Many of us have parents that met face-to-face at college or elsewhere in life. Our generation, however—more affected by technology’s increased omnipresence—has turned to finding “the one” online. Tinder in particular has emerged as a go-to for millennials putting themselves on the market.
Whether you’re an avid Tinder-user, a casual one or you’re just starting out, you’ve probably already come across a profile you found unimpressive, off-putting or nondescript (occasionally, you’ll stumble upon the somewhat impressive trifecta of all three). You may have also experienced some level of anxiety when trying to think of what to put on your own profile; thus, you have realized the significant role your profile holds as the first impression everyone using the app will have of you. Where our parents would have sized each other up the old-fashioned way, we’re left—or right—swiping based on a couple-hundred-character bio, and a handful of pictures, and people’s top Spotify artists, if we’re lucky.
Since we’re making these decisions using a fraction of the information we would have on a real person, it’s imperative that we use our profiles wisely, telling potential matches everything important they need to know about us in a way that holds their interest. What follows elaborates on the aforementioned three key areas to consider when assembling a Tinder profile that’s distinctly your own and authentically you.
The first things you see on the app when swiping through profiles are a person’s name, age and picture. And, of course, looks are a huge factor when deciding whom you would potentially be with, so choosing a good set of pictures for your profile is crucial. The standard, free Tinder account allows you to select up to six pictures to be shown on your profile. You should use as many of these as possible, choosing photos that represent your busy life from its varied, opposite ends: you with friends, with family, at a work function, meeting someone famous, from that gondola ride on your trip to Venice—you want to give other users as clear an idea as possible of who you are and what you’ve done, visually. To give onlookers a comprehensive cross-section of your personality and all that comes with you is the end game here.
Another important goal with your pictures is to show your best self. Major life events (such as graduations, award ceremonies and other people’s weddings) are always solid options to show you at your happiest, and thus most photogenic, moments. Some of us only photograph well once in a blue moon, and it’s important to emphasize those high points when giving brief snapshots of your life in this way.
A part of this includes pictures of you with other people in them; this is a minute detail, but if in looking at your pictures I can’t confidently say to myself, “this person has been photographed with at least one other human person in their life,” then that’s an issue. Pictures of you socializing and hanging out with friends say that you’re outgoing and gregarious, that people already like you and that it wouldn’t be a huge stretch for the two of us to like each other as well. If I see a selfie of you in a room, followed by a second selfie of you in the same room with a different shirt on and so on, then I have a good idea of what your face looks like, but I don’t get a sense of who you are. Looks are a factor, yes, but letting others get to know who you are is the bigger one.
2. The Bio Itself
If you’ve been around the block swipe-wise, you’ll have noticed that a number of dejected users resort to letting something to the effect of “I never know what to put here” occupy their bio. That’s fair, as it’s hard to know exactly what to say about yourself. But, you must turn inward and ask, what matters most about me? What are the most significant aspects of my identity? What makes me, me? You may slip into the existential when brainstorming your Tinder bio, which is encouraged; the greater the idea you have of yourself, the better, and the best way to get there is to question yourself. If you were blessed with a wealth of self-knowledge, then this should be relatively easy for you, but for many it will take time to decide just what to include.
It will seem tempting, but I would stay away from lengthy bulleted lists of things you are and do. Whether you’re a Slytherin or Hufflepuff, a Capricorn or Libra, a dog mom or cat dad, this stuff will all run together by the time I get to the end of that list. You also have to consider the fact that a lot of these things hold little meaning to other people on the app. Most of us don’t have the Myers-Briggs personality test results committed to memory, so the already small difference between INFP and INTP will likely go overlooked. The goal with your bio is to boil down the most essential facts about yourself, and tell your story out of them. You want people to feel like they already know you through reading your bio. This way, you attract people whom you have a deeper connection with and build a more solid foundation to spark a conversation than the fact that you’ve both been hiking.
