Self-Sabotage & Unrealistic Expectations: Hard Truths Of Dating Apps – No Matches, Likes On Dating Apps, Awkwardness, Fatigue, Misrepresentation, Safety & More
Online dating is everywhere. In the age of Covid-19, you can’t avoid the topic. Everyone is on a dating app, if not, they are lying. People who made fun of dating apps and swore they would never use them are now addicted. Just because everyone is dipping their toes into the online dating world doesn’t mean everyone knows what they are doing, is having fun or doesn’t regret creating a profile.
Dating apps are a great way to meet people outside one’s social circle. Given busy schedules, inability to leave the house, concern with hopping in a cab or on public transportation, people are relying on apps like Bumble, Hinge and Tinder to meet someone. But this is where it gets tricky as ‘looking to meet someone’ means different things for different people.
Before you commit too much time and effort to dating apps, it’s important to have a solid grasp of dating apps, understand what they can/can’t do, realize what it takes to succeed and be aware of all the ways you can potentially sabotage your dating profile.
People don’t always tell the truth on their dating profile.
Some people lie about age, height, recency of photos, marital status, location, or job. Others misrepresent how much they like hiking. A few lie about being single or in the process of getting a divorce, separation. Read more about some of the most common lies people seen on dating apps.
Google kittenfishing. Lying about small things can sow doubt into the minds of others about other things about your profile, character and personality.
Most people self-sabotage their dating efforts.
Whether it’s choosing the wrong app, using unflattering photos, having low energy, displaying low-effort, sounding generic or cliche or using poor grammar and pickup lines, most people never get a chance to make a good first impression. Most people lack the ability to be objective and free from bias – friends are not necessarily better.
When in doubt, get independent advice from trusted sources.
Depression, anxiety and loneliness can be magnified through dating apps.
It’s true, dating apps can leave you worse off than before the app download. People should join dating apps to meet others with the intention of opening up their lives, being a bit vulnerable and possibly going on a date with other person.
Downloading an app to find someone to lift you up is the wrong reason to join apps. It’s a selfish reason to expect others to be your therapist, friend, partner, etc. right off the app.
Dating apps are not better or necessarily faster than meeting others offline.
Online dating is merely another channel to meet others outside your daily routing and life. Sure one can meet a cute girl or guy within seconds but the process to exchange messages, wait for responses, decipher meetings, clarify details and carry momentum and chemistry can seem not only exhausting but repetitive depending on how matches you connect with.
Dating takes time, patience, resiliency, communication skills and authenticity. The ability to read people and analyze them is an incredible skill to have to have a fighting chance at being successful on dating apps. Here are some alternatives to dating apps if online dating is not for you.
People are too picky on dating apps.
Most dating apps have too many filters, preferences and deal-breakers than what is really necessary or otherwise activate if they were meeting people offline in a traditional setting like a bar, cafe, museum, class, group activity, party etc. There is a fine line between being selective and being unrealistic – most people think they can attract someone better or not have to sacrifice anything.
Just because someone has an MBA, made the C-Suite at a company, makes a lot of money or if fit, does not mean he/she is deserves anything when it comes to dating. People can be repulsed by ego (wealth), narcissism (looks), and lack of depth (immaturity).
Being physically attractive in person or on paper doesn’t mean one has the mental, emotional, social attractiveness that others desire. Dating requires compromise, self-awareness and a desire to continually work on oneself.
People have options and are talking to and going on dates with others.
One’s actions and efforts are only part of the equation. Who the other person is dating, talking to or getting intimate with will have as much if not more of an impact with said person’s dating efforts. Exclusivity is elusive on dating apps, especially during the early courting phases.
It’s ok and even expected to be talking to 3-5 people at a time and actively going on dates with 1-2 other people. Overly investing yourself in someone you have not met is unhealthy. Be optimistic, excited but don’t put your eggs all in one basket before you get to know someone. Focus on people that make the effort to get to know you, prioritize you and treat you the way you want to be treated. Being lonely or getting over an ex is never a good reason to date or get on dating apps.
People are only as attractive as your worst photo.
This is unfortunate but true. Using more photos is not necessarily better. An unflattering photo or inconsistent look, appearance (hair color, hairstyle, facial hair, tan, hair length, weight, choice of clothes, people in the photo or location of the photo) all provide clues and signals. Some people can view inconsistency as having and unstable life or lack of confidence in one’s appearance. Others can view it as identity crisis.
Get feedback from trusted sources. Here is an introductory guide to dating app photos.
