I’m sure by now, if you’re a Millennial, you’ve either already experienced or are contemplating using online dating. I’m talking Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Happn…the options are endless.
For those of you who are new to this world, about to join it, or are intimidated, fret not.
Here is a list of tips, caveats, and ways to navigate your way through these odd seas:
1. Pictures are worth a thousand words.
The pictures people choose to present on these apps can convey a lot about the person, and are usually the first thing you see.
Caveat: Frequently, you’ll encounter someone who either has only one picture, only group pictures, pictures taken at odd and obscure angles, or abstract pictures. Basically, if you have to guess at what the person looks like, that’s bad news. It most likely means they’re either insecure or have something to hide.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like playing a game of Where’s Waldo when trying to understand what the person looks like. And you can bet that if it’s a group picture, more often than not, they’re not the best looking of that group.
Tips: When choosing your own pictures to place, I suggest posting a range to showcase the different facets of your personality. The very first picture people see should just be of you; save the group pictures for later. For the rest, keep the angles, locations, and activities of the photos diverse.
For instance, one photo can be of you and your closest friends (shows you are sociable), another can be of you playing guitar (shows your creative talents), another can be of you from a trip abroad (shows your open-mindedness, sense of adventure, and love for traveling)…you get the picture (pun unintended).
Also, this may be obvious, but make sure to select pictures that are up-to-date. It’s really disappointing when you meet someone in person and see that they look nothing like their pictures. You want what they see to be what they’d get, so cool it with the calculated poses and pictures from two years back when you weighed 40 pounds less. Overall, pictures really do say a lot about a person, almost like a resume but for your personality and hobbies. So choose wisely!
2. Your blurb.
Ahh, the biography…this is where things can get pretty weird and even amusing. Trust me, I’ve seen it all. Some opt for writing the Iliad while others simply put a sequence of symbolic emojis.
Caveat: The key here is to look for something normal, unique, or interesting. Beware of the person that writes paragraphs upon paragraphs of their life story. Not only does this ruin the mystery and excitement of getting to know the person, but also it’s a turn off to see someone give out all this information on a silver platter.
Some other things you’ll probably come across are people who list out weird hobbies, write something cryptic or sketchy, list out measurements, or list out a bunch of superficial qualities they’re looking for in a match. If anything, the bio alone can tell a great deal about what the person is expecting out of a match.
Tips: This is your chance to give people a little preview of what they can expect. The best thing is to list out a variety of different interests, experiences, and hobbies to give your viewers various “conversational hooks”. In other words, give your viewers an easy way to start a conversation. Try to be as unique as you can here, rather than just the usual “dog-lover”, “avid hiker”, or “entrepreneur”. Again, be concise; you want to give just enough information to spark interest, and then leave the rest for the person to find out through conversation.
3. You’re a (conversational) wizard, Harry…
Finally, you’ve made it to the best part, the part that will either make it or break it- the conversation. This is where you truly get to know more about the person and potentially set up an in-person meeting depending on how it goes.
Caveat: I can’t testify to how girls start conversation on these platforms, but I can tell you that guys have some interesting ways of starting conversation. Some lay all their cards out on the table upfront and get right to the point, so do with that what you will.
Others start with cheesy pick-up lines, which can either be cute in a dorky way or make you want to roll your eyes and un-match them. Then, you have guys that just go “hey” and expect a response. I’m sorry, but “hey” doesn’t give me a lot to go off of and is the most unoriginal way of starting a conversation. Bye Felicia.
Another thing I’m sure you’ll experience at some point is when your match stops talking altogether and then responds at some ungodly time, at which point you’ve already moved on from them. Don’t pay any attention to these people, because they clearly don’t respect your time or have a solid interest in getting to know you.
Tips: There is no rule about who should start the conversation. If you’re confident enough about your opening remark, go for it! Instead of a one-size-fits-all opener, try to tailor your greeting more to the actual person. If they have a picture of themselves riding an elephant in Thailand, you can start with “Hey, I see that you went to Thailand! I’d love to hear about your experience there.” People love to talk about themselves, so this would immediately attract their attention and give them an easy time responding.
Try not to immediately delve into interrogative questions, particularly about their employment. As you get to know them better, you can think of clever ways to figure that out, and be like “So since you like (x) and (y), I’m guessing you’re an engineer?” Once conversation (hopefully) starts flowing, you can better assess whether or not this match is worth your time.
If there is evident chemistry, you can hint at meeting in person through a mutual hobby, such as Latin dancing. Or, you can opt for getting drinks, either at a coffee shop or a bar and then depending on how that goes, you can get a meal together afterward. I wouldn’t suggest diving straight into dining together because if things are awkward, you have to sit through an entire meal before you can escape.
Best of luck!