OPINION: Hacking Online Dating

By Alexander Kenny, Columnist

On Valentine’s Day, campus couples exhibit more PDA than usual. That night, they’ll spend way too much on surf & turf, then exchange flowers, chocolate and fluids. They will smooch during a 90s movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (there are three). I heard they met on Tinder.

According to DatingSitesReviews.com, the use of online dating services among ages 18-24 nearly tripled from 2013 to 2016 (from 10% to 27%). The horror stories about online dating are true. But so are the happily-ever-afters. If you’re thinking of firing up your first profile or haven’t had much luck before, I’m here to help. I’ve been on more internet dates than anyone you’ve heard of, and I’m not even that good looking.

Buckle up. It’s going to get weird. You’re about to see 50,000 thumbnails of singles and you’re competing against 49,999 others. Ninety percent of your online suitors will prove undateable (which is the same percentage of undateable suitors you meet organically). However, online suitors (men) find ways to nauseate in the first message.

Dateable men– the good news is most of your competition is slime and borderline illiterate.

Dateable women– the good news is there are normal, intelligent, kind men online. But they get scooped up fast.

First, choose your dating app. Tinder is popular and easy to operate, but generally for those who use sex as an icebreaker. Wear protection before you download Tinder. If you write well and you’re funny, use OkCupid or Match.com because they allow long paragraphs. Bumble’s dynamite gimmick eliminates the most appalling men because only women can send the first message. EHarmony is expensive and for people who want marriage yesterday.  

The profile photo: Unless you look like Chris Evans, put your shirt back on, dude. Ditch the sunglasses. Smile. Delete the photo of you in a bar hugging another woman. Upload one photo that says: “I’m the guy you take home to meet the parents.” Same rules for women, except Chris Evans becomes Tina Fey (my celebrity crush). Do not hold a baby in your photo, even if it’s yours. This is terrifying to us and somewhat exploitive.

The profile blurb: You get one sentence. Do not write the words “ladies” or “boys.” Do not write “work hard play harder.” Since I’m spoken for and retired from online dating, here is the bulletproof blurb I used: “As you wish.” Half of your first messages will be “I love ‘Princess Bride’!” Now go watch the best movie ever.

The long form profile: The key here is no red flags. If you passed the photo test, the words may not even matter. No more than two sentences about your job. Only one paragraph about your hopes and dreams. If you’re very serious, write a scene with you and Mr./ Mrs. Right on your one-year anniversary. Guys are softies too– we melt for that gushy stuff. Avoid the relentlessly upbeat profile. Fifty percent of profiles have “I love life!” No person says these words outside of cereal commercials and AA meetings. Be positive, but be real.

On being selective: Narrow the search radius to 20 minutes away and click/right swipe twenty thumbnails you find attractive. Ignore Washington, D.C. residents– the commute is awful and they won’t come to you. Don’t send a first message unless the profile positively smolders. Each of the twenty profiles will see you visited and ten of them will click your photo. This is the dance. Five will send you a first message. Two of those messages will be “wassup,” two of those messages will be the lazy “how are you?” and one message will be smart, funny, and demonstrate work. That person is your next boyfriend/ girlfriend. You have twenty-four hours to respond, five days to exchange numbers, then two more days to make plans to meet.

On Ghosting: You can walk away at any time before you meet, and you don’t need to explain yourself. Nobody does. Gentlemen, get used to being ghosted and take it like a man. She is courted by hundreds, considering ten, in conversations with three. And she didn’t choose you. Nothing validates ghosting like subsequent evil messages and name calling. Men (boys) who send hateful farewells aren’t ready for a relationship. Instead, after three days of silence, type, “Nuts, I really liked you. Last time I’ll message you and I’ll take the hint. Good luck out there!” You may see a response after her date with the other bozo fizzles.

The First Date: Give three friends the address where you’ll be. Schedule a check in time. This also offers a chance for the “Sick Aunt” routine if your date outweighs profile photos by 100 lbs and aged ten years. If you’ve been texting a week, a hug greeting is standard. Have fun! Be weird! Be a dork! Most people are. By next Feb. 14, you’ll be that gushy couple that single people hate.

Photo Courtesy of Tinder