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Can you Tinder your way to love?
Tinder is basically known as a hook-up app--but is this all a user can expect? In 2015, Vanity Fair magazine published a story that set off a wave of negative responses. They quoted men who called their Tinder conquests, "Tinderellas," ouch. Yes, this is the potentially dark side of using a mobile app, however there are folks who use it and find true love. Check out the Vows section of the New York Times to see featured couples who met this way.
If you are one of the small handful of people who aren't familiar with Tinder, it is an app that asks you to swipe right on someone's picture and basic stats if you are interested, or left if you are not. If the person you swiped right for feels a mutual interest (also swipes right), you can message about connecting. Could not be easier, no long profiles or questionnaires to fill out--just a brief description and that all-important photo. The only certainty with this approach is that folks who meet this way have at least some physical attraction, but how can daters increase their chances of connecting with compatible others who share their relationship goals? Read the following tips that were created to help you weed out the players from the keepers.
* Know what you want and don't want from your Tinder experience
Believe it or not, many people don't think this through ahead of time. They may have a relationship as their ultimate goal, and hope that Tinder could increase their odds of meeting someone they click with. However, they can lose sight of that goal and find themselves in a pattern of unsatisfying hook-ups that leave them feeling badly about themselves and/or their prospects for a long-term relationship. This can easily happen if you don't think through and commit to what you want and don't want from the experience--you could end up drifting into making unhealthy choices.
* Learn to read between the lines of other users
This is when you tune into what someone doesn't say, yet communicates nonverbally. Pay attention to what they share about themselves and how they express it. Are they straightforward, upbeat, clear and concise or negative, secretive, and/or contradictory? What do you see when you look at their picture? You need to look beyond their attractiveness for other information. Do they smile, look directly at the camera, strike a funny or endearing pose, include someone else in the shot, or is their face hard to see, to read, or does it express something that you can't quite read or leaves you wondering about?
This one involves good awareness and an ability to use your gut to access information. If anything at all feels off, put any decision to respond off till later. You can also do a basic Google search to gain more information about the person that could influence which direction you ultimately swipe.
* Don't make assumptions based on a picture and a few lines
This one really flows from the one above. Too often in the virtual world of dating, people take the information they can see about someone and create a person in their head that they want them to be. They imagine qualities that they have, how they would feel in their presence, and what a perfect person this person would be for them--all without ever having met in person. This is why it is so easy for Catfishers to con folks they connect with online. Always bring along some skepticism and a strong dose of reality. What you see online is just a tease and you won't really know who they are until you have had several face to face interactions, and even then, there will be so much more to learn.
* Know your boundaries and communicate them to dates
After you have established clear dating goals, have learned to read between the lines regarding anyone who expresses an interest or who catches your eye, and are able to remain grounded in reality throughout the swiping to meeting process--you are almost there. The last step is to clearly communicate your boundaries and expectations during that first meeting. You will both be evaluating the other and deciding how you feel and if there is sufficient interest. However, it will be important for you to communicate what your interest is and what it isn't. For instance if hooking up is out, you will let them know this by setting limits on where you meet, for how long, and how you will respond if they suggest something more private. Should your date make suggestive comments, or be too aggressive in a sexual way--you will need to let them know you are not interested. You will do this through your facial expressions, posture, tone of voice, and the words you use.
Using these tips will not guarantee you make the perfect match. However, they will save you time and energy, and can help protect you from potentially unpleasant or even dangerous encounters with fellow Tinder users. Be smart, be safe--and be true to yourself. This is the right approach to successful dating.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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