How Not To Tinder: A His and Hers Guide


Self-esteem booster, ‘just a game’ or a magic application with potential (albeit slim) to match you with the love of your life? Whatever your views on it, Tinder is utterly addictive, guaranteed to push you over your data limit, and while using it in public might attract incredulous gazes from some, this app is now firmly entrenched in our dating culture.

I met Phil Portellos on Tinder. After a weekend interstate, some HTC-related technical difficulties saw to it that we matched, despite one of us living in Adelaide and the other in Melbourne. However, due to a substantial amount of mutual friends (Phil is an SA kid now living in Vic), general interests and a realisation that we both wrote for the same online site (oh, Adelaide!), Tinder’s GPS issues may have been for the best. We bonded over mutual amusement/disgust at some of the users we flicked through on the app, and the fact that, clearly, some people just don’t know how to Tinder.

Much like many people should not be trusted with a mirror and an Instagram account, there are some Tinder users who should have their phones confiscated. Duck faces, excessively muscle-bound men, gym selfies (both sexes are culprits here), and incomprehensible About Me sections all amount to a slightly squeamish quasi-dating experience.

So in an effort to improve your Tinder experience (maybe this is slightly self-serving, what of it?) via thorough research, here is our guide on what not to do. We believe our his (Phil) and hers (Lucy) accounts of our experiences might actually prove useful if you want that babe from 13 kilometres away (3 mutual friends) to swipe right. Who knows, you could be soulmates.


Personally, my biggest turn-off when it comes to profile photos is the drunken town/club photo opportunity. With its origins stemming all the way back to Myspace, it collaborates the confusion of multiple faces looking in every direction, females enjoying a cheeky embrace/pash (my 16year-old self would backhand me for that), occasionally some nudity, uncontrollable hand movements and ultimately party girl mode engaged to full effect.

Of course, this isn’t exclusive to Tinder and, yes, it is a great thing to show that you’re able to have fun. On a dating website, nothing screams “She’s a keeper!” quite like an empty bottle of Fireball Whiskey in one arm and an exposed breast and teetering future career prospects balancing in the other.

Coming in at a close second is the weak at the knees, duck-face, pre-going out stance. When a group of pre-twenty year old girls get together, what is it about their combined amount of short dresses that forces them to go into a horrible hovering stance? It looks so uncomfortable, and when accompanied by an arched back, spray tan, pursed lips…okay, this might just be a personal hate. But really, are there any men out there who are into the weird posing stance?

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We could also do without the boyfriend photos.634935296504505569
It really isn’t that difficult to take a picture that is going to attract the opposite sex, ladies. Most men will swipe right at the sight of your profile picture without delving into your shared likes, friends, or even reading your About Me. A lot of dudes are suckers for clear, front on photos with just yourself or a close friend in the picture. When all else fails, an artistically shot photo showing off a little side-boob will raise your matches into the hundreds in no time.



Tinder will make you realise that, generally, you are superficial as fuck. Embrace this. Let your instinctual likes and dislikes guide your swiping. My main hates generally centre around attempts to be overtly masculine, or things which really just confuse the dating process.

For example – is your main profile picture showing you proudly brandishing a rifle? This ain’t Alabama baby, it’s a no from me. Holding up a giant fish, snake or other macho animal? Also a no go. (NB: so many plus points for pugs and kittens.) As for gym selfies, ‘shredded at Stereos’ shots or really fucking scary bronzed body-building pictures – please, no more muscles. We all know the side effects of steroids.

This one isn’t gender-related – guys and gals, large groups shots are beyond confusing. Who are you? I’m more likely to swipe left out of frustration and annoyance rather than attempting to swipe through six photos to define who you are. However, after a while on Tinder, you may discover that you have developed a savant-like skill of picking who the individual Tinderiser actually is.

A picture with your partner might be fine for Facebook, but a romantic embrace with your significant other is way less likely to get you a match than a solo snap. Hint: most women aren’t keen on being your mistress.

