Opinion | The dating apps work! You’re just using them wrong (2024)

Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

The Tinder app.

Alas, cuffing season has passed, and we are on our way to hot girl summer. You may not have any interest in finding love with the temperature heating up, but I’m sure there are some of you out there who want someone to snuggle up with during finals and beyond.

You may have tried to find love in your classes, at parties, at Hem’s or wherever to little avail. And you might already have Tinder, Hinge, Bumble or one of the many other dating apps on your phone. You may even feel less than positive about your prospects on the apps. You’re not the only one –– according to Pew Research Center, roughly half of dating app users have characterized their experiences using the apps as negative or somewhat negative. However, the other half have benefitted from the apps. So clearly they aren’t all bad!

I identify with the latter half. I met my wonderful boyfriend on Hinge about a year and a half ago. My fellow columnist Jessica Snyder met her husband on Tinder. Two of my cousins met their wives on the apps –– one on JSwipe, a Jewish singles app, and the other on Tinder. Evidently, the apps work! And if you’re feeling jaded about your lack of success in finding love on the apps, you might need some guidance.

If your primary grievance with the apps is that you’re not getting many matches, consider renovating your profile. I often swiped left on people if their pictures were especially unflattering –– like, iPhone 4 camera, bad lighting, insanely bad double-chin angles, mirror pics or Snapchat filters. I also didn’t like it if someone only had group pictures, which would force me to perform deductive reasoning to figure out which person the subject was. It’s Bumble, not the SATs, ya know?

If you don’t have any great pictures of yourself, put on a nice outfit, do your hair and have a trusted friend do a little photoshoot. Once you have a solid solo picture, you can add more group shots.

As for prompts, take full advantage of them and highlight things about yourself that are uncommon. When I was swiping, if someone used the prompt to say, “I love dogs!” or “I love The Office!” or “Tacos!” I’d think to myself, okay … so does everybody. In my profile, I highlighted that I love doing crossword puzzles, and now, my boyfriend and I do the Sunday New York Times Crossword together on Sunday mornings. Flaunt your quirks –– more people love nerds than you think, myself included!

I understand that not everyone has my preferences for a partner. That said, I will offer my personal red flags. Take from this pile what you will. It is a red flag when a man specifies that he wants a woman who “doesn’t take herself too seriously.” A Saturdays Are For The Boys banner is deeply menacing –– so is a muddy truck with a raised body or an ATV. I always swiped left on a man holding a fish, especially if it isn’t even that big. If they identified as a moderate, a conservative or apolitical ––whatever that means –– bye, bye. And if they listen to Kanye? Oy vey, out with the trash.

The biggest thing I see, especially in my female friends, both straight and queer, is that they’ll get a match, but then they’ll either never talk to their match, or the conversation will fizzle out. Sometimes, you have to make the first move –– I did with my boyfriend! No shame in the game, ladies. And if you’re not sure what to talk about, just refer back to those sweet, sweet prompts! If you get a response, keep responding promptly so as not to let the connection die. It’s easy to forget about a match, so strike up conversations when you’re just hanging out by yourself. That way, neither of you will forget about each other.

Once you feel that you’ve established a connection with someone, move the conversation over to text! I have, historically and shamefully, moved things from Hinge or Bumble to Snapchat, which, in retrospect, was the wrong move, as Snap lends itself to f-boy behavior. Continue the conversation via text, and when it feels right, either they will extend the invitation for a date or you will.

Once you have a first date on the books, it’s important to establish rules for safety. Dating apps are not 100% safe –– one in four app users have some sort of horror story, whether that is a false or misleading profile, strange behavior, or, in the worst cases, sexual assault or violence. So, always, always, ALWAYS share your location with a good friend.

Go for one of the three following dates — coffee, drinks, or ice cream. These dates are easily escapable if, god forbid, your date says or does something unforgivable and egregious. Also, have the date within a walking distance to either your home or a friend’s home so that, once again, you can escape. Stay as long as you want to. If you’re feeling very safe and very good about the date, not a single red flag in sight, then sure, you can go back to their place! Just tread lightly, and let your designated friend know you’re heading to your date’s abode. Safety first!

As for following up, I am ashamed to admit that I have historically ghosted a person or three. In some cases, like if the person is really weird or creepy, sure, fine, ghost them. If it just wasn’t a match, let them know that you don’t see your connection going anywhere. It’s okay to let someone down gently!

With that, if you’re dating around and you’re starting to really like them, take it slow and don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. If the connection fizzles out and you’re disappointed, it’s much easier to cope if you have another prospect on the horizon.

It’s easy to get fatigued, especially if you’ve gone on date after date to no avail. Feel free to take breaks in your journey of finding love. Eventually, the right person is bound to come along. Still, do not put too much faith in the power of destiny. Love is a choice that we make, and every conscious, deliberate decision you make as a single matters. Sure, take risks, but protect yourself, know yourself and make decisions that honor you and all that you are. Happy dating!

Paige Wasserman (she/her) writes about the arts, pop culture, campus culture and things that make her want to scream. You can reach her at [emailprotected].

Opinion | The dating apps work! You’re just using them wrong (2024)

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