The Biggest Mistake You're Making On Dating Apps

by Laken Howard

For those well-versed in the world of online dating, it often seems like your list of potential matches is nothing more than a veritable cesspool of creeps, horny teens, and illiterate folks. There's nothing more frustrating than swiping right on someone you're sure is Future Bae, only to then receive a barrage of sexist messages or, even worse, an unsolicited dick pic. For all its entertainment value and booty call potential, Tinder and other dating apps can also be a breeding ground for uncomfortable exchanges that leave you wondering if you'd be better off finding a new partner ~in the wild~.

The biggest problem with these apps is accountability — people have the guts to say and do things they wouldn't do IRL simply because they're hidden behind the veil of the Internet, with no real consequences for their actions. Fortunately, one new dating app, The Grade, is seeking to fix the problem of accountability in online dating.

Essentially, users of this app will be "graded" based on a number of factors — such as their profile, responsiveness, and message quality — and if they receive an "F" grade, they have one week to follow the tips they're given to improve their grade. If they don't, they're simply "expelled" from the app. And voila! — a community of high-quality singles is created, (hypothetically) free of creeps and other undesirables.

I spoke with Cliff Lerner, The Grade's CEO, to find out what his team has identified as the most common online dating mistakes that people are making — if you're serious about finding The One, consider how these seven things might be affecting your online love life:

1. The Wrong Photos

There have been numerous studies on how your pictures affect your online dating game. Since most dating apps are focused on a "look first, think later" attitude, it's no surprise that having bad photos can really change the responses or swipes you get. While most people intuitively try to upload the most attractive pictures of themselves, it's hard to know what photos others will find appealing. One unique feature of The Grade? It offers users "photo stats," meaning you no longer have to wonder which photos of yours are performing the best — the app straight up tells you.

2. Being Disrespectful

I would hope that being respectful of others is a gigantic duh, but often people are tempted to treat others less than respectfully on dating apps because they're essentially strangers with no real ties to one another. While this problem definitely applies to both genders, it seems more common that women are the victims of disrespectful and hostile messages online. Sexual harassment is never OK, and you should think twice (or maybe three times) before sending someone a message like "Well you're a fat bitch, anyway." Bottom line: It's not cool to be disrespectful. Just don't.

3. Incomplete Profiles

If your profile looks like you don't give a sh*t, other people are probably going to assume you genuinely don't give a sh*t. If you take the time to put forth a little effort in your profile, you're more likely to find like-minded people with whom you'd have a great date (or even just great sex, if that's what you're into). No need to spend hours perfecting every sentence — just completing your profile in a fun, succinct way is good enough.

4. Short, Unthoughtful Messages

A conversation can't go anywhere if the messages stay as basic as "hi" or "sup?" While it's certainly not required that you write a novel to every new person you come across, your likelihood of getting a quality date will increase if you put in some effort and write creative, thoughtful messages to the people you're interested in. Sounds simple, because it is. Spelling and grammar count, too: The Grade takes common mistakes like "your/you're" into account when rating users, so you now have a reason to listen to autocorrect for once.

5. Unsolicited Nudes

Is there anything more disturbing than swiping through the latest batch of Tinder moments and finding one — or several — boners staring back at you? Not only is this actually illegal, it's disrespectful and degrading as well. If you just walked outside in the nude with your ship sailing full-mast, do you think you wouldn't be tackled to the ground by the nearest police officer? Please follow the same rules online, and don't just assume that everyone wants to see your boobs/dick/etc.

6. Close-Mindedness

Being shallow often comes with the territory of online dating, and you should certainly not lower your standards just because, but Lerner encourages users to step outside their comfort zone for maximum results. For example, if you always talk to or swipe right on the same "type" of guy or girl, consider expanding your horizons — best case scenario is that you meet someone new and great, and the worst that could happen is it doesn't pan out and you revert back to your old ways.

7. Unwillingness To Chat

According to Lerner, women being unresponsive on dating apps is one of male users' most common complaints. While this is certainly not gender-exclusive, it's understandable why some users would be fed up to feel like they're messaging a brick wall. Although it's true that you don't owe anyone anything and are not obligated to respond to messages, if you're simply too shy or scared to strike up a conversation, don't be afraid. Remember: You can stop talking to anyone at any time (or block them, if the situation calls for it), so why not take a crazy chance and message that hottie you've been ignoring?

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Images:; Giphy (7)