Is online dating just a game?
The world of dating has had a massive change-up in recent years. Gone are the days of meeting someone at a malt shop over a milkshake (I think that was a thing) or asking for their number on a train (I’m sure this was a thing and I’m glad it’s gone).
Instead, we’ve moved the scene into the digital realm with apps like Tinder, Bumble, and the like. And with that move, romance has become sort of a game, with successful matches feeling more like completing a level on Candy-Crush than the start of a genuine connection.
Interested to hear how others navigate the world? Head to our Life section.
And of course, with this gamification have come the strategists. Hundreds of dating ‘experts’ and ‘gurus’ with their own opinions on the best ways to beat the system; opinions on what photos to upload, what messages to send, even exact times of the day to message.
Is that really what love has come to? Has the purest part of human experience been boiled down to a list of boxes to tick off? ‘Do this and you win’? ‘Do this and you lose’? Well, I rebuke that. I believe that true and honest connections can surmount surface details like how you set up your dating profile.
To prove this, I went through as many articles as I could find (three) on the dos and don’ts of Tinder etiquette and tried to make the worst profile possible and see if I could still find love.
I didn’t want to use my actual name for this new account because I didn’t want anyone actually finding me in the real world, so I began by Googling the most unattractive male names.
(Sorry to any Aidens out there.) To create the perfectly terrible Tinder profile, I had to start with some truly terrible photos. And since I’ve never taken one in my life, I had to do some research.
Tom Ella of Swipe-Life has a set of guidelines he recommends when choosing your photos. I decided to ignore them.
“Show your face: I learned profiles that start with a solid face shot get 27 per cent more likes than profiles that don’t and immediately deleted that pic.”
The first photo I uploaded was one where my entire face is hidden by hookah smoke. And no, I didn’t smoke hookah for this article, that was a personal decision.
“Smile: Smiling in your first photo gets 10 per cent more likes.”
“Lose the glasses: When I learned pics with glasses perform worse than those without, I felt like an advertisement for corrective eye surgery… Now, I get 2 per cent more likes on Tinder. Thanks LASIK!”
“Say goodbye to the selfie: After dozens of takes and endless minute adjustments to lighting and angles, you come away with a photo that looks like you snapped it in a flash. Maybe it’s unfair, but that’s why you’ll get 7 per cent more likes when you swap out that selfie.”
I took perhaps the most unflattering selfies of myself that I could, made sure not to smile in them, then used editing software to add a pair of glasses that didn’t bring out my eyes at all. With the same editing software, I also changed the entire shape of my face. I didn’t want my good looks skewing the results.
For the rest of my photos, I decided to freestyle and use my own intuition when it came to being unattractive so I included a Joker quote and a photo of me holding a fish.
Now that the photos had been chosen, I needed to create the bio and Steve Morley of Dudehack (wow) showed me the way. Here are a few of his ‘don’ts’.
“BRAG: The number one reason I hear that women will swipe left to attractive guys is when their profile screams that they are a cocky douchebag.”
“BE CYNICAL: What I mean by this, is basically dissing Tinder and the fact that you are using it. Imagine if you went to a speed dating event, and the first thing you said to all of your dates was: ‘I wish I weren’t here, my friends signed me up…’.”
“USE THE WRONG SPELLING OR GRAMMAR.”
“BE DEMANDING: Don’t scare off potential suitors by explaining what kinds of girls you usually date, or how you don’t date women under 5’5”. Grow up.”
Check and check.
This was the final result:
After all this, I set my preferences to both men and women, started swiping, then left my phone for a couple of days, like a farmer waiting for harvest.
To no surprise, I came back to 47 male matches and three female matches, proving my assumption that women swipe with a more discerning eye. Either way, it was time for more testing.
According to Louis Farfields of TextGods (again… wow) the worst way to start a Tinder conversation is with the word ‘hey’.
“Matching with a cutie only to scare her off with the first text freakin’ HURTS… ‘Why would “Hey” scare her off? It’s so non-threatening.’ Let me tell you bro: It means you likely aren’t creative; you didn’t really check out her photos and bio and most importantly ‘hey’ forces her to put in the effort…”
“Don’t ask [them] out in the first text: It communicates that you only want [them] for their looks, you have low standards and are probably desperate for attention and you’re probably not good with [seduction].”
Return on investment
Right off the bat, I can tell you that none of the women replied. If I’m being honest, had I stayed in the realm of strict heterosexuality, there would have been no article to write. They couldn’t make it past Aiden’s (granted, awful) outer shell and get to the person behind it; me, a guy writing an article for an online magazine.
The men, however, reacted quite differently. All took well to Aiden’s profile, with none of them making really any reference to it, and all of my dumb messages got some sort of response. To cap it off, some guys, ignoring any and all red flags, messaged me first, one guy even complimented my fish. So, what does all this mean? What have we learned? Is online dating just a game?
Sorry to say it, I really didn’t want this to be the case, but it is definitely a game. Not since high school have I ever had this much trouble getting a woman to talk to me. I had absolutely no chance. If you want girls to like you online, figure out the rules and follow them, because whatever Aiden was doing did him no favours at all.
And, even though the men were more responsive, their willingness to completely dismiss my shitty profile and my poor attempts at flirting offered a different feeling of hollowness than being full-blown ignored; like I could have done and said anything, and it wouldn’t have mattered.
Basically, the coda of the story is this:
- The internet has turned romance into a sick game of chess in which we are both the players and the pawns, locked into an endless battle in which everyone loses.
- True love doesn’t exist, nothing is real. We’re all going to die alone, swiping and matching forever until the ice caps melt and drown us all.
- If you put a fish in your profile photo, at least one person will compliment it.
If you’re suffering from dating fatigue, try these tips.