Meeting people on campus can be tricky. After the first week or two of classes it sinks in that the cutie pie we were hoping would sit next to us and start a conversation is never going to leave the second row.
It’s easy to get into a routine of seeing the same people at the same places—class, work, clubs—and never actually “put yourself out there,” whatever the hell that even means.
Cue: dating apps! The seemingly perfect way to take the work out of meeting someone to hook up with, date, enter a 24-hour slave/master relationship with, etc.
To have a successful online dating experience it’s important to choose the app that best fits our needs.
There are oodles of apps for almost any identity (FarmersOnly, anyone?), but I’ll be focusing on four standouts: Tinder, Grindr, Bumble and OkCupid.
Tinder is a college kid favorite because it keeps it simple. One person, a few photos, a quick bio and the decision to swipe right if we’re feeling it or left if we’re not. Users choose things like age range and distance (i.e. someone using Tinder in Madison is only given profiles of other people nearby depending on how far they’ve set their distance preferences). Preferences can be set to men, women or both. When two people both swipe right on each other they get a notification that they have matched and then they have the option of privately messaging each other.
When to use it: When looking for a hookup, Tinder is a go-to. While plenty of people find long-term lovebirds on Tinder, it’s not inherently clear what the app is for. If we’re on a quest to find the love of our lives, we should say it in the bio or be left disappointed. Just looking for friends? What a strange way to go about that—may I recommend a student org instead?
Once those first messages start flying, be prepared for the inevitable “what are you looking for?” or “what brings you to Tinder?” If we’re not ready to answer this question, a good response might be, “let’s talk more about that over coffee! Do you like (insert cool coffee joint here)?”
MAJOR KEY: We must tread ever so carefully when telling people we want to hook up with them over the Internet. Even if we’ve been talking for a week or two and we’re feeling mad horny when communicating online, meeting up in person is a whole different game. Saying something like “You’re cute, let’s meet up and see where this goes,” leaves an exit option if it’s time to abort mission.
One of the OG hook-up apps, Grindr is similar to Tinder but it’s exclusively for gay men and it’s used mainly for hooking up. Just like Tinder, Grindr uses location to show users profiles of people nearby (right down to how many feet away the person is!)
When to use it: Are you gay and a man and looking to hook up with someone who is also gay and a man? Go to Grindr! If one does not fit this bill, refer to Tinder or keep reading.
Remember that when you can see how many feet away a stud is from you, he can do the same. As with any dating app, it’s always a good idea to let at least one friend know when you’re meeting up with someone. Also, even if you’re just looking to hit it and quit it, you should always meet in a public place before going to someone else’s place.
Bumble is Tinder with a Twist; when two people match, the lady has to message the dood within 24 hours or the match disappears. Guys have the option of extending one match per day for an extra 24 hours. For people looking for partners of their same gender, either person can send the first message.
When to use it: For girls who are sick of getting creepy messages from guys about what body part they would like to stick where, this gives gal pals a little more control. For boys who are sick of the constant expectation of sending the first message, Bumble may just bee your best friend! It could also be great for non-hetero people who just want a different sea of fish to splash around in. I’m not saying this is the answer to making dating apps feminist or inclusive or whateverthefuck, but it is a new and different way to go about things.
“Why can’t girls just message guys first on Tinder?” asks the inquisitive Between the Sheets reader. Answer: they totally can! But, they (oftentimes) totally don’t. It’s so easy to sit back and wait for someone to message first, but knowing the ball is completely in our court can inspire confidence and be a nice change of pace for everyone.
The most dating-centered of the four. OkCupid asks for a little more information than Tinder, Grindr or Bumble—which can be quickly logged into through Facebook. While the apps I previously mentioned rely on a choose-your-own-adventure style for matching people up, OkCupid uses questions ranging from “how messy are you?” to “have you ever cheated in a relationship?” The more questions you answer, the better your matches will be. There is also a “you should message me if” section on OkCupid profiles that gives users the option of blatantly stating what they’re really looking for from the app.
When to use it: The setup of the app makes it appealing for people who are looking for something a little more serious than a hookup. For folks who get anxiety from the idea of meeting up with a virtual stranger, OkCupid might be just the thing to feel a little more secure about who we’re meeting from the Internet.
Other Tips and Tricks:
Sending a first message after 10 p.m., especially on the weekend, sends a definite hookup message. If this is just the first chance you’re getting to message someone, keep in mind that they might take a first-time, late-night message as “wink-wink-nudge-nudge-bang-bang.”
Messaging first is an art (Eeep! So much pressure!). First of all, breathe. It is not as big of a deal as it seems. Then, try to get creative with first messages; comment on something interesting from one of their photos or their bio. Starting with “your glasses really suit you!” or “I love your tattoo! What’s the significance?” is much more engaging than “hey.”
Pick-up lines can be super fun and flirty, but they’re not the only way to be charming on the internet. Not everyone is a master of them, and sending a pick-up line that is intended to be funny but crosses a few too many lines might turn off a potential hunny.
Creating an effective profile is a whole other article, but as a rule of thumb it’s good to have as many pictures of us doing as many different things as possible. Don’t tell people you’re “just a fun loving person looking to meet someone cool,” show them with your sick snowboarding pics and adorable puppy photos. Having a diverse selection of photos draws people in and makes them all the more likely to swipe right.
Nervous it isn’t obvious enough that the girl in the picture with you is your sister, but questioning if putting it in the bio gives too much of a “I’m nervous people will think I’m banging my sis” vibe? Anna’s got your back, email@example.com.