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I asked a dating app coach how to get the most out of my time on the apps

IMAGE VIA @degoey_planet/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY KAYA MARTIN

“A profile’s not an ad, a profile’s a window.”

We all have that one infuriating friend who is the ultimate dating app success story. During their first dalliance with online dating, they somehow swiped upon the love of their life. Now they are happily married and probably eating breakfast in bed in some Italian cottage without getting a single crumb on the sheets.

For the rest of us, these stories are a source of both inspiration and anxiety. Sure, they give us a reason to go on – if we never heard any of the positives, it would be hard to stay motivated down here in the sludge. 


For more dating advice, head to our Life section


But at the same time, it can leave us questioning if there is something wrong with our strategy, or, you know, just ourselves. As a newly single twenty-something whose limited experience on dating apps ranges from mediocre to down-right traumatising (I don’t want to talk about it), the thought of clicking redownload sends a shiver down my spine.

I’ve been out of the game for years and the rules have changed. You can send voice notes now? What’s that all about? As I scrolled through my photos for something that gave off the vibe of ‘fun-loving, but please don’t hurt my feelings’, a familiar sense of dissatisfaction swept over me. 

I didn’t want to play around, swiping left and right with apathy. I wanted to win. And in order to do so, I was going to have to bring in the professionals. Eric Resnick is the founder of Profilehelper, a service that offers online dating coaching and profile ghostwriting.

He has 19 years of experience helping people make connections using ever-evolving technological tools and has helped over 40,000 clients. If anyone could help quell my distaste for digital dating, it would be him. 

Crafting the dreaded bio

Summing up your entire personality in a quirky one-liner seems a little reductive, does it not? I work as a writer and I still find myself at a loss for words when it comes to navigating the complicated terrain of the bio

“To me, a profile’s not an ad; a profile is a window,” Eric says. One of the biggest mistakes he sees people make is trying too hard to be funny or clever, or to write something that will get the most attention. “No one wants to feel like they are being sold to,” he tells me.

Another big no-no is stealing lines from movies or TV shows. During his research with female profiles, he saw the same pickup line from Masters of None (“Going to Whole Foods, want me to pick up anything?”) 83 times over the course of 90 days. Way to be original, gentlemen!

The key to a good bio is pretty simple, actually. “Focus on who you are through the things that you love and the things that are important to you, even if they’re a little bit different,” Eric tells me.

But don’t just list off your hobbies and personality traits in dot points without any context. “Nobody wants to know the list of ingredients,” he explains. “They want to taste the cake.”

Picture-perfect

No matter how much we want to pretend we’re not so shallow, Eric says photos are always important on a profile. “You should always be attracted to the person you’re messaging,” he tells me. “These are dating sites; these aren’t buddy sites.” 

With that said, he thinks physical attraction shouldn’t be the only reason you want to talk to someone. There should be something about their profile that makes you think you could connect with them on a deeper level.

His rules for photos are strict enough that they had me sheepishly redoing my entire profile. No selfies – he says you should be six to eight feet away from the camera and ideally in natural lighting. And no flash, as it will wash out your complexion. 

He suggests not using Facetune or filters unless you want your date to be disheartened when they see you in real life. Harsh, but fair enough. 

In the first photo on your page, sunglasses are off-limits, and your whole torso should be visible. “And smile,” he says. “It’s not about looking sexy, it’s about showing enough warmth that people would want to be around you.”

His final word of advice on photos: no feet. “For the women, don’t show your bare feet unless you want someone to message you about your bare feet,” he says, “And for the men, don’t show your bare feet because nobody wants to see them.”

If you feel bad, it’s because you’re supposed to

Even as someone who has dedicated their career to digital dating, Eric has disdain for swipe apps like Tinder, Hinge and Bumble, which he calls “video games”.

Notifications of new matches give us a hit of that sweet, sweet dopamine. He’s had clients who have come from drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs that can’t use these types of apps because they find them too triggering. 

“Dating sites are excellent tools, but they’re also large corporate entities,” Eric says. “What you have to remember at the end of the day is it’s profit-driven.”

He explains that if a user finds love quickly and deletes the app, it’s bad for business. These companies benefit from keeping people single so they will stay on the apps longer and be more likely to make purchases. 

“Consider this: dating sites are designed with a built-in – let’s call it an agitator,” Eric tells me. “They are designed to make you feel uneasy. They’re designed to make you feel a sense of urgency, a sense of FOMO, [like] if you’re not constantly acting then you’re potentially missing out. And that’s just a load of garbage.”

While all this valuable advice made me feel better prepared to face the apps once more, the notion that corporate entities are meddling with our love lives for money had me feeling a whole lot worse. On that note, I might just stick to making eyes at anyone at the pub with a nose ring.

For more on dating apps, head here.

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