How to Tinder

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In case this hasn’t already been established, I am a Tinder expert.

How does one become a Tinder expert? And is that even an accreditation I should be proclaiming? Well, I’ve been on a lot of Tinder dates. Have you seen What’s Your Number? Anna Farris tries to remember all the people she’s slept with, across a range of different settings and scenes. This was my week. Except instead of sexual partners, I kept recalling Tinder dates mid-drive, mid-martini and mid-conversation. I remembered four more writing this.

I’ve spoken to a lot of people on the app. Interesting ones. Boring ones. Ones whose taciturn responses drove me positively mad. I’ve used the app for quite a while (I won’t say exactly how long because that would age me and I don’t want to undermine my excellent moisturising routine). Through all of this, I have noticed patterns for Tinder success.

But have I had success? I think so. Through Tinder I’ve had a long-term relationship, travelled, gained very convenient accommodation, made friends and consumed Zombies. I’ve also had long dull nights (best avoided with my 8 Unusual Date Ideas), expensive restaurant bills and a broken shoe (my favourite wedge!). But I feel that if these are the low points, I’m not doing too badly.

Of course, Tinder is just one way to meet prospective dates. I see them EVERYWHERE. And naturally, I have some opinions on where the prime meeting places are. If you’d like the list, you know you only have to ask…

But I’m getting off topic (classic me). We are here to talk about how to Tinder. How to be an exceptional application user so you can make dates rain. That’s right. Dates. This post focuses exclusively on the romantic side of Tinder. If you’re using Tinder for its more traditional purpose, I have tips for you too. But not here. This is a family place.

Just kidding. It’s really not. Keep your kids away.

Please note:  I use the term Tinder interchangeably with Bumble throughout this post. They are different dating apps with slightly different functionality and mission statements but, for the points I’ll make below, they are one.

 How to Tinder More Successfully


All about the face. As in, you’ve got one – use it. This is a non-negotiable, you would think. Yet every day, I encounter scuba diving masks, sunlit silhouettes and people so far up a mountain, they are a mere speck. How am I supposed to gauge your attractiveness?

In a similar vein, minimise the amount of group photos you include. Yes, it’s great you’ve got so many friends. There is some social proof to be leveraged. But tactically. Firstly, if the group is too big, you’re forcing someone to scan all the people, flip through your look book and try to marry up two faces that look similar. We are on Tinder, ok? Efficiency is key.

Secondly and superficially speaking, don’t include photos where you are not the hottest person in the photo. Yes, hotness is subjective blah blah. I just want the best for you. People should be getting excited flipping through your photos. Not being crushed by waves of disappointment as they realise you were not the 8-pack with the surfer hair. If in doubt, leave it out.

Tinder is a superficial medium. In your usual day to day, sure, you might be drawn to the gorgeous individual sitting on the other side of the room. But so many more elements feed into your overall impression of that person: Their posture, their interactions with others, their tone of voice. In real life, there’s also often the luxury of time. That is, you get some. When you work in an office with someone, you can fall in love slowly, over coffee runs and meetings about OH&S. You don’t get the slow burn on Tinder. It’s go hard or stay home.

Please do not include your cars. They belong in your garage, not your Tinder profile. Or, if my friend had his way, in a home’s entry way, on permanent display. You only have a few photos to convey all your multi-faceted goodness. Is your shiny black car really the best thing about you? No it is not (I hope).

Babies and puppies are debatable. Personally, I am a huge huge fan. I fall for them. Every. Single. Time. In fact, a moderately attractive person might transform right before my eyes if they’re cradling a little chocolate lab. Majority of women see right through these plays, though; you’ve been warned.

Tops – on or off? I think it depends on the environment the photo is taken in (pool yes, bedroom no), the order it appears in your flip book (put it second), the pose and, let’s face it, the rig. I’m not averse to a profile minus a few items of clothing. Just don’t make it a selfie. (This is different for women. Women in bikinis is much more acceptable. Something to do with sexism… I forget).

By the way, I have considered the inherit contradictions in this post. How can I say “be yourself” and simultaneously implore you to avoid bathrooms selfies? What if bathroom selfies is yourself?! Grain of salt, people, grain of salt.


Fill it out. If you’re worried people might not like what you have to say, stop right there. That’s already a given. You will not escape life without some rejection. Anyway, you don’t want everyone to like you. Then you’d have to deal with the horror that is the paradox of choice.

Save everyone’s time by being as upfront as possible. Also, the more overtly yourself you are, the more likely you are to attract the perfect individual(s). When a guy says he’s a whisky drinking business owner who loves spoodles and sweet potato chips, we’ve matched before I’ve even swiped right. How good are sweet potato chips though? So bloody good.

