Online Dating 101: Your Guide to Tinder Talk

Never start a conversation with “hey” again

Tinder app

Written by Clifford Chen

The months are getting colder, the jackets getting thicker, and the urge to find companionship grows increasingly bigger.  To be honest, it can be really difficult to meet people these days.  Maybe when you were in college there was an endless pool of people to choose from, but the work grind makes things tough.  However, all hope is not lost.  You have everything you need to foster a genuine long-lasting relationship in the palm of your hand (well, not really, but kind of).  Now, more than ever, people are looking to online dating apps to discover new relationships.  Odds are you’ve probably already been on one or two of them yourself.  However, with more people on apps now than ever before, it can be tough to stand out in the crowd.  If you’re still debating whether or not to get in on the online dating game, here’s what you need to know about some of the most popular dating sites out there, and how to craft the best profile and conversations that will take your game to the next level. 

The Most Popular Dating Sites and Apps, Explained


Online Dating: Tinder Profile

Best For: Casual relationships, hook-ups

Users: Men (60%) and women (40%) ages 16-34

What You Need to Know: Best known for its simple interface, there are over 50 million users on Tinder.  It’s best suited for quick matchups, as you can swipe through hundreds of different profiles daily.

What People are Looking for: Tinder users are more focused on quantity, rather than quality, so most are not looking for anything too serious.  People may be seeking anything from a simple hookup or friendship to a serious, long-term relationship.  However, some people have also been known to just use Tinder as an ego booster, so be wary!

Plenty of Fish

Online Dating: Plenty of Fish Home Page

Best For: Casual relationships, dating

Users: Men (55%) and women (45%) ages 18-54

What You Need to Know: Users are required to fill out a more extensive profile that includes body type, intent, education, and horoscopes.  Plenty of Fish also has a search engine, match algorithms, and personality assessments.  All of these features can help narrow down specific criteria that you’re looking for in your partner.

What People are Looking For: Plenty of Fish users know what they want, and use the platform to seek those traits out.  Take advantage of the additional search features to find your tailored match.


Online Dating: CoffeeMeetsBagel Welcome Page

Best For: New users, dating, busy people

Users: Men (40%) and women (60%) ages 21-45

What You Need to Know: CoffeeMeetsBagel gives you only one match daily that’s been chosen from a pool of people you have mutual Facebook friends with.  This platform is best suited for those that are trying to meet people at a slower, more relaxed space.

What People are Looking for: Someone who prefers a good work/dating life balance, and who doesn’t mind dating someone that is busy.  Because of how the platform is set up, it’s also best for people who are actively trying to find someone, but also aren’t necessarily in a huge rush to do so.  


Online Dating: Happn Welcome Page

Best For: Proximity, dating, hook-ups

Users: Ages 18-50

What You Need to Know: All of the matches on Happn are based on location, so you can only see individuals that are physically close by.  This is a dating app that requires you to actually be out and about in the hopes of acquiring a potential match (it’s like Pokemon go for dating).

What People are Looking for: This is perfect for those of us who “saw” that girl at the gym or at your local coffee shop but never got the opportunity to approach her.  You’ll be able to encounter people in close proximity that are also looking for an interaction.  


Online Dating: Bumble Welcome Page

Best For: Shy guys, casual relationships

Users: Men (40%) and women (60%) ages 18-46

What You Need to Know: After successfully matching, women are required to reach out first.  Additionally, they only have 24 hours after the match to start the conversation.

What People are Looking for: Bumble is a way for women to make the first move and actually decide who they want to talk to.  It’s great for you, because you pretty much get to avoid the anxiety of reaching out first and getting rejected.

Taking Online Dating Seriously

Since sending a message online through an app feels so casual, it can seem like you don’t even really need to try. But, just because dating has become online-driven doesn’t mean that manners have disappeared into thin air either.  Most of these online dating conversations start with a mutual match, then a first point of contact, and finally a general conversation (which, if neither of you mess it up, could turn into way more).  It is impossible to be appealing to ALL of your matches, so don’t fret.  But if she stops responding because you blew the conversation or acted like a jerk, read on.  We’ve compiled some online do’s and don’ts to help you navigate the tricky world of dating apps.

Crafting Your Profile: Do’s and Don’ts

Online Dating: Crafting Your Profile

Adding Photos


  • Do upload at least 3 different pictures.  Try to make it easy for people to see what you look like.
  • Do attempt to show a sense of style.
  • Do take pictures that are good quality and not blurry, for obvious reasons.
  • Do include at least one warm, authentic smile.  Mean mugging the camera or trying to look too cool is immature and gives off a bad initial impression.
  • Do include variety within your pictures.  Use different settings throughout your pictures to avoid redundancy.
  • Do include a picture of you with your dog if you, you know, have a dog.


  • Don’t post any pictures with girls in them.  Whether it’s your best friend, your sister, or your ex, it sets off a bad precedent to potential matches that don’t know you yet.
  • Don’t post group photos and make people wonder which one you are.
  • Don’t be the guy that posts shirtless mirror pictures or flexing-in-the-mirror-at-the-gym pictures. Be better than that.

Crafting Your Bio


  • Do make sure to include a bio.  You get to show off your hobbies, interests, and your personality.  Profiles without a bio are a red flag for most.
  • Do keep it short and sweet.  People are not trying to read a self-published autobiography.
  • Do try to be open, but not too obnoxious.  You want to sound unique and engaging, not pretentious and holier-than-thou.
  • Do try to be humorous, because you will likely be more memorable.
  • Do allude to what it is you’re looking for, whether it be friendships or more.


  • Don’t include anything too cliche.  Things like “Netflix and chill?”, “looking to meet new friends,” or SNL quotes are just so played out.

Starting a Conversation


  • Do start the conversation every once in a while!  This is admittedly the hardest part, but sometimes, if you don’t do it, no one will– and you could miss out on something awesome.
  • Do try to open it up with a creative line.  Don’t be creepy or boring, but try to go for something genuine.  A well-versed compliment or fun joke will do wonders here.
  • Do try to show a sense of humor.  The ability to make people laugh greatly increases your chances of success.


  • Don’t be disgusting.  No pick-up lines or sick one-liners.  People will stop responding immediately.
  • Don’t message all of your matches, all the time.  Would you rather have 100 superficial conversations or 5 meaningful ones? Message your matches a few at a time to keep the interactions more personal.

Following Through


  • Do keep the conversation going by asking open-ended questions.  The usual stop-and-go exchange (i.e. questions that can be quickly answered with a “yes” or “no”)– isn’t fun for anybody.
  • Do tell your matches what you are looking for.  People are on dating apps for different reasons, whether it’s looking for companionship or casual hook-ups.
  • Do have realistic expectations.  Dating is really hard and meeting that significant other does take time.  More often than not, nothing happens overnight.
  • Do try to move the conversation offline if all is going well. You’ll never get to know one another over a text exchange. Meet up for coffee or drinks to find out if this person is really for you.


  • Don’t play hard to get.  If things are going well, swallow your pride and don’t be afraid to keep the conversation going.  No one has time for the hard-to-get, 3-days-until-contacting-each-other thing anymore.
  • Don’t be the guy that keeps messaging someone who is clearly not interested.

The online world of dating apps can definitely be overwhelming, scary, and intimidating.  Putting yourself out there is never an easy task, but this guide will hopefully help you avoid common mistakes that plague newcomers.  Swipe right with confidence, gents.

If you enjoyed reading our breakdown on different dating apps, check out our guide on how to spark better chemistry on apps.

Clifford Chen

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.