Once upon a time, I was a bright-eyed, hopeful girl, fresh into college and fresh out of a long-term relationship. I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting in those horrible dormitory desk chairs that always managed to tip way too far back. Surrounded by nothing but cinder block walls and the encouraging voice of my roommate, I bit the proverbial bullet that all college students looking for love must bite, and I downloaded Tinder. It was the Wild West, and I was a cautious prairie girl panning for gold in a place where I would be lucky to find charcoal.
A lot has changed since then, for better and for worse. At the very least, I have become much more fluent in the dos and don’ts of dating apps. Because of this, I have compiled a list of the worst things a person can do in the uncharted frontier of dating apps. If you want to have a successful experience swiping and scrolling, heed my warning and make sure you abstain from the seven deadly sins of dating apps.
Thou shalt not use sleazy pickup lines that immediately turn the conversation to sex
Whoever told people that a sure-fire way to get dates was to say disgusting things right out of the gate on a dating app should actually be in hell. Among the things that have been said to me and my friends involve everything from suggesting baths together to a poem written about my underwear and certain sexual acts that rhyme with lace and lit.
I understand people — mostly men — are attempting to set themselves apart by being forward, but honestly it’s a turn off. These raunchy texts will immediately buy you a one-way ticket to unmatch city, or even worse, the report box. It’s much better and more attractive to be coy and charming than direct and disgusting.
Thou shalt not have a terrible bio
Nothing bites more than scrolling through Tinder on a Sunday night and seeing a relatively cute guy with decent pictures only to have your hopes smashed to pieces when there isn’t a bio. I’m not saying one has to include every detail about their personality, but at least including something witty to reassure me that one is not, in fact, a serial killer, goes a very long way.
The only thing worse than not having a bio is having a bad one. Among the common horrible bios that my friends and I see all time are: “The Office” references, something about dogs, overused Vine references, Drake lyrics of any kind, self-deprecating jokes and any and all one-liners referring to one’s self as an “alpha male.” These tend to be chronically overused and are just plain boring. A better option is something original that gives a fellow app-user some kind of idea of who you actually are. It also never hurts to include your school and major in your bio as well.
Thou shalt not include multiple dead animals in a profile picture
Fishing and hunting enthusiasts may have an issue with this one, but it isn’t incredibly appealing to see a bunch of dead animals scrawled across a person's profile like some digital meat market. I am not saying to get rid of all your hunting and fishing photos, but perhaps just choose the best one and then include other photos that give a better idea of who you are as a person.
Hunting and fishing can totally be an aspect of personality, but it is not the only one. People like variety, and a diverse profile with different activities and memories featured is much more attractive than a bunch of dead fish and deer.
Thou shalt make it clear who you are in your profile pictures
I was never good at math, so when I am forced to do mental arithmetic in order to figure out which guy in a group photo is the one who the profile belongs to, it irks me. You can include group photos. In fact, please do — it lets us know you aren’t a serial killer. However, when all you have are group photos, it seems a bit suspicious, and it comes across like you’re trying to hide which person you are out of insecurity.
Confidence is key, and users are more likely to appreciate a profile if it is clear who the profile belongs to. I would say you should add four to six pictures, with at least two pictures featuring yourself. This way, it’s clear who you are and what you look like, so there is no mental math involved.
Thou shalt not start a conversation with “heyy :)”
While this isn’t as distressing as the pick up lines that I mentioned above, “Hey what’s up” or just a “heyy” doesn’t exactly get people rearing to go on a date. A pretty face can get someone a lot of places, but a good conversationalist is hands-down more attractive than vapid beauty.
Instead of a boring introduction, my personal favorite for a good conversation starter can be a quirky or funny pickup line that isn’t suggestive. Others have told me that they prefer a funny story or a question about what is in the receiver’s bio. Anything that a person can engage with is always a good start, and there will always be bonus points for something witty.
Thou shalt not catfish, not even a little
I feel like this one might pertain to the ladies a bit more, but I have noticed my fair share of guys that partake in a little bit of photographic deceit on the apps. Catfishing is defined as luring someone into a relationship under false pretenses. Using photos that don’t adequately show what a person looks like or drastically editing photos to change their appearance both fall under this definition.
The best photos to use are clear and recent. Of course, anyone can throw on a tasteful filter every now and then or adjust a slight flaw, but it becomes a problem when you don’t look like the picture on your profile. Like I said before, confidence is key, and there is a shoe for every foot. It’s much better to be authentic with your appearance than to show up for a date looking like the Great Value branded version of your Tinder pictures.
Thou shalt not ghost your date as soon as plans have been made
This final dating app sin hits a little close to home for me because even I have committed this one a time or two. However, I have learned from the error of my ways and have repented of them. Overall, it’s fine to change your mind about a date — sometimes you’re tired or something comes up, but that doesn’t mean you get to ditch your date. It’s mean and makes people feel bad about themselves.
If you have gotten to the point where you and the person you’re talking to have made plans, you owe it to them to respectfully cancel the date. You can lie, and you can never reschedule another date, but you cannot just stand them up. People’s time is valuable, and, at our age, we are grown up enough to communicate in a mature way if we don’t want to get up off the couch to go on a date with a stranger.
While dating apps can be a lot of fun and a great segway into dating, there still remains social decorum that can greatly affect one’s experience. Staying away from these deadly sins or paying penance for sins already committed will significantly improve your experiences in the tumultuous waters of dating apps and maybe even secure a spot in relationship heaven.