Dating apps! The digital saviours of modern romance! The promise of lust, love and lifelong companionship all at our literal fingertips! Everyone knows at least one couple who met on these notification-pinging, profile-matching, right-swiping platforms — and maybe you’re now looking to try these apps out for yourself.
But, whether you opt for Tinder, Bumble or Hinge, it can be tricky — and never more so than during this past locked-down year, when meeting people in person has been exceedingly difficult. That’s why, here at Gentleman’s Journal, we’ve jotted down some sound, sage advice for those prospective digital daters still feeling nervous or confused.
And there’s a lot to digest — especially if you’re only just now entering the fray. So buckle up, hit up the app store and prime those swiping fingers; here’s what to know if you’re trying dating apps for the first time…
Be honest about who you are...
When setting up your dating profile, it can be oh-so tempting to use the most flattering pictures you can find. And why shouldn’t you use that dapper, debonair photo from your first year uni black-tie ball? Firstly, because it was over half a decade ago. Secondly, because unless you’re James Bond (or a maître d’), it’s probably not an accurate representation of who you actually are.
So the first rule is simple: Be as honest as you can when setting up your profile. There’s obviously a certain pressure to look or sound ‘cool’ or ‘fun’ on dating apps; but, if you try to present an ideal idea of a person — rather than who you truly are — it could lead to a severely awkward first date. Show the other app users the ‘real you’, and we guarantee you’ll be ten times closer to a happy relationship.
Side note: Don’t upload a picture of you with a dog if you don’t really like dogs. (It’s frankly bewildering how many men do this. Surely you can’t all love dogs that much?!)
Don’t take it personally if you’re ghosted
For the happily uninitiated, ‘ghosting’ is when one person in a potential couple suddenly stops messaging the other without offering any explanation. If this is the first time you’ve heard the term, lucky you. Because ‘ghosting’ is rough. It really is. If it’s happened to you recently, you have our sympathies. But, on dating apps, it happens to (almost) everyone.
There are clear reasons for this. You may be messaging someone who is now in a relationship, but has forgotten to delete the app. You may be messaging someone who is messaging so many people, that you’ve slipped through the cracks. Or, and this is sadly the most likely scenario, they’ve simply decided that they don’t see a future with you — but don’t have the common decency to tell you as such.
Ultimately, don’t take it personally. Life’s too short, and dating apps are too much fun. Equally, don’t become a ‘ghoster’ yourself. Treat other app users as you’d want to be treated yourself.
Courtesy really is everything
This follows on from our last point. But there are specific ways to ‘be nice’. Firstly, ask questions. It sounds simple, and we’re sure you’re already enough of a gentleman to show genuine interest, but it’s sadly remarkable how many people don’t ask a single question about you. Instead, they let the other person ask question after question, and offer up only timid, clipped answers in return.
Don’t be that person. Because questions are everything; they’re how you establish rapport with another person. Another important topic, while we’re on the theme of courtesy, is respect. You all may have decided to sign up to a dating app, and started conversations — but nobody owes anyone anything.
Which brings us to cheesy chat-up lines — because nothing guarantees an unmatch faster than ‘Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?’. In fact, we’d recommend steering clear of using compliments to open conversations all together. Women bring a lot more than their looks to the table, so try commenting on another area of her profile. Has she mentioned which university she went to? Does her profile say what she does for a living, or any of her hobbies? Lead with that instead — and wait to compliment her looks until you actually know each other.
Be clear about what you want
And, finally, clarity. Dating apps may be a lot of fun, but if you’ve downloaded one without really knowing why, they can be bewildering and overwhelming. Without a clear plan, you’ll find yourself up at 3:30am with cramping, swipe-happy thumbs and less self-esteem than you started with. And no-one wants that for you.
Instead, you just need to know what you want. Do you want a relationship, or do you just want to meet some new people and have fun? Do you want to date someone who’s active and outdoorsy, or more of an indoors person? Are you looking for someone who can bring out your wild party side, or someone who’s after a quieter life?
The best way to ensure compatibility is by knowing exactly what you want. So tailor your profile to attract the right sorts of people, and you’ll spend less time being let down. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be open to spontaneity, and to being proved wrong; often, the right person comes along when we least expect it. But it’s good to go in with an idea. Happy swiping!