5 Fool-Proof Fixes for Successful App Dating

Nobody wants to say they met their boo on a stupid dating app. For whatever reason, our culture still associates dating apps with desperation. But here’s the thing: sure, it’d be nice to meet people in person like the good old days when grandpa rode to school on a donkey and your friends actually looked at you instead of their phones when you had conversations, but those days are over. So get with the program, y’all. The survival of our species has always depended on adaptation and willingness to change.

But I get it. As an outdoorsy gal who spent most her 20s living and working in the wilderness (and who didn’t even own a TV until the age of 37), I’m not someone who likes relying on electronics to find intimacy and sexual pleasure (except my vibrator—that thing will always be my number one). But now that I’ve lived in both NYC and LA for 10 years, I’ve come around, because for eight of those years I never went on dates or got laid.

Eventually, I bit the bullet and downloaded Tinder to my phone. It’s literally the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Now I go on dates and get laid ALL. THE. TIME. I meet guys in LA I would never, ever run into otherwise. How and where is a writer/storyteller/comedian who slings BBQ every day and performs or writes every night gonna meet a hot environmental lawyer from Oregon who works downtown? Honestly, I have no clue how people in cities meet anyone without using an app anymore.

While more often than not I’m the kind of person just looking for a one-night stand, I understand that I like sleeping with complete strangers far more than the average person. But I also use these apps because I (like 38% of men and 44% of women) am also looking for something more long-term. I know lots of couples who met on these apps. In fact, over 13% of couples said they got engaged off an app and 15% said an app led to a relationship lasting over a year.

One of the unspoken perks of dating apps is that they’re a great way to spot red flags that you might not be able to see so clearly in person. For instance, you meet a hot, charming guy at a bar and he feeds you some BS about being an “entrepreneur” and totally single. But if you’d met that dude on an app (and if you go all Nancy Drew on these men like I do), you figure out they’re completely full of crap before you waste a whole evening of your life with them. I can’t tell you how many “single” guys on Tinder are dumb enough to link their Instagram accounts to their profiles and think women won’t notice all the pics of the same woman by their side. And once I’ve figured out his last name, I can find out what he does for a living, if he’s cheating on a wife or girlfriend and whether or not he’s been convicted of raping a bunch of women back in Arkansas. I can’t tell any of that from meeting a guy in person.

So, now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that apps can actually be amazing if you use them right, what on earth do you do once you’re on one? Well, here’s some pointers to get you started:

1. Best Face Forward

Pictures are literally everything on apps. Over 33% of men and 20% of women said photos are how they judge people most. But which photos is the critical part. Shirtless photos make you look vain and bathroom or car selfies make you look like a loser with no friends willing to hold a camera for you. Drinking or party pics make me think you’re gonna try to date-rape me. Gun pics make me think you’re gonna kill me after you rape me. Headshots make me think you’re trying to find an agent (or maybe that’s only a thing in LA) and group photos make the think you’re an inconsiderate asshat who assumes I have the time or motivation to play Where’s Waldo with your stupid profile. I literally hate you if you post group shots. So choose your photos wisely and show a friend to get some feedback. 

Also, your best one always goes first. Swiping can get exhausting, boring and automatic after a while, and most people won’t tap on your profile and see more photos if we aren’t drawn to your first one. So skip that picture of your feet at a beach. 

2. Easy with Those Edits

One more thing about photos, for both men and women. If you don’t have a single photo of your body, just a bunch of close-ups of your face, I’m gonna assume you’re missing an arm or hiding something. I don’t trust people who withhold information, because omission if a form of dishonesty. If you’re in a wheelchair or are a foot shorter than most women, you better be up front about that shit. If you leave out the fact you’re 50 pounds heavier than your photos imply, you’re going to get stood up by your date who will hate you for lying.

3. Who Do You Think You Are? 

Descriptions/bios are also important because that’s where I get to see if you’re nice and interesting or lazy and hate women. “No drama” in your bio means you either gaslight women who call you on your BS or you still aren’t over that ex you claim to hate.

Bios are where guys either lose me immediately or win me over. If you make me laugh, I’m probably DTF. If you complain about women not messaging you back, I’m gonna assume you are an entitled douche who thinks women owe you a date just because you sent a lazy message like “hey” to impress them.

The only time you get a pass on a blank bio is if you’re foreign. Truth be told, I only really date foreign guys at this point. I’m way more afraid of American men than foreigners, mostly because of the guns thing. So the bio part is where you convince me you’re not the kind of guy who’s angry at his mom or will inspire a future episode of Law and Order SVU.

4. Message Me 

Messages are THE most important thing. How you talk to me is how I determine if you’re gonna try to rape me or not. If you’ve put forth the effort to contact me, try to impress me and make me laugh, then sure, I’ll meet you for a drink. If you send me a gif, an insult, an unsolicited sexual come-on, the word “hey” or “hi” or a copy and pasted message asking me what item I’d take if my house was burning down, I know you aren’t the least bit interested in me and you’re just throwing sh*t at a huge wall seeing what will stick. Lazy texts make for push-your-head-down kinda dudes who will most certainly not return the oral favor. Lazy texting=lazy lover. 

5. Be Direct

If you are in an open relationship and/or don’t want anything serious, say so. There are lots of people looking for exactly what you are. In fact, the only guys I hook up with are the ones who admit they’re just looking for something casual. Like a lot of women, I don’t immediately sleep with men I am interested in dating, only with men I DON’T want to date. So pretending like you’re available and looking for a relationship in order to get laid is not only gonna hurt the person you convince to sleep with you, it might actually be hurting your chances of getting laid.

Being direct, however, is null and void if you have a vagina and are straight. Men (in America at least) will assume you are a slut and will treat you like one because they can’t get past that whole Madonna/whore nonsense for some reason. So if you’re a woman looking for one night stands or dating, find another way to say it (or don’t say it at all).


Follow these simple rules, and you are well on your way to meeting people—whether for a one-night romp or something more long-term. Yes, there will be a lot of crazies and idiots, but there will also be some super awesome folks. Just like anywhere, it’s a mixed bag. The key is getting good at reading between the lines.


Melanie Hamlett is a writer, storyteller, comedian and public speaker based out of LA. She’s also a regular on the Risk! podcast, creator of Smashing Stories and performs regularly when she’s not sleeping in the back of her truck in the woods or living abroad. 

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