Why Tinder sucks: cold, hard numbers & how it can suck less

If you’ve been using Tinder for any amount of time, you’ll probably be asking yourself something along the lines of:

“Does Tinder suck just for me, or for everybody else?”

Tinder sucks for pretty much everybody. Most common reasons are the poor quality of conversations or too much focus on physical attractiveness and not on personality. Tinder sucks most for average guys since men outnumber female users 2:1 and because women are much more selective than men. This results in guys getting very few matches, and a frustrating time when using the app.

The first section explores why Tinder is a poor experience for both genders. The second section covers why guys in particular have a very hard time on the app.

The third section offers some science and data proven ways to improve a Tinder profile, especially for guys.

The fourth sections look at some Tinder alternatives, and why they could be a better match (pun intended) than Tinder.

Why Tinder sucks for everybody

61% of Tinder conversations are 3 messages or less

Matching with someone on Tinder is no guarantee you will have a decent conversation.

This study of 2.1 million Tinder conversations discovered the following:

  • 39% of conversations contain just one, unreciprocated message.
  • 10.8% of conversations contain just two messages.
  • 11.1% of conversations contain just three replies.

As per the study, only around 10-15% of Tinder conversations have a meaningful length of 15 or more messages.

Tinder eats time without any results

The same study says only 1.4% of Tinder conversations contain any sort of phone number exchanges.

Granted, the study couldn’t measure how many people swapped other means of personal contact, such as Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook. It’s entirely possible those are another 1.4%

Out of 100 conversations, only 2-3 will result in a phone number or social media exchange.

The other 97 conversations are essentially a waste of time consisting of coming up with replies, waiting to hear back and trying to keep the discussion alive.

This matters because the purpose of Tinder is to transition the conversation on other channels and work from there to arrange a date.

But even if you do get a number, a similar churn pattern applies turning phone numbers into dates.

When it comes to Tinder, you need a lot of swipes to get a match, a lot of matches to get a number, a lot of numbers to get a date and a lot of dates to get a third date.

Profile section ignores character compatibility

The majority of Tinder users upload only 3-5 photos, and don’t write anything in their profile information.

This makes it very hard to figure out a person’s personality or interests. As a result, the most important criteria people use to judge matches is how attractive they are in a few random photos.

Attractiveness is one side of the coin. The other side is personality, interests, hobbies and passions. Unfortunately, Tinder has no good way to show how compatible two people are at a personal level.

As a result, you’ll often have users left-swiping each other because of insufficient information or poor choice of photos, even if in real life they would be extremely compatible with one another.

Tinder transforms dating into gambling

Tinder gives users so many options, they end up having a gambling approach to dating. A user is reluctant to commit to any one match, because they’ll think there’s a shinier, better one just a few swipes away.

Even if you do match with someone, you’re almost never their “one and only”, but instead a “good enough” placeholder until the real deal appears in their feed.

The ironic thing is, the more choices users have, the less satisfied they are with who they match with.

Not only this, but Tinder users that decide to date someone from the app are very likely to suffer from buyer’s remorse. The end effect is that they regret their choice and then go back on the app for another try.

By contrast, people who have to choose a romantic partner from a dating pool of only 6 people were much more satisfied with whom they chose. As an added bonus, they didn’t suffer from buyer’s remorse the same Tinder users did!

Why Tinder sucks for guys most of all

Male users outnumber women (by a lot)

The male-to-female ratio on Tinder is close to 70% / 30%, with nearly twice as many male users than female ones.

Source

This skewed gender ratio adds an artificial layer of competition for guys wanting to date on Tinder, that doesn’t exist in real life since the gender ratio is almost exactly 50/50.

Women are much more selective on Tinder than men

As if the skewed gender ratios weren’t enough, women are far, far more selective when swiping right and going on dates than men are.

Way back in 2014, a Tinder data scientist revealed that men swipe right in around 46% of cases, compared to women who swiped right only 14%.

Those numbers come from Tinder’s earliest days, when people didn’t yet know how to use the app and were much more forgiving on who they swiped right.

Nowadays those numbers have diverged massively. Men swipe right on almost everything, and women swipe on 2%-3% of profiles per day.

This results in situations like this one:

The photo above was part of an experiment on Swipehelper that compared the experience of a man and a woman, of similar attractiveness levels, in the same city (Boston).

There are of course multiple reasons why women are so much more selective on Tinder than men.

Partly, it’s because they have to be otherwise their inbox would explode from too many matches. Another big reason is that women often receive lewd or even threatening messages. Filtering at the swipe stage makes it easier than doing so at the match or conversation stage.

Below are Tinder usage stats from real women:

Woman #1 – 13 months of swiping:

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Woman #2

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The average guy struggles to get matches and dates

Combining the two points above will result in a difficult Tinder experience for men who don’t have high quality photos or aren’t good looking.

Below are a couple of charts detailing the Tinder experiences of several self-described average men:

Average guy #1 – One year of swiping:

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Average guy #2 – Four years of Tinder for 2 relationships

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Average guy #3 – 5 Years of Tinder for 3 dates

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Granted, these charts are cherrypicked to show what Tinder is for the average looking guys.

