Your First Stop Before “Netflix & Chill”

Step 1: Be attractive.

Step 2: Don’t be unattractive.

Now that you’ve read through Part 1 (here), it’s time for you to read some dos and don’ts on online dating, based on my month-long journey of (mostly) suffering using these online apps.

For your information, I used Tinder and OKCupid the longest, followed by the other apps I mentioned in Part 1.

Let's go down the rabbit hole.

Know Your Arena(s)

I’ve listed all the dating apps I used in Part 1, each with their own features. Now the choice is up to you – whether you prefer it quick and easy, or a bit more contemplative, or just want to set it and forget it. Of course, diversification will help your odds, but you will have to juggle through multiple apps and services, and you will be glued to your device.

Also, just to reset some expectations: do not go into this thinking that online dating apps and services means a definite date. Yes, your odds are better the more apps and services you use, but they’re just that – odds. Men, you are like sperm converging on an egg – the competition is great, and from the onset, your odds aren’t that great.

I’m not putting anyone down, just injecting some reality into this piece.

Be Honest in Your (Awesome) Profile

Oh hey, that's me!

This is the Prime Directive before you even think about embarking on online dating. Don’t fabricate, make it interesting. People appreciate quirky humor than outright lies, so play around with what you have and who you are. Just as you will be disappointed if the person doesn’t turn out to be who he/she stated in the profile, so will the other party when they find out that you don’t match your profile. Don’t be an impostor.

Take my Tinder profile, just so you can roughly gauge how it reads. I used several keywords which apply to me – and it’s the truth (as my friends and colleagues can attest to). No lies, no nonsense. The keywords are:

  • Christian (actually, I used “Xtian”, a ye olde term)
  • Wordsmith
  • Artist wannabe (I doodle)
  • Sass
  • Random thoughts
  • Sharp comebacks

For OKCupid, I stuck to the same keywords, with the addition of power metal being my favourite genre of music. So far, there’s nothing sleazy – just your average clean cut Asian-flavoured piece of white chocolate.

Throughout the “scouring period”, I noticed that a vast majority of profiles lack even the most basic of details. I don’t want to judge people by looks alone, but without words on your profile, that’s all I can work with.

A little weirdness is good, but not too much. I’ve seen profiles where the users are 225cm, 100cm and 30cm tall, and one profile where the summary is (word for word – I am not joking) “I am not friendly at all” (then why are you here?!). Also, one lady’s Tinder profile summary is “for my brother ♡”. I’ll just leave it at that.

Legibility over Faux-Philosophy

If you opt for something fancier when writing your profile, that’s perfectly fine – it reveals more about how you think and perceive the world. I dig that. Unfortunately, it has far more negative things going for you if you do it wrong. It could even make you look shallow.

Just keep your profile short, simple, and without the “growing a pair” bit.

Before you post any quote or insight, think critically about it: Does it make sense? Is it generally applicable? What will others think of me when they read this in my profile? Don’t just parrot Deepak Chopra or pluck some semi-inspirational quote from the Internet. Think, digest, then use (or discard). If you’re unsure, don’t use it. Keep it simple.

On a related note, grammar checks would be awesome. Proper sentence structure will score you some sexy points in general. Yes, I said it. Then again, I’m a writer, so…

If her profile has her mobile number, odds are she isn't looking to make friends.

Strengthen Your Selfie Game

Now that your profile is typed out (or you just didn’t bother, you sloth), it’s time to get some decent profile pictures to accompany the profile. If a picture speaks a thousand words, then you better make sure your picture conveys your message exactly. This is where I get slightly annoyed.

After having gone through so many profile pictures in the span of one month, I’ve noticed some common pitfalls. By far the most grievous of selfie sins I have encountered are the weird angles, face obfuscation, and the why-is-it-not-obsolete-by-now duckface. Being too close to the camera is also a common occurrence. If your selfie game is weak, ask a friend to help out.

