While checking someone out at a bar is no different from swiping right on them, the latter can feel pretty soul-sucking and futile when you're getting no good bites.
For something that's supposed to be so straightforward, getting more matches on apps like Tinder can be tough. There's pressure to stand out, but not be too over-the-top; to look your best, but not through filters that don't exactly look like you.
It's hard! Luckily, there are a few hacks to keep in mind so that striking this balance gets easier... and that's when the right swipes will really start rolling in. Here are seven ways to get more matches on Tinder, and why they work.
LEAD WITH A BRIGHT COLOR.
According to Tinder's own stats, 72 percent of users wear a neutral color (such as black, navy, beige, or white) in their first photo. Even if you're a summer goth whose closet is organized by black-black, bluish-black, and charcoal, dig up that one red dress you bought a while back, or find a photo of you against a background that pops.
"Our eyes begin to glaze over when they're overly-exposed to the same kind of stimuli," says Dr. Darcy Sterling, LCSW, aka Dr. Darcy on E!’s Famously Single. "It's just about catching somebody's attention. We know that people are inundated with options, so the important aspect here is to just do something unique."
For men specifically, Tinder reports that only 22 percent wear suits (which is weird, because suits usually look great on everyone). Find a photo of you looking good at a wedding and you're set!
LOOK RIGHT INTO THE CAMERA (BUT NOT LIKE A SERIAL KILLER).
Tinder says that people who "face forward" in photos are 20 percent more likely to be swiped right on, but that doesn't mean you have to full-on stare down the camera. It just means that it's better to make "eye contact" with the viewer over choosing an artsy photo where you only show your profile.
"We want to know that you're willing to be vulnerable, and show your face," says Dr. Darcy. "When we go to meet up with you, we want to be able to recognize you. If we can't see your face, that really increases the likelihood of a terribly awkward moment."
DON'T COVER YOURSELF UP.
Similar to looking away from the camera, wearing sunglasses or a hat can reduce your swipe rate by 15 and 12 percent (respectively), according to Tinder.
"It doesn't bode well for a willingness to lean into vulnerability," says Dr. Darcy. She explains that while people won't actively assume you're hiding something, they subconsciously might swipe left because they don't know what you look like for sure.
"I think, at the end of the day, particularly with women, we just want to confirm that you have a soul and that we can see into it," she adds.
SKIP THE SULTRY GAZE AND SMILE INSTEAD.
While it can feel instinctive to go for a sexy pout over a toothy grin on a dating app, Tinder reports that smiling ups your chances of a match by 14 percent.
"Nobody wants to be rejected, and somebody who smiles looks more approachable," says Dr. Darcy. "They look more comfortable in their own skin; they look more welcoming."
While again, this is all subconscious, it actually makes a lot of sense–a handsome but serious-looking guy can make you feel like he'll be a judgy jerk once you actually get to talking. Always lead with looking posi just to be safe!
SHOW OFF MORE THAN JUST YOUR BOMB SELFIES.
A whopping 81 percent of users have at least four pics of themselves, which means that if you don't, you're already putting yourself at a disadvantage by not having more photos. But beyond that, it's also important to make sure they're not just four different selfies.
"People want to know what to expect of you," says Dr. Darcy. "It's about taking a risk and really showing people the best version of what they're going to get when they meet you." She suggests posting a selfie, a full-body shot, and then a few photos of you doing activities you love.
And if you don't happen to have any cute photos of you biking through the park because you're always at work or tend to be more introverted, just grab a cute n' cozy shot of you at home.
OPEN WITH A GIF.
Once you actually match, you still have the task of standing out from all the skull-numbingly boring "Hi" and "How was your weekend" openers. Weirdly, sending a GIF right off the bat is 30 percent more likely to get you a reply, which is surprising!
"The person sending the GIF is taking a risk–they're relying on an implied understanding of the meaning without really knowing who the other person is," says Dr. Darcy. But you can minimize the risk by basing your GIF choice off of their profile. For example, if they love Brooklyn Nine-Nine, send them a funny quote from the show.
And if you reaaaaally want an A+ for effort, Dr. Darcy recommends using a GIF of yourself doing something silly or funny. It's an even bigger risk, but you will absolutely stand out, and—to the right person—make a great first impression.
ACTUALLY SPEND TIME ON YOUR BIO (AND YOUR MESSAGES).
This wasn't included in Tinder stats because you can't measure what everyone will love in a bio, but the key thing is that you took time to make it your own. According to Dr. Darcy, that means avoiding typos or vague, cliché lines such as "looking for my partner in crime to go on adventures with!"
This also applies to when you actually talk to your matches, says Darcy. No one wants to feel like they're being fed the exact same pickup line as everyone else, even if you're only looking to hook up. If you wouldn't come up to five people in a bar and ask "WYD?", don't do it on Tinder either! Spend two minutes on their profile, find a tailored question to ask them, and BOOM, you're good.
AND LAST BUT NOT THE LEAST...
Be yourself as much as possible. While these hacks are universal, they're mostly all tied to being vulnerable and down to take a chance on someone: Two things that are important for actually dating IRL.
"You have to show yourself, and many people are afraid to do that," says Dr. Darcy. "Nobody wants to make a mistake, so everyone winds up sanitizing themselves."
Lead with what you're comfortable with. If you're not usually one to crack jokes until you truly know someone, don't opt for snark just to seem cool. Be your best, realest, most respectful self, and finding people who are into you won't be a problem at all.
Follow Julia on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.