Also, pictures with babies. Is it your baby? Someone else’s? A relation of yours or just a random child? Are you trying to suggest you really love kids and are therefore the perfect partner? Mixed messages all round (P.S. no more ‘It’s my niece lol’ notes under your pictures please.) Side note – yourself as a baby. Don’t. I don’t care how cute you were as a two year old, I care how cute you are now. Side side note – current photos are excellent. If you just graduated high school, a formal photo is fine. If you left five plus years ago, not so much.




The About Me section is just as important, if not more, than the initial picture. Unfortunately due to the gluttonous nature of Tinder, this never really gets quite as much exposure. A lot of people don’t have an About Me whatsoever -which is fine – but if your pictures aren’t the best, you’ve got to back it up with some hilarity. Clever plays on words, poems and the occasional quotes are nice, but the real way to a man’s heart is through a Simpsons quote or reference. Men love The Simpsons. Throwing in something Moe Szyslak said in Season 5 will make you cooler in his eyes than a Duff on a summer’s day.

Over sharing is a big no-no. It’s a dating website; if you progress through the cue to eventually meet the other person on the opposite side of the right swipe, then take that opportunity to divulge as much information as possible. Short, sharp and snappy one-liners will get people’s attention more than anything thing else – as long as they aren’t overly clichéd. Cough, ‘Carpe Diem’.

Think about it, when was the last time you showed your CV to someone during a first coffee date or club hookup? Oh and lastly, ladies…really?!! Age is nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t lie about it in your description. If I see another ’23 Year Old, Love to Travel, Fitness Junkie, Addicted to Coffee’ with enough Botox in her face to take down a small deer, I swear I’ll delete the app, burn my phone, buy a Nokia and never return.


If you’re not sure what to write in that little ‘about me’ section, just leave it blank. No need to point out that you ‘didn’t know what to write’, or that you ‘love going out and having fun’ and ‘like to meet new people’. You’re a human, congrats. Think about it as selling yourself to another person in a single sentence, or at least piquing their interest enough to warrant a right swipe.

guillermoRemember, you can keep it G-rated (in fact, that is preferred). tinder2 I’m all for literary quotes, but dad jokes (even if you are in fact a father), Ron Burgundy sayings or sentences lacking appropriate punctuation or semblance of grammar probably won’t have the ladies flocking. And suggestions that all you’re here for is a casual quickie – truthful as it may be – will have you sanctioned to the left 9 times out of 10.

These are all real excepts from SA’s bumper crop of eligible lads:

-          ‘Two muffins are in the oven, one says to the other: ‘God it’s hot in here’. The other one replies ‘OMG it’s a talking muffin.’
-          ‘im watching the bourne identity’
-          ’love me or hate me im one of a kind’
-          ‘Looking for my Tinderella…’

Don’t be these people.




Let’s face it, we are all socially awkward when it comes to first encounters and this is no different behind the relative safety of a smartphone.

Some choose to play it cool with random questions, others with intriguing arguments – both can work. More often than not, the first lines I get are emojis of animals, smiling faces and occasionally flamenco dancers. As someone that uses emojis to add value to an already existing message, it seems like a waste to get a random character with no explanation. This feels like the Tinder equivalent of a Facebook ‘poke’ and immediate regret about your decision to swipe right should start setting in.

Coming on too strong could work, but really, why go through the embarrassment? ‘You’re Hot!’ – what is this, high school?

In all seriousness, I feel like there aren’t too many ways for girls to mess up the first line, unless it includes socially taboo topics, casual racism or threats. Get creative, and if all else fails, the ‘Would You Rather’ game is perfect for at least a few hours of fun.

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Depending on the girl (and yes, speaking from experience), a cheesy pick-up line may work. It could be construed as cute, or at least trying. It could fall utterly on its face. But damn, at least you gave it a shot. Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 3.34.24 PM10277182_650056861729689_2737813553285592687_n 923154_615085451893497_1870537588_n
Sleazy one liners…not so much. All that you’ll get there is a block, or maybe a restraining order. And asking for ‘n00dz’? No girl can tell if you’re serious, or if you legitimately think Myspace is still a thing. Regardless, no noodz for you.

Also, you have to be pretty damn optimistic to type a singular ‘hey’ or a lone emoji octopus (what does that even mean?)  and expect a response. Clearly you’re a master conversationalist, but give me something else to work with here.



