You might have noticed that guys who use dating apps and websites get rather a bad press. Women frequently complain that the large majority of the men they come across are rude, disrespectful, crass and obnoxious. Cries of ‘Where have all the decent men gone?’ and ‘Why are the good ones always taken?” echo round bars, workplaces, gyms, coffee shops and anywhere else single women hang out. ‘Dating is broken,’ we say. ‘The Internet has killed romance and we are barreling headfirst into a Bumble-pocalypse!’
Of course, it’s not ALL men — so if you read this, and can’t relate to any of it, then well done you! And of course it’s also not just men: women can be pretty bad too — or so I’ve heard. But I’ve never dated a woman, so I’m afraid I can’t comment on their behaviour. And what I DO know is that, as a 38-year-old straight woman who has been online dating on and off for the last 13 years, and who has been permanently single for at least the last two, I’ve definitely seen some pretty appalling behaviour from guys: the rude comments, the obscene photos, the ghosting, the lack of respect and common decency.
But remarkably, I still have faith. I still believe there are decent single guys out there — and the reason I believe this is because I’ve even met some of them. They do exist!
Yet in spite of this, the terrible behaviour continues to reverberate around the Tindersphere. Why? Sure, it’s partly because many of the guys out there are dicks, and nothing is going to change that. But I also firmly believe that it’s also because lots of men simply have no idea how to behave. They haven’t even considered what effect their actions are having on women, or how changing their behaviour might not only make the dating world a nicer place for everyone, it may even make them more likely to get what they want. They just carry on doing the same old crappy things, because it’s what their mates do, and no one has told them any different.
Well I’m on a mission to change that. So if you’re a guy who wants to be more successful in your online dating quest AND not be a dick in the process, here’s what to do…
ON DATING SITES
So you’ve decided to sign up to a dating site or app. How do you get started?
1. Write a good profile
You simply would not believe the number of appalling profiles I swipe left on, on a daily basis. Crotch shots, topless shots, and bathroom mirror selfies. Bios that mention sex, or are badly spelled, or even worse, have nothing written in them at all! Seriously guys, if you want a woman to take an interest in you, put in a bit of effort!
Here’s a fact you may not know: almost every single woman I interact with on Twitter says she automatically swipes left on profiles where the guy hasn’t written anything. These guys come across as lazy and disinterested, and unlikely to put any effort in at all when it comes to actual dating. So if you want to get more matches, write something interesting about yourself, use all the characters (and not just with a string of emojis or a crass sexual reference), and then run it though a chuffing spell checker! Even better, get a female friend to read it for you.
As for photos: choose a couple of nice ones that show (1) your face close up (and SMILE!), and (2) your whole body (with clothes on). Include one or two more that show your interests and activities. If you don’t have many photos, ask a mate to take a couple next time you’re in the pub or out doing an activity. Everyone has a decent camera in their phone these days, so there really is no excuse for rubbish photos.
2. Only swipe right on girls you are actually interested in
Many guys seem to use a method known as ‘power-swiping’: swiping right on literally everyone, and then assessing the girls’ profiles once they’ve got a match. This may be efficient but it is, I’m afraid to inform you, a Dick Move.
You see, the majority of girls don’t do this. Most look at profiles, and only swipe right on the ones they like the look of — and the reason they do this is to avoid unwanted attention from creeps and weirdos. So imagine you’re a girl, and you get a match with a guy you thought seemed cute. You’re excited. But then he immediately unmatches. Or maybe you send him a message and he ignores it. And you’re thinking “What did I do? Was my message not good enough? Did something in my profile put him off?” And this happens ALL THE TIME. Imagine how soul destroying that is. Imagine how weary it makes women of online dating. No wonder we’re all jaded and pissed off!
3. Be single and available
It’s amazing how many men seem to break this simple rule. If you have a wife, or a girlfriend, DO NOT GO ON DATING SITES! Unless, that is, you’re in an open relationship, you have agreed it with your partner first, and you make it clear on your profile.
If you are bored, or need an ego boost, and have no intention of actually going on any dates, then find another hobby. Take up sport, take up knitting, I don’t care. Just find something else to do with your time that doesn’t waste other people’s.
And if you are single, but you only broke up with your wife last week, or you are still pining over your ex-girlfriend, maybe take a break for a bit, sort your head out first, and then come back when you’re ready.
Right! You’ve got a match, with someone you genuinely think seems nice. Well done! Now what?
