I snickered to myself when I typed that title. Who do I think I am writing a “guide” on anything? Much less a topic I spent the shortest amount of time possible on. However, I searched for tips when I first signed up and didn’t find anything that was helpful. Also, I felt like I was in the minority trying a dating app for the first time in my thirties, so maybe at least one other person can relate to this.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert in any way, but I do feel like I learned a little on my time there, and I feel compelled to share. Take it with a grain of salt.
When to sign up
This is different for everyone, but I think when it comes down to it, you need to love yourself before you can love someone else. If you aren’t happy alone, you won’t be happy with another person. I believe you should never depend on another person for your happiness. Can they add to it? Absolutely. Having a partner can enrich your life for sure, but they shouldn’t be the only source of your happiness. Love yourself. Be happy. Then, download the app if you want.
Up until June 2020, I had never used a dating app. Like, ever. Once or twice, I would swipe for a friend here and there, and I followed one of my best friend’s journeys for a while. However, I never signed up for one, created a profile, and met strangers online. Not that I had anything against it, I was just married when they all started. Then, I immediately starting dating someone I knew, so there was no need.
Breaking up with someone sucks. Especially during a global pandemic. After several weeks, I decided to just sign up for some apps to meet guys. I know I am a cute-ish, nice girl with some strengths, and I just wanted a chance to “go out and be single.” When the world is on lockdown, this means online dating. My plan was to go in with an open-mind, date around, and hopefully, eventually find someone I wanted to keep going on dates with and get to know on a deeper level. Surprisingly, that’s exactly what I did and it happened much quicker than I anticipated.
There are an overwhelming amount of dating apps, but they all serve pretty much the same purpose. I am going to share a few observations from the 4 apps I tried.
Upward (previously called Fth)- Once I downloaded one dating app, I noticed Facebook targeted me for many more. Upward was one that click-baited me for sure. It’s a Christian dating app, and I like that profiles included good questions about where you are with your walk with Christ and what your faith means to you. What I didn’t like is that there are not a lot of people on this app, and I was continuously being shown people who live in different states. If long distance relationships are your thing, go for it. Otherwise, have those conversations with your potential partner as they come up.
Coffee Meets Bagel– I’m sure the paid version of this app is better, but I was unimpressed. The app only shows you a few people per day, and you only get a certain amount of likes. To be fair, I wasn’t completely ready to have conversations with people when I first downloaded it, so I was more browsing than trying to do anything. However, it wasn’t as user friendly as some of the others and definitely isn’t meant to be used in the free version.
Bumble– Everyone’s favorite. Well, everyone is a strong word, but it’s one of the most popular apps. To be honest, I didn’t like that girls always had to initiate conversations, because I found myself stressing over trying to be clever and stand out. However, it does keep you from getting initial creepy messages. I know plenty of people who love Bumble. You get what feels like an endless supply of people, and can even narrow it down by putting in 2-3 modifiers on the free version. When you send a message, the other person has 24 hours to respond before it goes away, and there’s a circle that shows you how much time you have left. Not great if you struggle with insecurity. I am a fairly secure person, and I sometimes found myself wondering if I was not “good, witty, or pretty” enough as the timer clicked down. However, it’s a good starting point for women who want to have a little more control over the volume of messages they receive.
Hinge– My favorite. They say it’s “the app that’s designed to be deleted” because it’s geared toward people looking for relationships. I don’t know about all that and what every person’s intentions are, but I just like the way it’s set up. Plus I met J there, so it’s the clear winner. With Hinge, either gender can initiate the match/conversation. When you create your profile, you are required to answer 3 questions from a question bank in addition to adding a specific number of photos. The idea is to get you away from the swipe culture and learn more about a person. You can connect by “liking” or “commenting” on a photo or one of their answers. I like that there isn’t a time limit on when to respond and you can’t see the people you’ve liked or commented until they respond back, so there isn’t a running tally of rejection in your head. Also, it looks for common friends with your Facebook, however I didn’t want that and chose not to connect my Facebook. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a relationship, try it.
So you’ve decided you love yourself and are happy. Then, you chose the apps you are most interested in. Now, you need to make a profile. There are many blogs and sites that will tell you what you should and shouldn’t say. I desperately wanted mine to be witty, convey what I want, and have something catchy that sets me apart. Well, I spent a lot of time drafting up something and deleting when, let’s be honest, most people aren’t even reading it. Ultimately, I decided to just be myself. My best friend Heather says “be the most extreme version of yourself, because if they can’t handle it, that’s on them.”