You don’t know what to say/have nothing to say? Then your first step is to exit this page right now and go find some hobbies and passions. If you can’t write fifty words about the person you spend the most time with – YOU – you’re in need of some serious self-development. Or have very poor writing skills. If it’s the former, see above. For the latter, use some emojis and get someone to spell check your one-liner. Nothing says ‘swipe left’ like someone who can’t distinguish between ‘definite’ and ‘defiant’.

Opening line

Hey. As in hey, I have nothing to offer you or this conversation. Here is my feeble attempt at communicating.

If you’re not sure how to begin, here are 3 options for you:

1.     A question.
It could be “what are you up to?”, “How’s your day been?”, “Got any plans for the weekend?” or “What’s the last movie you saw and loved?” Be cheeky and go with “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Whatever. It’s just got to be open-ended. In the past, I have copied and pasted the exact same opener, over and over. The results don’t lie. But I try to take a slightly more tailored approach these days because I feel it accelerates the conversation to a more interesting place.

2.     The interested listener.
Some version of “Tell me…” Tell me what you think about Beyonce/Winter/the bees in Slovenia. Tell me the best part of your story.
Who cares if you seem excessively interested in this stranger? It’s an opening line. Plenty of ensuing sentences to clarify your perfect blend of nonchalance and enthusiasm.

3.     Reference their profile.
If they’ve mentioned that they love Dad jokes or not-so-secretly watched Bachelor in Paradise or have clearly spent time skiing Mount Fuji, bring it up. And if my previous remarks about the importance of a bio didn’t convince you, this is a reminder: It’s not just a way for people to get a little insight into your personality; a bio is a great conversation starter.

Be interesting and be interested. That’s it.

Who should initiate?

I fluctuate on this subject like the BMI of a yo-yo dieter. From a modern feminist perspective, I feel that we are all equal. Anyone can start the conversation.

But I also want a man that can lead. A strong protector who knows how to fix things. Archaic, I know. The heart wants what it’s been socially ingrained to want.

I also consider that a lot of guys haven’t had the best experiences with Tinder. Many have grown sick of lighting the proverbial match only to find there is no oxygen in the room. I’ll be a breath of fresh air, I decide. Someone who can start and maintain a conversation. Gold star right here.

Mostly, I wait a little while to see if anything will happen. Then I send a message. And if the conversation doesn’t take off, I get the hell out.

Asking someone out

How long into the conversation should you/must you wait? The better the conversation, the shorter the timeframe.

But it is a balance. Three sentences in and you seem a little desperate. Like, you don’t want to date me, you just want to date.

I know a lot of people say you get to know someone on a date. For time conservation, I like Matthew Hussey’s line, “Be generous about who you meet. But be selfish about who you date.”


1. Establish if there is a connection. Does conversation flow easily? Are you doing all the heavy lifting? Or have you noticed they haven’t asked a single question about you? This is all a precursor to an entire night of lopsided talk. If you’re not enjoying the chat now, you’re not going to enjoy two hours of it (although with a little Rosé…) Be protective of your time to avoid dating fatigue.

2. Move off the platform. There is still a level of stigma associated with Tinder. You need to bring legitimacy to your connection by taking it from one virtual platform to another. I like Facebook for this, so you can get a bit more insight into the way a person interacts with their friends and what kind of memes they think are funny. But you could do Instagram, phone calls or texting. Do not move to Snapchat. Just don’t.

3. Ask them out. The most rejection free route is to mention something fun that is coming up (Gertrude St Projection Festival, Rocky Road Festival of Flavours). Then a casual, “We should check it out. When are you free?”

You already know the person has a level of interest in you. You both swiped right. If they are suddenly too busy or develop a strange allergy to rocky road, then exit that conversation pronto. On to the next guy with a puppy.

Don’t delete them. If someone was offensive, I would block them. But as a rule, I never delete. This is because I do not want to re-match with someone I have already decided is a no-go. I’m sifting through all of humanity; I don’t have time to be repeating the process.

When it comes to timing and comfort zones, everyone is a little different. My friend from uni would NEVER call someone. She says her phone voice isn’t her real voice. With all that in mind, two weeks is TOO long (and not just because it sounds good). That’s a serious work deadline, a cousin’s wedding and a whole heap of essay writing. It is enough time to mention the possibility of catching up with someone. A singular message takes seconds to send. “It would be cool to meet up. When are you free for tight rope walking/ Latin dance class/wine tasting__?”  Copy and paste this. Insert your chosen activity.

You don’t have to meet up immediately. But if no one has suggested a potential catch up and a fortnight has passed, then don’t despair – you’ve got yourself a new internet friend.

Going on the date

For date inspiration, read 8 Unusual Tinder Dates.

Everyone uses the platform for different reasons. Half of Tinder users don’t even know why they are on the platform. But if you’ve got a burning question, then get some cream from the pharmacist, and ask away.

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