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How to Stand Out in a Dating App World

By: Tara Bradford

When I moved to New York City, I had heard that it was one of the best places to be single...for men. According to the US Census Bureau Statistics and Demographics (2000) there are about 5.2% more women than men. That may not seem like a very big difference, but when we are talking about 8.5 million people it comes out to about 442,000 more women than men. I’m not saying all of those women are single, but I will say that the market is saturated. I’m also not saying that all of those women are looking for men, and vice versa.

One benefit of being in a city like New York is that people tend to wait until later in life to tie the knot and beliefs about marriage extend far beyond the traditional beliefs we were raised with so there is a little bit less pressure to rush to the altar. When examined over the course of 5 years it was found that the average age people get married in New York state is approximately 30 for both men and women. Washington D.C., Rhode Island, and Vermont were the only other places in the United States where the average age broke 30.

So in a city of over 8 million people and a little under half of them men you would think it would be easy to meet them (as a heterosexual woman), right? Wrong.

Photo by Rai Smalls

Photo by Rai Smalls

I am starting to wonder if it is because New York City attracts some of the most ambitious people in the world (if you don’t believe me you should see the number of people who voluntarily pull all nighters at work to get ahead and who frequent the gym on a Friday night at 10:00pm instead of going out to bars) and they are all so busy.

Normally, I don’t really like to use the word busy because it has such a negative connotation but I remember when I first moved to New York City I was talking to a friend about dating and she mentioned how challenging it was to make plans with people, including second dates. She is an attractive, successful, young, intelligent woman and I was shocked that these words were coming out of her mouth.

It's hard to get a second date.

At the time I wasn’t dating (because I was so busy...insert eye roll emoji) but I decided to put myself out there and see what was going on. She was not joking about this whole second date phenomenon. I felt like I was in the movie 50 First Dates except my memory was totally intact.

Photo by Rai Smalls

Photo by Rai Smalls

Why was this happening?

One explanation could be that in a recent study of millennial college students it was found that 44% of millennials are on Tinder for an ego boost. That’s right ladies, they want to match with you and have no intention of actually meeting you in real life. Now, those statistics aren’t exclusive to millennial men, which means the ladies are doing it too. But it begs the question: “What is the point of dating apps?” The 2015 study shows that less than 5% of people on Tinder are looking for a relationship. It’s no wonder it’s a challenge to get a second date! I do have a few friends who met on Tinder and are happily married so I am not saying it is impossible, but the odds are definitely against you.

I decided to test the various apps and see how I could diversify my portfolio to produce better outcomes for the 5% who want relationships (or at least a second date). Over the last 12 months I have dated men on Bumble, Tinder, Happn, eHarmony, OKCupid, Clover, Picke, The Inner Circle, and Hinge. I have also had a friend recommend Coffee Meets Bagel. When I was on these apps I was getting on average 100-350 messages a week, which is honestly like a full time job so I would advise saving diversification for your financial portfolio.

Here is where it gets really interesting though: I chose different pictures and wrote different things about myself on each profile. I wasn’t pretending to be someone else, I was just carefully choosing the information I wanted to share about myself. On some of the apps I shared my hobbies and on some of them I shared my career aspirations. On some of them I answered questions about what I was looking for and on others I answered questions about what I was not looking for. The most interesting thing I discovered was that when I went from the “nice girl” in my profile to the “overly confident girl” I saw a dramatic decrease in messages from 350 messages in one week to 7 messages the following week. Of those 7 messages, 3 of them were hate mail telling me that I was arrogant, 2 of them were laughing at me and thanking me for standing out and being real, and 2 of them actually wanted to date me.

I wondered if this was an accurate representation of what men are looking for. It was a very small sample size but I was sort of shocked that less than 3% of men actually wanted to date me when I was being 100% honest and those 2 men were not the men that I wanted to date.

This wasn’t something I ever thought I would share with anyone publicly because I actually was looking for a relationship. In the situations where I did end up going on second dates, we would keep in contact for anywhere between 1 and 5 weeks and then things would fizzle out. Most often it was not a traumatic breakup and frequently time and being busy were cited as the reasons why it was more difficult to continue hanging out than it was to just stop talking to each other.

Photo by Rai Smalls

Photo by Rai Smalls

I am now not on any dating apps and I want to leave you with some tools for how you can write a compelling, honest profile about yourself that is going to attract your perfect match in your city who want the same things that you want (seriously ladies, go for the top 1% of those 5% who want relationships).

  1. Choose the “right” pictures that convey the message you want to send.

    • Pictures of only you so they don’t have to guess which one you are.

    • Pictures of you smiling and having fun.

    • Pictures of you enjoying a hobby you love.

    • The jury is out on the bikini pictures, but I never posted any and still went on plenty of dates.

    • Limit the number of selfies you post to 1 or 2 (or less than half of the pictures you choose), but some of my selfies ended up being most people’s favorites on the apps where they track your most popular pictures.

    • If you are going to post pictures from a professional photoshoot, limit it to one. They need to know you are a real person too, even if you’re a model or your headshots look amazing.

  2. Write about yourself the way you would describe who you are to a friend. If you are looking for a life partner then you’re going to want him to be your best friend at some point, might as well start now. This is my favorite tip and the one that helped me find the people who had all of the qualities I was looking for.

  3. Stay positive. When you write what you don’t want or what you’re not looking for it attracts complainers. Misery loves company and you will see that in the messages you get from people.

  4. Avoid generic things like “looking for a nice guy” or “I love to laugh and travel”. Saying you are looking for a “nice” guy means you would date anyone who reads your profile because I have to believe that any man who reads that would think “I’m nice!” and then swipe right. A better way to say you love to laugh would be to list your favorite comedian or comedy club or describe your sense of humor. If you love sarcasm, own it! It will help you attract someone who can tell jokes that you will appreciate. If you love to travel that is amazing! List the next place you want to go, the next vacation you have planned, the last vacation you went on, or your dream trip.


Photo by Phillip Van Nostrand

Photo by Phillip Van Nostrand

Tara Bradford is a Growth Strategist & Success Coach. She is the founder of The Potentialista®, a global mentorship program to help extraordinary people become visionary leaders and bring their ambitions to life. Tara has 9 years of experience helping individuals and families through tragedies. When she reached the top of her career path by the age of 26 she discovered that happiness and success are not the same thing. After reinventing her own life, she completed her certification in high performance coaching so she could help others change their lives as well.

Tara is passionate about helping high achievers live happy, fulfilling, successful lives by guiding them to develop fierce confidence and limitless self belief. She is also committed to helping empower 1 million women to become leaders in their industries by 2020.