Online dating can seem like a mystery. It can be difficult to know if you’re making any mistakes or how to act when you’re actively swiping on popular apps like Tinder, Bumble, or Hinge.
That’s why we at The Match Lab conducted an online survey of 100 women across the United States about the most common mistakes they see guys make on dating apps. All of the women surveyed were single, straight, and actively using dating apps. We hope that this research can help you along your online dating journey.
Here are the seven biggest common mistakes guys make in their dating profiles and messages on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, eharmony, and other dating apps. Read on to find out which key red flags to avoid in your own dating profile, as well as green flags that women wished guys did more often.
Dating App Mistake #1. Using Bad Photos in Your Dating Profile
Like it or not, photos are part of the first impression that people have of you. The photos you choose to upload can make or break your chances of getting a date or even making contact with potential matches. The following types of photos are likely to get an immediate “pass” from any woman who lays her eyes upon them:
Photos of yourself hunting or holding fish. You might think that this is a great way to show off your outdoor skills and masculinity. But in reality, it’s just calling attention to the fact that you’re holding a dead animal — not the most appealing look when you’re trying to get a date.
Excessive group photos. It’s difficult for matches to tell which one is you when you’re surrounded by your buddies.
Low-quality, blurry photos. If your photos aren’t visible, then women can’t get a good look at you, can’t tell what you look like, and they’ll swipe left.
Photos that are too old. If your profile says you’re 37 and you’re posting a photo of yourself from a frat party in college, it’s time to update your photos.
Gym photos, especially gym selfies. Nothing says “narcissist” like a guy who’s obsessed with flexing in front of a mirror.
Too many selfies in general. Like the narcissist at the gym, the guy who only takes selfies can seem either self-obsessed or lacking in friends.
Photos that don’t show your face. Who are you hiding from?
Photos with your ex-girlfriend. Really, any photos of you with other women don’t belong on your dating profile. It’s only going to make potential matches think you’re either not over your ex or you’re trying to seem like a player.
Photos with kids. You might share that you have kids or that you’ve got nieces and nephews, and including a photo with them in your dating profile could be a cute way to show some of your personal world. But be careful not to overdo it, and if you include a photo with a kid, then consider having a note or photo caption clarifying whether the kid is yours, your sibling’s, or your friend’s, etc.
Group photos that include another guy who’s more attractive than you are. There’s no need to remind matches that there’s someone out there who’s better-looking than you. Social comparisons are powerful and can hurt your chances.
Multiple versions of the same photo or same outfit. You know the ones: the guy in the bathroom who takes five photos from different angles and calls it a day. These photos say nothing about your personality, feel awkward, and make you seem disengaged.
Photos with filters. Your date is going to find out what you really look like eventually, so don’t try to trick her into going on a date.
Lacking full-body photos. Women want to know what you look like beyond your face. Be true to the person you really are so you attract someone who’s genuinely interested in what all of you looks like.
Lacking photos in general. Your profile should have at least four photos to give a complete picture of who you are.
Dating App Mistake #2. Being Overly Sexual When Messaging Women
The initial messages with potential matches should be playful, respectful, and intriguing — not overly suggestive. While a little flirting goes a long way toward getting a date, there’s a fine line you don’t want to cross. That line might include:
Saying something inappropriate. Don’t assume she shares your viewpoints on anything; instead, ask questions to get to know her.
Being too forward, creepy, or flirtatious when messaging. Imagine you met her on the street; would you be so forward in real life, or are you being this way because you’re able to hide behind a screen?
Commenting on your match’s physical appearance too much. No matter how attractive she is, you need to let her know you care about more than looks.
Dating App Mistake #3. Not Putting Any Effort Into Having a Conversation
This one’s a no-brainer, and yet many men get it wrong when it comes to striking up a conversation with a match. Common mistakes include:
Sending an opening message that only says “hey” or “hi.” If she wanted to talk to a doorknob, she would.
Being unable to hold a conversation when messaging women. If she’s the one carrying the convo, this gives her a clue as to what a date would be like. It’s not likely that she’ll say yes to that coffee or drinks date (if you even get around to asking her).
