person and after we have been dating for five years. Then you can tell me your mom’s name and why you wear socks during sex.

But until then–zip it on the life story.

A good bio is like a good resume–clean, organized, and to the point. Don’t leave your bio blank. Everyone (including myself) does that and it’s just cowardly and lame. Tell me something. Play on your strengths. If you’re funny, be funny and make a joke. If you’re smart tell me your college major and favorite book.

If you’re athletic, tell me your sport.

Just don’t leave it blank.

Don’t just put your location and a winky face emoji. Let us at least pretend that we are not all swiping for the sole intention of ravaging each others’ bodies.

Rule #6: Save the Baby

Why are you holding a baby? Whose baby is that? Is it yours? Is it not? Should I be worried? Should I call child protective services?

I think guys believe that the sight of them with a baby will immediately make a girl’s hormones go into overdrive.

That’s not how it works.

This is Tinder and the last thing I want to be thinking about is adult responsibilities and babies. So please, men of Tinder: put the baby down.

Rule #7: Easy on the skin

You’re not auditioning for Magic Mike. Not every picture of you needs to be shirtless.

Rule #8: I’m not here for your entertainment

I don’t know why you think I’m here for your enjoyment nor do I know why you think it takes so little effort from you for me to want you. I’m sure a whole book could be written on the sexism of Tinder and the bias women face, but let me sum it up for you: A swipe right does not mean yes. There is no dotted line or contract saying that once we match I owe you nudes or that you’re entitled to send me eggplant emojis with rain drops.


And don’t say you’re bored.

The amount of times I have seen a guys’ profile’s read “Bored” or “Entertain me” is laughable. I know Tinder is a hookup site. We are here to have fun, hook up, create memories and funny stories. I know that. Swiping right means I saw your pictures and your profile. I think you might be hot or funny or smart. Congratulations–you made the first cut. But let me be very clear: swiping on you does not put you in the position of power. I’m not sitting at home pining for your hot bod.

I know you’re bored and I’m bored and boredom is what drives this whole thing. Just remember, I don’t owe you anything.

Rule #9: Stay Solo

When you post a picture of you with your friends it is very confusing. I don’t know you. We have never met before and the chances that I can pick you out of a crowd are slim to none. So please do me a favor and stop with the group pics. Most of the time you are doing yourself a disservice and do you want to know why? 99% of the time I see a group picture, the hot guy in the group is not the one with the profile and I am inevitably disappointed.

So don’t do it.

It’s misleading and not worth it.

Rule #10: The Money Shot

Show me that beautiful face, baby doll. I love guys with dogs, but I’m not dating your dog. So don’t have a photo of solely your pet. You can have a picture of you and your pet but please don’t post a dog selfie on your profile. Please also note that photos of landscapes, memes, and your torso are not acceptable either.

Maybe this all seems harsh. Maybe I am setting the bar a little too high but I am only trying to help. Like it or not, Tinder is built on superficial platforms where the standard for hotness is forever increasing. Stack the odds in your favor and make a good profile. Don’t half-ass it because you’re lazy or afraid to put yourself out there.

You downloaded the app and set up the account, now it’s time to follow through.

I always say that if you’re going to do something, you better do it well.

But what if I just don’t care? I’ve heard this excuse–the one that goes, “I don’t really care about Tinder so I’m not going to make any effort because this just for fun…’

Yeah, and I buy lingerie purely for self esteem purposes. I definitely don’t max out my Victoria’s Secret card with certain people in mind. Please. Maybe you don’t care that much, but you care a little. Enough to make a profile, slap up a few pictures, and put an eggplant emoji in your bio. And plus it’s about hooking up. Don’t you want to hook up?

I know I do…or also find love.

I want that, too.

But let me tell you, if these profiles don’t shape up, I won’t be hooking up with anyone.

Good luck with your swiping.

You’re going to need it.