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.

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