10 Rules for Ladies to Win at Tinder

The end game isn’t necessarily to get a kind, loving boyfriend.

Tinder doesn’t have to be about finding someone to put a ring on your finger. For many, of course, this is the reason for trying this popular, online dating app. I once found a boyfriend on Tinder, and he deleted the app even before I did. He called me the love of his life. Unfortunately, like all of my romantic relationships to the present moment, it ended. It wasn’t quite a year before I threw a set of keys on his lap on a crowded street in Melbourne and walked away, never looking back. Neither of us won there.

By the time I reinstalled Tinder, I was a lot wiser. I realized dating can – and should — simply be a way to have a nice conversation with a nice person (and maybe, eventually, more). I now win at Tinder all the time, and you can too.

The trick for ladies to have success at online dating is to have a clear vision of what they want and, even more so, what they don’t. You have to create your own set of rules for what you expect from someone with whom you’re willing to spend your precious time. This doesn’t mean the man loses. Quite the opposite! Dating should be a win-win for all involved.

Old-School Tinder Nightmares

I first heard of Tinder from a friend about eight years ago. We were tennis buddies in Florida, meeting weekly for a game. In between her wicked, left-handed cross-court slices and my consistent serves and “A for effort,” we’d chat about guys and work and life. One day, she told me about this new app and convinced me to download it. Instantly, a strange man’s picture appeared.

“Just swipe left if you don’t like him, or swipe right if you do,” she said.

I froze. How was I supposed to know if I liked this guy? I didn’t know anything about him. He didn’t fill out his bio. He was wearing sunglasses in his photo. I didn’t want to swipe. I didn’t want to play this game. In fact, I stayed offline for years, instead fatefully stumbling into the paths of handsome men who would shape my life in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined.

That’s how I ended up, three years ago, living alone in Christchurch, New Zealand. One day, I was searching the Couchsurfing app, looking for a place to stay once my housesitting gig was finished. A random man asked to “hang out,” as is an option on the app. I’ve gone to meet-ups through the app before, and they were usually filled with adventurous travelers. I agreed to “hang out,” and I passed along my WhatsApp number. It took absolutely no time before this man was sending me pictures of his erect penis. This is what ladies know all too well: the infamous “dick pic.” Disgusted, I blocked him. Then I thought, well, how bad could Tinder be. At least I won’t see dick pics.

So, I downloaded the app, and soon my calendar was filled for the foreseeable future. Men were showing me around town, taking me to dinner and making me laugh over drinks. It was wonderful! But there were also some duds. Some dates felt like a complete waste of time. It took a while before I learned, really, how to win at Tinder. It’s important to remember that Tinder is a game.

Keep in mind, I don’t take matters of the heart too lightly. Dating is the important precursor to love. I’m in no way scared of intimacy and yet love being alone. I spent a lot of time living my best life. I’m happily single and also completely open to finding the love of my life tomorrow. In fact, that would be fantastic … I certainly have not found him yet.

But I have so many female friends suffering from “swipe fatigue.” Their chat history resembles the hilarious Instagram account “Tinder Nightmares,” with dudes looking only to hook up in the cheapest of ways. Many girlfriends I know put a lot of hope in men who can’t muster the courage to ask a woman to coffee. These ladies start to connect their own concepts of self-worth to men they do or do not match with on Tinder. Dating stops being fun and starts to feel like work. My beautiful, single, female friends start to wonder if they’ll ever find love again.

To me, winning at Tinder simply means that I am enjoying the experience. As a full-time, international traveler, I have plenty of interesting and fun dates in cities throughout the world. I never waste any time on guys who aren’t intelligent, creative or willing to share stories, local knowledge and insights into life. More often than not, the date will end with a kiss on the cheek and a promise of friendship. I’m not interested in being too physical too quickly. You must be smart to avoid those who wish to objectify you. But there are ways to do this. To win at Tinder, you must:

Develop Your Swiping Rules

It’s easy to forget when your heart is potentially on the line, but Tinder is a game. It’s an app on your phone. My tennis buddy had it right: Just swipe. That doesn’t make the decision-making process simple. It’s as if you must become a psychologist and a psychic. You must know how to read between the lines and into the photos to know if could relate to this stranger. Some guys just swipe right on everyone. Me, I have standards, and I imagine most women do, too.

To make the game of Tinder easier, I have developed my own set of rules. Does this mean I may have swiped left on the man of my dreams, simply because he didn’t pass this arbitrary muster? I’m willing to take that risk. For the ladies, these rules may or may not apply to you. Use them as inspiration so that you, too, can win at Tinder.

· Rule #1: A man must write something — ANYTHING — in his bio. He doesn’t need to be Hemingway, although I do have a penchant for six-toed cats. If he’s so lazy that he spells “your” as ‘ur,” we’re probably not going to get along.

· Rule #2: He must smile in his photos. No furrowed brow. If he’s not a happy person — or at least if he has no interest in portraying himself as a happy person — again, I’ll pass. Also, no middle finger up for the camera. I also don’t want to see any of his friends in group shots telling me to f*ck off. I find that unsavory. If men judge me as uptight because of this, that’s fine by me. Keep on swiping, friend.

