Are you guys on Tinder? I was pretty oblivious to this phenomenon for a while until I noticed a bunch of my dude friends fiddling around with it.
If you’re not familiar, Tinder is an app used for dating/hooking up/chatting, kind of like the popular gay app Grindr. It shows you all the men or women (or both) in your area, and you can check out their pictures before liking them (by pressing the green heart or swiping right) or giving them a pass (by pressing the red X or swiping left).
I asked some of my guys why they used it. A couple of them have been on Tinder dates, or at least gotten Tinder-laid. My friend Thomas* met a girl from Tinder at a bar, after which she took him back to her apartment and gave him three lap dances to a playlist she’d created days prior.
“It’s fun to scroll through, almost like people-watching,” he said.
I don’t do OkCupid or any dating sites like that; nothing against them, but right now that’s just not for me. And he idea of Tinder made me pretty uncomfortable, to be honest.
Then I thought, A-ha! I can hide behind different “looks” and see what kind of response I get from men.
So I downloaded the free app. I kept the app on my phone untouched for a few days. I was scared of it! I have no idea why. Then I drank a beer or two and created my first profile.
The problem (or perk) with Tinder is that it links to your Facebook account, so you have to choose your photos from there. Since it was Saturday night, I decided to go for “sexy lots-of-makeup hot girl” as my Tinder persona. I was a boudoir model for a makeup artist friend, so I used a few of those pictures. In them, I am contoured and smokified, hardcore.
Over the next two days, I’d change it up and see how my Tinder experience changed as “retro red lipstick Kara” and “no-makeup-makeup girl-next-door Kara.” These are personas I play with in my real life, too, so I didn’t feel like I was trolling or anything.
Once you’ve created a profile, you specify what you’re looking for. I was open to men my age (25) to 40, within 20 miles of my apartment in Minneapolis. Minneapolis is kind of small once you’ve lived here a while, so I figured I’d see a few of my friends while scrolling through. EMBARRASSING.
Since this was an experiment of sorts, I was not picky while “liking” my potential matches.
- Must be at least 25. (I saw a lot of 18-year-olds on Tinder. Why?)
- No babies or children in your profile pictures!
- That’s it.
You’re allowed four photos on your Tinder account, and it’s super-fun to see how people choose to represent themselves. Some guys posted photos with their moms (I did not find this adorable as they intended), while others hid in photos with their bros at weddings or bars.
A female friend uses Tinder, so I asked her why she chose her particular photos. (Her profile is of herself smiling on a beach, while her other photos aim to represent that she’s a good time and doesn’t take herself too seriously, like one of her in a mini sombrero in a gay bar bathroom.)
“I chose pictures that I thought accurately represented who I am, but also made me look skinny and pretty," she said. "I think it’s wrong to use super-outdated pics, but my profile picture is from two years ago because my hair still looks like that and it’s a nice photo.”
All in all, I “liked” about 250 guys. Don’t say I never did nothing for you, xoVain!
Obviously, because my photos were, well, me in fancy lingerie and a face full of makeup, I got a lot of matches. Pretty much everyone I “liked” was a match. Once someone likes you back, you can chat.
Throughout the course of the night, I got a TON of chats.
Most of the dudes I chatted with tried really hard to get with me. I did chat with a guy named John, who seemed like someone I’d get a drink with in real life. (Cute, my age, works in marketing.) I asked him what makes him “like” a Tinder girl.
“I look to see if we have local interests in common first,” he said. “Of course, I look to see if she’s cute, but also who she hangs with, what she likes to do and the places she likes to go.”
My friend Ryan* weighed in: “Maybe 5% of the time, it’s 'Damn, I want to marry her!’ About 20% is ‘She’s cute, seems to have a personality’ and 75% it’s ‘If she’s DTF, I’m DTF.’”
I woke up Sunday morning to 65 messages from Tinder men. I didn’t respond to any of them.
I used this photo as my profile for the next day:
I had styled my hair with hot rollers, swooped on a cat-eye and slicked on my trademark red lipstick. Dudes are very divided on red lipstick!
That was the first message I got. I guess my Zooey Deschanel vibe worked. I also got a few, “I really like that dress!”
I chose my “girl next door” photos to scream “WIFE ME!” I picked one of me with a baby, one with my three best girlfriends and one of myself standing at the top of Runyon Canyon in LA. In all of these, I am wearing simple makeup. (No lipstick or liner.)
The thing I noticed about using “cute” photos versus “hot” ones is that dudes are far more reluctant to message you. When I was hiding under the veil of “sexy Kara,” they were all about sending me messages about what they’d like to do to me. But “cute girl Kara” only got, “Hey, how are you?” and “Good morning! How is your day going?” versus “HOT pics.” I mean, I’m not stupid! I knew that would be the case.
All in all, I was kind of excited to be DONE with Tinder. I can see its potential, but it’s just not for me.
Have you guys used Tinder? Have you switched up your photos to see which looks get more responses? Got any tips?