Tinder is what it is — a dating app that specializes in hookups rather than finding a soulmate. You need to treat it as such and thus navigate Tinder culture and user profiles with that firmly in mind. Otherwise, you can fall into some icky, sticky traps with other users or attract the wrong ones, especially if you misstate your intentions or misread someone else’s through your digital communication. It’s all about being interesting and unique, without giving away too much.
As dating expertAlisa Ruby Bash says, “At the end of the day, you have to set your intentions, but be open minded to all possibilities when dating. By keeping your profile and statements a bit more open-ended and vague, rather than too hot or too cold, you increase your odds of meeting someone you could potentially connect with anyway.”
But not every Tinder user acts accordingly. In fact, many do quite the opposite. Here are the things you should never, ever say on Tinder.
Do not say this to a man or a woman. It is a colossal waste of time and will elicit a “Really? That’s all you could come up with?” reaction. Looks-based compliments come in copious supply on Tinder and while you might think that it’s a harmless compliment, it lacks originality and passion. Jessica Elizabeth Opert, a dating and relationship coach for fierce women who are out in the dating jungle looking for love, tells me, “Most people will see it as shallow and insincere. Chances of a positive reply or any reply to this advance are quite low.”
She continues, “Compliments are good, but dig deeper. Go with something, like ‘Wow, you’re beautiful and you’re a politics nerd/quiz champion/marketing guru??’ This takes the compliment from frat-like to adult and also shows you read the profile!” The bottom line: get creative with your come-on and do your homework.
”Do your smarts match your looks?”
That’s such a backhanded compliment that will elicit eye rolling. Even if your intentions are good, such a statement comes across as objectifying, immature, and like you may not have much experience interacting with members of the opposite sex who are well-rounded and dynamic. In fact, it says more about you than you may realize. Opert says, “This is bordering on negging and it implies the person cannot be both or many things. From a charismatic standing, it also reads very negative, which in general terms of human engagement, always elicits a negative response.”
It also reeks of a bar pickup line that is cheesier than a bowl of Velveeta. So ditch comments like this in favor of something that highlights multiple reasons why you swiped right.
Generic greetings or simple salutations are also no bueno. It makes you look and sound like a total dullard. You may think it’s breaking the ice. But you’re using a hookup-driven dating app. Everyone knows why you — and all the other users — are there.
Opert says, “It reads as lazy and lacking in any personality or effort. We will assume you’re either sending this same boring message to everyone (lazy), you haven’t taken the time to read our profile (lazier), and that any resulting convo will be like pulling teeth (laziest). Turn the engagement volume up on that with something like this: ‘Hello from the beach in Malibu, I’m taking a surf break, what are you up to?'” That type of comment tells your potential partner more about you and your life. It also arouses way more interest — no pun!
Nora Dekeyser, a professional matchmaker and relationship expert with Three Day Rule, a Match.com-backed matchmaking startup, concurs that this greeting is an immediate reason to swipe left. “Never start a conversation with simply ‘Hey.’ It is so boring and unmemorable. Instead, come up with something witty about the person’s bio or photos,” she tells me.
Even so, Dekeyser warns against laying it on too thick, saying, “Never go too far with the first message. If you are writing someone a novel about how amazing they are before you meet them, you will come off as disingenuous because you really don’t know the person at all yet.”
”You free tonight?”
Never throw this statement out into the Tinderverse because it suggests immediate availability and can be construed as overtly sexual, according to Opert. She says, “Spontaneity is great, but stay on message. If you are looking for sex and [something] casual, then by all means, use this approach. But if your desire is to Tinder your way to a relationship, this approach, most likely, will not net you those types of dates.”
If you still want to approach other users with some degree of spontaneity, Opert encourages going with something like, “I have a spare ticket to see such-and-such band tonight, wanna be my date?” This puts forth a specific situation and scenario, rather than a hint of random sex. It also leaves a little room for mystery and an “are we, or aren’t we?” vibe.
David Bennett, who is a speaker, certified counselor, relationship expert, and co-author of Be Popular Now: How Any Man Can Become Confident, Attractive, and Successful (And Have Fun Doing It) and runs The Popular Man site, tells me that “telling someone they are beautiful before having any type of connection looks desperate and needy. Chances are, the recipient is getting tons of those same messages from other users. It’s unoriginal. But it’s even worse when you write ‘Your beautiful.'”
In addition to coming across as a bit pathetic and creepy, it’s just plain sloppy to misspell things. (You caught the error, right?) It might seem like a small pet peeve, but you’d be surprised at how much of a turn-off it might be.
“Not here for the hookup”
Announcing those intentions might make the recipient of the message immediately concerned that the opposite is true. As Bennett points out, the person you say this to can easily interpret you saying, “Not looking for hook-ups” as a calculated strategy to actually get hook-ups.
Reverse psychology is seriously at play here. Plus, Tinder isn’t the best place to be seeking something more long-lasting. You might be better-served signing up for a different dating site that falls more in line with your romance and relationship goals.
Jennifer Kalita, a communications expert in the Washington, D.C. area, tells me you should eschew this type of message, because “it conjures up images of bondage and foot fetishes, and will scare off a good partner who might later be open to giving those things a try. Opt for ‘non-judgmental’ instead.”
