Life Advice



8 mistakes you're making on dating apps … and what to do instead

Erika Ettin, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Online dating is a tool, but like all tools, it has to be used correctly to get the results you want. You might have a fancy, expensive screwdriver, but it still won’t help you chop wood.

If dating apps and websites aren’t quite working for you, make sure you’re utilizing every item in your toolbox correctly.

Mistake #1: Messaging “Hey,” “Hi,” or “How are you?” to kick off a conversation. Seems innocuous, right? Sure… but, for lack of better words, it’s boring. In fact, almost anything is better than “Hey.”

The Fix: Asking a question. It could be as short and sweet as “Pizza or sushi?” But even better would be asking a question specific to that person’s profile. If they mentioned being someone who loves travel, pick their brain about that topic: “Nice to see someone who spends as much time in the airport as I do. Any favorite travel activities? For me, no vacation is complete without a cooking class.” Any question is much more engaging — plus, it’s more likely to get a reply.

Mistake #2: Not having clear photos. People want to know what you look like. You might have incredible photos of yourself standing on a mountain, but that won’t cut it if people can’t see you.

The Fix: I recommend picking five to six photos, including a clear profile shot that shows your face (no sunglasses, hats, masks, or anything else that might seem like you’re hiding something) and a full-body image. For the rest, choose ones that show you looking your best or doing something you love, which can be a great conversation starter. No group shots, bathroom selfies (I’m begging!) or heavy filters. People want to know who to expect on a first date, and misrepresenting yourself in your pictures is a huge turnoff.


Mistake #3: Having no bio. Even if you have the most interesting five photos in the world, people want to know what you have to say.

The Fix: Write something. Anything is better than nothing… well, almost anything (I’ve seen some mind-bogglers). Keep it short and sweet — attention spans are small — and say a few things about yourself (what you like to do, where you’re from, the show you last binge-watched) and provide some message bait, or things that might intrigue someone to send you a message or ask a question.

Mistake #4: Becoming pen pals. Even if a conversation is going well, it shouldn’t turn into weeks of texting without plans to meet in person.

The Fix: Make a date! Whether it’s meeting for coffee, a walk or drinks, you won’t truly know if there’s a connection until you’re face-to-face. You’re on dating apps to find a relationship, not a chat buddy, so meeting sooner rather than later is the best way to see if the potential is there. (And if you don’t live nearby, a video chat is a great second option.)


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