We’re revisiting this classic Autostraddle piece on queer dating as we get back to dating basics in partnership with HER’s Queer Dating 101, a series of live edutainment events that brings in concrete how-tos, insights, experts and some of your favorite Autostraddle personalities to help you find love (or whatever you’re looking for) in the time of corona. Check out the first event, the Dating Preparedness Kit, tonight, Tuesday 1/12, at 6pm PT | 9pm ET!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that no one has ever told their kids that they met because “I saw your mom was only 12 miles away.” You have to actually say something in your profile on dating apps! You just do, I’m sorry. At this point, just having a photo and a location is like showing up to a party your crush is at and then standing in a corner facing the wall the entire time before going home mad that you didn’t talk to them. If you’re going to do this dumb app thing, actually do it and write a few sentences about yourself.
You Have to Say Something, Seriously
Ideally, your profile lets someone know something about you, and gives a sense of what you’re looking for and if they fit that. This doesn’t have to be like, a whole thing; it can be a few sentences, and it’s a good exercise to articulate what you think you’re bringing to the table and what you’re looking for. Pick a few adjectives to describe yourself and say a little something about your interests or how you spend your time, and try to articulate why you’re here — do you want to meet your wife? A regular hookup? A one-time hookup? If that’s what you really want, it’s great to just say that! As Archie says, “If they lay it all out there into what they’re into (“leather pup looking for daddy”) I’m like REAL INTO THAT.”
Some of you perhaps think you can circumvent the challenge of figuring these things out and then actually saying them with words by having an enigmatic, one-word profile, or possibly just a quote or pop culture reference. First of all, you are not allowed to have a profile that just says “hey” or something similar. That is worse, somehow, than saying nothing at all! Prohibited. If you are going to have a cryptic, tongue-in-cheek profile that attempts to somehow preserve your invulnerability despite the fact that you’re using this dumb app and therefore clearly just as lonely and/or horny as everyone else, fine, no one can legally stop you. BUT you have a moral obligation to then be the person who messages first, because you have made yourself truly impossible to start a conversation with, and that was your own choice.
Have someone else write it
This option seems tempting! Having a friend who loves you write something for you, with their outsider perspective on your charms and also the fact that they’re removed from the situation meaning they can be chill about this. This is true, but also your friend doesn’t quite sound like you, and your friend’s favorite things about yourself might not be yours. Before someone meets you, all they have to go on are pictures and your voice in your profile, and if your friend writes your bio one of those things will actually be someone else — have you not seen Must Love Dogs? You don’t want that!
Use only emoji
The appeal of this is undeniable. It’s like using words to describe yourself without having to use words or describe yourself, and this is somehow easier, much like how hunting for the egg in a pan emoji for two minutes is somehow easier than texting “brunch?” Unfortunately, the context is different from texting your best friend an egg emoji and their knowing it means you are hungover and want brunch; without knowing anything about you, seeing a string of rainbow – waterski – puppy – pineapple – leaf – pizza is meaningless. If you really have a hard time letting go of this format, try using it as an outline; the emojis can be a jumping off point for writing, you know, actual words.
Include a long lists of don’ts
Truly, everything is terrible and more than ever love is obviously a lie; however, you are not meaningfully combating these realities by including a screed against people who behave poorly as part of your profile. It’s one (arguably advisable) thing to address common misconceptions or preclude unconstructive interactions — if you regularly have people, say, who seem to have the profile of a single person but then message you asking if you want to meet their boyfriend and that isn’t your thing, then it could be worth it to make clear that you’re not open to that. However, long lists of perfectly subjective and fine things that you feel vehemently opposed to, or enumeration of the way other people on Tinder have wronged you (“why even bother matching with me if all you’re going to say is “hey!”) are not helpful. They aren’t going to stop anyone from doing those things — it’s the wild west out here! It’s an emotional demilitarized zone! — and they will just make everyone else feel defensive and prickly before you ever talk to them.
The more concrete and specific you are about yourself and what you like, the better this will work — both because someone will know if they’re a good fit for you and because it makes it so much easier to say something, anything, to you. Everyone likes hiking and craft beer! (Well, not everyone, I don’t, but that actually makes it worse.) Valerie put it really well: “‘I like traveling and watching TV’ means nothing to me but ‘I love vacationing in countries I don’t know the language and sci-fi shows with strong female leads’ I can work with.” Just give someone something they can respond to or ask a question about! “I love craft beer” is hard to work with; “I love [this beer] and would love recommendations for others like it” is easy.
Be direct and yourself
Know what you want and say it! That doesn’t mean you need to describe your perfect partner in detail, but knowing what kind of dynamic you’re looking for is really helpful, both in attracting people and weeding them out. It sucks to meet someone you feel like you could be really into and find out you want totally different things and that they’ll never overlap! As Vanessa put it, “I want our needs to match up — so anyone monogamous looking for true love rn is a no for me. I understand that’s specific to me but I think everyone has that thing — where you read it and if you’re being honest with yourself you just know right off the bat your needs are NOT gonna be met.” This includes how you want to be wooed or dated — in keeping with not having a long list of don’ts, try phrasing for things you do want rather than things you don’t. If you’re in a place in your life where you know that all you’re really open to is someone buying you dinner and telling you how cute your cat is when you show them pictures on your phone, you can say that. You’re right that some people will decide that’s not them and keep swiping! And that’s great, because they weren’t a good fit.
Have fun out there!
That’s mostly a joke because it is objectively difficult to maintain an openness to the joy of potential human connection in this dark era of the anthropocene, but also, seriously, be kind to yourself about this and in general and look for opportunities to be nice to those other humans. At worst, some people have good memes.
Want to learn more? Register for the Dating Preparedness Kit event tonight with HER host Nicole Lim and Autostraddle Managing Editor Rachel Kincaid, and check out the other upcoming Queer Dating 101 events!