It’s all about semantics — what something means to one person, can translate into something totally different in another human’s brain. It really is essential to measure and choose your Tinder words carefully.
”Mama’s boys need not apply”
That’s not the best ice-breaker, since pointing out or listing off things that you don’t want sounds like you might be damaged and bitter, according to Kalita. “Flip the script and ask for what you do want,” she suggests, replacing this type of statement with something more positive, like, “I connect best with independent men who have been raised by good mothers but who don’t still live with them.” Notice the pattern about what you should say on Tinder leans towards more positive comments and focuses on things related to you.
”My kids are my life”
April Masini, a New York-based relationship and etiquette expert and author, warns against oversharing about kids for safety reasons. “Tinder is best known for its fast, love ’em and leave ’em lifestyle,” she reminds me. “It’s convenient and you can have a date quickly, pretty much anywhere, by using the app. And yes, there are couples who’ve had meaningful relationships as a result of Tinder meetings. But the reality is there are creeps out there, and hopefully you won’t meet one.”
You really do need to think about things IRL, since some can be markedly different on the worldwide web and they can put forth a wholly edited version of themselves.
Masini continues, “Don’t drag your kids into danger zones, unknowingly, by oversharing about them. Don’t ever post or share photos of your kids with people you don’t know well, and never share their school info, addresses, etc. It’s fine to say you’re a single parent, but be vague about your children until you get to know someone from this app, and feel they have proven themselves trustworthy.”
”Looking for a casual relationship”
This is another Tinder no-no, according to Masini. “Never say you’re looking for a casual relationship — if you’re not. Be honest so you don’t turn into a bitter stalker.” Plus, a casual relationship isn’t really a “relationship.” It’s a hookup, which is much more fleeting. Relationships are meaningful and take work.
Masini continues, “Tinder isn’t Match and it sure isn’t eHarmony. Know your apps and dating sites before you invest yourself. I’ve heard from people looking for my advice because they mistook civility, good manners, and a fun time during a one night Tinder stand with a relationship that has a future. ‘But he was so polite!’ is basically what one person said to me when she wrote me asking why her Tinder date didn’t ask her out for a second date. If you’re not ready for the possibility that a very polite and well-mannered person is just looking for a one night gig, then look elsewhere. There are lots of ways to find relationships — Tinder is best for quickies.”
”I work hard and play hard”
Renée Suzanne, who coaches smart and successful women on finding love, shakes her head at these cliches that are meant to be appealing and deep. They are anything but, since they don’t say anything at all. These phrases do not offer any further insight into the mind of the person who said them.
And while you aren’t seeking a lifemate on Tinder, you still need to realize that you need to survive dating Darwinism by being interesting! She tells me, “Avoid generalized, boring, overused clichés. Find a more original way to convey these messages.” Be your most creative and charming self. You Tinder life depends on it!
”Just looking for a friend”
Bash also calls this thinly-veiled way to initiate a hookup. She tells me, “Most people do not go on Tinder hoping to meet their spouse. Sure, it does happen. Since people assume that you are not on there for a serious relationship already, it further drives the point that you are just looking for a fling or hookup. If you say you are just looking for a friend, it sounds like you are closed off to the possibility of love or romance, like you are already in a relationship, or like you are a player.”
See how certain phrasings may seem simple or innocuous but can convey so much more?
Bash also points out that such a statement can make you seem socially inept. She says, “If you really need to go on a dating app like Tinder to truly make friends, then that is a bit scary, and sounds like you don’t have any friends already. It’s a lot better to be honest in your profile and say, ‘I would love to get to know someone and see where it goes.’ That achieves the same result without the closed off boundary that will surely push many people away.”
”I am looking to settle down”
Dropping something heavy, like any variation of “I am only looking to meet someone to settle down, get married, and have kids yesterday — my clock is ticking,” is also something that Bash advises against. “Obviously that looks desperate and could scare plenty of potential suitors away,” she says. “No matter how good your pictures are, most people will run for the hills with that kind of serious profile. If you are truly looking to enter the next stage of your life, Tinder may not be your best bet for a dating app.”
”No cheaters, no liars, no jerks”
David Piccolomini of the Tinder Tales Podcast also warns that you should avoid starting off on a negative foot. “Going negative on a dating profile is an inherently bad idea,” he tells me. “Besides, can you think of anyone that is looking for someone that is going to cheat, lie, and be a jerk to them? When I see this in a profile, I know that someone is coming into a dating situation with a lot of unresolved baggage that they aren’t working out.”
He suggests being more specific with something that tells the reader about you! He says, “If I see a profile that says, ‘Looking for someone who is family oriented, loves dogs, and enjoys weird horror movies from the 1970s,’ that profile says way more to me about who you are and what you are looking for than you trying to avoid some negative traits no one wants.”
The common thread regarding things you shouldn’t say on Tinder is this: don’t go on Tinder looking for a permanent mate. Even though you aren’t seeking to share your soul with every user, you still shouldn’t say things that are generic, dull, or totally non-specific.
Tinder is designed for fast hookups, but that doesn’t give you permission to act like a tool or a fool. If you want to land someone for just a night, do so with wit, charm, and your winning personality.