How to Make More Meaningful Connections on Dating Apps, According to a Tinder Expert

POPSUGAR Photography | Sheila Gim
POPSUGAR Photography | Sheila Gim

Like them or not, dating apps have quickly become one of the most popular ways for younger generations to meet a potential love interest. Though definitely convenient for busy people who don't have the time to wade through the bar scene every weekend on the hunt for a significant other, online dating can be pretty darn tiring. The whole process can raise a lot of questions — like what's the most efficient way to connect with someone you're similar to? How on earth do you properly start a conversation in a nonawkward way? And most importantly, should you post that bathroom mirror picture or the one of you with your family at graduation?

To answer some of our most burning questions, we got in touch with Tinder's resident sociologist, Dr. Jess Carbino (yes, Tinder actually has its very own sociologist!). The UCLA grad had a lot of helpful insight about what it takes for users to make the most of their Tinder experience, but her words of wisdom definitely extend to any ol' dating app, not just Tinder. Read on to see what Dr. Jess had to say about finding love at your fingertips, and you might just be one step closer to swiping right on "the one."

How to Successfully Start a Conversation With a Match

"Conversations on Tinder that are most successful are those that indicate a high degree of investment. Users perceive investment on the basis of whether their match talks to them or asks them questions about themselves. Asking a question about their photos or the information in their bio is a great way to start a conversation!"

A Guide to Making Deeper Connections on Dating Apps

  • "Read the fine print — don't simply swipe left or right based on your initial impression of their first photograph. That's how you end up with tons of conversations happening all at once, but no one you're particularly interested in. Profiles are chock-full of interesting data related to someone's personality and values. It's important to really look at multiple photos, bio information, and occupation to have a full picture of who they are and determine if you would be a good match. If you're looking for a long-term relationship, look for clues in a profile that send the message that they're looking for something similar. Do they have pictures with their nieces and nephews? That's likely a good sign. Similarly, if their bio focuses on going out and partying, you should pay attention to the signal that sends."

"2017 is the year to put yourself out there and message people first."

  • "Be confident and get the conversation started. How many times have you matched with someone you think you would really enjoy spending time with simply to wait for them to start a conversation and it never happens? 2017 is the year to put yourself out there and message people first. If they matched with you, they're clearly interested in talking, but they may be busy or too shy to send the first message. Take a look at their pictures, bio, and profession, and ask them a question about their life. Showing initiative, interest, and investment is always appealing. No more missed connections!"
  • "Make a plan to meet in person as soon as you start talking to someone. Tinder users get frustrated when they have chemistry with someone, but the conversation drags on without a concrete plan to meet. Instead of wasting time chatting for weeks, schedule a quick coffee meetup and see if there's actually chemistry when you're together."
  • "Be open to meeting someone who isn't 'your type.' While we all have an idea of who Mr. or Miss Right may be, we may be closing ourselves to the possibility of someone really wonderful. Make a list with the top three things that are most important to you in a potential partner like education, liking dogs, or openness to travel. Then try to cast a wide net. If you are attracted to someone and they meet your minimum criteria, have a conversation. Just because someone doesn't have Ryan Gosling's jawline doesn't mean they could not be an incredible partner."

How to Make Sure Your Profile Is On-Point

"Tinder users should consider how they present themselves to potential matches in order to get the most of out of their experience using the app. After creating or updating your profile, ask a friend, family member, or even a close colleague to give their opinion. This can be a helpful strategy to better understand how you may come across to others — maybe it's caring, adventurous, or loyal. This tactic is actually more common than you may think — one in five online daters ask friends or family for help with stepping up their profiles."

Tips For Match-Worthy Photos

  • "Dress to impress. Tinder users realize that style sometimes speaks louder than words and are putting their best fashion foot forward in their profile photos. Nearly a quarter (21.6 percent) of women on the popular dating app wear a dress in one of their photos, while 11 percent of men on Tinder opt for a suit. If you have one available, it's always great to include a photo where you're wearing more formal attire. Bonus points for your Tinder match being able to imagine you as that much-needed wedding date this season."
  • "Smile. Tyra Banks taught us how to smize, and everyone from Gigi Hadid to the Kardashians has mastered the selfie. While we all love a good celeb-quality pic to show off our looks, a smile goes a long way! So show off those pearly whites and make sure you're smiling in your profile photos to look way more approachable to other singles and increase your chances of a swipe right by 14 percent."
  • "Be original. OK, so I know the Machu Picchu picture might be a bit cliché, but there's no denying that scenic travel shots and animal-lover photos garner more responses than your average bathroom selfie. Listen up, ladies — it's time to get creative! Tinder users value new experiences and independent women, so why not show potential matches what you've got?! Ditch the sorority photo from last week's football game and opt for that solo camping picture instead."