Elo Scores, Regression To The Mean, Dating App Algorithms, Gale Shapley SMP Algorithm

How Dating Apps Quietly Judge Your Dating Profile As Soon As Its Created

With an ever-increasing usage rate of dating apps by people in the United States, the stigma that once existed is greatly diminished. A significant number of couples these days (half by several studies and measures) meet online these days and while that number is encouraging, it does not paint a complete picture of the average user experience. Many, many folks struggle with online dating apps and it is not uncommon for folks to be on dating apps regularly and continuously for years or even decades. 

A majority of folks never seek help from friends, family members, colleagues or professionals on their app choice, photos, bios, prompts, introductory messages, wardrobe and poses. While it’s great that folks are mustering up the courage to create a public profile, show some vulnerability and take that virtual introduction, it is not without some caution that people need to be aware of how dating apps work to maximize their chances of success. The first few days after creating a dating profile strongly impacts how your profile will be shown to others down the road.

Many dating apps on the market these days use algorithms to suggest matches to users. These algorithms are based on popular filters and preferences like age, location, height, education but also how users respond to your attractiveness, approachability, style as well as your swipe activity. When you create a dating profile, the algorithm is still learning your profile and thus uses proxies early on and makes assumptions about you until you are on the app long enough to establish statistically significant data points from which it can more safely serve you appropriate profiles. To do this, it will want to give you the benefit of the doubt and show you profiles that are desirable by others. This is also done to pique your interest (and keep you hooked) as well as understand how others view you. 

Like a resume, your dating profile is a work in progress and people often work on them rigorously and improve them over time. Some folks user third party sources like Photofeeler or professional dating profile consultants like myself to understand how their photos are viewed and better position themselves among the competition. Unlike a resume where your updated version is viewed in isolation and independently by new companies you submit it to, your dating profile is weighted by the success (or lack thereof) by your early counterparts and shown appropriately to others. 

If you ever wonder why you are shown attractive and desirable profiles of users early on and then hit a wall with less desirable folks and fewer likes, this is it. There is always a regression to the mean and it can take anywhere from 3-5 days for the algorithm to analyze and rank your profile compared to others in the area (depending on supply, demand and swipe activity). Some people attribute it to a bug or the app but in most cases it’s just your profile making its way up or down the pecking order. This regression is a part of a larger monetization strategy at hand – most dating apps will come hard with free trials (without notification i.e. Hinge) or will come with the hard upsells on bells and whistles hoping that you remember what that first week was like.

Dating apps (more than others) are photocentric meaning that most of what a person sees is photos or at least photos are prioritized meaning that bios, prompts and demographics are ignored or deprioritized early on. It’s an unfortunate approach but it is what it is and that’s why it’s important to start off your dating profile strong as possible right out of the gate and not wind up circling down a vicious cycle.

Some users are savvy and aware of this phenomenon and might try to game the system by creating a duplicate account, deleting and restarting accounts but often times apps realize what is going on and will penalize users even more for trying to cheat the system. Needless to say this can lead down a dark path where users don’t get likes, get deprioritized by others and never end up getting dates through the app – DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU

While it’s good to get feedback from others on your profile, it can actually hurt you. Friends tend to be less direct when it comes to something personal like this. Also, if you ask attractive friends or more social friends for help, they might have an advantage that you don’t (have more wiggle room to get away with mistakes, red flags or cringeworthy taboos). 

While premium memberships and preferred memberships can be tempting, I view those services similarly to annoying paid ads. In the long-run it is much better to work on yourself (appearance, health, career, hobbies, social circles, wardrobe, photos) rather than pay for a dopamine hit.

Before you decide to tip your toes in the online dating waters, check out this FAQ to help you understand what to expect and how to get started on your dating profile. https://eddie-hernandez.com/online-dating-frequently-asked-questions/ 

For other tips about Hinge, Bumble, poses, swiping, poses, prompts, bios, photo selection and more, check out my blog for more helpful advice: https://eddie-hernandez.com/blog/