Dating apps like Tinder and Bumble are wonderful in theory, giving you access to thousands of potential partners, stacked in your hand like a deck of cards. But they can be tricky to navigate. So how do you win at the game of love? Ellen Falconer offers some tips to help you be the best version of yourself.


DON’T: make your lead photo a group photo
Look, I’m not going to play eeny-meeny-miny-mo with your profile pic to figure out which of the “lads lads lads!” you are. Make your main picture one of you and only you, preferably one that reveals something else about your personality. Maybe it’s a travel photo, or you’re at a music festival, or one involving your favourite hobby. Just no pics of you crouching next to chained and sedated endangered species, please. They make me sad.

DO: include a picture of your dog.
I am genuinely curious to know what the stats are on people who include a picture of their dog in their profile. By my estimate, they have a 100% success rate, so even if you can just borrow a cute pooch for a quick photo for the sake of your dating profile, that’s better than nothing. Why would a girl swipe right on just one good boy when she could have two?


DO: know your angles
Women have known for centuries how we are looked at so when the front-facing camera came along, the adoption of the selfie thirst trap was a little more seamless for us than it was for the men. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about the opposite sex from dating apps, it’s that straight dudes just do not know how to take pictures of themselves. A few quick tips: have the light source in front of you, rather than behind you, to avoid unflattering shadows. Tilt your chin slightly down. Pose in front of an interesting backdrop. Hold the camera steady so the shot is focussed. And take at least a dozen photos, so you have plenty to choose from.

DO: include a selfie with a certified Good Bloke^TM
We are who we surround ourselves with and if you include a selfie with any of the following Good Blokes, your chances of a positive match increase exponentially. John Campbell; Sonny Bill Williams; Taika Waititi; Bret and/or Jemaine. Avoid homophobic rugby players, sexist Shortland Street actors, all three of the Bachelors and certain eye-roll-inducing politicians, and you’ll be sweet.

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DO: put some thought into your bio.
Writer and renowned dick pic critic Madeleine Holden recently wrote that men’s dating app bios are almost universally terrible and decided to offer her services writing bios for clueless swipers, with just the right mix of flirty, informative and intriguing elements. Her winning formula? “I’m [summarise subject in best possible light] looking for [describe dream partner] for [clarify nature of relationship]”, plus an engaging one-liner, pre-emptive date invitation and/or ice-breaker to seal the right-swipe.” As you can see, it doesn’t take much to put something together yourself. Better yet, pay her to do it for you. That way you’ll have more time for swiping.

DON’T: be a creep
She might be into a bit more flirtation and sexting further down the track but opening with a question about the colour of her ‘panties’ (barf, please do not ever, EVER use that word) is creepy af and is a guaranteed unmatch. On that note, don’t send unsolicited dick pics. Trust me, they will take a screenshot, they will share it in their WhatsApp group, and laugh at the poor fella who tries it. A good dick pic is less about the dick itself and more about the person attached to it, so sending one before we know you will not have the desired effect.

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DO: meet in a neutral spot
Once you’ve traded some solid “banter” and swapped some “yarns” and you’re ready to take things offline, don’t suggest she goes over to your place for the first date. Even if you’re both DTF, the chances are slim that she will feel comfortable going to yours right away. But if you are hoping the date might lead to something a little more serious, keep it simple. We’re more interested in getting to know you at this point than being swept off our feet by some corny gesture taken straight from a Julia Roberts rom-com. Opt for a trendy bar that is not too cosy or intimate, in case there is absolutely no chemistry between you or if you want to bounce early with some poor excuse. But if you are feeling it, have location number two in mind so you can go to the more romantic spot a few doors down and keep the night going.

Illustrations: Getty Images