Online dating can be overwhelming, even as it becomes an increasingly popular way to meet someone. Over 44 million Americans used dating apps in 2020, according to Statista Research. But, according to a 2020 study by Pew Research Center, only 12% of users say they found a committed relationship with an online match. With so many faces to swipe through, and literally thousands of apps to choose from, it’s no wonder so many singles suffer from dating app fatigue.
But with a little guidance from online dating coaches and matchmakers, singles can learn tips on how to write a more compelling profile and pick out their best photos. Insider hacks make navigating the algorithm easier — like knowing the best times of day to swipe and message, when to update vs. delete your profile and start afresh, and why upgrading to Tinder Plus or Hinge Preferred could be worth the investment. Here’s how to make the apps work for you in 2022 and beyond.
Fill Out Your Dating Profile Like You Mean It
If you’re going to download the apps and spend time swiping, you may as well give it your best shot. (Read: if you’re just looking for a distraction on your phone, there’s no end to social networks that could scratch that itch instead.) So, the first step to winning at online dating is committing to fully filling out your profile, says dating coach Damona Hoffman.
“Every chance to add a preference, give a clever response to a Hinge profile prompt, or answer an OkCupid matching question is a chance for someone to connect with you on a deeper level than just thinking you’re cute,” Hoffman tells Bustle.
Hoffman recommends “telling stories instead of writing lists” in your “about me” and including specific details while keeping it concise. The first sentence should be attention-grabbing and catchy.
“Bio is more important than you think,” says Alyssa Dineen, dating coach and founder of Style My Profile NYC. Instead of listing hobbies and interests, she recommends thinking of the quirkiest thing about you and leading with that. “If you have a resume as a bio, it doesn’t catch anyone’s interest. You want to stand out,” she explains.
- Fill out every question.
- Write stories over lists.
- Lean into quirky details.
Pick Pictures For Your Dating Profile That Best Represent You
According to dating expert Meredith Golden, it’s your photos that get the match; then, “your bio is responsible for advancing the process to a video chat or a meet.” If you’re low on matches, your pics just might not be good enough, she says: “The difference between mediocre pics and great pics can increase match rate by 70% or more.”
When selecting photos to best represent you, smiling is your best bet. “Smiling, no sunglasses, no hat, looking at the camera will score a swipe right 100 times more than any group photo, bathroom selfie, or squatting pic at the gym,” she advises.
Dineen agrees re: smiling, and suggests that your first pic be a “clear headshot.” Subsequent pics should include a full-body shot and a social or activity pic.
Hoffman recommends curating four to five of your best photos, total: quality over quantity. “Remember, it’s your dating profile, not your Instagram,” she says.
- Choose pictures where you’re smiling and looking at the camera.
- Edit down to four to five photos.
- Avoid group pictures.
- Include a clear photo of your face, a full-body shot, and a picture of you doing a hobby.
Consider Upgrading To Premium Dating App Features
According to Golden, upgrading to premium features on the apps is worth the investment because it “saves you time and gets you a better user experience.” The upgrades are usually around $20 on average; Golden recommends paying for three to four months to get the most bang for your buck. After that, take a break if you need to; but at least you’ll know you gave it your best shot.
Each app offers different benefits for its subscription tiers. For example, Tinder Plus allows you to “rewind” if you accidentally swiped left on a profile of interest, use the “passport” feature to swipe on anyone around the world, and it gives you unlimited swipes. Hinge Premium also enables unlimited likes, additional filters for users, and the ability to see everyone who liked you all at once in a grid view. Bumble’s “rematch” feature allows you to extend the 24-hour message period so if you miss a chance to start a convo with a match, you get another shot.
- Go premium to save time.
- Commit to using the features for three to four months.
Game The Dating App Algorithm
Like any other social network, dating apps use an algorithm that influences who you see and who sees you. If you want to succeed at the apps, you have to game the algorithm, or at least understand how it works.
Hoffman recommends updating your profile frequently (every six to 12 weeks) to boost yourself in the feed. “Even if someone has seen your profile before, a different primary photo might catch their eye [this time around],” she says.
Another good idea: If you’ve been inactive on the apps for a while, consider deleting your profile and starting again from scratch with better photos and content, recommends Golden. That way, you give the people who swiped left on you before another chance to see you anew (in a new and improved light).
Dineen suggests being active on the apps on a daily basis, if possible, both because the algorithm will favor you if you’re swiping and messaging frequently, and because it’s easier to connect with matches if you’re responding promptly. “If you take a week to respond, users will unmatch you,” she says. “Take breaks when you need to, but when you’re on the apps, be full-on.”
- Update your profile every six to 12 weeks.
- If you’ve been inactive for a while, delete and start again.
- Be active on a daily basis.
- Respond promptly to messages.
Know The Best Times To Swipe & Message
When it comes to messaging and swiping, each app has different “peak” windows when users are most active, but generally speaking it’s evening, after dinner. Hoffman says for OKCupid, that’s 7 to 10 p.m. She recommends expanding your match criteria (increasing location range, upping age limit, etc.) “because not only will you see more options, you will be shown to more people. The more your profile is liked, the more the algorithm will favor you.”
Similarly, Golden agrees to be more liberal with your swiping; she tells her clients to “swipe right on a B- profile or better” because more often than not, a client will report back that the B- match “was way more attractive on video chat or in person.”
When you do send a message, Hoffman has a go-to formula: a comment plus a question. “Comment on something in their profile, then follow up with a related question that jumpstarts the conversation,” she says. Then, keep it short and sweet. “You should be moving to the next phase (a phone call, video date, or IRL meetup) within a week of connecting to keep the momentum going and avoid falling in love with a fantasy and suffering disappointment when you actually meet,” she says.
- Increase location and age limits.
- Message between 7 and 10 p.m.
- Swipe right on a B- profile or better.
- Message with a comment and a question.
- Move to a call or date within a week.