Basic Dating App Profile Do's and Don'ts from a Newly-Single Swiper

satirical dating app advice
Absolute Baseline Dating App Profile Dos & Don'tsKhadija Horton - Getty Images

After two years out of the dating game, I've made my brave return the dating apps and hate to say that I am utterly and absolutely...shocked? perplexed?? baffled?! to realize that so many (probably) perfectly nice guys have atrociously bad dating profiles. Sure, “we’ll get along” if “we get along,” but that doesn’t tell me anything about you, my dude. Out of all of the guys in this massive group photo (red flag for that many dudes to hang out, btw), which one is even you?!

You have 15 seconds to pique my interest and make me want to meet you IRL before I keep swiping. Your dating app profile is literally your dating resume! If you handed a potential employer a crumpled piece of paper with blurry headings and one-word summaries, do you think you’d get the job?!

In service to the entire single community, I’ve put together some bare minimum, baseline rules to follow when creating your profile (especially for cis straight men, but everyone, pls also take notes!). Consider these rules according to me, a non-expert expert in the complicated art of What Most Women Want. Instead of rage-screaming it into my pillows, I'm spelling it out for you here—a kindness, really. Send this to your single friends! Hell, send this to your single enemies! Everyone deserves a chance at love!

Do: Make Sure Your First Photo Rocks

I’m not gonna sugarcoat it: This is the most important part of your profile, full stop. A great first picture can be the difference between a Like or a goodbye. Your picture should be of you, and only you. Pick a well-lit, clear image of your face with a smile or a smirk that says, “Hi I’m flirting,” not, “Hi I want to sell you a piece of commercial real estate.” If it works for LinkedIn…it’s not going to work here. (Don’t worry, your match will find your LinkedIn later.)

If you delete the apps and come back, or you’re on the apps for years and years (my condolences), update your pics so they actually show what you look like now. If you’re still using a picture from five years ago, I’m calling Nev Schulman, you catfish.

And a word on selfies: Women are professionals at taking pictures of ourselves. We’re wardrobe, set dresser, and lighting department, all in one. Men’s selfies? Ninety-nine percent of the time, they include dirty mirrors, cap-less tubes of toothpaste in the background, a weird aspect ratio… Hello, did the crew walk out? Just don’t! The least you can do is make sure you look decent and that the background tells a story. Think: “I clean my room!” or "I go on vacation!" Not “I don’t own a headboard.”

Don’t: Waste Your Photo Real Estate

Depending on the app, you have space for five to eight additional photos and/or videos to round out your profile. Here's the breakdown. (PS: This is the sweet spot if you’re looking to date. If you’re looking to hook up, by all means, post six straight thirst traps or join Feeld.)

  • You need one to two photos or videos where you look hot. If you’ve got body-ody-ody, show us what you’re working with. Tattooed and holding a baby? Yes. (And please clarify whether or not that’s your baby.) Dressed to the nines at a wedding? Definitely. (Just like, crop out your ex if she was your date??)

  • Three to four photos or videos where you show off your interests and lifestyle. These should make up the bulk of your profile because the only fun thing to do on these apps is fantasize about our future together, sooo... we need to know what that future looks like! Show me your hobbies! Yummy home-cooked meals, rugby games, drinking martinis out on the town, guitar serenades, skiing, traveling to exotic locations, speaking at TedX, or even reading a book (imagine!). And please include your pets.

  • One of these photos must include friends or family…mainly because we need to know that other people like you. If you don’t have friends…go work on that instead. (Caveat: None of the friends photographed should be hotter than you. No distractions here.)

  • Finally, a straight-up personality pic; something fun and not too serious that will spark conversation. Don’t think about it too hard! On my profile, I’m in costume as Kimberly the Pink Power Ranger…it’s a two-for-one since it’s also the best Milennial thirst trap known to man. You can steal that. 😉

PS: You can, in fact, have too many selfies. If every picture is of you solo, I'm going to think you’re more likely to murder me than marry me. And if you’re learning how to hip-hop dance, please keep that to yourself. We don’t want to see you struggle through choreography, that’s a universal ick.

Do: Give Us All the Basic Details

In the section that includes your basic info–where you live, what you do, how tall you are—just be honest, ffs. The more you reveal, the better. Think of it as the Nutritional Facts section on the side of the cereal box: Is this good for me/do I want to put it in my body??

If you’re say you're 5”11’, we know that means you're actually 5”10’ or you would've rounded up to 6”0’. I don’t want to keep a tape measure in my purse…but surprise me and I'll use it. And for the love of god, just spell out what you’re looking for. It saves everyone time! “Short-term relationship, open to long”? Wtf does that mean?! You mean casual but you’re lying and we all know it!

Don’t: Half-Ass Your Prompts

Ah, dating app prompts: the wild wild west of the profile. I can almost hear the whistle tone now, while a lone tumbleweed rolls by, and a vulture feasts on a single girl’s carcass, shrieking “The best way to ask me out is to ask me out!!” Nightmare.

You generally get around three prompts. Follow this formula, and this exactly:

  • Include one prompt with convo-starting potential. No one knows what to say and everyone just wants to touch knees with someone hot over two glasses of Sauv Blanc. So please, just give us something easy to respond to. Change my mind about...; This year I really want to…; The most underrated activity is…; Two truths and a lie…; Give me suggestions for…it literally does not matter!

  • Add one prompt that reveals either more information about what you’re looking for, or what you want to do on our first date: Green flags I look for…; Together we could…; I know the best spot in town for... At the end of the day, this app is for going on dates, so give us an idea of what that date might be!

  • Finally, add one free-for-all prompt. It can be random, silly, an interesting fact about you, a voice memo showcasing your vast knowledge of lyrics or your hot accent. Mine is, “My dating fail is…I dated (multiple) magicians.” 10/10 don’t recommend it! (The dating of multiple magicians, that is. The prompt is 🔥!)

If each of your prompts has a one-word response, I will, once again, think you’re probably going to murder me.

Do: Send Likes in Response to Something

Your profile might be finished, but you’re not done yet, because now you’re ~Liking~. And like it or not, there is a right way to Like.

When you send a Like, send it as a response to something on the other person’s profile. Don’t send an empty Like or you’ll sit in Dating App Purgatory, or worse, in “hey whats up” Hell.

Don’t Like your match’s hot photo, because that thirst trap was a literal trap and you fell for it. That was for looking, not for Liking. It’s like Aladdin’s Cave of Treasures—look but don’t touch, or you’ll never get the booty. Bonus points for Liking and responding to a text-based prompt. Look at that, now you started a conversation! You’re almost texting!

Don’t: Hoard Your Matches

There’s no way you can carry on a conversation with more than a few people at a time. If you have too big a backlog, you’re going to end up sending the wrong message to the wrong person. Or worse, you’ll lose the love of your life in the metaphorical digital pile, buried under people you’ll go on one date with and be like…meh. Be honest with yourself about your backlog and keep it under control. It’s like spring cleaning…you can’t buy anything new until you un-match with something old.

Do: Keep the Convo Short

This might sound kinda radical, but I believe convos on the actual app should last no more than two days or six texts back and forth. Get the fuck out of there, it’s quicksand! The more you chat in-app, the deeper you'll sink until you’re stuck. Give them your number stat and make some actual plans.

And look, you did it! You’re one step closer to meeting the one and deleting the apps for good. (Until you realize the “one” has emotional baggage and needs to be in therapy and you come crawling right back. Happy swiping!)

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