Raised on mid-90s rom-coms, many of us still hold a secret hope for that highly romantic first interaction. A hand brushing over yours as you both reach for the same book in a cutesy secondhand bookshop. Eyes meeting across the room at a party. Literally bumping into someone on the street. Anything that doesn’t involve a phone screen and hours of bleak attempts at matching with uninterested strangers, basically.
It’s probably not going to happen though, is it? Online dating is so ubiquitous that according to one survey from wedding brand The Knot, it’s now how the majority of people meet: 19 percent of brides they surveyed met partners on dating apps, they say, compared to 17 percent through friends, 15 percent at university and 12 percent at work. Want to find love? Better get swiping, my friend.
But how to capture that elusive connection? How best to seize the heart and imagination of your future soulmate? The first step: choose a series of pictures carefully selected to make it seem like you don’t care but also happen to be really fit. Secondly: write a bio.
Watch: What Does It Take To Navigate The World of Online Dating?
This, it turns out, is the tricky bit. There’s a risk of writing too little; also a risk of writing too much. You don’t want to sound too earnest (“please love me!”) or too nonchalant (“I’m way too good for this”)—you want to represent who you are as a person, but you don’t want to bore someone with an itemized list of everything you’ve ever thought, loved or felt.
So how do you actually write a good Tinder bio? We asked some experts (and some daters) how to write a non-shit one.
Actually write one
It might seem obvious, but actually writing a bio is a good first step to getting lucky online. “There's nothing worse than reading a basic profile and having nothing to comment on to start a conversation,” explains dating coach James Preece. “Blank or boring profiles are a waste of time for everyone”.
Dr Jess Carbino, a "Bumble sociologist" and online dating expert, agrees, saying that not having a bio is “the biggest mistake someone can make” when setting up their dating profile.
On the flip side, a friend of mine once said she’d never swipe right to someone with a bio because it shows “they’re not confident they’re fit enough to get by without one”. So: swings and roundabouts, I guess.
Make it unique and detailed
Writing a bio: good. Most bios: not good. Or as Dr Jess laughingly puts it: “not all bios are created equal."
She suggests filling it with things that make for good conversation— “one of the most common turn offs for daters is when people don’t share information that’s relevant enough to start a conversation." She mentions “quotes from celebrities” or song lyrics as things to avoid: “It doesn’t provide a potential match with enough information as to who they are as a person, or how to start a conversation with them.”
You’d also probably do well to avoid the glaringly obvious (“‘I like spending time with friends and family.’ Who doesn't?!” says James; “No one who says they’ve gone to Hogwarts, likes gin or traveling,” says dater Nathan.)
Don’t be too negative
Look, we all have our foibles; our likes and dislikes. We all have things we can’t stand. The sound of our colleague loudly chewing on his cereal every morning. Piers Morgan. Jazz. Life is a rich tapestry of intersecting miseries, we all know that.
But that doesn’t mean you should use your Tinder bio to sound off about them.
“I often hear in focus groups that online daters hate to see a bio that includes a laundry list of characteristics they dislike in a match,” Dr Jess says. “It’s good to know what you don’t want, but you can use that information independently and can determine whether potential matches possess the characteristics you want.
“Sharing information with the world regarding what you dislike can make you seem negative rather than thoughtful.”
Don’t be a dickhead
We don’t need to hear about your incredibly banal hatred of incredibly banal things. We also don’t need to hear about how much you hate women—which, amazingly, happens a lot on dating apps, with men making fun of ‘duck pouts’, selfies and Snapchat filters.
“I’m so put off by men making snide remarks about which women 'needn’t apply,' which frequently refer to weight, eyebrows, makeup choices or whether they have children—as if dating them was something to aspire to,” says Ros Ballinger, who does a stand-up show partly based on her terrible Tinder experiences.
“Everyone has physical preferences, but there is absolutely no reason to needlessly itemize your points of attraction other than pure misogyny,” she says.
Nathan says he sees bios “written by white people” that refer to “sexual racism...both in terms of exclusionary language and in terms of virtue signaling”.
“I find that both are really just cards that people play to bag other white people with similar politics,” he says. “A friend also sent me a screenshot of a bio that just said “Looking for women/trans/CD/Asian”, which really opened my eyes to a new gender (Asian). Elsewhere, a lot of Nazi-ish, body fascist, misogynist and transphobic language abounds.”
“It’s why I don’t envy any superheroes that can read minds. People think really fucked up things if you let them.”
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.