Men with high quality photos or are simply good looking will have better results than these, but such men are very few and far between, at least according to women.

More than a decade ago, the founder of OKCupid released data regarding how men and women judge people based on their attractiveness.

The charts below categorize a person’s attractiveness on a scale of 0 to 5.

When it comes to female attractiveness, male OKCupid users rated 5% of females as being a 0/5, meaning least attractive and another 5% as being a 5/5 or most attractive.

The other 90% were evenly distributed across the rest of the spectrum.

Women on the other hand, rated 25% of men as being a 0/5, or least attractive, a further 30% as being a 1/5, and another 25% as a 2/5.

In other words, women considered 80% of men as having a below average attractiveness.

Tinder is not OKCupid of course, but how women rate men’s attractiveness is likely to follow the same graph.

The data above was so controversial, OKCupid management at some point simply deleted the blog posts. The link above was provided by a user who saved the blog posts, and then reuploaded them on a mirror site.

What you can do so Tinder sucks less

Use Photofeeler.com to find better photos

Photofeeler.com is a free platform where you upload photos of yourself, and 20 other users will judge how good the photos are. It has 3 major categories: Social, Dating and Business photos.

Users can even leave quick comments and feedback on your photos, so you can know what makes them low-quality.

Overall, it’s a great service for someone who has trouble figuring which photos are good for dating, and which aren’t.

Here are a couple of examples so you can see how it would look like:

Create a profile that appeals to people in your “tribe”

To increase your Tinder chances, avoid making a profile that comes across as harmless and pleases everybody. Instead create a profile that is polarizing, and clearly labels you as belonging to a certain “tribe”.

In the context of Tinder, a “tribe” means people who share closely similar interests, passions and hobbies.

Here are some examples:

  • Rock and goth music lovers.
  • Nerdy, board game players or video game fans.
  • Sporty, athletic types.
  • Tattoos, piercings and other body modifications.
  • Etc.

When you create such a polarizing, “tribal” profile, your match rate with people outside the “tribe” may decrease quite a bit, but it will steeply increase with people who are in the same “tribe” as you are.

It’s possible you’ll get fewer matches, but the quality of the matches will greatly increase.

This approach to dating is also backed by data, namely from a deleted OKCupid article called “The Mathematics of Beauty”. Fortunately, the archive of the post has been saved here.

Wear a suit if possible

If you’re a guy, consider adding a photo of you in a nicely fitting suit.

It’s best if it’s not a selfie. If you don’t have somebody around to take a photo of you, then consider buying a cheap phone tripod. Put it on a counter somewhere and pose as if you’re about to leave the house and someone took a surprise photo.

Does it seem fake? Maybe. But if you already have suit, this means you’re the kind of guy to use suits. It’s just that nobody seems to have had the chance to take a decent photo of you in it.

You know it’s funny. I used Tinder for a long time with decent success with a profile of varied pictures that people suggest: mixture of me being out and about, being active, some with people/some by myself. But then one day I changed my profile pic of a new one with a suit and a tie  and the same ones from before trailing after that. I reset the account and I’ve been getting blown up every since and been getting a lot of attention from girls, even initial contacts. Even the dates have seemed to have gone a lot better.

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Have photos with a dog

According to science, having a photo with a dog can dramatically increase your chances of getting Tinder matches.

To back this up, a UK based pet food company called Webbox once did a test on Tinder to see if having a photo with a dog can help out guys and girls on the app.

Sure enough, it did. Below are the improved results for a man’s profile that added a single photo with a dog.

So if you have a dog, use a photo of him and you.

If you don’t have a dog, try “borrowing” one from friends or family. If your friends or family don’t have one, then consider volunteering for an animal shelter and snap a photo while you’re there.

Might this come across as deceptive? Maybe. But then again, all is fair in love and war.

Tinder alternatives

Ultimately, Tinder is popular because it’s dead simple to use. Because of its simplicity, Tinder has become the “default” dating app of much of the world.

That being said, there are lots of alternatives to Tinder. These alternative apps are usually built in such a way that they attract different types of users, match them differently, use different types of algorithms, personality metrics etc.

Below is a short list of these alternatives:

eHarmony

eHarmony is one of the oldest dating apps still in use and is generally oriented to serious relationships, and people looking for marriage.

The dating app works by putting you through a fairly long and detailed process where you fill in your details, preferences, personality type and more. Once this step is completed, eHarmony will then match you with people who are most similar and compatible to you. That’s basically the gist of it.

Link: eHarmony

Zoosk

Zoosk is somewhat similar to Tinder in it’s user experience, and is oriented towards all spheres of dating, including hookups, relationships, friends etc.

Unlike Tinder however, Zoosk asks you to complete a personality profile, and it’s algorithm will then suggest people based on that.

Link: Zoosk

EliteSingles

EliteSingles has made a name for itself by being the dating network for young, educated professionals who are looking for a serious relationships.

When you join the app, you will be asked to complete a personality profile, and their algorithm will find you matches based on that.

Link: EliteSingles