Online dating platforms have become the most common way for people to meet for dating in the US and have become popular around the world.
The biggest online platform is Tinder, with over 50 million users in over 190 countries, but what is this minimalist app good for?
Tinder started in 2012 as a radically different online dating service. First of all, it was completely free (they now have paid versions), and was designed to be used on mobile devices instead of on desktops.
Being on a mobile device enables the app to serve up potential matches based upon physical proximity between users.
Also, because Tinder is on your phone, you carry with you, so you can use it anywhere and anytime.
Unlike other online dating platforms, there are no long questionnaires to fill out, no long profiles to create. A user is only able to upload some pictures and create a “profile” that consists of a few lines of text.
Not everyone on Tinder is looking to hook up (although many are)
Because Tinder is free and focuses almost exclusively on looks and physical proximity, when it first came out it was thought of as an app only used by young people looking for hookups. But over the years, more Tinder users (especially women and older users) have been signing up on the app looking for relationships.
Online dating, including Tinder, is no longer just for young people
More and more older people are using online dating, although it is unclear how many are actually successful in finding relationships.
Although published statistics on the demographic breakdown of Tinder users differ, it is clear that the largest group of users is in the 18 to 24 year old group, with another large group in the 24 to 35 age group, and a lesser but still decent sized group in the 35 to 47 age range.
Why would someone looking for a relationship be on Tinder?
You have to wonder why someone looking for a serious relationship would choose the Tinder app when so many other platforms are available.
Well, first of all its free, and there will always be people who will want to use, or at least try out, a free version of anything. Also many attractive women don’t believe that they should have to pay to meet someone online.
In addition, the app was designed by some devious genius who made it look like and work like a video game. The speed and ease of the swiping, and the way the “it’s a match” window opens up, providing the user with a little burst of validation, is probably intended to “hook” the user in the same way games like Candy Crush have hooked many millions.
While Tinder might not be a very time efficient way of finding a real relationship online, for some people it can be the most fun way.
Something that’s fun for one person may be torture for another. While digital dating has worked for some people, many others have found it just doesn’t work very well for them. This is especially true with Tinder.
There have been many complaints about misleading profiles, lack of matches, too many matches, safety issues, ghosting, and catfishing.
Most men on Tinder have trouble getting matches
Many men who use tinder have complained about a lack of matches. One man wrote an article complaining that because he put his real height, 5 foot 9 inches, in his profile he was getting exactly zero matches.
Tinder has many more male than female users, in some areas twice as many, and male users also swipe right much more frequently than females. This translates into the fact that most male users are working against the odds to even get a match.
Since the app by its nature focuses on appearance, the odds of an average looking male getting many matches can be quite small, especially in some areas.
Interestingly, the Tinder algorithm makes this situation even worse for the average male user.
Men who are discouraged by a small number of matches are often tempted to swipe right as many times as possible. Because of the Tinder algorithm, this actually hurts their chances to get matches.
How the Tinder algorithm works
The Tinder Algorithm was originally based upon the “elo” system, a ranking system used to rank tournament chess players. Under that system, you get a rating depending on how successful you are in getting matches, and the popularity of the persons whose matches you get.
The higher your rating, the more profiles are served up to you, and the attractiveness of the profiles served goes up too.
The elo algorithm has been tweaked a little since Tinder was bought out by Match.com, however the basic concept remains.
The algorithm also takes points away from users who swipe right all the time, and awards points to users who actually interact with their matches by sending or answering messages.
Tinder may be limiting the number of profiles you can view
It used to be that you could swipe as many times as you want, until you ran out of users in your area (interestingly, the app will occasionally serve up profiles of users you have already swiped left on). Nowadays, if you have the free version, you are limited to 100 swipes a day.
Some users have reported that the app worked much better for them three or four years ago, but now the number of profiles served up is greatly reduced. They suspect that Tinder is deliberately limiting the number of profiles that you can view with the free version, as a way of getting people to upgrade to the paid versions.
Many women end up hating Tinder and leave the app
While both men and women can wind up regretting spending hours and hours on Tinder, women in particular have expressed regret spending hours a day on Tinder and meeting men who “disappeared” during the text conversation or after the first date.
There are many men on Tinder who send x rated pictures or exhibit behavior that most women find offensive.
Some women come to believe that poor behavior by Tinder men is actually impacting their self esteem and even their mental health.
Many of these women leave the app, leaving the app largely populated by women who are hooked on getting constant validation. You may not want to have to deal with these, even for hook ups.
Very attractive women are often dissatisfied with the men on Tinder, and, because they have lot of options, they don’t stay long.
Has tinder become just another bad habit?
In 2019 many articles came out discussing dating apps, and Tinder specifically, as a bad habit that people are trying to get rid of.
It is true that many people use Tinder like an online video game, or just to get validation, with no intention of meeting anyone, so that the process of getting matches, sending texts, and setting up dates (many of whom “flake” on you) can be long and tedious.
For some people, the app is not just a waste of time, but they end up relying on Tinder or other dating platforms so much that they can actually forget about trying to connect with potential partners in the real world.
Is it possible to improve your results on Tinder?
When I was single and dating I tried a number of online dating services, including Tinder. Although I am only average looking, I did get a decent number of Tinder matches, although this was a few years ago. My impression at the time was that many women would match with you even if they weren’t particularly interested in actually meeting up.