Okay, we all know that Tinder is a huge elaborate joke. It’s gotten out of control and now it’s pretty much as socially accepted as Facebook.

Having a conversation after initiating with a first line after both swiping right seems like such an off-putting labyrinth of an experience when compared to organically meeting people in the real world. Everyone understands this, and most of the time conversation of Tinder is brief and tedious. You are relying on face value and a simple bio to hold a conversation, and usually it’s like pulling teeth if both parties aren’t contributing.

So how can this be fixed? Usually it helps by asking questions and being attentive. More importantly, have something interesting to say! Of course most Tinder users are in for a bootycall, a laugh, or a chance at an actual serious relationship, but it can be pretty difficult to differentiate between the three categories. If you want sex, gesture towards it in an interesting manner. If you’re doing it for a laugh, make sure you keep everyone you’re in a conversation with laughing, too.

And if you’re using Tinder for a serious relationship, may God have mercy on your soul. Either way, to achieve any of these you need to have your chit chat down pat. If you’ve got nothing to talk about, read a book/magazine/this very article and have a conversation about it over Tinder.


Let’s make this simple: Conversation should not be more difficult than pulling out teeth – one line answers do not a hook-up make.

Going AWOL for 2 weeks mid-convo, then returning and expecting to pick up at the same place doesn’t really frame you as the committed type – or even the type that will actually show up to a date.

Boring conversation is a certified libido killer. As is being a fucking weirdo; you should wait at least a couple of days of conversation before confessing your love of Furbies. And don’t go from innocent to explicit in the space of 2 messages. It does not bode well.

Finally, you lost me at ‘babe’. There’s no coming back from here.


Relationships progress comes down to whether you can mutually agree on a meeting place or whether you swap phone numbers. If you get that far, kudos – you’ve won Tinder! If you get a Tinder message at 3am from a girl asking you to join her, chances are this is what the pros refer to as a ‘bootycall’ (also winning Tinder) and you can take it anyway you like.

Regardless, watch out for the stalker-esque styled messages; ‘Hey I think I saw you leaving your work at 8pm the other night. I was going to say hello but I was too far away (and possibly using binoculars), see you around the ‘burbs xo!!’ – especially if you’ve never properly met her. date Also if you decide to catch up with someone, don’t leave him or her hanging. True, Tinder is fairly anonymous even after the mutual swipe to the right,but wasting people’s time isn’t cool.


Let’s be honest, most people didn’t download Tinder in the hopes that it would bring them a long term relationship (in the words of a particularly eloquent match of a friend of mine, ‘This is Tinder, babe, not RSVP’). However, when I swiped right, I didn’t automatically agree to sleep with you after exchanging three sentences. Say it with me:  coffee first, then booty call.

A final note from Phil:

I feel like Lucy and myself did very well to escape the common problems that arise when using the dating app. Prior to us swiping each other’s profiles right we hadn’t ever met one another, but perhaps the mutual friends and hometown allowed us to bypass most of Tinder’s negative attributes. I joined Tinder with reasons ‘just for a laugh’ and ‘it couldn’t hurt’ in mind when first moving over to Melbourne, and I’m sure that anyone who’s progressed though to having a date or meeting up with someone would say that it definitely has its ups and downs. I’ve met my fair share of weirdos to make sure there was never a dull moment in this town. Maybe for newbies, see it as a social experiment to play on yourself. In writing this list I feel like we’ve perhaps found the best way to avoid over intellectualizing Tinder and locking down that absolute cutie from 3kms away. Wishing everyone all the best in love and Tindering – especially you Lucy.

(P.S. Melbourne babes, get around Phil. He’s socially astute, an excellent conversationalist and plays a damn good game of “Would You Rather?” – Lucy)


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Lucy Ahern isn’t great writing about herself. But third person makes everything much less pretentious, right? Lucy is a freelance writer, contributing to publications such as Attitude and Rip It Up, and is the deputy editor of fashion blog The Urban Silhouette. She loves Marieke Hardy, has a soft spot for bad puns (future warning), and will devour anything combining peanut butter and chocolate.

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