4. Message first
Well obviously it’s not rocket science — you chat! And unless it’s Bumble, where you have to wait for the girl to message you, text her first. These days everyone seems to be playing some sort of childish game of chicken where whoever messages first LOSES, so we’re all matching all the time, and then no one messages each other, and after a couple of days you think ‘well screw them’ and move on to another one. But the chances are she’s not going to message you first because she’s already wasted too many well-thought-out first messages on guys who never reply. She’s waiting to see if you’re genuinely interested. So if you are, let her know!
5. Be interested
Once you’ve got going, consider chatting as like a game of tennis. It’s your job to hit the ball back in a timely and interesting manner. None of this wait-three-days game-playing bullshit. And for the record, ‘Yep’, ‘OK’ or ‘Haha’ are NOT sufficient replies. You can do better! Read her profile, look at her photos, and ask her questions about herself and her interests. Offer up insights into yours too, to give her something to ask you about. You can’t expect a chat to develop into something good if all it consists of is ‘How was your weekend’ and ‘What have you got planned this week’ interspersed with three-day silences. Try harder.
6. Don’t brag
I know it might seem as though you should be trying to sell yourself, but trust me, most women — at least, the ones who are ‘keepers’ — are not really that interested in how rich or successful you are. Yes, ultimately they might be looking for a man who has a job, is ambitious, and isn’t going to sit in his pants playing video games all day while his girlfriend runs his life for him — but finding that out can come later. Right now, what she mostly wants to know is: are you a nice guy, and would you be fun on a date? If all you do is talk about yourself, and how amazing you are, you will immediately come across as a narcissistic, smug, self-absorbed idiot. And no one wants to date THAT GUY. So by all means tell her a bit about yourself, but be humble. And most importantly, be interested in her too.
7. Especially don’t brag about your sexual prowess
It’s astounding how many men are under the ridiculous delusion that boasting about what previous partners have said about them will impress a potential date. I’ve heard more tales than I can count of guys who either quote ex-girlfriends on their dating profiles, or worse, screenshot explicit sexting conversations and post them as photos. I even once heard of a guy who sent a girl a picture of his penis with someone else’s lips round the top of it — I kid you not.
Now I can understand why you might think quoting that other girl saying ‘I wanna feel your amazing tongue again’, or some other delightful words of endearment, might be good advertising. After all, we all want to know that the merchandise we are browsing online is going to be good quality and fit for purpose. But seriously, gents, this is not eBay or a used car dealership. We do not need to be reminded that you are second — or fiftieth — hand, and we absolutely, 100%, do not need to read reviews from previous owners. Quite frankly, it comes across as totally pervy and sleazy and is almost guaranteed to result in you being left-swiped or blocked faster than you can say ‘sit on my face’.
8. And for the love of God, DON’T SEND DICK PICS!
This really should go without saying, but don’t send photos of your penis — or of any other part of your anatomy for that matter. It still amazes me how many guys do this. But in the name of all that is good and holy, WHY?! I’ve spoken to many, many single women, and I can confirm that not a single one wants to receive a photo of a penis from a man she has never met. Not one! Guys, surely you know this by now — surely the message must have filtered through! So why do you keep doing it? PLEASE STOP, JUST STOP.
9. In fact don’t mention sex AT ALL before you meet
Something I’ve noticed about the men who I encounter on dating apps is that a lot of them are not looking for a relationship — they just want sex. Which is absolutely fine, of course, and it’s great that they are being open and upfront about what they want. But here’s a tip, because I am trying to help you guys out here. If you ask a woman for sex before you’ve even met her, it makes her feel like a prostitute. It gives the very real (and probably accurate) impression that you don’t care about her, you’re not interested in her as a person, and that ‘any hole is a goal’, as they so charmingly say.
Now that, my friends, is the fastest way there is to turn a woman off you completely. While there are probably plenty of girls out there who are happy to have (or may even be actively looking for) casual sex, no woman wants to be made to feel like she is just part of a transaction. She wants to be flirted with and charmed into bed, and she most certainly does not want to agree to have sex with a man she has never met. You could be anyone! A weirdo, a stalker, a rapist, someone who doesn’t wash, someone with horrifying amounts of back hair… she’s just not going to agree to sex with you until she has looked you in the eye and checked to see if she is attracted to you in person.