Also the texting seemed to mostly go nowhere, and the few actual dates that I had were all flaky.
There are a lot of articles, and even ebooks, that can show you how to improve your Tinder photos, profile, and texting game.
I have seen some of these, and many are excellent.
Today there are even companies that, for a fee, will write your dating profiles for you, and will even impersonate you and send and respond to text messages.
I believe that, other than hiring one of these companies, it is possible to improve your Tinder results somewhat, but probably not enough to make the app really worthwhile for either hookups or relationships for most people.
For hookups, unless you look like a male model, you are probably better off trying offline, and for real relationships there are a lot of better dating platforms where people are more serious, less flaky, and you can get a lot more information about prospects instead of wasting a lot of time.
In the real world, it takes a certain amount of guts for a man to approach an attractive woman. It also takes a certain amount of skill to get a phone number from an attractive woman that you have approached in a supermarket or on the street, or to convince her to go for coffee with you on an “insta date”.
If you can approach, and do it well, you already stand out from over 90% of the crowd.
For relationships, the relationship minded platforms, especially ones where everyone has to pay for a subscription, attract people who are much more serious about having real relationships.
What about the paid versions of Tinder?
When I used Tinder they either didn’t have the paid versions yet, or else I just hadn’t heard of them. The paid versions do allow the user to have unlimited swipes, and the most expensive version, Tinder Gold, allows you to find out who has already swiped right on your profile, before you swipe them. This feature keeps you from wasting time and also tanking your ratings from unsuccessful swiping.
If Tinder isn’t particularly good for hookups or for serious relationships, what is it good for ?
For most people Tinder is good for two things, testing your online pictures, and dating when you are in a foreign country.
If you are a man who is looking to drastically improve your ability to attract women, Tinder is another way of getting in the necessary practice.
A/B testing of photos
No matter which online dating service you use, your photographs are the most important part of your profile.
Of your photos, the featured photo, which is usually a “head shot” is the most important of all.
Most users, whether male or female, have neither the desire nor the inclination to read through a ton of profiles. The vast majority will take a quick look at your featured photo, and if they don’t like what they see, will just move on to the next profile.
However, if you are using a dating platform that is focused more on long term relationships, you can use Tinder to quickly test your photos out.
The method that I recommend here is set up to counter any distortion due to the Tinder algorithm penalizing users for swiping right too many times in a row.
If you are not on Tinder already, borrow a second phone from someone. Set up two different tinder accounts, as identical as possible, except for the cover photo.
Swipe right 100 times on each phone, and compare your results. If you want to be really scientific, do this three days in a row.
If you are already on Tinder you will have to get access to two other phones. Alternatively, if you temporarily delete your Tinder account this will re-set your elo score, if you wait six months to re-open it.
Using Tinder when you are overseas
Tinder is now used in over 190 countries around the world in over 40 languages. A new feature, called “Passport” (available only with the paid versions) allows a user to override his GPS location and set his location for the app to a different city in another country. This allows the user to communicate with potential dates in cities around the world.
If you are planning an overseas trip, you can use Passport to set up possible dates abroad a couple of weeks ahead of time. Once you get there, you will find that Tinder’s algorithm gives you a temporary but substantial boost in popularity for each time you visit a new city. Also, if you show your status as a foreigner in your profile, many local users will be intrigued and will want to contact you.
Tinder can increase your fun on a foreign vacation
Many of the locals will be happy to show you around. You will get a real sense of the culture of the country instead of being stuck in the usual tourist spots. London, Paris, New York, Rome, and other capital cities with a lot of tourists are some of the most popular and romantic cities where you can meet lots of locals.
Exploring exciting cities is the perfect antidote to the typical boring first date.
Tinder can help you get a foreign wife
If you are looking to marry a foreign woman, Tinder can help you too. You can use it either to try for a “pen pal” relationship or to set up an overseas vacation and “prospecting trip”.
When I was a younger man, I had a co-worker, who was about 30 at the time, who took his 2 week vacation in Europe in order to find a European bride.
He explained that he had lived in Europe for a couple of years and he found that the European women were “better” (at least to him) than American women. He also claimed that it was considered in Europe to be very “cool” for a young European woman to spend time in the US.
I was skeptical, but he came back from his vacation with a fiancée, I believe from Germany. I left the job shortly thereafter, but to my recollection he did marry her.
Using Tinder to get dating practice
When my first wife passed away, I found myself in the dating pool again after having been married for most of my adult life.
I tried online dating, went on my first few dates and found that all the women who liked me I didn’t like and all the women who I liked didn’t like me.
To make a long story short, over the next two years I read every book I could find about improving dating skills, watched tons of videos, paid for some online courses, and even took two all day seminars.
But I also had to practice what I learned a whole lot to get good at it. I learned that to be effective, the best way of learning dating skills was through an “immersion”, like learning a foreign language, so I went out on a lot of dates, and after about a year, my results dramatically increased.
Tinder is good practice for text game, and also every actual date, whether good or bad, is an opportunity to practice what you have learned, experiment, and learn more about what kind of women you really like and are compatible with.
While you can find hookups and even relationships on Tinder, it can be a very inefficient and time consuming especially if you are an average looking man.
However Tinder can be very helpful for international dating, to tune your photos for other dating sites, and it can help you get as much practice as possible to improve your dating skills