August 4, 2019

So many people come to me asking why Bumble (or insert your favorite online dating app) “isn’t working.” What does “working” mean anyway? Some people think it means they should end up in a long-term relationship. While that’s a lovely goal, a dating app is simply the tool you’re using to get to the first date. Then the ball is in your court. “Working,” to me, means that you’re getting more attention, you’re getting more right swipes and matches, and you’re converting more messages into dates.

Are you perhaps doing something that’s not aligned to make the dating app “work” for you? Let’s look at the 6 biggest mistakes you may be making… and how to fix them:

1. Too many photos

Tinder allows nine photos. Bumble allows six. I recommend using five instead. Less is more. Don’t let someone find the one they don’t like and swipe left because of it. (Hinge is the only app that requires six photos. Keep in mind that one can be a short video, which is encouraged. Not “Hello, I’m Erika” but rather a video showing you doing something interesting. I once used one of me at trapeze class, which worked well because it generated conversation… and questions of whether I was planning to join the circus.)

2. No profile

Write something. Something is (usually) better than nothing. A length of 20 to 40 words is what I recommend. The short length is because people have shorter and shorter attention spans, and you don’t want them to skip you just because they don’t want to take time to read what you wrote. Ideas for the profile: Things you’re good at, things you like, where you’re from, shows you’re binge-watching, a few pieces of factual information, etc. Anything interesting provides “message bait,” or something to write to you about.

3. Connecting to Snapchat, Instagram, or Spotify

This is TMI! Don’t give people the chance to dig through everything and dismiss you because of it. Don’t connect.

4. Shirtless selfies and gym selfies

If you’re a man looking for a woman, do not—I repeat DO NOT—post shirtless or gym selfies. Ever. Even if you’re ripped. Trust me. Fish pictures are often no better. If you’re trying to show that you live a healthy lifestyle, then people will still be able to tell by how you look… outside the gym. Most women automatically swipe left on gym shots.

5. Being too generic

Don’t try to appeal to everyone. Rather, be yourself, and the right people will be interested.

Here are some samples of dating app profiles that WORK:

Entrepreneur, NYT crossword puzzler, ramen enthusiast; lover of quick wit, single-malt scotch, and my dog. Where’s the best old fashioned in town?

Thoughtful weirdos to the front, please. Tell me what you’re reading. Bonus points if the answer is yes to this important question: Do you like blue cheese?

English teacher turned urban planner. Drinker of chai over coffee. Fan of live indie music. Endearingly nerdy history buff. Talented at a good number of things, but whistling isn’t one of them. 

I used to design submarines. Then one stormy night I met my right brain. We shared some laughs, fell in love, and I became a professional screenwriter… I’m open-minded, stable, fit, and kind. Usually chill unless in a dance battle.

Final tip on the profile as a bonus: End with a question. You’ve just made it so much easier for people to have something to say in their first message to you.

6. Sending boring messages

When it comes to messages, the key is to be short, sweet, and ask a question. If the other person has written something interesting, then you simply need to ask about it. But, what if there is no message bait?

Just remember that anything is better than “Hey,” “What’s up?” or “How’s your day?” These lead to banal conversations… or none at all. Examples for when someone provides no bait:

  1. If you had nothing to do today, would you rather binge-watch something or go for a hike… or both?
  2. Best place for [insert favorite food or drink] in the city?
  3. Early bird or night owl? Just curious.

Let the dating apps work for you. Fix these six problems today. You should see a difference immediately.

6 Dating App Mistakes You’re Making… And How to Fix Them

10 thoughts on “6 Dating App Mistakes You’re Making… And How to Fix Them

  • August 4, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    Thanks Erika….I try to do these and like your mention of a question at the end of a profile. It’s good also you reiterate avoiding boring and banal messages; I’d remind men too to be creative and read the profiles before and during messaging, and move to a meet in person. with deliberate speed.

  • August 5, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    Erika does it again with this wonderful and witty advice.

    • August 5, 2019 at 10:56 pm

      Wonderful! I hope they find it useful.

  • June 2, 2020 at 5:12 am

    First of all thanks for this useful post. The way you describe the 6 reasons is really amazing, every time I’m amazed whenever I read your post. Here I am totally agree with your “No profile” point. Most of us did this mistake very frequently. Thank you for sharing this knowledge. Keep sharing your view .

  • June 6, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    I find not being honest about who you really are is a huge mistake so many people make.
    Be yourself! Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not!

  • July 10, 2020 at 11:42 am

    Good read, thank you Erika, I think one good point to make is that dating on apps is very different for men and women, so you often have to adopt a different strategy based on your gender. I do appreciate that your tips are helpful for both sexes though!

    • July 10, 2020 at 11:45 am

      Oh! I also forgot to mention that while boring messages are certainly a bad idea if you want to stand out, it can get extremely frustrating for guys when it feels like no matter what you write to your matches (on Tinder for example), you’ll rarely get a reply due to many women getting so many matches that they don’t know what to do with them all! So I am understanding of why this occurs.


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