Welcome to Megan Barton-Hanson’s new VICE UK column, covering all things to do with sex, relationships and self-love during one of the strangest eras of the 21st century. Read the previous column here.
Apps aren’t the be all and end all of dating, but they are a good laugh. They can be a welcome distraction post-break-up and a fun way of getting back into the swing of things after lockdown. Especially if the rules are how they were before; you have to book the pub several weeks in advance, you aren’t allowed to leave the table when you’re there, you can’t get up and dance... It’ll still be difficult to meet new people, even though technically everything's open.
So, now that we’re allowed (limited) human contact again, here’s everything you need to know about making a dating profile that isn’t completely shit.
SORT OUT YOUR PHOTO GAME – ESPECIALLY YOU, STRAIGHT LADS
It's so hard for a guy to take a decent selfie, isn't it? They always do the bed one, the car one… it’s so cringe. I know it’s sexist but I can’t deal with too many selfies on a man's page. If he’s pure loving himself or there's a hint of a pout in a selfie, it's a no-go for me. Men should avoid the pout in selfies, for sure. And everyone should avoid only using group shots where it’s unclear which one is you. Like, can you at least circle who you are please? This isn’t a game of Where’s Wally.
Recent pictures are also a must. It’s such a waste of time when you turn up and the person looks nothing like the picture. I don't want to spend a whole week getting to know a person, getting this idea of them in my head, and then you FaceTime and they’ve got like one eye and no chat.
GO FOR PERSONALITY OVER HOW ‘HOT’ YOU THINK YOU LOOK
I’m very family-oriented so it's nice to see someone who has photos with their family. I think that’s cute. Photos of you doing adventurous things are also a plus in my opinion. I’d be more inclined to swipe someone who's, like, skiing or doing something other than just taking a selfie in their bedroom. You get more of a sense of who they are.
IF PHOTOS AREN’T YOUR STRONG POINT, MAKE UP FOR IT WITH TOP BANTER
If you’re shit at taking selfies and you absolutely have to use an old picture or an action shot that your mates have taken when you're down the pub, just make sure your profile is funny and gets your personality across. Some people can be a bit embarrassed in case their mates from work see them on there, so they keep their profiles so blunt and boring, but I think you really need to show your personality to make it worth your while. Especially when we've all been trapped in for a year. You're not gonna have all them pictures of you out and about with your mates. The selfie game could be pretty weak right now, so you need to make sure your chat and your jokes are doing it.
CHECK YOUR NEGATIVE VIBES AT THE DOOR
The amount of people I was speaking to before Christmas who were like ‘oh my god lockdown’. Oh my god you’re killing my mood, more like! Let’s keep it positive. And if you're really strained for conversation starters, rather than moaning about COVID, get on Google and look for icebreakers and games. One guy I was speaking to didn't have much chat in the beginning, he was quite shy, and let’s be honest not a lot has happened – no gigs, no holidays, it’s very dry – so we played ‘Would You Rather’. I feel like that's always a good icebreaker for the first FaceTime or date after meeting on an app.
THINK ABOUT WHAT YOUR CHOICE OF SONG SAYS ABOUT YOU
Definitely don’t put break-up songs on your profile. They give out absolutely massive red flags that say you’re not over your ex, and I really can’t be dealing with that baggage. Any and all Drake songs should be avoided.
BE IMAGINATIVE WHEN YOU SLIDE IN THE DM’S
There's nothing worse than “hi, how you, lockdown is so dead, isn't it”... like, so is your chat. We need a bit of banter for the first message, it shows that you're making an effort. You could literally be a model but if you’re just there with a basic “hi” and the wave emoji, it’s a no from me. Get out of here with your 0.5 effort levels.
I think on Hinge you can put interesting facts about you on your profile and that should, in theory, make the DM slide quite easy. It gives you great opening lines because you already have an idea of what they like. Use something from their profile to start a conversation if you're really struggling.
BE UPFRONT ABOUT YOUR DEAL BREAKERS
It’s awkward, sometimes, because even though you’re on a dating app you don’t want to come off as really keen. Like, ‘right I want to find the one! ‘So instead you’re like ‘oh yeah just here to see if I get on with someone...’ but really you have a checklist in your head. When I made a dating profile before Love Island, I was like ‘has to be 5’10 or 5’11 without your Cuban heels or Alexander McQueens’. So many boys I've met say they're 5’10 but they’re definitely like 5’8 – which is out of order! So I feel like if you have actual dealbreakers, like if you can’t date a smoker or height is a big thing for you, then you need to be honest.
If you’re looking for something serious then maybe go ahead and be straight up about that too, because it’ll get rid of half the time wasters – hopefully, if they actually pay attention and don’t just look at your blonde hair and big tits.
GET YOUR MATES TO CHECK YOUR PROFILE
I think I show my authentic self on my Instagram. Like I've got the glamorous pictures, but also I've got my sense of humour on my stories and when I do geeky shit. But to the outside world, they don’t see me like that. So it's great to get a second opinion from your mates to see if your personality is actually being reflected, because pictures are just like 20 percent of it. For women, anyway, for men maybe not!
NO INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES PLEASE
That cringes me out. I did say not to be negative but there’s a fine line. Don’t be negative, but we also don’t need your Oprah Winfrey quotes or your mantras of the day.
BE HONEST ABOUT WHY YOU’RE ON THERE
Being on dating apps as a celebrity is difficult. So many people are like ‘oh are you a catfish’ or they're like ‘follow me on Instagram’ and I’m like... are you looking for something, or do you just want me to follow you on Instagram? I’m also really cautious about what I say because I’m worried it’ll be screenshotted and sent to their friends. It’s no better on Raya, either. I’ve set mine to girls and guys, but I think it’s harder to know people’s intentions because you don’t know whether they’re looking for someone or just to get their follower count up. Channing Tatum is on there and I keep fucking swiping but he’s having none of it.
AND BE PREPARED FOR THE AWKWARD MOMENT WHEN YOU DO FIND SOMEONE AND YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT AT WHAT POINT YOU SHOULD DELETE YOUR PROFILES
If you meet someone on an app, at what point in the relationship do you delete your profiles? That's been something that I've had dramas with in the past. It feels like as soon as you come off it, you’re agreeing to be exclusive. But when you're still dating and it's early days and you pass that person again on the app… it’s awkward. It feels like such a “thing”.
I’ve been terrible with this myself in the past. My ex-girlfriend and I were so on and off that I kept Raya throughout, and whenever she’d be like ‘why have you still got Raya?’ I’d be like ‘oh, just for work purposes...’. On Raya you can set your profile to ‘just for friends’, but it definitely wasn’t. I was scrolling through trying to find Channing Tatum.