Assume people will be judged by their main photo only when swiping.
Some people, in an effort to be efficient and save time, will swipe left or right based on the first, main photo. Upon matching, he/she may review the profile in more detail and decide to start a conversation or unmatch. Others swipe right on every profile for efficiency and then message or reply to ones they are most interseted in. Don’t assume someone will take the time to see your profile profile and all your photos when liking you.
Similarly, not everyone puts their best foot forward. Take time to look at the other photos and rest of the profile. Finding hidden gems is a great way to find people who are super confident in themselves or are not jaded yet by bombardment of unwanted attention. Patience and the ability to analyze photos is a great skill to have.
Everyone will be ghosted, eventually on a dating app.
It’s inevitable. It will happen to some people more than others. It might happen after a few messages, first video chat, first date or hook-up. It’s important to be patient, ask questions, be cautious (but optimistic). People can sense negativity a mile away. If you are unable to give the match in front of you a clean slate and approach them enthusiatically and optimistically, you will fail miserable with dating apps. Inability to trust or be non-judgmental will factor greatly on whether you will succeed with dating apps.
Don’t get jaded if this happens more than once. Learn to screen profiles, read people (communication, photos, bio, prompts and answers). Focus on those that match your effort, enthusiasm, ettiquette and responsiveness. It’s best not to reply, or engage with someone that ghosts you – that will either show them that they have power over you or you are still thinking about them. Move on, don’t acknowledge them. If you can’t afford to be picky, improve your appearance and profile so you don’t have to put up with such people.
People who ghost are mostly strangers and those that have not invested time, dates, effort into getting to know you. Even if they do, doesn’t mean anything. People can change their mind, meet others or quite often be in a bad mental state of mind. Don’t take it personal. Ghosting on dating sites happens enough times not to let it affect you. Don’t overly invest yourself in a stranger that you have not met. This is why you shouldn’t use dating apps if you are depressed and lonely.
Likes and matches mean nothing.
Just because you receive a like or match with someone doesn’t mean anything. People quickly swipe through apps and then review photos, bios and answers in more detail after matching. They also compare you against other matches. Don’t overly invest yourself early on in a stranger.
Be optimistic but realistic. Just because a guy matches with you on Bumble doesn’t mean he is interested in you. Guys typically employ a volume approach with dating apps (swipe on everyone and then re-evaluate profiles you match with later and focus on those that exert the most effort or are the most attractive). Talk to several people, make sure the other person matches your effort, energy, enthusiasm, ettiquette, responsiveness and intent.
Some people will lie about their intentions or lead others on.
Look out for possible red flags: excessive compliments on looks, sexual innuendos, slow response time, lack of effort, briefs answers, no questions asked, never starting a conversation, changing the subject, choosing dates that only involve drinking or going over to a date’s place.
Google love bombing and other dating terms and lingo. It’s not uncommon for a guy to have a regular profile on CMB, Hinge and Bumble only to have a hookup profile on Tinder. Similarly just because someone checked off a box for looking for a relationship, doesn’t mean they want a relationship at all or even with you. Some guys lie in order to sleep with women.
Other guys can be indecisive and change their minds quickly at the first encounter with tough situations in relationships. This is why it’s important to take time to get to know each other, go on a variety of dates, experience challenging situations to see how others react. You can get an idea of what someone is like by the way they treat kids, wait staff, taxi drivers, homeless folks as well as hearing to their views on politics, economy, religion, etc. Ignoring deep conversations is a great way misread people.
Many lack the ability to be honest, straight-forward.
At some people will make lame excuses, go radio silent for periods of time, pop-up randomly down the road, or simply lack the ability to be honest. Whether it’s fear of being hurt, lack of maturity, not knowing what one wants or try to limit emotional exposure, people tend to shy away from confrontation, difficult conversations and ambiguity.
Don’t make excuses for others. Don’t forgive those who don’t ask for forgiveness or are not sincere. Don’t be afraid to be single rather than staying in a toxic relationship. These are some red flags to look out for.
Dating apps are merely introduction apps – you don’t date online.
Dating occurs once you meet. If you don’t meet, you are not dating. Don’t overly invest in someone (time, emotions) without spending time with them first. Loneliness and depression can create a false sense of connection or existence of a relationship.
Dating apps are not ordering apps. Relationships take time to evolve, grow. Expecting a final product is unrealistic and unhealthy.
Ask questions, have difficult conversations, put yourself out there. You meet online but date offline.
