Bumble, Tinder, The League, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hater—we could go on and on. Point is, there’s no shortage of dating apps out there…or users. And while there’s no shame in the online dating game (after all, how are you supposed to meet people otherwise?), it’s highly likely that there are things you can be doing that may be detrimental to your game. Check out what the pros say are the seven most common dating app mistakes—and what you can do instead to maximize your swiping success.
Mistake: Not being focused
Step one: Ask yourself if you’re looking to hook up or if you really want to meet a life partner (no judgement either way!). “If it’s the latter, you need to focus and not just sift through endless pictures,” says life coach, relationship expert, and founder of Date With Enthusiasm Keren Eldad. “Look at apps as a tool that you can optimize by being clear about what you want, and being hyper-specific with your search.” That means setting tight geographic boundaries, a realistic age range, and all that other criteria.
Mistake: Spending too much time swiping
Eldad says the average Tinder user spends almost 90 minutes each day on the app. That’s a heck of a lot of time spent staring at the screen. No matter your app—or apps—of choice, she advises limiting yourself to 15 minutes a day, and spending your newfound free time joining groups, clubs, or just going out and socializing (aka activities where you’ll be meeting and interacting with people IRL).
Mistake: Having a generic profile
The worst mistake is not filling out a profile at all, but many people fill it out in such generic ways that it doesn’t actually tell anyone much about you, points out psychologist and relationship expert Antonia Hall. “Sure, you may be an easy-going, glass-half-full kind of person, but you need more than that to catch someone’s attention. Try to paint snapshots of your life in a succinct way without using all of the over-used clichés,” she advises.
Mistake: Overly long bios
Yes, while you want a personalized profile, it’s not worth your time crafting something super lengthy or that’s trying too hard to be witty or funny, says Michela Hattabaugh, a Chicago-based matchmaker with The Three Day Rule. “Truthfully, most people do decide whether to swipe based on photos, so keep your bio short, genuine, and truthful, and save the long story for the first date,” she suggests.
Mistake: Poor profile pic choices
Speaking of photos, proceed with caution. A few of Hall’s key rules: No bathroom or gym selfies and no group shots. Feature yourself doing real-life things you actually enjoy, she says: “Show them snippets of your lifestyle, so they know if it’s compatible with their own, saving you both from potential wasted time.”
Another no-no? Having sports paraphernalia in your photos. “Guys tell me that almost every girl does this, so unless you truly are a huge sports fan, there’s no need to do this in an attempt to appeal to guys. It’s not helping you stand out,” says Hattabaugh. Be strategic about sexy snaps, too. “Guys who are looking for the right things do NOT find this attractive. All of my male clients are looking for a girl who is confident, classy, and the kind of woman they would want to take home to mom. Photos like this instantly slide you into the ‘good time’ category instead of a potential girlfriend category,” she adds. Go ahead post flattering photos where you look amazing, but keep ‘em PG.
Mistake: The word ‘hey’
Innocuous enough, right? Not so much. Striking up a conversation with this one word isn’t going to cut it. “It’s not the way to win someone over. Instead, engage your prospect by mentioning something from their profile,” advises Hall. “This shows you actually took the time to read what they wrote and to look at their photos, which means you’re interested in them.”
Mistake: Spending too much time chatting online
While obviously some digital convo is important, it’s important that you don’t remain in the virtual world for too long, cautions Eldad. Move into an in-person meeting ASAP, not only to make sure you’re not being catfished, but also to see if you have a real connection. “Chemistry is physical, so in-person dates are essential to assess real compatibility,” she explains.