Life Advice



Erika Ettin: The quick and dirty on the dating apps

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Many people think that writing an online dating profile is a one-time job, and they rarely change it based on its success (or lack thereof). They also try to write it as quickly as possible.

This is actually one thing that you should really spend your time on … even on the dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, where a “profile” is usually much shorter than one for a “traditional” site like

Remember that you’re putting yourself out there for the world to see, so you want to put your best foot forward in order to be successful.


Think to yourself, “What am I looking to get out of the dating apps?”

– A quick hookup

– Someone to casually date

– Someone to seriously date

– Someone to go on long weekend trips

– Someone to bring home to your parents/children

It’s more than OK if you don’t know what you’re looking for off the bat. In fact, it’s often best to go into dating situations not attached to outcome, or NATO as I often tell clients, rather than to have a preconceived notion of what the outcome of the date should be. But, if you’re only looking for something serious, for example, and are not open to other options, then knowing what you’re looking for helps avoid wasted time.


It’s no secret that people are looking at your picture first … and you’re doing the same to them.

It’s important to use these five rules of thumb to make your photos stand out for all the right reasons:

1. Have at least one clear face photo. Blurry photos don’t help anyone, and they do hurt you since people want to be able to see what you look like. The first photo should always be a clear headshot.

2. Less is more. Five great photos will always win over six or more mediocre photos. People will, unfortunately, look for the one they don’t like and may decide not to message because of it. Four or five photos are recommended.

3. Be by yourself in the shot. This prevents inevitable comparison of you to friends or others. It’s also important for the viewer to know which person you are in the photos. Don’t worry that someone wonders whether you have friends! And cropping friends out is A-OK.

4. Have one photo of yourself doing something interesting. Many people have no idea what to say in the initial message, so give them one more thing to comment about, or “message bait.”

5. Be accurate. You would rather have someone meet you and think, “He/She is much better-looking than the photos,” not “Those photos were a lie.” For this reason, it’s important to include a full-body shot as well.


The apps require a profile, you ask? Most apps don’t force you to write something in the blank space (Hinge does), but that doesn’t mean you should leave it blank. If a written profile is a proxy for how much you care about the process, then not writing one implies that you’re not invested at all.


On the apps, short and sweet is the key to success.

Some ideas:

– A list of things you like

– A list of things you’re good at

– Favorite TV shows or quotes

– A few pieces of factual information, like where you’ve lived, hobbies, etc.

The quirkier and more unique, the better. 20 to 40 words is recommended. Why so short? Just like when you read a hardcopy newspaper, the important information should be “above the fold,” in the dating apps, you want the information to appear on someone’s screen without that person having to scroll down too far, or at all.


The best thing you can do is ask a question about the person’s profile. For example, if someone mentions that he/she likes wine, you could easily say something like this: “A fellow wine lover … a (wo)man after my own heart! Red or white for you?”

Just remember that anything works better than the standard “Hey” or “How’s your day going?” that is the baseline greeting most people use. These intros lead to a boring conversation, if one at all. Don’t kill your prospects with a single “Hey.”

Also, when messaging, please remember these other pointers:

– Avoid text speak: Write out things like your (not ur) and are (not r).

– Don’t compliment someone (especially a woman) on his/her looks in the first message. Compliments are appreciated, but only on something someone has earned.

– Bad: You look amazing in that dress.

– Good: That’s so impressive that you got an MBA at night.

– Send the first message shortly after matching. You don’t want to get lost in the crowd.


The whole point of being on a dating app is to get to the date (or video, as the case may be). I recommend setting up a date within a week of matching with someone. Send a few texts back and forth, and then get to planning. There’s also really no need to trade phone numbers until a day or so before, and not even that is required, if you make all of the plans right in the app. Points for efficiency. Waiting too long to schedule something makes people impatient, and with so many options online, you don’t want to lose your chance.

Now that you know the quick and dirty on the dating apps, happy dating!

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