Please welcome today’s guest writer, Erin Haagsma. Erin Haagsma graduated from Calvin College in 2018 with a BA in Linguistics and minors in Spanish and philosophy. She lives in Washington, D.C. where she is a fellow at at Sojourners and lives in intentional community with 7 cool people. Nothing brings her more joy than stumbling upon a cat on the sidewalk, geeking out about language and such, spending time with her favorite people, and being outside on a spring or fall day.

Using dating apps for the first time can be intimidating. The road between creating your profile and landing that first date can seem untraversable, with so many variables and opportunities to screw up. I’m here to help. Here is your guide to not being the worst on dating apps.

To begin, let’s take a look at your photos. Choose photos in which I can see your face and your smile. Avoid gym selfies, group photos where I can’t tell which one you are, and photos of something other than you (your dog, your cat, your car, etc.) Try to avoid the classic signs of douchebaggery: bro tanks, fraternity group pics in which you are pointing stupidly at your bros, giant fish, American flags (especially if you’re wearing it), and shirtlessness. (Do understand that simply avoiding these signs does not exempt you from douchebaggery: there are many ways to be a douche!) Finally, before posting a mirror selfie, ask yourself a question: are you in middle school? If not, don’t post the mirror selfie. If so, get off the app.

Now, the bio. You may be thinking, Seriously? I just did all of that work of finding good photos, and now I need a bio, too? I know, this really is asking a lot of you. But unfortunately, if you don’t have anything in your bio, I’m going to assume you’re lazy, or worse, arrogant (you might be pretty, dude, but so am I.) Your bio doesn’t have to be long or complicated, just enough to pique curiosity and prompt conversation.

But there are some very tired tropes you should stay away from. For example, you might think it’s a good idea to mention The Office, but it is not. Every other person on this app and their mother loves The Office. Do not tell me you’re just a Jim looking for his Pam. My name is Erin. Move along. You also might think it’s a good idea to let me know that you can reach the top shelf and kill spiders for me. It’s not. I can do that myself, thank you.

Don’t include your Snapchat name (too creepy) or your Instagram handle (too narcissistic) in your bio. I’m not on this app to inflate your social media profile or prop up your ego. And while dogs, traveling, tacos, and sarcasm are truly wonderful things, they’re also listed on every other profile, so if you’re striving for originality, I’d recommend finding something else to talk about.

You’ve set up your profile, started swiping and matching, and now comes the hard part: sending that first message. If you’ve chosen to use Bumble (where the woman has to message first,) you’ve dodged this bullet. However, on apps like Tinder and Hinge, you may be the one to make the first move. So, if you decide to message me first, do not say “Hey”. Do not say “heyyyy :)”. Do not say “Hey!” Come up with something that prompts conversation so I don’t have to do all the work. If “hey” or one of its variations is the best you can do, don’t bother.

So then maybe you’re thinking of trying something like “How’s your day been?” or “What are you up to?” Another option would be to not do that, since I DON’T KNOW YOU so I’m not interested in gifting you with all of the details of my beautiful life just yet. Using more words does not equal putting in more effort. Show that you’re genuinely interested in getting to know me.

Perhaps most importantly, don’t ask me out right away. Do some work first. Did you know that most women take lots of precautions before going on a first date, such as making sure someone knows where they are, meeting in a public place, and having an excuse ready to go in case they need to get out of there? Why, you ask? Because there are so many creepy, violent men in the world. We’re hoping you’re not one of them. Earn some trust before shooting your shot.

A relationship with a thriving, emotionally aware, self-loving woman is a gift that you are not owed. Many men are kind and attentive, initiate conversation, share their emotions, and go out of their way to serve when they like someone—they’ll put in the effort if they think they can get something out of it (i.e. the girl). Show me that you are that man all the time, that you care for and respect all women for their inherent worth. If you’re not there yet, get off the app, do some work, and come back when you’re ready.

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