So save yourself the risk of rejection and don’t mention sex until you’ve met. And then, wait a while longer — and instead, maybe get to know her a little first! It’s definitely a great idea to be upfront about your intentions, but before you get to that point, why not try charming her a little bit? Make an effort, flirt, be cute and funny, be interested in her, make her feel like you actually like her as more than just a sex toy. Let me tell you, doing that is a much more reliable way to make her want to sleep with you than sending her an aubergine and a tongue emoji three seconds after matching.
A final caveat on this though: don’t take the charming thing too far if all you want is a shag. What I mean is, don’t pretend you are looking for a relationship and then dump her as soon as she’s slept with you. That’s a really terrible move. And I know you are better than that.
You’ve managed not to mess it up so far, you haven’t mentioned sex at all, and she’s agreed to a date. Well done! Now let’s talk about how you should behave.
10. Choose a venue
I know it’s the 21st century, and we’re all about equality, but girls do like it when the guy suggests a venue for the first date. It indicates that he’s making an effort, and that he’s organized enough to come up with a simple plan. And don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of opportunities for her to pick somewhere on later dates, if you get that far!
But don’t just choose somewhere that suits you — ask her what she’d like to do and then take that into consideration. I went on a date recently with a guy who got bonus points for suggesting a nice bar, but then promptly lost them again once I realized the bar in question was super convenient for him, and a massive pain for me to get to. He never even asked where I was coming from or where might be handy for me; it was all about what suited him best. Needless to say, this was a pretty good indicator of all sorts of other feckless behaviour, and there won’t be a second date.
11. Turn the hell up!
I went on a date a few months ago with a guy from Tinder. On the day of the date I washed my hair, chose a nice outfit, and planned my day around the meeting. But just five minutes before we were due to meet, as I got off the tube near the pub, I received a text saying he had to cancel ‘due to a work crisis’. Another guy ditched me at 4 pm on the day of the date because, and I quote, he had ‘got out of work early and didn’t want to be hanging around’. In London. Where there are a bajillion ways to kill a couple of hours.
Seriously, guys, this is Not Cool. Unless you have a real emergency, or you are genuinely ill, if you’ve made a commitment to another person, you keep it! Just like I did, these ladies will have turned down other plans, made an effort with their appearance, and planned their day around the date. Cancelling on them at the last minute just because you can’t be bothered on the day is just downright rude and inconsiderate to the real human being with whom you’ve made a plan. If you’re not that bothered about them, don’t agree to a date! And if you’ve agreed to a date, then go! You don’t have to stay for long if it’s not working out, but at least you gave them a chance. And you never know, you might be pleasantly surprised!
12. Make an effort
This probably goes without saying, but this is a date! You’re trying to impress! So have a wash, dress up a little, maybe add a dab of fragrance (but not too much!). This is a bit of a generalization and depends on personal style, but I’d say you can’t go wrong with either a suit (if you work in an office and have come straight from there), or a pair of clean trousers, a shirt with a collar (not a t-shirt) and proper shoes (not trainers). And don’t forget your socks! What is it with men who don’t wear socks? How sweaty must your feet be… gross!
Ladies don’t like waiting alone in bars where they may well be hit on by creepy guys. We also sit there worried that we’re going to be stood up. So if you want to get off on the right foot, get there 5 minutes early, find a place to sit, and send a friendly text letting her know you’re there and where in the bar to find you. It’ll reassure her and help make her feel more comfortable. And comfortable is good.
13. Be kind and considerate
Whether you are looking for just a quick shag, or a relationship, I cannot stress this point highly enough when it comes to being a Good Man while dating. Take it from me, you could be Ryan Gosling in the looks department, but that pretty face will only get you so far if your behaviour doesn’t match up. And equally, if you’re not the handsomest kid on the block, don’t worry. A bit of simple courtesy and a sense of humour go an awfully long way towards redressing the balance.
I recently went on a date with a very good-looking guy who sent me a text afterwards asking if I would like to have sex with him. And I probably would have done it too (it’d been a while and he was HOT), except for the fact that he was a first-class a-hole who stood me up twice before we finally managed to meet and then talked about himself all night. I don’t care how hot you are, if you’re a terrible person I am not going to want to sleep with you. Sex is about far more than just the physical act of penetration, it’s about spending some time naked and vulnerable with another person, and for that to be enjoyable, you need to be comfortable in their company. So if you want a woman to want to spend time with you, in whatever capacity that might be, be the kind of guy she might actually want to hang out with.
