Welcome to the Brave New World of Phone Dating Apps

There is just no escaping dating apps in the Western world in A.D. 2017 if you are single, own a smartphone, and are under the age of, let’s say, 50. Sadly, the first criterion―being single―is not necessarily a requirement based on the number of married people using dating apps to facilitate adultery or people in committed relationships playing around.

Perhaps even more sad and bizarre are the married couples in “open relationships” who use dating apps as recruiting tools for their trysts. I wonder which is the bigger sin: adultery with one’s spouse not knowing or adultery with one’s spouse not only knowing, but consenting to the extramarital affair. But I digress.

With the ever shrinking attention span of the younger, post-modern Western citizen―or consumer―dating apps are a godsend to feed the increasing need for instant gratification and the growing narcissism for much of the populace. Furthermore, if you can order a pizza using your phone, why not use it to land a potential date for your upcoming uneventful weekend? Convenience, efficiency, and the immediate fulfillment of one’s needs. What could be wrong with that? Well, too many things in fact, but I will save that topic for another time.

After perusing this guide, you can read my reviews of the most popular dating apps here.

Why (and Why Not) Use Dating Apps

Dating apps make traditional online dating appear stuck in the past since you can simply post up anywhere and start swiping as fast as the new matches appear on your screen based on your location. In online dating, men have to search and weed through thousands of matches before sending that oh-so-clever and original opening email, while even mildly desirable women get flooded with these clever icebreakers day in and day out. Believe me when I tell you that I have put in tons of hours browsing the talent―or lack thereof―on various online dating sites. When done consistently and seriously, traditional online dating in front of your desktop computer or laptop can seem like an unpaid part-time job.

swiping for loveBy contrast, dating apps require considerably less effort―a mere left swipe to pass on the potential match or a right swipe to express interest. If both parties swipe right then a connection is established and texting communication on the app’s platform can begin. It really is that simple and painless, but like anything else in life you get what you give. Because it is so easy and almost effortless, dating apps attract a number of unserious, flaky women, who may only be interested in avoiding boredom, flattering their fragile egos, validation seeking, satisfying their thirst for male attention, feeding the dopamine rush from more phone notifications, or simply to test how far they can date up.

Before moving on to the guide, remember the wise words of Michael Jordan: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” In the end, I do recommend any single man to try phone dating apps for at least one month before quitting since it is―for better or worse―an interesting experience, does not cost you anything except your time (incidentally your most valuable resource), there is always that tiny chance that you may meet someone worthwhile, and if all else fails at least you will likely have a good story or two to tell your buddies over beers at happy hour.

Dating Apps Guide

1. The importance of photos―especially your main one.

Most dating apps allow up to six photos and you need to post the maximum number allowed. Make no mistake, dating apps are predominantly visual affairs, which will require you to step up your photo game. It is critical that your first photo be your most compelling and best since that will be her very first impression of you.

Similar to an arresting book cover, your impeccable main picture should serve as an irresistible invitation for her to explore more of your profile. Have at least one face close-up and one full-body shot with your shirt on (wearing shorts or pants are also non-negotiable, sorry). You should not be sporting sunglasses unless you are at the beach. The last recommendation is a solid general rule to adopt in your everyday life. Try to add a photo doing outdoorsy stuff or traveling somewhere exotic. And no selfies of any kind, period.

Show off your social side and add photos with you and your friends out on the town, but avoid large group photos where it may be difficult to tell which one of the 11 drunk guys you are. Include a side profile shot looking away from the camera as this has been shown to attract women. One picture with a solid five o’clock shadow is usually a winner as well. Needless to say, all your pictures should be recent and actually resemble what you would look like in person. And throwing in a photo of you petting a cuddly dog is difficult to beat.

2. Men: neglect your profile summary at your peril.

While women―especially ones that are easy on the eyes―can leave their profile summary blank or filled with the usual nonsense, men need to have a solid introduction that sets them apart from their male competition. Men and women prize different aspects of the opposite sex. This is so basic and obvious to all except the most deluded feminist that I feel strange even mentioning it.

Women are primarily prized for their beauty and fertility while men are valued for their ability to protect and to provide. In order to be the best protectors and providers, masculine virtues such as honor, duty, loyalty, chivalry, fortitude, and courage should be inferred from your summary. Or at the very least a six-figure income. Noting your height is a very good idea, especially if you are above 5’10”.

Be sure to mention the following: your education and work, background, favorite hobbies and first date went wellinterests, and―if there is still room left―who you are looking for and maybe your dislikes. The length of the typical dating app profile is severely limited, so you will want to be economical with your words. This is not the time to show off your emoji skills or how you are hip to whatever latest texting abbreviation (e.g. YOLO) you heard used by that cute, fresh-out-of-college girl serving your cappuccino at the local café. Try not to be overly serious and inject a bit of humor in your profile blurb. Lastly, be sure that your spelling and grammar are immaculate.

3. Always be skeptical―or when in doubt, swipe left.

There is the ABC (Always Be Closing) mantra in sales and, according to some aspiring Lotharios, when it comes to the single man’s approach to the ladies. I would like to propose the ABS rule: Always Be Skeptical. Look at her worst photo and assume that there is a 90% probability that she will look more like that photo in real life than the one where she is dolled up as a bridesmaid at her girlfriend’s wedding. As I recount in Episode 2 of the Seri Dating Diaries, I still seem to have trouble with this concept despite having been around the online dating block a time or two this century.

