Okay people. It’s time to talk about dating apps.

If you’re using a dating app like Tinder — or considering doing so — read to the end of this post. You could win a free dating app profile consultation and photoshoot.

I avoided the dating app scene for ages. The whole concept terrified me. But I have several friends who are using dating apps — Tinder most commonly — or have used them in the past, and while the feedback wasn’t 100% positive I’d heard a few success stories.

So a couple of weeks ago I swallowed my fear and downloaded the app. I chose a few photos, wrote a bio, and bam: I was on Tinder.

Heather on Tinder
Thanks to my friend Julia for shooting this picture of me last month. I think it shows what kind of person I am.

I thought I’d swipe on a few profiles, have some nice chats, block a few creeps, maybe go on a couple of dates. And much of that did happen, except for the dating part — I haven’t gone on a single Tinder date yet. But that’s a story for another post.

Anyway. The main thing I’ve done while browsing Tinder is laugh.

I don’t laugh because the men are witty (although a small percentage of them are). I laugh because many of the men’s profiles are — to be quite frank — awful.

Over and over, as I swipe left, I find myself wishing Tinder had a private comment section in which I could provide constructive criticism to people about how to make their profiles look and read better. Just a bit of advice from a professional online communicator, to be taken or left as the recipient sees fit.

I began screenshotting the worst offenders for future reference.

Unsolicited Advice to the Men of Tinder

Here are a few things I wish I could say to some of the men I’ve encountered on Tinder and Bumble, a similar dating app.

[Disclaimer: I’m a heterosexual woman, hence the profiles I see belong to heterosexual men. So I have to pick on the men here, even though I’m sure there are lots of funny/bad women’s profiles, too. #SorryNotSorry.]

You’ll see I’ve carefully removed all identifying characteristics from the screenshots below.

Tinder profile man on beach
Dear Beach Bum: Your bathing suit crotch isn’t your best feature. Perhaps choose a photo in which your face is the focus? Also, that crooked horizon makes me dizzy.
Tinder profile man with wedding ring.
Striped Shirt Guy: I’m guessing most of the photos in your phone were taken before your divorce. I totally get that. But women on Tinder don’t dig wedding rings. They also don’t dig photos in which your ex-wife’s arm is wrapped around your neck. This is going to require like five minutes of effort, but please find a way to produce a ring-free, ex-wife-free photo for your Tinder profile. Today.
Tinder profile man in car
Dear Driver’s Seat: You, like 78% of men on Tinder, seem to believe your car is the best place to shoot a profile photo. I assure you that is not the case. I do like your snazzy red leather seats but the belt across your chest is not a good look. So get out of that car, man, and shoot your selfie outdoors.
Tinder profile man with whiskey bottle
You’re 41, really?
Guy on Tinder with shark
No baby sharks, please. And pull up your pants.
Tinder profile man on mountain bike
Dear Cycling Sir: It’s good to show you have hobbies. However, 88% percent of South African men on Tinder are into mountain-biking and if I see another photo of a man in a bike helmet and spandex I will hurl my phone against the wall.
Tinder profile man in restroom
Dear Hustler: Restroom profile pics are a no-no. Especially with flash.
Tinder profile man and woman
Mr. Touchy-Feely: I hope this is your daughter and not your girlfriend. Oh no wait, that’s creepy too. I’m just going to swipe left, thanks, bye.
Tinder profile man with unbuttoned shirt.
Dear Belly Roll: Consider hitting the gym before unbuttoning your shirt on Tinder.
Tinder profile man's t-shirt.
While we’re on the subject of shirts: If you’re going to photograph your t-shirt and nothing else, please wash and iron it first.
Tinder profile bare wall.
Sorry, I don’t date walls.
Tinder profile man's nose.
I don’t date noses either.
Tinder profile bare chest selfie.
No dude. Just no.

And the number one piece of advice I want to give to the men I encounter on Tinder: PROOFREAD.

Tinder profile with bad typo.
You win, dude. You win Tinder.

A few more tips I’ve yearned to give, again and again:

  1. Smile.
  2. Take off your shades.
  3. Don’t say you’re 42 when you’re obviously 60.
  4. No photos of you petting a lion cub/tiger cub/cheetah. (If you’re wondering why, read this.)
  5. Write a bio. Profiles without words are boring.
  6. Avoid clichés like “Love the great outdoors”, “No baggage” (ha!), “Enjoy long walks barefoot on the beach” (really?), and “Looking for a partner in crime.” (That last one is my worst.)
  7. Try not to look like a serial killer.

Need Help With Your Tinder Profile?

As I fantacized about this mythical Tinder comment section, I began developing a second fantasy: To start a business helping people improve their dating app profiles. I may not be good at dating, but I damn sure know how to write a good paragraph and shoot a good portrait.

I mentioned the idea to my friend Frances, a fellow photographer and social media professional who knows her way around the dating apps. She told me she’s been entertaining the very same fantasy. And we thought: Wait, we should actually do this.

So we’re turning our fantasy into reality. We’re going to make Tinder a better place for everyone — hallelujah! Please join us in our quest.

To get things rolling we’ve decided to provide five free sessions to potential online daters — both women and men — who want to create new dating app profiles or improve their existing profiles. We’ll meet with you, do a photoshoot, and help whip your profile into shape.

If you’re interested in being one of our five guinea pigs, please send a message through my contact page explaining why you deserve to be selected. You’ll hear back from us soon.

Green Tinder profile photo
In the meantime, stop giving me nightmares.
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