I recommend giving enough information about yourself to allow a person to ask questions. Include something you’re looking for in a partner and a couple words to describe you. Then, boom! Profile created. But again, what do I know? You do you, and someone will appreciate you for it.
One of my favorite things about Hinge are the questions, because it makes it easier to share random things about yourself. For example, a question I answered “If loving this is wrong, I don’t want to be right” My response “Disney songs, 90s music, breakfast for dinner, and saying yes to dessert.”
Don’t stress about it. Be you. Write what you want.
Apparently, there are unwritten rules when it comes to online dating. Technically not “rules” but just things to consider. I’m so thankful for best friends who have gone through this and shared their knowledge with me.
- Don’t give away personal info right away (last name, phone number, place of work, etc.). It’s amazing how quickly someone can find out where you live and work with just a few pieces of information. Keep yourself safe.
- Chat with a person for at least a week before giving them your phone number. You can say “I’m sorry but I’m trying to stay safe and told my friends I wouldn’t give out my phone number. I’ll let you know when I’m ready.” Statistically speaking, you won’t like everyone you match up with and you will know pretty quickly. It’s better to say goodbye on an app than have that person have your phone number and deal with blocking them. Also, I learned that guys typically ask for that right away so they can immediately begin the exchange of sexy photos. If that’s your thing, go for it, but if not, go ahead and weed them out. I had at least a dozen guys immediately stop talking to me when I did’t give my phone number away within the first 2 messages. Sorry dudes, I’m not playing your game.
- Keep the online conversations light, flirty, and fun. Save more important conversations for dates and phone calls. Tone is difficult to be conveyed in a text message. The first little while of chatting with someone should be fun and not full of pressure.
- Since we are still dealing with a pandemic, consider having a video date first. This may save you the embarrassment of an uncomfortable first date too. I am grateful I wasn’t stuck at a dinner date with a few of the virtual dates I went on. Bumble allows you to video without sharing your phone number, or you can set up a Zoom date. Just be sure to take off any identifying info from your Zoom.
- If at any point someone makes you feel uncomfortable, block them. You don’t owe them anything. I have a strict “no ghosting” policy because I am overly nice and promised to be honest when things weren’t working, but in the times someone said something inappropriate or crossed a line, I blocked and deleted.
- Don’t just say “hi” as your pickup line. Ask a genuine question or comment about something in their profile. I can’t tell you how many guys were grateful I asked a question or seemed genuinely interested in them instead of just saying hi. Find something about their profile and ask a question or make a statement as your opening line. It also gives you something to start a conversation about. Another good idea is to say “want to know what impressed me about your profile?” or something along those lines. That worked on me a couple of times because I was genuinely curious.
What to expect
- Rejection. There will be times you like someone and they don’t like you back. The opposite is true, there will be times someone likes you and you aren’t interested. Understand that this will happen more than you would like and move on from it. It’s part of the “game.”
- Speaking of a game, online dating kind of feels like a messed up version of The Bachelor. I legitimately had a guy tell me that it was like going to the buffet and the amount of messages he gets a day, so he can be very picky and I should feel honored I made the cut. No, I didn’t continue talking to the jerk after being compared to a buffet item, but it got me thinking. Often times, dating apps are all about instant gratification. Each person goes in with a certain expectation and looking for a certain thing. I cannot be that specific person to everyone, and I don’t want to be.
- That being said, it’s a numbers game, so try not to put all your eggs in one basket. Heartbreak happens. You think you found someone you want to get to know more and they ghost you. Continue pursuing conversations with people and swiping from time to time until you are confident you are moving towards a relationship.
- As a female looking for a male, you will see an endless amount of the following (remember many guys are not as eager to get professional photos done, or even take them):
- gym selfies
- fishing photos
- hunting photos
- photos with an ex cropped out
- very little written in their bios
- People don’t always look like their photos. They use photos from years ago. This was one of the reasons I appreciated FaceTime dates so much. Not that it is all about looks, because it’s not, but there’s definitely a sinking feeling when someone looks completely different from their photos. Be genuine. Post recent photos of yourself.
- You will probably see someone you know. This is your chance to tell them you have a crush on them, or pretend that you never saw them at all. Choose your fate wisely. Personally, I chose to not have my Facebook connected to any profile because I wasn’t interested in someone I already knew, but I have heard fun stories of old high school friends reconnecting too.
Online dating used to have such an interesting connotation to it, but in reality, it’s how many people meet nowadays. Some of my best friends met through dating apps and have beautiful, long-lasting relationships. Until I tried it, I was a skeptic. Now, I can confidently say it works.
Because it worked for me.