· Rule #3: And while on the topic of photos, I don’t want to spend too much time figuring out which one he is in a group of friends. Some of these profiles are like those “Where’s Waldo” books. Oh, there’s Jason, in the back with the cap, sunglasses and the beard. There went 60 seconds of my life I’ll never get back. However, if he’s clever enough to post a group photo at the beach so I can check out his abs (but not his ego, like so many photos of men at the gym), he’ll get points.

· Rule #4: I also don’t want my date to be a walking cliché. I’m not a big fan of that Millennial male haircut — you know, the one where they shave in the part and it’s a little longer on one side? That’s just me. That haircut makes me feel like I’m supposed to spend time a lot of time on my eyebrows, and I just have too much going on for that. Also, I think superhero t-shirts aren’t cool. I prefer the understated styling of Clark Kent over Superman’s unitard, if you catch my drift.

· Rule #5: Also, at least one photo must be the man looking directly into the camera without sunglasses. I don’t have time for guys who don’t have to confidence to look me in the eye, either in person or in a photo. And while we’re at it, no holding up dead things (I’m a vegetarian and am not impressed with that fish or deer you killed) and certainly no shirtless selfie in the bathroom. Does a picture include his toilet in the corner of the mirror? Just, no.

· Rule #6: He must be in the right age range, and he must live close by. Ladies, here’s a fast fact: Men come out of the incubator at age 25. If you are a grown woman, you should spend your time with men who know how to treat a lady. This usually (but not always) comes with a bit of maturity. Also, I know that some people pay for Tinder, thus allowing them to search far and wide for connections. I’m not particularly interested in a long-distance chatty relationship. If he’s not living in the city where I am currently, his profile is exiting stage left.

And, hey, that’s the just the beginning. Why? Because like in real life dating, women have the upper-hand in Tinder. You know the story. Any woman can walk into a bar and walk out with a guy, if she wants. That’s not quite the case with any guy. So, if the man passes all of these little tests, that’s just the start. Then I’ll check him out. Is he attractive to me? Is there any sort of possibility that we might be compatible intellectually, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and sexually? I’m nomadic ­– is he? If I get a good feeling, I’ll swipe right.

Know How to Chat

The swipe is just phase one. If he can pass the next hurdles, I win — and, hopefully, he does too.

· Rule #7: He must message me first. I know, I know. I’m a powerful female — I even advertise this right in my Tinder bio! But even some feminists like the man to make the first move. On Tinder, like with so many starts to relationships of any kind, effort is rewarded. It’s nice to get a compliment or even a note that suggests that he has read my bio or looked at my photos. If he writes me, I’ll write him back. Let’s see where it goes.

· Rule #8: He can never ask, “So, what are you looking for on Tinder?” This, for the uninitiated, for some unknown reason is shorthand for “Let’s hook up.” At first, I used to answer truthfully. I was looking for someone to enjoy a cocktail with, share a laugh, who knows. But every time — and I mean EVERY TIME — the guy turns the conversation to sex and makes it clear that he’s only on Tinder to objectify women.

Here’s the thing, guys. It’s really not that hard to get a woman to go to bed with you. But it usually involves sharing a conversation over dinner, opening a door for her, maybe a walk in the park or a few compliments. Women love to hear things like, “Oh, tell me more about that!” No woman is interested in cutting to the chase when it comes to sex. Like the deed itself, she wants you to take your time. She wants to connect on some level first. If the guy is on Tinder because “it’s a hook up app,” then for Pete’s sake, they should learn how to do it successfully.

· Rule #9: That all being said, he must actually propose a meeting. I like going on real dates. There doesn’t have to be money involved. I’m not angling for free drinks; I can buy my own. As Lizzo sings, “If you’re by yourself, then go and buy yourself another round from the bottle on the higher shelf.”

Now, I’m really winning at Tinder when a man proposes we do something together that sounds like a lot of fun. I love hiking, going to museums, seeing parts of town I’ve never been to, going to the beach, drinking interesting cocktails or coffees, listening to comedy or poetry or live music, learning the bachata and a million other things. I want a man to surprise me with his creativity! And if he doesn’t, well, he shouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t hear back.

· Rule #10: No going off the Tinder platform until we meet. If a guy wants to jump to a picture-sharing site soon, I know what’s up. I have had my quota of dick pics in this lifetime, thanks.

Now, this seems like a lot. And it is. Why? Because I absolutely love myself. And anybody who puts themselves out in the dating world should as well. Dating isn’t about finding someone to complete you. The healthiest dating “wins” are when you find someone whose company you enjoy and who supports you as you evolve into your best self. Winning at love means laughing and smiling a lot — maybe for the rest of your life. A man needs to impress me — just as I need to impress him.

I’m up for the challenge and am ready to win. Are you? And most importantly, is he?




Suzanne Wentley is a professional writer, full-time traveler, yoga teacher, energy worker and believer in you. Check out www.thelovelightproject.com

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Suzanne Wentley

Suzanne Wentley

Suzanne Wentley is a professional writer, full-time traveler, yoga teacher, energy worker and believer in you. Check out www.thelovelightproject.com

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