Some smartphone camera apps have a “beautification” feature, where it reverses aging by softening the facial area. A little sprinkle of anti-aging is fine, but don’t overdo it. There is such a thing as “being too effective” – letting the algorithm go wild can make your face look like a blurry patch of brown. It goes without saying that other modifications like making your eyes ridiculously large are no-nos.

Apps like Tinder take your most recent pictures when you sign up, so please go through them. Nobody wants to see the picture of your favourite anime character, the generic Facebook silhouette, or just plain black or yellow squares. Politically aware you may be, but you are making yourself an automatic left swipe. Don’t do it.

Make sure your picture matches the message you are trying to convey.

A minor aside: make sure your profile picture and text “match”. It’s inconsistent when your profile states “no dirty texts” but the first thing people see is just your cleavage. It’s hard to talk to someone about the intricacies of human nature when their Tinder profile is just an advertisement for their bosom.

Search Far, Wide and Often

Don’t just install an app and just leave it for days on end. Check it often for new potential matches. Tinder’s simplicity means that you will get quite a few profiles to go through per day.

My current Tinder ritual has me searching for new matches every few hours or so, with the age range set to their extreme ends (you never know), and within a 160km radius of Kuala Lumpur.

I will just put this here: if you’re using Tinder and you look “average” (like yours truly), go for a Plus subscription. Those extra Super Likes really helped tip the odds to my favour. Not much, but just enough that I pop.

Hey, I have a heart!

I’ve had a decent amount of success on Tinder, which is surprising to me. No dates, but I’ve got my foot in the door through those Super Likes. Two of them reside in Indonesia, so they are a no-go for now, but hey, I made it. Kind of. Personally, it’s like five needles in a Peninsular-sized haystack, so I’m taking my victories where I can find them.

Also, you start to know how far you’re from the airport, judging from how far the profile is from you.

“No” Means “No”

This applies to both genders – don’t start your conversation with a dirty text. Be courteous.

It’s saddening that a lot of profiles I see have “no hookups please” in it, but I can’t blame them – online dating is one crazy jungle where the sleazy meet the meek. I doubt that phrase would faze even the most determined people looking for a hookup though…

Cut Your Losses

Sometimes, the online dating service you’re on just isn’t cutting it, and your subscription is getting you nowhere. This was my case with Paktor. Oddly enough, it was also the app where I got quite a bit of “attention”.

Do I like dogs? Yes. Do I want to date a dog? No.

I’ve had multiple ladies (and one dude) just messaging me out of the blue, asking me if I run, if I have sweet cravings, what I do on Fridays, and if I believe in love at first sight. Since most of these were one-liners, I genuinely thought that they were just bots just baiting me to subscribe, like I was participating in a Turing test.

It was either that, or they were just waiting for me to gift them – the gifting element has me second-guessing their intentions. And after using it for one month, and getting no replies despite the ladies approaching me first, I’m starting to think this is the case.

If you subscribe, you also get to see who liked your profile. Out of the dozen who liked my profile, three of them were male. Does it mean I’m a gender-neutral sex magnet? That’s… comforting, I suppose. The gender filter is horrible, as it will still show male profiles despite me setting it to females only.

Remember when I said not to trust any profile with their phone numbers attached? Look at the left screenshot.

So I only subscribed for one month, just for the sake of this project. I doubt I’ll ever come back to using it.

So there you go grasshopper, some general tips to help you in online dating.

And what does this jaded, bitter, cynical writer have to show for himself? Here, I’ll put them in a bullet list:

  • Half a dozen Tinder matches
  • Multiple “Likes” from the same gender – and a greeting
  • A greeting from a transgender (Yes, I’m appealing to everyone. Glad to know I have options)
  • A proposition for a sex-massage combo
  • But this has to be the jackpot – a profile with four words I have never seen come together at once: Sarawakian Christian transexual escort

Based on that last point, I think I should go buy some lottery tickets.

Oh the things you see…

Good luck people on your Valentine search. ◆