On my recent experience with dating apps: Tinder, Bumble, POF, etc

(Most of this article was written in 2017 April but never published. I am making slight edits to reflect this is past reality as opposed to present, and adding commentary at the end.)

So over the past couple of years or so, I was active to varying degrees on the dating apps Tinder, Bumble, and POF (Plenty of Fish), more or less in that order.

I’ve had a few quality conversations. In between, though, there were periods where match after match would wind up being a bot. They ranged from the type that would immediately spam the URL, to the type that would just spit out plausible replies to line after line of text. I know these are bots because I would keep repeating a question such as “What part of town are you in?” and get back a complete non sequitur reply that no decent human being would type in. (I guess there is an outside chance that these are just really, really dumb human women, but I’d still bet that they are bots if I had to put money on it.)

I’ve seen a lot. I know what I swipe right on (like) and what I swipe left on (dislike/skip). It’s actually pretty simple. The following things, for example, usually got an immediate left swipe:

  1. Duckface. I’m surprised I even have to say this. Just Say No To Duckface, please.
  2. Lack of a picture that shows your face without sunglasses or other distractions, or large enough where I can see it. Okay, so you’re not proud of your face for whatever reason. If you’re that ashamed of it that you can only show neck-down body shots, your legs/feet, or pictures of your dog/cat/kids (I’m not dating your dog, cat, or kids), I have almost nothing to really judge by and honestly I have doubts you’re a real person. Same with sunglasses: dating apps are not a Texas Hold’em poker game! Bluffing me into folding (swiping left) isn’t the objective here. Or, maybe it is, in which case, why are you on Tinder to begin with?
  3. Snapchat or similar filters, similar to the previous item. They are cheap. They are clich√©. I’m sure you think you look cute as a dog, with worse-than-dollar-store fake flowers on your head, etc. Sorry, I don’t. If you are lucky I might look at your other pictures to see if I can see one that actually shows you as you are. (Even though I never will use Snapchat, I still know what the filters are from seeing them so many times. They really are that clich√©. The last thing a woman who is desiring a date from me wants to look like is a dog, yet I see way too many dog-woman-face pictures on Tinder every time I get on it.)
  4. In the same vein as the two previous items, face paint pictures if they are all that is there. (I mean carnival/party/theme park face paint here, not just ordinary makeup.) I don’t mind these as much, some of these face paint designs are just too good not to show off, I totally get that. But if that’s all that’s there and I can’t tell or reasonably guess what you might look like without it, it’s really not any different than Snapchat dog-face.
  5. Invites to be part of a threesome or a polyamorous relationship. No offense to those who practice such things, but they just aren’t for me.

There are a few other things I will swipe left for but those cover the vast majority of cases; I have my own personal preferences in addition to those that I’m not going to detail here.

I’d like to think these are reasonable criteria. Though I wonder sometimes, am I really being too picky? The number of conversations I’ve wanted to take to the next step, I can count on one hand. One of them just up and quit responding one day. Another I thought I was doing well with, and then I wake up the next morning to find myself unmatched. Many other times, I start the conversation, only to get crickets.

I’m sure a lot of happy relationships have begun on Tinder and POF, possibly with Bumble too but it seems to be one of the minor players. (Also, due to Bumble’s “women go first” and 24-hour expiration rules, I have yet to get anything resembling a conversation going.) I have to wonder if maybe these apps are not for me.

I have nothing against Craigslist, but the personals section there is, if anything, much worse. Then again, the last time I tried it, I used it completely differently than I would something like POF or Tinder. I did not post my picture to my profile and used an alias email (not the one I normally use).


Update, 2018 November: As of some months ago I did, in fact, finally decide Tinder was not for me and deleted my profile there. I still technically have an active POF profile but I have not logged in for quite some time. I probably still technically have an active Bumble profile, but again, the app has not been on my phone for months if not over a year. The only dating app I use now is The League, which for the moment hasn’t yielded any decent results.

When I first wrote this in 2017 April, I had not yet fully committed to becoming a professional face painter. That changed in 2018, but my rule regarding face paint pictures still stands (I currently make sure I have at least half of my pictures showing “the real me”, though I may pare this down to two good face paint designs, or perhaps just one favorite, later.)