Sending messages that are only one word or just a few words. Snore.
Not asking the woman any questions. If she’s asking a ton of questions and you’re just answering her like it’s an interview, never asking any questions of your own in return, then the conversation is going to irritate her and becomes more likely to fizzle out.
Not sending any messages at all after you match or not replying to her messages. Why bother matching if you’re not going to say anything?
Only talking about yourself and not showing any interest in her. Show that you care about getting to know her; it’ll push the conversation forward and help position you to suggest a date.
Not paying attention to what a woman writes in her profile. If you’re asking questions that make it clear that you didn’t read her profile, she’s going to think you don’t pay attention to details and aren’t taking the app seriously.
Dating App Mistake #4. Being Too Negative and Offensive When Chatting With Matches
Not only is being negative or offensive rude, but it also could get you blocked from a dating app — and then there is definitely not a chance you’ll be getting a date from one of them. At the very least, you’ll turn away potential dates before you’ve even had a chance to meet. This behavior might include:
Being negative, misogynistic, or otherwise offensive (e.g., rude or insulting) in your messages. Again, if you wouldn’t say it to her face in person, then don’t say it on an app.
Speaking negatively about your past relationships. Obsessing over the past is not an attractive quality. It also makes it seem as though you haven’t gotten over your ex and that you aren’t taking responsibility for your part in a failed relationship. It can be great to speak about your past relationships when dating someone new; just be sure to do it thoughtfully and constructively, focusing on what you’ve learned and how it’s informed your approach to relationships now.
Dating App Mistake #5. Having Boring Prompts or a Bad Bio
(or worse: leaving your bio blank...yikes!)
Prompts and bios are your chance to show off your personality, and yet so many men are lazy about completing them. It doesn’t mean you have to write a novel (in fact, you definitely should not overdo it with paragraphs on paragraphs of text), but you should at least put some effort into it and express yourself thoughtfully. Are you guilty of any of the following?
Using clichés (e.g., “fluent in sarcasm”). She’s heard them all before.
Having boring, generic bios/prompts that don’t say anything about who you are and what interests you have. Your date wants to get to know you before you match so she can assess whether you’re compatible.
Talking about sex in your profile. For many women, this is an instant “no.”
Coming off as too cocky/arrogant. What you think is confidence might come across as self-importance. It’s best to have some humility.
Plugging your Instagram too much. Are you here for the followers, or are you here for a date?
Putting your height in your bio. Surely you have other qualities that are worth mentioning instead.
Being overly political. This is a dating app, not Thanksgiving dinner.
Not being clear about your intentions or what you’re looking for on the app. Be upfront so you and your date can get on the same page right away.
Dating App Mistake #6. Not Knowing When to Ask a Woman Out
Beyond a certain threshold, the longer you wait to ask a woman out, the less likely she is to end up going on a date with you. In our survey, many women complained that guys take too long to ask them out.
At the same time, some women complained that guys ask them out too soon after matching with them. There’s a sweet spot in the middle: ask a woman out after you’ve sent 5 to 10 messages each. This gives you each some time to get to know each other and show genuine interest.
Dating App Mistake #7. Lying About Yourself in Your Dating Profile
Lying about your age, your life, your height, and how you look is a recipe for dating disaster. If and when you meet in person and get to know each other, she’s going to find out what you look like, what you do, how tall you are, and how old you are. So why not be truthful right from the start?
Dating App Tips for Guys
Now that you know the seven biggest mistakes guys make, let’s move on to what women wished men would do more on dating apps. Here are the top 23 things women really want from guys on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Match, OkCupid, eharmony, and other apps, organized into different phases of the online dating process.
The First Impression: Your Dating Profile
Dating App Tip #1: Use better photos in your profile, and include more photos. To find out which photos you should be using in your dating profile, try our dating photo analyzer.
Dating App Tip #2: Don’t use photos with sunglasses in your profile. Women want to see your eyes and what your face actually looks like. Plus, eye contact fosters stronger connections with your matches, so don’t let sunglasses take that away from you.
