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We Asked A Professional Online Dating Coach How To Be Better At Tinder

Just in time for Valentine's Day.

Posted on February 11, 2016, at 2:09 p.m. ET

Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images

Sunday is Valentine's Day, a minor liturgical celebration of a Christian martyr that has, in contemporary American society, taken the form of pressurized and compulsory Romance. What this means for couples: You must ritualistically spend money on each other. What this means for singles: You must find someone with whom to ritualistically spend money, in order to foment Romance, or at least the physical proxy thereof — sexytime.

But how to find someone, anyone? Well, apps, of course! And the best app for finding a partner in a pinch is Tinder. As anyone who has taken part can tell you, Tinder can be used very well, and Tinder can be used very poorly (and not just to convince people to Feel the Bern). The structure of Tinder — both users have to swipe right to be matched — is ingenious, but it also makes it very difficult to know what you're doing wrong: You never hear from the (many) people who reject you.

So we asked Greg Schwartz, the creator of Make Online Dating Fun, to explain the traits of a good Tinder profile. Then we asked him to evaluate the Tinder profiles of five single users and help them figure out what they could do to improve their chances of finding a match by Sunday. Here's what he told us:

At the most basic, photos have three purposes: 1) to create a spark; 2) to show you're physically attractive; 3) to show you're interesting. Your first photo also needs to compel the viewer to look at your other photos and profile.

Meanwhile, the purposes of a profile are 1) show, not tell, your attractive qualities; 2) provide things for people to write messages about. #1 is more important for straight men, because straight women are more inclined to swipe right and respond to messages. #2 is more important for straight women, because when they give straight men interesting things to write about, those men write more interesting messages. Gay men and lesbians should focus on #1 if they primarily send messages and #2 if they primarily receive. That said, everyone benefits from doing both.

Now on to the profiles!

Lincoln, 24, Interested in Men

“Aspiring MILF” comes across as fairly playful, but he’ll have much better results if he shows his attractive qualities. In that vein, the dog photo is a winner! It’s a combination of cute and silly, which attracts attention, so make it your first photo.

Sunglasses photos get in the way of chemistry (photo purpose #1), because you can’t connect to the person. Keep the tank top photo to show that you have muscle (purpose #2), and get rid of the others. Finally, the lying down photo is interesting (purpose #3), but the smile is a bit intense; replace it unless you’re getting a lot of messages about it. (Testing your profile is another thing I teach in my coaching.)

Score: 5/10

Christina, 25, Interested in Men

The hit points are cute and add a cool nerdy vibe, but unless you’re sick, change it to 4/5 hearts. Now, the Uber promo is a joke (I hope). But you wouldn’t say “Want me to design your website? $150/hr” on your Tinder profile, would you? No, you wouldn’t. So advertise yourself, not Uber.

On to photos: All three photos you sent hide your eyes. Remember, eyes are how we connect (photo purpose #1)! The VR photo probably does well at attracting nerdy guys, so keep that, and use photos that clearly show your eyes for the rest. At least one of them should be a full-body shot, since none of your photos show your physique. Note that skinny, curvy, and fit are all attractive to different people. Don’t hide what you look like! The deer photo is interesting (photo purpose #3), but I’d put it at the end. Finally, you probably don’t get many good messages, right? That’s because your profile doesn’t have enough hooks for men to respond to. Mention your extensive hipster T-shirt collection, your penchant for animated GIFs, or that dogs make you melt. Whatever makes you light up! Two or three more would get you better messages — and more of them.

Score: 3/10

Lauren, 26, Interested in Women

The Easter Island head is pretty cool…but that’s probably the only thing Lauren get messages about. (Well, that and “Yup, this is fun.”) She’s interested in women, and those women are probably desperate to see some hooks in her profile. Make them specific, e.g., “Play volleyball at the beach” or “What’s your best photo booth story?” Replace the photo with the guy (below), because it looks more awkward than playful. Replace the 75º photo as well: It’s poorly lit and you look pained; it doesn’t serve any of the photo purposes.

What would be better? A photo of yourself with a well-lit smile (purpose #1) as a straight-on body shot (purpose #2). Whatever shape you’re in, show it off! Not having a body shot makes people concerned: “Why are they hiding their body?”

Score: 5/10

Stephanie, 26, Interested in Men

Want to make sure most guys aren’t interested? Joke about having a dick! So delete the “dick” photo right away. Delete the snake too; your girlfriends may think it’s cute, but men don’t, and it doesn’t serve any of the photo purposes. Next, I can’t actually tell which woman you are in the two group photos, and most people can’t either (particularly with sunglasses). Everyone assumes you have friends, so no need to show them and confuse the viewer.

The frowning photo isn’t going to get men to swipe right/tap. Delete it, and set the lipstick photo as your primary. It has the best lighting, and is the best at creating chemistry (purpose #1). A similar photo with a smile would do even better, when you have time to take one! (Why? Because other than Kylo Ren, people are more attractive when they’re happy.) Finally, tired of messages that say “great, let’s hook up” or just discuss Archie/Betty/Veronica? You guessed it: Add more specific hooks to your profile. You can start with examples of how you embody both Betty and Veronica, and men will stop sounding like Reggie.

Score: 4/10

Srivatsa, 29, Interested in Women

Good hooks in the profile — nice job! It’d be even better if it showed your attractive qualities, to further interest readers. It’s actually a little long for Tinder, so cut the first paragraph. Unless you’re a big Dylan fan, cut the last one, too. Then add one or two attractive qualities about yourself, besides travel (second paragraph) and humor (fourth paragraph).

The dog photo is great! It creates chemistry/sex appeal (purpose #1) and is interesting (purpose #3), so I’d set that to your primary photo.The tribesman photo shows your physique (purpose #2) and again shows your interest in travel. The military photo only shows that same interest in travel, so replace it with a photo creating chemistry (purpose #1 > #2), or showing a different interest. Finally, the stairs photo doesn’t really serve any of the purposes of a photo, so I’d replace it. All in all, pretty good profile!

Score: 6/10

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