My Swipe Life: Ways to Escape Death By Dating Apps

By Natalia Johan and Violet Chan

Let’s be honest. If you have been on Tinder, Match, and the likes, somewhere along the line, you’d probably have said one of these.

“I’m tired of texting and texting, only to have him ghost on me.”

“There are too many freakazoids out there.”

“I thought I’d gauged correctly this time round, from his profile.”

Based on a profile photo and a paragraph of self-description of a complete stranger, your brain makes a quick neural computation to decide whether to swipe left or right. Your senses are all heightened to suss out if he or she has psychotic tendencies and whether you will be on the next episode of Crime Watch as a cautionary tale of using online dating apps.

But if statistics are anything to go by, dating apps are here to stay. For starters, there are 57 million Tinder users around the world , and the market size for online dating services is projected to grow by USD 2.01 billion by 2024.

So, if we are joining the millions of singles hoping to find a genuine connection online, let’s be savvy about it.

How’s your profile looking?

I met someone for coffee on a first date, and he told me how shocked he was when he could not recognise his date from Tinder. “Her face was so huge, and it didn’t look like that at all on her profile pic!” Brutal.

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to online dating. While we love our filters and photo-enhancing applications, let’s go easy when editing your photographs. A heavily edited photograph reeks insecurity and gives off the vibe that you are trying to be someone that you are not.

Okay now, let’s move on to that bio – those few words that are supposed to encapsulate your entire personality. A bio during Covid times like this one here “Usually I’m so late, but now I-so-late” or “Covid-free since 1995” may be humorous. But your next match might be a guy who thinks that a great date is a night of standup comedy. By him.

Do you sound boring?

When you start with run-of-the-mill “Hi” or “Hey there”, you are hardly irresistible. Research shows that self-disclosure is intrinsically rewarding and inherently pleasurable. That is why people spend so much time talking about themselves! Now, let’s translate neuroscience into Tinder-speak. What kind of opener will encourage your match to talk about themselves?

Instead of just saying, “Hi, you seem like an interesting person”, try this: “Hi, you seem like an interesting person. When was the last time you did something fun or out-of-the-box?”

Tagging a question after the compliment gives your match the opportunity to talk about himself or herself. Science tells us that this activates the pleasure centers in our brain. This is something you want. Because when your date begins to associate you with feeling good, your chances of scoring the mobile number or a first date is raised. Once you have an interesting opener, the conversation is more likely to flow. While it can be tough to maintain a conversation, finding common points of interest never goes wrong!

Are you oversharing?

If you have not heard of the term ‘catfish’, you must check out the documentary of the same name. (No excuses, it is on Netflix.) Reel life follows the real life story of a lovelorn young man seeking to meet the love he found online, a flirty, vivacious, nineteen-year-old artist, Megan. Turns out, Megan never existed. She was the alter-ego of forty-year-old housewife, Angela, who wanted to reconnect with her passion for art. Creepy.

While dating applications have put in place safety measures to deal with catfishing such as the verification of profiles, we still have to be vigilant. Look out for red alert signals. Educate yourself with this useful article on CNet. Always conduct a Google search to make sure the person is who they say they are. And never give out your personal information such as your address or private pictures.

Now, get yourself out there!

When my girlfriends meet, we tell ‘Tinder stories’, often accompanied by much hooting and guffawing. Amongst the many strange tales, we recount those dates who pursue fervently, and then ghost out as suddenly. And who can forget the dude who asked if I can send him home first in a Grabshare after our first date? My girlfriends and I regale one another with incredible tales, almost determined to outdo each other when it comes to the question of, who has had the worst dates.

Some dates are at best, a comedy. Some others are more aptly described as tragedies. Truth is, on more than one occasion, I could swear that I have an out-of-body experience. But let’s face it. With or without a dating app, meeting new people is still a harrowing experience. Putting myself out there will always give me clammy palms. Taking my chance to know someone new also brings about the (very real) possibility of disappointments. This is all part of adulting, whether you are single, dating or married! Relationships are such that they make us vulnerable and expose our insecurities. But they also bring about deep personal growth.

As singles, navigating the dating terrain will never be a walk in the park. If anything, we are more like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, overcoming obstacles, traps, red herrings and injuries. While we hope to ultimately find The One, the journey is fundamentally one of self-discovery, self-growth and self-love. So, be brave, be safe and have the time of your life!

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