A bit of a weird question, I know, but I feel I need this spelled out.

When a person sits down and logs onto an app like Tinder, what exactly, more or less step by step, does Tinder expect them to do? For instance, what specifically do they put on their profiles, how do they decide when to swipe left or right, how do they manage their messages, etc.? Basically, up to the point that you've had an IRL date and another communication method takes over.

If context is needed: I have tried using a few dating apps (Zoosk and OKCupid) over the last several months and have not managed to get anything off the ground. I can't help but wonder if there's something that most people know about using these apps that I don't - I do have autism, and also don't have much normal dating experience since I grew up in a controlling religion, so there's probably something that most people pick up that I haven't.

EDIT: To clarify, I'm primarily looking for a long term relationship, though I'd be fine ending up with short term relationships or platonic friends. I am not looking to find one-night stands (and I do suspect that may be my problem, that these apps are indeed designed to find one night stands and only claim to find long term relationships in order to appear palatable to moral guardians). Regardless, I have gotten none of these things at all.

EDIT 2: Reflecting on it further, I think I should say what my problem is, as I believe it explains why I think I may have a fundamental misunderstanding of what the app developers intend, as opposed to simply not having good luck with the app or any of the other usual problems people have. My problem is that, in the months that I have used these apps, despite getting some likes and messages, I have never once felt inclined to swipe "yes" on any profile I have come across. Simply, nothing has been there that unambiguously says to me "yes, I want to meet this person". Of course, I kinda feel bad doing this, since for some people I'm wondering if I'm being too judgmental by turning them down, especially considering as I'll never run into them again, and I fear that I may go through my entire dating pool like that when there may be some people I would actually come to have a good time with if I "wasn't so picky". But that feeling never overpowers my unease in saying yes, so what ends up happening is either a profile gets swiped "no", or it just sits there, unswiped - and on most platforms, that ends any time you spend with the dating app, since you have to make a swipe decision before getting to see the next person.

I guess the core of my question probably boils down to whether or not I should be r-selecting or K-selecting my "yes" swipes (i.e. should I be "yes" swiping anyone who seems remotely interesting, or should I save my "yes" swipes for someone who unambiguously is what I'm looking for), though I reckon that would be educated by what the dating app developers intend or how the process generally works.

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    You could be using the app as intended and be having trouble for other reasons: something off-putting in your picture or your profile, you creep people out when you talk to them, not a lot of compatible people in your area, etc.
    – Kat
    Oct 4, 2020 at 5:23
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    Have you thought about why you look at profiles? Why you decide to try to select someone for dating? What in their profile attracts you?
    – DaveG
    Oct 4, 2020 at 17:30
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    @guest I did see that comment, yes. I will take that to heart, though again, the fact that reviewing my profile with peers can help me to be more successful at a dating app implies that there are ways to use it that are more correct than others, perhaps even an optimal way to use the app. (Also, my exodus from said controlling religion was recent - I don't have any friends I'm close enough to that I could review profile pictures and messages with.)
    – TheHans255
    Oct 4, 2020 at 18:49
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    @TheHansinator "especially if you have sources" - no source but I assume you pay for the service per time and business people usually are happy about making business. For details about why your specific app was released you should ask the app's creators. It is not scam if you know what you pay for. It is scam if the operators provide wrong facts about their service, that is if for instance if they install fake members to create the impression of higher chances for you to find a match.
    – puck
    Oct 5, 2020 at 4:21
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    @DaveG I guess my additional paragraph answers your question: as far as what attracts me in these profiles, that's just my problem: nothing does - or, at least, I might feel attracted in some aspects, but that is always overpowered by other factors repulsing me. What I'm trying to figure out is 1) can a dating app like Tinder accommodate this, with me saying mostly no until I happen upon someone who seems perfect, or 2) are dating apps simply not a good fit for me because I think differently than they do, or 3) is this destructive/mentally ill thinking that needs to be changed?
    – TheHans255
    Oct 6, 2020 at 4:51

2 Answers 2


Regarding your second edit I think there was indeed some misunderstanding, so I'll address that.

Regarding the swiping, it's quite simple, the app is expected connect two people that have swiped "yes" to each other. It is nothing more than a pre-selection to a text conversation, you don't have to decide yet if you want to meet the person. A "yes" don't bind you, in any way.

We can't tell you whether or not to swipe a lot "yes" or "no", this is completely preference based, but if your concern is to have more interaction with people, then you could try to swipe more "yes", potentially declining later on if you don't feel like meeting, and if your concern is handling too much messages, you could try to swipe more "no".

My own experience was that I tend to discover more interesting things about people interacting with them, so I was not too shy about swiping yes to anybody remotely interesting (in your own words).

Further handling of the conversation answer left below

There is more than one way to use a dating app, and asking for using it a correct way is opinion based. I nonetheless think there is some effective ways to use dating apps to pursue your goals.

On a side note I believe what puck say about fake members is completely right. Dating apps want you to stay logged in for as long as possible, and if not completely fake, will use profile of offline / far location people for you to swipe and create an illusion of traffic.

Text communication is also extremely poor when it comes to communicating emotions. When I had no choice but to use a dating app to make romantic encounters, I made a lot of effort setting up the profile, and I used a strategy of scheduling date as quickly as it is polite to do in order to avoid the communication problem. I considered polite to ask for a date on a second or third day texting with the same person, at a point where both parties have shown sufficient investment in conversing with each other.

In order to reach that point, I would do greeting, asking for occupation and hobbies, clarifying what I was looking for (sometimes, these appear on the profile - you can start conversation about them directly when this is the case), sometimes exchange a few words on past relationships or explaining why we are single, trying to show interest in them and tell a bit more about myself. Try to get information go both ways, learn about them, and disclose similar information about you.

Later on I'd pretext being ill at ease by text and use that to ask for a date in a public setting (café, restaurant). I'd be flexible about postponing but wouldn't invest a ton of time with someone uninterested in scheduling a date.

Nonetheless, it required me a lot of time and patience to obtain dates. Based on your location, age, gender and gender preference, how tolerant are people regarding your disability when you choose to disclose it, it can be more or less difficult, but if the app has enough traffic it usually will mean finding a few people.


I have been using zoosk, so I can share my perspective. I get a lot of messages, and I ignore almost all of them. I can tell you the main reasons:

  1. The message is one of the pre-made messages provided by the app, telling me to ask them anything. If you message me, you should be starting the conversation, not telling me to.
  2. The message is a comment about my main photo. I want to know that you looked at my profile, and saw something you liked - preferably a common interest. If you only saw my profile picture, you will seem shallow.
  3. I check the profile of the person who interviewed me, and they haven't filled out any interests, or what they're looking for. I shouldn't have to ask that stuff if you are given a place to fill it out. Everyone you talk to will want that information. Don't make them work for it. Also be specific.
  4. There are no good photos. I should be able to clearly make out your face. Avoid scowling. Look clean and alert.
  5. The photos or profile show me something I don't want, or are uninteresting. Are all your pictures fitness based? Are you always drinking? Do you have the same series of photos I see on every profile? (you in your car with sunglasses on, you with a fish, you at the gym, or at a wedding). Again, I'm looking for someone compatible.

If you can take the above into consideration, it'll put you way above average, and you will be more likely to get responses. After that it's just finding the right person. Don't be too quick to meet up (or too slow -there is a sweet spot). When you do meet, suggest somewhere neutral and outside, rather than someone's home. People (especially women) are concerned about safety.

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