Guest Post, Tinder Part Deux: Self-Description

 

Gentle readers, she has returned! The most interesting woman in the world, my grad-school-wifey V, is back by popular demand. First, she educated us on the nuances necessary to curate a solid picture gallery on the ubiquitous dating app Tinder (check it out here). This time around, she comes armed with round two of her Tinder-whisperer tips: what to do with the anxiety-inducing “About Me” section:

Your Tinder profile is almost set up: you’ve picked six pictures, one or fewer of which are selfies. It’s clear from the selection which person is YOU. You’ve got a variety of picture formats that give potential Tinderellas (P.T.s) a good idea of what your face/body look like in 2015 (or the year when you are reading this: shout out to all the time travelers in the audience!). You’ve even been sure to include outdoor shots and indoor shots (even though bar lighting can be super flattering and it’s tempting to fill your profile with pictures of you and the squad looking fine).

Congratulations! You will soon be swimming in a sea of genitals of your choice!

Unless you say something creepy in the “About you” section: a 500-character field of potential landmines, where terrible one liners go to fester and die.

Do you really even need to fill out the “About You” section? Isn’t the point of Tinder to choose your P.T.(s) based on their looks and/or good vibes? Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? That good thing is pictures of you, untainted by squiggly lines underneath, of course.

 

Option 1: Write nothing in the “About you” section.

At least you’re not saying the wrong thing, right? If you go this route, be sure to pay extra attention to the mood that your pictures project, and make sure that they really express how you want to be seen.

From personal experience, I’ve noticed that I get fewer messages from P.T.s when my caption section is blank, and often fewer matches. When my profile lacks a caption, this also leads P.T.s who do message me to type the first thing that pops into their heads. This is generally something along the lines of “nice tits.” Based on my experiences, I’ve surmised that writing some kind of caption, no matter how brief, sets the tone for the verbal phase of Tinder interaction (i.e., messaging your matches).

Final verdict: While words and pictures are both subject to misinterpretation, in combination each can compensate for the other’s deficiencies. If the point of carefully crafting a Tinder profile is to briefly introduce yourself in way that will generate positive results for you (i.e. more matches with and messages from people who you actually may want to meet), then a caption is an asset.

 

Option 2: A pithy phrase or brief sentence.

I prefer to keep my descriptions short, meaning 10 words or less. My real-life Tinder description reads, “Really likable.” Maybe my description is so short and seemingly impersonal because I don’t want to tell random internet creeps too much about my romantic hopes and dreams. After all, the joy of Tinder is that it allows users to superficially scan a large number of P.T.s in a short amount of time with minimal effort. However, my brief description does convey my love of one-liners, sarcastic bravado, and mild self-deprecation, which is a pretty good description of my sense of humor and something that I would love a P.T. to know about me.

I like to think that my preference for linguistic brevity is a nod to what makes Tinder fun. If I wanted to read alll about someone’s unattainable wish list for the perfect dating-accessory, I would just steal their diary. Or go on OKCupid. Not everyone will want to pare the linguistic portion of their profile to two words, but it’s easier be charming when you say too little, rather than saying too much.

What to write: A favorite quip. A good one that I heard recently is “I heard it’s skip day tomorrow,” uttered with a straight face from the mouth of a man in his mid-twenties. Or, describe your first picture like the name of a modern painting. If your profile is anything like mine or L’s, a good description might be Lady in Black Holding Cocktail. I think pithiness is key here, otherwise you run the risk that Option #3 poses.

What not to write: A quote that isn’t your own. Even if the writer you’re quoting really gets you, the point is to subtly convey something about yourself as an individual. Since you’ve only chosen photos that show you in a flattering light in a variety of scenarios, the description is the place to let your quirks shine. True fact: a decently good-looking person with a strong sense of themselves as an individual= charming & sexy.

Final verdict: On Tinder, your pictures are the sentence and the caption is the punctuation—great for conveying tone, but essentially void of intrinsic meaning.

This may seem counterintuitive, but think of it like the first thing you say when you talk to someone at a bar. It’s not usually Pulitzer-prize winning literature, but occasionally it gets you laid.

 

Option #3: As many words as you can fit, into which you cram a full fourth date’s worth of information about your hopes and dreams, career plans, relationship with your family, and minimum height and income requirements of acceptable Tinderellas.

