How to use Tinder without losing faith in humanity

7 tips on avoiding the darker pits of online dating from a despair expert

As lockdowns progress and our worlds shrink to the size of a phone screen, the hopes to casually bump into the love of your life on a weekend trip to Paris start to evaporate. A lot of my friends are trying Tinder for the first time — and I worry for them.

Alice In Wonderland 2010 movie poster

1. Commit to the fact you’re on Tinder now.

I know, I know, online dating is awkward.

There is an ancient Russian saying: if you can’t stop the disgrace, lead it. So if you’re on Tinder, don’t act like it’s an accident. Commit. Vow to take the place by storm. Don’t wait for other people to offer you a good show.

Be the show.

2. Realize this is a marketplace

The economies of scale are tough — you find yourself in front of shelves and shelves of dating profiles until any trace of human interaction is gone. One part of it makes the game extremely fun — you laugh at the profiles with your friends, judge all the personality faults from a single picture from the comfort of your home.

Here, you are the product — so instead of being heartbroken about it, step into a competitive, entrepreneurial mindset. Experiment, optimize, try to package yourself to be the most desirable candy for your preferred category of customers.

Which brings us to the next point.

3. Figure out who are you looking for

If you ask a Tinder rookie what’s their goal on here, the default answer would be “dunno I’m just checking it out”.

If you’re not crystal-clear on the end goal of your mission, you can spend years of your life wandering in these wastelands and getting traumatized by the most disadvantageous aspects of the human condition.

But if you know what you want, you can start crafting your profile and approach to only attract the people you could like.

4. Step in their shoes — and show them something they’ll like

So, in today’s economy, a successful Tinder profile is a profile that attracts your desired audience while detracting people you won’t want to spend time with. And this is where the most tricky part is.

The first instinct of so many people is to list their requirements (tall, fun, fit, etc), and then point their royal finger to the door for all the unsatisfying categories of users: “If you are over XXlbs / smoke / put pineapple on pizza / gold-digger /don’t text first / poor, swipe left”.

  • a small percentage swipes right just to argue;
  • another small percentage swipes right because they have self-esteem issues and an irresistible desire to earn the love of an angry stranger. Not sure you want to deal with that.

Including an important deal-breaker saves us all some time, but make sure it doesn’t outweigh your deal-maker.

5. Push your own aesthetics

There’s a lot of grief about Tinder working only if you are “model-looking, tall, rich, or a girl”. Yes, it is a platform dominated by visual stimuli, like our mating behaviors were since the beginning of time. But in the age of digital ads and expanding beauty standards, you don’t have to be conventionally pretty — you have to be eye-catching.

You don’t have to be conventionally pretty to have a successful Tinder profile — you have to be eye-catching.

And as modern advertising teaches us, these things are not at all the same.

Gucci Beauty 2020 campaign

The more unusual, controversial your mini-magazine turns out to be, the better. You will pull in the ones that share your passion and attitude, and push away the rest, clearing the field to have meaningful conversations.

Which brings us to the next point.

6. Have a strategy that allows you to be human in a conversation

For a “strategy” I mean a set of rules on interacting on the platform that allows you to be fully present in each conversation that opens to you.

  • I swipe left on all the people without a description unless they’ve sent me a superlike and have something interesting about their pictures;
  • if I like their description and I have a match with them, I immediately text whatever ridiculous thing that came to my mind;
  • if they didn’t have any text, I wait for them to write something first and see if I’d like to continue;
  • if they text “hey how are you” or “hey pretty” I unmatch.
  • I’m obsessed with the written word, so if someone dislikes it enough to leave a profile empty, we won’t have a good conversation.
  • I’ve got an abrasive, absurd sense of humor and I’m only attracted to people who share it.
  • I’m horrible at small-talk, so if a person opens up with it, it for sure will be a failure.

The trick is to set rules that help you interact with people without getting sucked in an endless, addictive swiping game. To try having an unscripted connection before running for the next big thing.

Which brings us to the last point.

7. Learn to have fun with the unexpected findings

You may be as smart as it gets with filters, algorithms, and strategies, but the crude reality outside of your bubble will find a way to poke you in the eye. Some people will feel like it’s their duty to God to explain to you why your way of life is wrong. Some will explode at an innocent joke. Some will be clingy or just plain boring. Some will be the opposite of their online persona. And some will be nice to spend time with, but not what you were looking for.

Stories from another hemisphere, written under a stripper pen name and in a second language. Because God forbid we make things easier for us.