Always look for a full-body picture where you can get a sense for her overall figure by seeing her from head to toe. Be wary of women who do not post such a photo and be sure to look for discrepancies in photos. For example, in her face close-up photo her face appears more round than in the full-body shot. From this you may logically conclude that the full-body picture was taken years before her face close-up picture, which means that she will be considerably heavier when you meet her. Unless the girl has a naturally slim build, I almost always expect women to be at least 15 pounds heavier than how they present themselves in their profile.

4. Do a background check.

This is a smart way to avoid getting burned―or catfished―by women posting outdated pictures from their glory days in their twenties and will save you a lot of wasted effort. You can also uncover neglected tidbits about their lives, such as that unmentioned divorce, the two kids, her bizarre pagan Wiccan beliefs, or her undying devotion to Comrade Sanders.

The most popular dating apps are linked to Facebook accounts, which means that you will likely know the college your new connection attended. Once I have a connection that I’m genuinely interested in, I head over to LinkedIn and search for her using her first name, her location, and the college she attended.

The majority of professional, college-educated women will have a LinkedIn account and this method usually proves fruitful. After finding her on LinkedIn, I look her up on Facebook using her full name and review what I find for any obvious red flags and discrepancies. If she is not on LinkedIn, then you will have to utilize Facebook’s cumbersome search engine using the same information as outlined above.

5. If there is mutual interest, meet offline sooner rather than later.

Neither of you are on these dating apps to find new texting buddies, which are the new pen pals for the 21st century. The reality is that if you want to date someone you will need to eventually meet them face-to-face. After maybe 5-6 short texts from each side, you―as the man―will need to suggest continuing the conversation in person over coffee or drinks and moving off the dating app and over to regular texting. It is as simple as that and a woman truly interested will not hesitate to give you her number. Be mindful that she is likely chatting with a couple of other men, so you need to move the proceedings along with some sense of urgency while playing it as cool as a cucumber of course.

As far as openers are concerned, I would advise for you to keep it short and simple―as in just a greeting and perhaps one observation from her profile. The general rule for the pace of your response time to her messages is to never write back faster than she does, and ideally to take twice as long as her. For example, if she writes back after an hour then you should wait more than one hour, with a maximum of two hours, to respond. This is a general recommendation by some and I’m just passing this along as something to consider.

If you have not heard back from her after 24 hours, then she may have found a new Don Juan to flatter her with attention. In this case, I usually send a short text such as, “I see we’re taking it slow. And I like that.” They tend to at least acknowledge your sense of humor and you may have a new chance to get her out. If this fails, then close her out after a couple of days and move on with your life.

6. Choosing the right venue for the first date.

coffee dateNever make the rookie mistake of meeting for dinner on a first date or going to the movies. The first date―or photo verification meeting―should be kept relatively short unless the chemistry is so strong that neither of you want the date to end. Many women frown upon meeting for coffee, but there isn’t a first date more ideal. It is low-cost, does not require too much effort, and can be as short as half an hour or as long as three hours.

The other, more popular, option is to meet for a drink. Those are the two most basic first dates, but I have had a tennis first date before followed by beers. There is nothing like seeing what a woman looks like in her tennis outfit and working up a bit of a sweat before deciding on possibly seeing her again. The drinks date is a solid option as this allows both you and your date to dress up and actually feel like you’re going on a real date instead of an interview over coffee.

I would highly recommend avoiding Friday and Saturday night and focus instead on weeknights or an after-work, happy-hour drink or two. Try to keep it to two drinks, which should be enough to take the edge off without clouding your judgment. Always show up first, so as not to keep the lady waiting. That is a basic rule for all gentlemen. The practical aspect of this rule is that you will be able to pick an ideal spot in the bar to have the drink with her and also to survey her full figure when she enters and approaches you.

7. Follow up within 24 hours if you are interested.

For those guys closer to my age, you need to forget the three-day rule before calling the girl to ask her out or whatever the dating standard was back in your twenties. The 1996 cult classic movie Swingers has the famous scene where the fellas are debating the ideal number of days before calling their new female acquaintances.

With the speed at which the world moves and information travels nowadays, you may well be a forgotten memory in her mind if you roll the dice and play it cool by waiting three days. If the girl who caught your eye is above average in the looks department she may have gone out with or met at least one other man since she last saw you. You need to strike while the iron is hot and you are fresh in her thoughts. Women also appreciate a man that takes charge and chases after them―or so they keep saying.

Final Thoughts

It pays to remember that women almost always try to date up with the goal of eventually marrying up. This is the textbook definition of female hypergamy and the reason why women on Tinder swipe right on only 14% of men, whereas men swipe right on 46% of women. The odds are against the average―or even above average―man on dating apps, so don’t take a lack of vast success too much to heart. I’m fairly certain that the 80/20 rule applies here: 80% of women swipe right on the same 20% of perceived high-quality men.

You need to be realistic about your odds and the caliber of women that you can reasonably expect to attract. If you’re used to dating in the 6-7 range, then there is no reason to expect that you will be dating 7.5’s or 8’s. As a matter of fact, chances are that you will be dating slightly down from the women you could actually pull in real life.

The bottom line is that dating apps can be a reasonable addition to your dating arsenal, but it should not be the primary method of meeting the opposite sex. Unless you are an anxious, nervous wreck around women, it is still ideal to meet the ladies out and about in person. There is nothing like seeing someone in the flesh to find out if there is any physical attraction, and possible emotional and intellectual compatibility as well.

Lastly, I recommend utilizing one dating app at a time for a few weeks or a couple of months at the most and then taking a break. The longer you spend on these apps in your locale the faster you will see diminishing returns on the investment of your time and the quicker you will experience the inevitable phenomenon of dating down.

Fortes fortuna adiuvat; or, fortune favors the bold. Now get swiping, my friend.