Getting More Real Connections on Dating Apps

By Amanda E.K.

We rely on apps now more than ever to make social connections, but how do we ensure we get the matches we want? Or even a response once we do connect with someone? 

Single guys can especially get the brunt of these letdowns. When a new match doesn’t respond to an intro message, or someone you thought you connected with suddenly blocks you, you might be left wondering where you went wrong. Or worse, you may fear that you came across as creepy or desperate.

In this post, we’ll break down dating & social app best practices, and offer tips to (hopefully) improve your connection rate. These are for everyone. Not just single men.

Rachael Lloyd—relationship expert at eHarmony—says there’s a trend on dating apps to leave your bios blank, and warns that blank bios result in significantly less engagement. Since you are the only “you” out there, why display a photos-only dating profile that blends in with thousands of others?

Even if you’re only looking for hookups, no matter your gender, it’s likely that you need more than looks alone to decide if you’re compatible with someone. Writing a bio provides built-in icebreakers for someone to message you about a common interest. What makes you stand out? Don’t be afraid to get weird with it. The weirder the better, because that person who connects with you over your sexy soap carving or extreme ironing hobby (yes, that’s a real thing) is likely to be a great match. Besides, part of our mission here at Playlove is ending any unwanted fear or shame associated with people expressing their sexuality. So be you, boo!

When writing a bio, consider these guidelines:

  1. Be honest. Lying about your status may hook someone’s interest, but will cost you their trust and your reputation in the long run. In most communities, word travels fast. So remember kids: Honesty is the best policy!
  2. Whether you’re looking for hookups, or something longer term, make it clear why you’re on that app. Communication makes your life infinitely easier and saves you and others from wasting their time on a connection that was doomed from the start.
  3. State whether you live locally or are just visiting. This is another way to prevent wasting your or another’s time.
  4. Be clear whether you’re monogamous, monogamish, poly, kinky, swingers, vacation rules only, etc. AND what kind of connection you’re looking to make. Are you bisexual but currently only interested in dating women with knitting fetishes? Say so!
  5. Keep in mind that you will attract what you put out. If you use steamy words or pictures then you will likely attract steamy approaches. The same goes for flippant, overly dramatic or shallow profiles.
  6. Include an open-ended question in your bio. This gives your potential matches a place to begin a conversation with you.
  7. State clearly how you want to be contacted (or not contacted). Update your settings to reflect that. Are you rarely on an app? Tell people. This helps ensure you won’t miss any messages and will further your chances at making a connection / avoiding those you don’t want to hear from.

When choosing your profile & feed photos:

  1. Share up-to-date pics from within the last year that represent who you are and what you look like today. It’s OK to include a couple of older photos of memorable life moments or things you’re proud of – your genitals don’t count.
  2. Always include a full body shot in your profile somewhere. No matter what physical shape you’re in, this shows a level of self-confidence and honesty about who you are, and it could prevent a first date mishap if your date shows up to discover you look different from your profile.
  3. Include a photo of you smiling and doing things you enjoy. Smile photos increase the odds of getting likes, flirts and right swipes, as do photos of you facing forward.
  4. Leave some stuff to the imagination. Including sexy photos is fine, just don’t make your whole gallery about that, and definitely not all pics of your genitals & body parts.
  5. If you have photos of you and friends, make sure you have other photos of just you too so it’s very clear who you are. If it’s confusing to try and figure out which one is you, it could lead to an unfortunate circumstance where someone likes you just to meet your hot friend.
  6. Avoid filters. Filters are designed to make anyone look more attractive, so of course they’re tempting, but they often can give off the impression that you’re not confident in your looks without the filter.
  7. Be you. Connections are all about chemistry. You can’t fake or force that. Whether you’re looking for love, friends or a kinky role play partner, misrepresenting yourself just to get more likes or swipes will only lead to awkward & disappointing encounters later. So be the real you and own that S**T!
  8. If you’re ever unsure about which pics to include, ask a trusted friend for advice. They’ll be the first to let you know if you come across as trying too hard.

When sending an intro message:

  1. Read the person’s profile first. If they said they don’t want to be contacted or friended, don’t message or friend them.
  2. Reference something from their profile to show you actually took time to get to know them (e.g. How did you first discover rope play?) Most people like talking about their interests and will feel flattered that you made the effort and actually read their profile in todays swipe happy hook up culture. Ask a specific question or share more about a common interest you have.
  3. Never start a conversation only with “hello”, “sup?”, “hi sexy” or some version of that. Women especially get dozens, even hundreds of messages with these basic unimaginative greetings. This is a guaranteed way to get ignored, or at most get a “hi” response with no follow up. There’s absolutely nothing unique about that.
  4. Unless they specifically ask for it, don’t comment on their looks or physical features in your intro. They’ve likely gotten dozens of these comments, and you won’t stand out for stating how stunning they (or parts of them) are. It’s already implied that you’re attracted. So what else ya got?
  5. Consider not starting a conversation with an emoji. This can come off as though you have the vocabulary of a toddler. Unless you’re into “little” play (and it’s clearly stated in your bio) then go for it!
  6. If you have it, use their name, and make sure you spell it correctly.
  7. Don’t go overboard with compliments early on. Get to know them first.
  8. Don’t people-please or say things you don’t mean. Authenticity will always take you farther than artifice.
  9. Send messages at times when the person is most likely available to respond. Sundays and after traditional work hours are usually good times. This way, your messages won’t get lost in end-of-day DMs.
  10. Proofread before you hit send. In today’s “auto correct” culture, you’ll stand out by taking the time to check your spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Once you’ve started a conversation:

  1. First things first, remember that nobody owes you anything. If someone doesn’t respond (or doesn’t respond the way you hoped), let it go. Don’t keep messaging them or (worse) shame them. Women especially get lots of threatening messages. Don’t ever be that person.
  2. Don’t play games. There might be a fine balance between coming across as too eager vs. coming across disinterested, so just try to match the response-time you would with a friend, which is essentially when you have the time and an answer.
  3. The best relationships often start as friendships. Unless they say up front or in their profile that they want sex now, try connecting a bit before asking for intimacy. Most people are on social sites to connect with like minded people, not just to hook up. Make sure a connection is there first and don’t worry about the bedroom or dungeon activities just yet.
  4. Don’t social media deep-dive stalk them. No matter how tempting it is. It’s better to let them share themselves with you at a pace that feels organic.
  5. Try to maintain manners despite the increasingly common ghosting culture. Be up front about any expectations (i.e. having limited time, etc).
  6. Read cues so as not to suggest meeting in person too soon, but also don’t get too deep before meeting in person. Engaging in friendly banter is a good way to go.
  7. Lastly, do not send unsolicited pics of your genitals. Consent is sexy, so ask. Don’t assume. Even if a match starts talking sexy, that doesn’t mean they’re begging for a photo of your throbbing torpedo. This MUST be expressly asked for!

Overall, in our experience at Playlove, the most compatible hookups start as friendships. And even if things never get steamy between you, you’ve at least made a new friend. 

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