I’ve mentioned quite a bit that you should include information about yourself in your bio that carries significance. You should, if this aligns with your purpose for using the app. Many have the app for reasons outside of finding a serious relationship; in this perfectly valid case, you don’t want to appear like a romantic poet bearing your soul—to do so would be falsely advertising your personal motives. You should instead provide information about yourself that reflects your wishes for and goals of using Tinder, whether you’re looking for friends or a roommate, and write about this with the corresponding level of passion it has within you.
When it comes to the formatting of your bio, you should keep things both casual and presentable. You’re not bound to write full sentences followed with periods, closely obeying Standard American English and being professional enough to be published by the Associated Press–you won’t get docked a letter grade for not taking this as seriously. And you don’t want to sound stiff or uptight talking with rigid sentence structures, ending each with a period, sternly (which just makes me feel like I’m texting one of my parents). Be both calm and cool, but capitalize and punctuate where appropriate for the most part. Not doing so will appear as if you don’t know these rules, or worse, that you are disinterested and unwilling to clean up your words in the slightest.
It’s easy to get bogged down in conveying the most significant aspects of yourself using judicious formatting, but it’s important to remember to have fun, be yourself and let your personality shine through. Between listing the more serious things about yourself, insert bits and pieces that you’ll look back at later and find funny. I’ve seen someone include (among other information, like height and weight) their blood type, O+, on their profile. Still funny.
What’s helpful here is to show, and not tell; show us that you’re funny and have a great personality by letting that radiate from your words. Show us that you’re “cool, and down to hang” in your attitude, not simply by stating it. And nothing is more irritating or cringe-worthy than someone who, rather than saying anything of substance about themselves, mentions something that’s of interest to them and then advises you to “maybe use that to get [their] attention…” (e.g., “I love hiking. Talk to me about that, or you won’t hold my interest.”) Look, I get it, we’ve all listened to a Fifth Harmony song and walked away feeling ourselves a whole lot more, which I can get behind. However, anything that comes off as snooty or unjustifiably arrogant will repel any sensible person on the app. You should show us why your attention is worth our effort as opposed to assuming everyone will recognize just how wonderful you are.
As a rule of thumb, it’s helpful to have a friend proofread your profile. A good friend would hold you accountable for any white lies you happen to tell, and would give you ideas for what to do to make it better. Ideally, your friend will also be on the app and will have a good concept of how to do you justice when pitching you to other users but in a way that fits the environment of the app.
Tinder also allows users to link their profiles with their Spotify accounts to show off their taste in music. This can be great if the music you listen to is largely unobjectionable.
For example, if you only include three songs and they’re “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Sweet Caroline” and “Mr. Brightside,” you’ve narrowed your search by exactly 0 percent, but you also haven’t negated any potential options. Whoever would say a bad thing about any one of those songs is probably not a great match for you anyway. However, if your favorites are a bit more polarizing (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Insane Clown Posse to name a few), you may isolate some people whom you may otherwise be completely compatible with. Just as well, if your top artists are hyper-obscure, you may just not include them. You don’t want anyone to think of you as pretentious or inaccessible because of the music you listen to. It’s a crapshoot that all depends on the people you come across.
At the end of the day, your taste in music is relatively superficial when it comes to connecting with someone you could potentially spend the rest of your life with. It’s a great way to start a conversation if you find common ground, but relying on it to form bonds and to judge people will likely not be as productive as basing your assessments on people’s personalities and more substantive traits.
Tinder has become a norm not only for finding relationships but also for meeting people and making new friends. It’s definitely not a one-note experience, presenting users with many different kinds of people of any and all backgrounds. Whether you plan on just finding friends or meeting your soul mate, presenting yourself as well as possible is integral, “well,” in the sense of presenting yourself in a positive light, and “as well as possible” meaning accurately. Using the features that carry the greatest weight in the minds of Tinder users (the pictures, the bio and the music) in the right way can make a huge difference in your love life simply by letting you be your authentic self.