It's cool to be good at Tinder, but it's far more important that you not be absolutely terrible at Tinder. So for starters, all you men-seeking-women types out there need to learn one important rule: Even if you match with a girl—and let me put this in italics so you'll remember—she has no obligation to talk to you. (Caveat: As a straight man, I can't speak for people of other orientations, but this seems like a problem largely confined to straight men.) Yes, she matched with you, so she was interested in you at that specific time, but maybe she changed her mind. Maybe she's busy talking to other matches. Maybe she doesn't check Tinder often; notifications can be disabled, you know. Maybe she was drunk. (Sorry about your self-esteem.) Whatever the reason, she doesn't have to explain it to you.
Now, this doesn't mean that once a conversation drops off, you can't try starting it back up a few days later, as long as you don't try to resume talking with some variant of, "Oh, no response? You must be a bitch. Women like you [endless word diarrhea]." Know when to take a hint, though. After one second effort with no response, move on. Don't dwell on it. If you need to, unmatch her. Let her live. You'll live, too.
That's the beauty of Tinder: Just when you think you've found the most attractive person in the world, you can just as quickly find a NEW most attractive person in the world. The supply is nearly endless, man. Keep swiping.
At this point, you should at least recognize Tinder's name: The dating app is nearing its cultural saturation point in terms of referential freshness (if the Atlanta Hawks think it's cool, it's not that cool), but it's still quite useful and popular. Connect your Facebook page and you, too, can meet people in your radius who are interested in you, or at least briefly interested in your photos. Moreover, you have already implicitly agreed not to get so angry at every snub that you find yourself firing off a smug, aggrieved rant that ends up on the internet, so you're one step ahead of the game already. But now, how do you make yourself interesting?
Have at least a couple of somewhat clear photos, with one of just yourself. Don't use a photo of your bank account. No shirtless pics of you fishing, unless you look really good doing it. (You probably don't.) If your photo features a bunch of children from a country you visited, you will only match with other people with photos featuring a bunch of children from a country they visited. Don't just point the camera at your car or motorcycle; no one's trying to fuck your car or motorcycle. Don't steal photos of people who aren't you; I'm not talking about catfishing (don't do that either), but people who use a photo of, say, James Spader. You're not James Spader. Stop wasting everyone's time.
Just have some photos of decent quality, so your potential matches know what you look like. No Instagram filters: Those are stupid. If you have a dog, take a picture with your dog. If it's a puppy, even better. In fact, here's a hasty list:
Animals Suitable For Tinder Photos, Ranked
4. All cats
These animals all have to be alive, by the way. Unless you're in Wyoming, most matches don't want to see you decked out in hunter's orange next to a deer you shot. Weirdo.
As for your bio, it doesn't have to be the most interesting thing anyone has ever read, but don't say you like hanging out with friends and seeing new places. No shit: Most people like friends and new places. Give some specific details about yourself that make you stand out. Ask a question, maybe. If you're lucky, your match mentioned some things in her bio—talk about one of those things. Think of the personal anecdote you'd use for Jeopardy! if you were ever on Jeopardy!, and use that.
About that conversation: You should probably not start it with Hey or Hi. Those are boring. Your match will probably respond with Hi, and then you're right back where you started. Fine, you know what? Go ahead and use Hi or Hey, but NOT Howdy. If you wisely choose to skip that step, get a good opener. Again, you don't have to make your match instantly reevaluate his or her entire philosophy on life, but say something vaguely intriguing. What do I mean, exactly? I'm not going to craft your interests for you. You're your own person. Just don't talk about the weather. Never talk about the weather. That's stupid. (Unless you're matched with a meteorologist. Then talk about the weather, I guess.)
Regarding emojis: Use them sparingly. Stick to the basic faces: smiling, laughing, winking, laugh-crying, cry-laughing, and sunglasses. The eggplant emoji is too bold. If you're using the eggplant all willy-nilly and still getting a response, you probably don't need my help.
Are you thinking of pulling a Tinder stunt, where you talk to people using an existing, humorous, limited source of phrases and sentences? I did that once using Jaden Smith's tweets. I certainly wasn't the first to try this, but no one did it better than me. That's not even bragging; that's a fact. (The one that involved Darren Rovell tweets was amusing, but it loses points for its association with Darren Rovell.) Anyway, you probably shouldn't do this unless you have a really, really good idea. We're basically at the backlash point for Tinder stunts, because people are out here trying to date, and they're fed up with your conversations using only Neutral Milk Hotel lyrics. I got into that racket back when it was whimsical; that time has passed. Sucks for you, huh?
That should cover most of it. Remember: Everyone is required to talk to you, so make sure to keep messaging them until they do. JUST KIDDING. That was a test to see if you were paying attention. No one is required to reply; you are garbage until proven otherwise. Have fun out there.
Illustration by Tara Jacoby.
Adequate Man is Deadspin's new self-improvement blog, dedicated to making you just good enough at everything. Suggestions for future topics are welcome below.