Final verdict: If you wouldn’t say it to a cute person at a coffee shop, avoid saying it on Tinder, especially considering that you will inevitably swipe across real-life acquaintances and coworkers from time to time.

It’s entirely possible that I’m overthinking all of this. However, the significant benefit of taking the time to craft a light-hearted but clever, breezy but memorable, seemingly-impossible-to write summation of your being in a single original sentence is that at the end, you’ve written something that you might have said in real life, but better. Best of all: you can edit your seemingly spontaneous quip any time you want.

Next up: Messages.

Working through some stuff as usual.

I’m working through a potential article for Thought Catalog, y’all. Writing an article for an external site is a bit different than a blog post, as I’m sure many of you already understand. Unlike the ability to bounce nimbly-pimbly from thought tree to thought tree, I take a core concept or question and create an arc of exploration, usually through the guise of a personal experience, from which I glean some kind of insight, like a concluding thought (or something like that). Question -> Evidence -> conclusion(s). This time around, I’m actually working on a larger arc, across more than one article. I’m completing what I think is the resolution to two previous articles I wrote for TC, both regarding Mr. Red. Beginning, middle, end. Nothing uniquely special, by any means.

I’ve been meaning to verbally catalog that glorious moment when you finally realize that you’re over it. Over the whole goddamn thing. Like, finally, truly, over it. It took much longer than I wanted and required a certain kind of catalyst to come to fruition, but in a split second I found myself laughing, and it was as if this ankle weight had lifted itself, not from my ankle (because then the metaphor would make sense), but from my heart.

It doesn’t come with a giant fanfare, confetti falling from the ceiling and a busty blond bursting from a cake. It’s funny how the moments, the changes that feel the most profound, happen almost instantaneously. But I suppose they don’t happen so quickly, exactly. All the subtle shifts happen below the surface. Even when it feels like you can’t get through 10 minutes without thinking of them directly or indirectly, really you’re going through the motions of moving on without them. The cord connecting you to them is fraying even when you think it’s an impossible knot. And then, in an instant, the life preserver-turned-suffocating cage around your heart deflates, and it’s like you can breath again. You can like things, people, again, in ways you thought you had forgotten. You can be optimistic again. You can believe the best in people again. The problem is, or it was for me, at least, is that I craved that instant like an impatient child. I fought the idea of having to wade through that pain, lugging my barely floating heart behind me, because that “life preserver,” aka the pockets of emotional air you put up to protect yourself from receiving any more of that pain so freshly incurred, quickly becomes a burden. Its weight slowly increases until the burden is no longer the pain but the baggage attached to the shell of that pain. But, like that fraying cord, you don’t notice it until it sloughs off like dead skin. And that sensation, of feeling somehow lighter, makes me giddy.

I just wish there was a shortcut; a foolproof equation to get you to the other side as quickly as possible… but there isn’t one. And now I see some people I was involved with, and how their suffering seems to have renewed itself, and I feel for them. Because I’ve been there. There’s no pain like it, and it sucks. I wish I could help them, but I can’t. Because they are the only ones that can get themselves through it. You can’t ask anyone else to lug that burden for you; you gotta get over the hill yourself…

As much as it feels like I should end there…. I can’t find it in myself to do that. Because if I had read that in the midst of my pain puddle, I would have felt so helpless. So, let me offer a few silver linings:

1. You are not incapable of a meaningful relationship during this tumultuous period. That being said, this is a period of transition, of great change, and you may be a different person when the change comes to fruition. That doesn’t mean you can’t connect with someone, but that connection may prove fleeting.

2. If you are lucky, you have people who, while they can’t carry the burden for you, they can encourage you through the marathon of grief, and finally across the finish line. Never shy away from contact with the outside world, or of talking about what you’re going through. Even if you’re worried about airing your grievances, remember that it helps. Besides, like Dr. Seuss so aptly observed, “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

And 3, because this cannot be stated enough: Social media is not your friend. You hear me?! It’s not your fucking friend!! Resist the temptation at every post, especially if a bottle of wine and Morrissey are involved. It will most likely come off melodramatic (even to you, eventually), and you will facepalm yourself later.

But, if (hah, let’s be honest, when) you fuck up, forgive yourself. Please, forgive yourself. Because the world isn’t ending. You’re gonna be okay. Just give it time. I know that’s infuriating, but that’s what it takes. That’s all it takes… time.

Current Jam: “Precarity Rules” Worriers