What does that mean exactly? It ought not to be rocket science… just be kind! Not just to her but also to the people around you (other people in the pub, the bar staff, taxi drivers, whoever). Pay her a compliment or two (but make it a genuine, non-sexual one, or she’ll see right though you). I’ve said this already, but don’t just talk about yourself, take an interest in her too. Be light-hearted, make jokes, don’t be too serious. This is only the first date, there is plenty of time for serious talk later on. For now, you are getting to know each other, and the ultimate goal is just to have a good time.
AFTER THE DATE
So the date happened — and either it went well or it didn’t. Now what?
14. Text her
If you had a nice time, and you’d like to see her again, then tell her. A quick text either on your way home, or the next morning, is all it takes. It’s charming and cute, and she’ll like you more for it. And if you’d like to see her again, just say so and arrange another date! We’re all busy people, we all like to know where we stand, so don’t waste time with more random texting back and forth — just cut to the chase. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve nearly died of frustration after a good date because the guy just starts texting random banter and I don’t know where it’s going. Obviously I reply, and the banter tennis carries on, but I’m sitting there thinking ‘What’s going on? Are we having a second date or not? If not, why is he still texting me? And if yes, the why the hell doesn’t he just ask so we can put a date in the diary?!’
Please, lads, put the girl out of her misery and let her know.
15. Do not ghost
This is the big one. You should all know what ghosting is by now — it’s where you just stop replying to messages and vanish off the face of the earth. It happens a lot, and it is, without question the number one most awful thing about the way people behave in the dating world. Worse than dick pics, worse than sexting, worse than poor spelling and grammar.
To disappear without a word is just the rudest and most inconsiderate thing you can do. It can send the other person into a spiral of confusion and insecurity that is WAY worse than the little sting of a rejection by someone you’ve only known for a five minutes: Did I do something wrong? Is he ghosting me or did he get knocked down by a bus? I wasn’t all that bothered about him either but why the hell is he ignoring me?!
And if Hell exists, there is probably a special place reserved for the type of horrible people who do this. So DON’T, unless you want to burn in the fiery pits for all eternity.
If you have decided you are not interested in the girl, then TELL HER. It takes no time, costs nothing, and is really easy to do. Lie if necessary. Look, I’ll even give you a few options so you can cut and paste for next time:
– It was great to meet you, but I don’t think we are compatible. I’m sorry and good luck in your search.
– Hey, hope you had a good evening. Just wanted to say I thought you were lovely but not the right one for me, hope there are no hard feelings.
– I’m sorry, but I don’t feel this conversation is going anywhere and I think I’m going to take a break from dating for a while / I’m going to focus on other conversations that have started / I don’t think we’d be a good match. Sorry and best wishes.
And if you are not sure about her, just tell her that too. I get the impression many guys ghost because they’re not that fussed about the girl, but they don’t want to close the door completely in case they change their minds later. Well trust me, if you don’t like her that much now, she’s not suddenly going to grow on you after weeks of no conversation. So do everyone a favour and release her back into the wild so she can find someone who is more interested.
There! Not so hard, right? No excuses now, fellas.
We ladies often complain that common decency and respect have been lost in the dating jungle. It may sound like whining, but we wouldn’t say it if we hadn’t been repeatedly ground down and demoralized by all the crap that goes on in the dating world. But all of it, the terrible profiles and the dick pics, the sexting and the ghosting, the serial swiping and the getting stood up, all of it, would be eliminated in one fell swoop if guys would just behave like normal, considerate, respectful, decent human beings.
Please try to remember that the person on the other end of the app is not just a photo, or a number: she’s a real, flesh-and-blood human being with hopes, dreams, and desires, and your actions and interactions do have an effect on her. And we all know the dating game sucks, so it would just be really, really lovely if everyone would try a little bit harder to make the dating sphere a nicer place to inhabit.
But there is good news too for all you Good Men out there: as a result of all this rubbish that we have to deal with, the bar is now set very low. If you are just a decent guy, who responds promptly to messages, turns up on time, and doesn’t send photos of his penis, you are already a king amongst men!
So if you only remember one piece of advice from this article, make it this one:
Before you say anything, think: Would I say this in front of my mum, or my boss? Before you act, think: would I want some guy treating my sister or my best girl mate this way? If the answer is no, DON’T DO IT.
And on behalf of all the single ladies out here, thank you.