I’ve been on apps for a few years now and I’ve started to notice how much I allow my own little dating app heuristics to determine my love life. I developed rules for avoiding people. I’ll walk past some jobs (I guess bartenders have odd hours and finance people are, well, soulless). I’ll skip the overly sincere (looking for someone “passionate”?! OK) and people posing with sedated exotic animals (it’s just weird).
Some of them look like obvious filters to weed out people I’m really incompatible with, but I can’t get rid of the feeling that I’m swiping left on people I would otherwise like IRL. What’s the ideal balance between approaching dating apps more generously (and risking burnout) and really focusing on the perfect match?
Dear Swiped Out,
I love my friends, but I still cut some on Twitter. What does this have to do with your question? It’s entirely possible to like someone IRL and dislike them online. We render different versions of ourselves for each online platform, but none of them can fully capture who we are in person. You should treat dating app profiles accordingly and avoid drawing conclusions based on limited information.
Even though apps would have you believe they’re giving you a holistic representation of a person, that’s an illusion, and we’re still most sweep based on attractiveness. Hinge (and Most likely Tinder) use algorithms that group you based on who you are likely to like and who is likely to love you back. But it’s not, like, Oh you like people who value selflessness and family. The algorithm is more superficial than that, because despite our best efforts, we are quite superficial when browsing photos of potential partners. In short: if you tend to swipe right on white people with mustaches, chances are you’ll see more white people with mustaches – especially if white people with mustaches are hitting you.
Sure, it would be cool if we were grouped based on our values or personality traits instead of our looks, but the algorithm just isn’t that smart. It’s not about intensive, principled matchmaking – it just serves us profiles that are similar to other profiles we like.
Since you are presented with a multitude of options, you have the luxury of filtering them into oblivion. My advice: Do not filter! Simply swipe right on the people you find attractive. If there are too many, just sweep less.
And keep in mind that the bartender might have a weird schedule now, but maybe he’s about to quit and go to college. The financial worker may have to support his family, so he does the work for money until he can find something else. The overly sincere person might be new to dating apps and not understand that being sincere makes you lame. I won’t make excuses for the sedated exotic animal guy, but you get the idea. The fact, Swiped Out, is that you’re right: filtering profiles by these qualities probably makes you miss people you might like IRL.
Instead of considering the merits and flaws of each profile, just go smooth-brained and like people based on whether you would kiss them or not. If I were you, this is how I would send my matches:
1. Look at someone’s profile and send them the first thought or question that comes to mind. Make it original. People who start conversations with “Hey, how was your weekend?” shouldn’t be allowed on dating apps (or at least sent to an app for people with terrible jokes). Ideally, your message is funny and personalized, but it doesn’t have to be deep. I recently posted a message replying to a photo of a guy playing guitar with “boom bap boopity clack clock zzzz dingaling dong shhhh”. You may not like it, but it led to a date.
2. If the other person first sends a message with something awful, like “Hey, how was your weekend?” I usually say something weird back, like, “Oh, she didn’t tell you? I was hanging out with your mom. She said you were really excited for me.
3. If the initial banter sounds good, send messages back and forth until plans for an IRL date are set. If you’re bored, ghost and don’t force it. Whatever you do, don’t let things drag on in DMs. (Tip: Complete steps 1-3 in about 20 minutes to maintain momentum.)
Again, this is just my strategy, and you can take it with a grain of salt. Having silly conversations with people is how I make apps fun. Maybe you prefer debating philosophy or exchanging playlists. Do what feels authentic to you, and most importantly, don’t take it too seriously.
This also applies to sweeping. Just pair up with people you think are hot or interesting and let them play IRL; if you think about it too much, you will be run out. Real matches are made by hanging out with someone – not by swiping right on them.