• Thu, May 8 - 2:20 pm ET

How To Hack Tinder And Make It Work For You

How To Hack Tinder And Make It Work For You

Yeah, so…that’s me.

Here is something embarrassing I am going to reveal publicly on the Internet: I use Tinder. The image above is, in fact, my profile. I suppose this would be embarrassing except I am 24 years old, I live in New York City, and organically meeting people seems to end in disaster and/or a continuous loop of the exact same type of emotionally unavailable stoner over and over. I have been doing the binge dating thing for a minute now, and it’s actually been pretty fun despite a few embarrassing mishaps. One of the means by which I’ve been facilitating my newfound hobby (besides walking up to people and telling them about how much I like cats, which is shockingly effective) is by using a couple of dating apps, including Tinder.

For those of you who don’t know, Tinder is a dating app available on iOS and Android. Here’s Wikipedia’s quick and easy rundown on how it works:

Using Facebook profiles, Tinder gathers users’ basic information and analyzes users’ social graph to match potential candidates who are most likely to be compatible based on geographical location, number of mutual friends and common interests. Based on the results of potential candidates, the app allows the user to anonymously like or pass them. If two users like each other then it results in a “match” and Tinder introduces the two users and opens a chat.

Simple, right? And it’s super popular! In fact, I would estimate at least 9 out of 10 of my single friends are on Tinder, Hinge and/or OKCupid. Tinder is pretty much the easiest one; you’re just swiping left (which means “not interested”) or right (“interested”). Still, there are ways to hack Tinder and make it more effective than a boredom cure. Along my Tinder travels, I have found a few tricks that can enhance the overall experience and lead to actual fun dates.

1. Part your hair on the left.

Yes, really. In a pseudo-game where people literally make split-second decisions about whether they’re interested in you or not, making yourself more likable looking could increase your chances of making a positive impression.

2. Keep your profile simple.

Whenever somebody’s profile lists every nationality in their grandparents’ backgrounds, explains everything they’re seeking in a partner, then adds 13 emojis depending on their mood that day, it looks silly. And stupid. It is pretty much an automatic swipe left for me because I can tell that person is taking this whole e-dating deal way too seriously and wants to find a ~*forever friend*~ or something. Just keep things short and sweet (or short and mildly self-deprecating, in my case).

3. Have funny photos.

Yes, having your best angles forward is all well and good, but having a witty photo of yourself is what catches the eye of people who may be smarter and/or more humorous. I obviously don’t mean you should put up a bunch of Internet memes you find hilarious (ahem, hamsters eating burritos), as that will only make you look like bored retired parent who’s just discovered ICanHazCheezburger.com, but popping up something amusing like yourself in a clever Halloween costume gives others a better idea of how freaking funny you are without saying a word.

If you’re like me, you’ll just post photos with animals which winds up attracting primarily animal lovers but also some weirdos.

4. Don’t go too fast.

Anybody who has used Tinder knows that sometimes, you just wind up rushing through prospectives because there are so many you’re not interested in right in a row. Then, you spot somebody you feel intrigued by but–whoops! Already sped through him/her because you were in a cycle of swiping left without really bothering to look.

Yes, there will be tons of people you’re not remotely down with, but if you’re genuinely looking for a date, you might as well slow down a teensy bit and take a moment per person to actually determine whether you want to swipe right.

5. Do not post a group shot as your first photo.

Seriously, the people who do this are the worst. It just forces those who are swiping to either take the time to click and look through their photos (which may be the intention, who knows) or simply ignore their profile altogether. The latter typically winds up being the case.

6. No mirror shots.

Especially not with the shirt wet/lifted up/completely off. Nobody has ever looked cool while doing this in the history of ever, not even James Franco.

7. Be realistic.

This one is pretty important, though it actually applies to all forms of dating. The chances of the next person you go out with being your future husband/wife/date for the office’s awkward holiday parties is extremely low unless you’ve just dated Dane Cook and it’s 2007. Go into with the mindset of, “hey, I might not date or hookup with this person, but I can at least have a good time.” I guarantee you’ll feel more relaxed and be able to actually enjoy yourself, pressure-free.

8. Write short messages.

While simply writing “hey” is fairly lame when it comes to online dating, you also should not be writing too much–both in your profile (see #2) and in messages. With regard to the latter: it seems kind of weird when a dude–I’ve rarely seen women do this–sends an enormous first message all about how he knows based on your profile photo that you’re totally his type and you two totally need to go hang out together like right. now.

Again, keep things short and sweet. Send a little joke about something in one of their photos or ask how they’re enjoying the sunshine; as long as you keep things simple and appropriate, you’re more likely to get a response.

9. Be flexible on age.

You might not frequently date or even encounter people who are significantly older than you socially, but this is Tinder. It’s barely real life. Just adding a couple years above your typical desired age range could yield some intriguing matches you might not otherwise have found.