Dating App Tip #3: Post pictures that show your face clearly in your profile.
Dating App Tip #4: Put effort into creating a dating profile that is interesting, creative, and tells something unique about your personality, hobbies, and interests. Spend more time writing your profile. For professional help with writing your bio and prompts, consider working with our professional dating profile writing service.
Dating App Tip #5: Check and double-check your writing! Use correct spelling and grammar in your profile and when messaging women.
Dating App Tip #6: Be more open and vulnerable in your profile and messages.
Dating App Tip #7: Read women’s profiles more closely before you match with them so you know if you’re compatible or not. That way, if you’re not compatible, you’ll find it out early. Save yourself time and save her time, rather than finding this out when you’re already up to meeting in person for a first date.
It’s a Match: Jumping in the DMs
Dating App Tip #8: Write an opening message that’s specific to the woman you’re messaging. Use details from her profile to craft your message. Don’t send a generic “hey” as your first message. You’re better than that.
Dating App Tip #9: On that note, step up and send her the first message after you match. Unless you’re on Bumble, it’s what women expect.
Dating App Tip #10: Be kind, polite, and respectful. Surprising as it may be, many of the women we surveyed said they don’t want to chat with a misogynist.
Dating App Tip #11: Have a sense of humor and be funny, playful, and easygoing. Take dating apps seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.
Dating App Tip #12: Be straightforward; women don’t want to play games.
Dating App Tip #13: Be more engaged. Be a better listener and move the conversation forward toward scheduling that first date. And if you’re just using dating apps to chat with people for fun, then it’s best to be transparent about that in your profile.
Dating App Tip #14: When you’re messaging a woman, get to know her and let her get to know you. Tell her about your interests and hobbies. Express your personality and what makes you unique.
Continuing the Conversation on a Dating App
Dating App Tip #15: Be genuine. By far, the most common thing women wish guys would do more on dating apps is to be genuine, sincere, honest, transparent, and authentic; the women we surveyed complained that too many guys try to look cool.
Dating App Tip #16: Make your intentions and expectations clear. Be more upfront and direct about what you want and what you’re looking for on the app. Say whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship, hookup, or something casual in between.
Dating App Tip #17: Actually respond to messages from women you match with, especially if you’re the one who started the conversation.
Dating App Tip #18: Invest in having better conversations with matches. Make an effort to get to know the women you match with. Show a clear interest in them and their interests. Be the guy who sees them for who they are beyond their looks.
Dating App Tip #19: Ask more questions when messaging with matches. The women we surveyed complained that guys don’t ask enough questions, and women feel like they’re forced to keep the conversation going. Most women have a lot of guys writing to them on dating apps. Stand out from the crowd. Ask thoughtful questions.
Dating App Tip #20: Actually ask women out from the app. Don’t just chat with your matches forever.
Dating App Tip #21: On that thread, don’t wait too long to suggest meeting up in person for a date with your match. Women don’t want to become your pen pal. But before you do ask her out, be sure to have an actual conversation on the app first. Ask a woman out after you’ve sent around five messages each, or closer to 10 messages each if the messages you’re having are on the shorter side.
Dating App Tip #22: Respond to messages more quickly.
The First Date and Beyond
Dating App Tip #23: Be emotionally available. And if you’re not emotionally available, then communicate that transparently.
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When it comes to online dating, it's important to find someone who likes you for who you are — and a dating profile with a well-thought-out bio and open, honest conversation will go a long way in making that happen. By avoiding the mistakes above and putting some effort into your profile and messages, you’ll have a far greater success rate at getting dates and maybe even finding that special someone.
We at The Match Lab have spent years studying why some guys’ dating profiles attract women while other guys can’t get any matches on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, OkCupid, or any other app. We’ve mastered how to write dating profile bios and prompts and how to select the right profile pictures. In fact, we even built an algorithm that analyzes a person’s photos and reveals which ones they should use in their profile to get the most likes and to attract better matches.
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