Emotional toll, fatigue, burnout Is common.
It’s ok to take a break or delete apps altogether. Many people are not mentally or emotionally ready for dating. Others don’t know how to screen people, read red flags, nor call it quits and move on. A number of people don’t know what they want or lack the self-restraint to deprioritize looks, career, pedigree and place more value and weight in character, manners, personality.
I typically recommend people to start off with 1 dating app at first to see what photos work best, understand how dating apps works and then switch apps or expand usage to fine-tune desired profiles or accelerate meeting others. The volume approach with dating apps can be depressing if you lack self-awareness, a good profile or don’t know what you want.
Online dating is competitive.
Male to female gender ratios can be brutal, especially for guys in their early 20s and in tech heavy areas like San Jose (Man Jose), Seattle (Manattle) and Denver (Menver). It’s not surprising to see male/female ratios crawl up to 1.5 to 1 or even 3+ to 1 in some cities.
If the odds are so challenging, why bother? Well plenty of people self-sabotage their profiles with bad photos, incomplete/lazy bios, poor app choice, unflattering outfits, poses, and environments that is quite easy to leapfrog the competition if you invest in your heath, appearance, style, body language, expressions, writing skills and photos.
People attract who they are not what they seek.
It’s not enough to desire something or someone. What people observe is what will ultimately dictate if they are attracted to someone. Apps, other people are equally to blame in addition to one’s own actions, efforts and signals.
If you attract immature people, only get contacted by those looking for a hookup or get ghosted regularly, take a deep look in the mirror. Look at the dating profiles, communication, photos – what do they signal?
Communication skills are important.
Yes, photos and biographical information is key but communication skills will destroy you. Inability to engage a match, poor texting skills, inability to plan dates, difficulty maintaining online chemistry for periods of a time are where most people fail. Short answers, not initiating message, delayed responses to messages or using poor grammar will offset your otherwise perfect profile. Online dating messaging etiquette should not be overlooked. Getting a match is not the real hurdle with dating apps, the biggest hurdle is getting a date from a match.
No Likes, Nor Matches On Dating Apps
Dating apps take time. Some people will get matches within minutes of signing up for an app but that is an extreme case (super attractive person, populated area, desirable demographics etc.) but it’s not uncommon to not receive likes nor matches after a day or a week. The most likely reasons for this is poor bio or no bio, unrealistic expectations, bad photos, not enough photos, poor facial expressions, grooming habits, or lack of self-awareness, remote area, wrong app choice. Most people never seek feedback on their dating profiles. The ones that do, often seek help from biased sources like friends and family who are not willing to be brutally honest or are biased with context that strangers do not have.
No More Matches On Dating Apps
Even if you manage to get likes and app at first, it’s possible this will not last. You will either run out of people that like you or apps will show your profile less to people over time. Most people buy bells and whistles to boost their profile but this is not recommended. There is no substitution for a great profile. New users on dating apps do great because they are shown to many people (front-loaded) but then a regression to the mean kicks in.
Paying For Premium Features Will Not Always Result In More (Quality) Matches
Most boosts on dating apps will show your profile more often and sooner to others but it won’t make you more attractive. These additional users are typically outside one’s preferences/filters i.e. distant, younger/older, or from bots/scammers that have yet to be kicked off the platform.
Sure it helps to be seen sooner by people on the app but if you are not getting likes and messages from real people already, don’t assume paying for bells and whistles will help you out. There is nothing quite like investing in your photos, smiles, wardrobe, app choice, approachability, communication skills, bio, answers to prompts etc. to get more quality likes and matches on dating apps.
Paying For Professional Dating Photos May Not Help You Get More Matches
Most photographers advertising themselves as dating profile photographers are merely portrait photographers that are over-extending their services. Less than 5% of photographers are actually any good at taking photos for dating apps. Many have never used dating apps, are single or think headshots or stiff, staged photos with blurry background are good for dating profiles. Every week I get contact by individuals needing to re-do their dating photos taken by other photographers who misrpresented themselves.
About Eddie Hernandez
Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas. https://eddie-hernandez.com/contact/
Online Dating Safety Tips
Check out this guide on how to stay safe on dating apps: https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-safety-tips/
Online Dating Etiquette
Check out this post on etiquette around apps, messaging, profiles and dates: https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-etiquette/
Online Dating Resource Guide
Comprehensive resource guide for stats, studies, surveys around dating apps: https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-resource-guide/
Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More): https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-frequently-asked-questions/
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