For example, I’m 24 and usually have dated people approximately two to four years older than myself. (I personally do not go below my own age, but that’s just a personal preference.) On Tinder, the age range I have set to find matches within is 24 to 35, a full seven years older than my usual “type.” It’s not like anybody will make you hang out with somebody who’s older; the beauty of this app is that it’s easy to start or end conversations based entirely on your comfort zone.

10. Do not exclusively post selfies.

Maybe this is just a personal thing, but I always find people who just post photos they took of themselves to be odd. They seem lonely.

11. Photoshop your photos so it looks like you’re super popular!

No, just kidding. Don’t do that.

Apparently, some guy and some girl and probably lots of other people have done this peculiar thing where they put put “Hot Match of the Day” over their photos, which apparently led to tons of matches. I understand the logic, but I also think it is rather odd and misleading, so skip this tip if you actually want to hang out with human beings who aren’t hilariously gullible.

12. Don’t believe the anti-hype.

Using online dating to meet people still holds a bit of a stigma, often enhanced by horror stories of dudes stealing women’s dogs and whatnot. What’s so wrong with me that I need to date online? you may find yourself thinking at times, but in all actuality, it is just a fun method of finding new folks with similar interests who may or may not wind up being your significant other. So try it, FFS! I promise, even if you don’t find your soulmate, you’ll at least have a bit of fun. Plus, soulmates are a stupid and overrated concept anyway; swipemates, on the other hand, are all sorts of awesome.

13. If you see me, say hi.

I’m half-kidding, half-serious, half-pig.

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  • Lindsey Conklin

    hahahaha that GIF of dane cook! also, I like your profile pic!

    • Samantha Escobar

      Dawww thanks. Puppy Bowl 4ever :D

  • Char

    Ugh I needed this. haha I just started using Tinder and I’m already lost and kinda over it. So many matches but no one messages. (Sorry that wasn’t meant to be a brag, it’s more frustrating because I don’t know how to play the Tinder game yet. haha) Needless, to say I’m about as clueless and awkward when it comes to starting a conversation with someone online as I am in real life; which is to say, I am VERY clueless and awkward.

    Also, the parting the hair on left thing is interesting and weird all at the same time. Sadly, I think my hair naturally parts to the right so I might as well invest in some good knitting needles and cat food now since that’s where my life is headed.

    • Samantha Escobar

      That doesn’t sound like bragging at all! I think a lot of women experience a similar thing (and have the same issue with Hinge, OKC, JDate, etcetera). It’s frustrating as shit. I think the good thing about Tinder and the like is that starting a conversation feels so much less full of pressure because you can actually think about your responses. IRL, I tend to just blurt out weird shit all the time and then hate myself later for it.

      ALSO so does mine, so today I parted it to the left and it felt really unnatural at first but it did give my hair a little boost of volume, haha. Also also: I plan on being a crazy cat lady whether I’m with somebody or not someday, so I s’pose we should head to the knitting store ASAP.

    • Char

      Yeah, I have super thick, super curly short-ish hair right now so when I’ve tried to part it the other way I just end up looking like an even crazier future cat lady. It’s just a lose-lose situation all the way around. haha

  • diane kaston

    good luck with dating please keep us all posted on your progress, you are brave

  • http://theheartographer.com/ TheHeartographer

    I’m an online dating coach for a living, and I’d say your advice (and your adorable bio) totally nailed it!

    I’ll add that you really need to avoid group photos for any dating site; they generally backfire more than they enhance your profile. More on why: http://theheartographer.com/the-cheerleader-effect-can-be-misleading/

    • http://theheartographer.com/ TheHeartographer

      And OMG, please charge that iPhone, haha. The red battery indicator stresses me out. (Don’t worry, the guy I met online and married is just as nerdy as I am.)

  • Andrea

    Have you tried Hinge? It’s basically like Tinder, but they match you with people you have facebook connections with (directly or 3rd degree). I just started using it, with no success.. but it’s an interesting concept!

    • Samantha Escobar

      Yes! Weird fact: I went to the launch party for Hinge because one of my friends was doing PR for it. It’s definitely a fun app, and I’ve actually met really normal, fun people from it. Plus, you have a built-in topic to talk about (how you to know each other, etc.). I hope it goes well for you! :)

  • itpainsme2say

    Group photos were the conversation topic on hits one today one of the guys was super mad that his friend had a photo of him on her profile and people were warning against photos with friends’ kids because it was confusing

  • Nancy

    I checked out that link about the hair parting, and actually it says it’s better for men to part on the left but for women it’s better to part on the right, otherwise you risk looking “powerful and masculine.” Mine’s parted on the left, and if it makes me look more powerful I’m totally keeping it!

  • Brian L

    I’m putting this on my profile: I’m half-kidding, half-serious, half-pig.