I have a Fifth Amendment theory regarding Tinder: anything you put in in your “About Me” can and will be used against you. Your inspirational quote, your oh-so-clever joke about saying we met at Whole Foods, and especially your height are all potential disqualifiers. Tinder is a judgment-based app, so why offer all those left-swiping judges incriminating evidence?
No one has ever made a funny joke or brought anything new to the table or even said anything mildly interesting in their “About Me.” There are precisely five categories of information expressed in “About Me” sections:
1. Where you’re from.
2. What you do.
3. What you like.
4. How tall you are.
5. A forced attempt to convey personality.
Categories 1, 2, and 3 should be saved for a first date, or, at the very least, a chat after you’ve matched. If you’re meeting a stranger, these are the things you talk about. One of the best pieces of guidance I ever received as a writer is “do not reveal information before it’s necessary,” and this applies to dating as well. Tinder is entirely based on snap-judgment matching. If what you do and what you like is unappealing and comes with cultural baggage (for example, I always swipe left on women who are into musical theater, because I’m prejudiced), you are setting yourself up to be judged on what you do rather than who you are.
As for category 4, height doesn’t matter to straight men, who will date an attractive woman no matter what. For women and gay men, a man’s “About Me” height tells nothing, because there’s no incentive for a man to be honest. A short man will be swiped past, so he adds a few inches. Then when he shows up on the first date, everyone knows he’s a liar. If a tall guy shows off his height, then he’s just an arrogant show-off.
Category 5 is boring. Don’t be boring.
The common denominator here is that these are all pieces of information that are under your control, and by divulging them too early you lose control over them. You have no say in how your favorite inspirational quote is perceived. There’s no way to accurately convey your personality in the 500 characters allowed, either positively or negatively. Your inspirational quote may be dumb, but you’re kind. That should emerge during a conversation, not before a conversation ever starts or creating a left swipe that keeps a conversation from ever happening.
The most important thing on Tinder is to let the pictures speak for themselves. I’ve never heard of anyone saying, “He looked bad in his pictures, but his one-liner followed by the string of emojis convinced me to give him a shot.” Your Tinder photos give a better indication of what you’re like than your words ever could. The way you dress, the places you’re photographed, your shirtless mirror selfie, these things have a million pounds more weight than “I’m looking for my Tinderella.” I can spot a theater kid face before I read “Pace University Musical Theater ’13.”
The pictures are the only things that matter. That’s why the only exception to leaving your “About Me” blank is a link your Instagram. Visual attraction first, mental later. Let someone find out how boring you are once they already know you’re cute and capable of holding a conversation. You have the right to remain silent. Use it.