Do you find yourself wondering, "How does Tinder work?" Or are you looking to give Tinder a try for the first time? I have some good news for you: you’re in the right place! You can always just search for the app and give it a try, but why not skip the learning curve?
With so many people searching for how Tinder works, it’s about time I give you a run-through of the basics. By the time you finish reading this guide and the resources below, you’ll be all set to get out there!
How Tinder Works - What You Need to Do to Get Tinder Working For You
I’m going to kick things off here with some general advice to get your head in the right place. Having used dating apps on and off for years, mindset has definitely been the most important part.
After that, we’ll jump into the practical side of things — how to get your set up properly so you can get the most out of Tinder.
Don’t let Tinder become your life focus
The biggest mistake I see among friends who use dating apps is this one right here. They download the app, get all set up, then obsess over the damn thing for weeks at a time. That's not how Tinder works and that's not how you should use the app.
The best thing you can do is turn your Tinder notifications off. You can leave badge notifications on if you want to see them at a glance.
By turning off the notifications, you’re removing that temptation to use the app constantly. It also keeps you from looking desperate because you won’t be replying to every message in 3 seconds flat.
Tinder is meant to be something you do when you have some spare time, not mid-conversation with friends.
Don’t overthink it
This is easily my second most common bit of advice here. This guide will walk you through what you need to know. From there, just have fun with it. It’s dating, not a masters degree.
If you catch yourself agonizing over how many minutes you should wait to reply or how to break the ice with a hot girl on Tinder, put the phone down. Googling synonyms or asking people how to word a message? You’re thinking about it too much.
As long as you’re not just saying “hi” or being a sleaze, exactly what you say is less important than you think. Your profile and general demeanor are what really make all the difference.
I know what you’re thinking and no, this doesn’t contradict my other points. What I mean by being consistent is to avoid coming and going every other month.
If you have a bunch of active conversations going then just vanish for three weeks, time to start again. Tinder moves quickly and if you take more than a few days away from it, those conversations will go cold.
That’s not the end of the world, just something to be aware of.
Because the app moves so quickly, so should you. Nobody is on Tinder to find a pen pal and this is important to keep in mind.
Your aim should be to establish that neither of you are weird(er than either of you consider acceptable) and to escalate to a phone number. There’s no magic amount of time here because every person is different.
Sometimes it’s five messages in, sometimes it’s five days. Either way, if the conversation goes on long enough that she gets bored, it’s over. Instead, you want to flirt with your matches on Tinder, get them interested in you and actually arrange to meet up.
Don’t be a creep
Good life advice in general, but this absolutely applies to Tinder as well. Talk to women about dating apps and more often than not, this is their biggest complaint. Too many use terrible pickup lines, though there are a few genuinely good Tinder pickup lines.
No weird pickup lines, no requesting naked photos and no “hey baby, you’re hot, I want you”. It’s creepy.
Ever the optimist though, I see good news here. All you have to be is somewhat normal and you’re already ahead of the game!
Be wary of ‘Oneitis’
Oneitis is a disease that causes a real danger to your dating life. For the unfamiliar, this is when you become focused on just one person. You may have 10 conversations going but you’re borderline obsessed with just one of them.
It’s dangerous because it can cause you to act totally different from how you would normally. In most cases, in a very needy way: instantaneous replies, desperate attempts to demonstrate that you’re worthy and a willingness to do anything for her.
There’s nothing wrong with being into one person more than the others, just make sure you don’t fall victim to oneitis.
Who is Tinder for?
Honestly, Tinder works for just about anyone who’s looking to find another. Sex, dating, threesomes and more, just about anything goes on Tinder.
You’ll find an active user base anywhere from 18 years old to well into the 40s, although it does seem to dwindle in the 50+ range.
Either way, as long as you’re upfront about what you’re looking for, Tinder has something to offer you. Not sure if it’s right for you though? It’s free and easy to use! So go ahead and give it a try. Worst case scenario you uninstall it — at least then you’ll know for sure.
Tinder has both an Android and iOS app. There are how the vast majority of the user base uses Tinder, although there’s also Tinder.com if you want to use it in a web browser instead.
I’ve never used the web-based version myself and honestly, I don’t think many even know it exists.
I’m going to focus on the iOS version for this guide, although these instructions translate almost exactly to Android too.
To install the app, just go to the App store and search for “Tinder”.
Tap the “Get” button or, if you’ve had it installed before, tap the cloud icon like you see in the screenshot. This will begin the app download.
Once that’s done, tap “Open” to launch Tinder. You’ll also find the Tinder icon among your apps, ready to use.
Creating a profile
If you need to set up a fresh account, you can just tap the “Create An Account” button and follow the very simple prompts. You can choose to log in using your phone number, Facebook or Google.
All you need to do is enter some basic info and you’re good to go.
Once that’s done you’ll be ready to set up your profile which comes down to two major steps. Choosing your photos and writing a bio. The way Tinder works is that each profile should be as simple as the app mechanics. So the photos you choose and the bio you write are super important.
First up, choose at least four recent photos of you. They should be clear, high quality and preferably just of yourself. You only have a brief moment for other users to decide if they’re into you. If your first pic is a group photo, it’s probably too much effort for potential matches to guess which one you are.
Try to avoid photos with sunglasses when you can as well. Remember, the whole point of these photos is for women to see what you look like!
Once you’re done choosing some photos, it’s time to write your bio. This one can be a challenge. But it’s worth taking the time to write it.
You want to keep it simple, short and engaging. Showcase your personality in as few words as possible. For more detailed info, I wrote a whole article about how to write a good Tinder bio, it’s worth reading (not that I’m biased, of course).
How does Tinder work to match you up
To understand how Tinder works, you also need to know how to match with women.
The matching system is very simple on Tinder. If you like someone, swipe their photo to the right (as if you were throwing it to the right of your screen). If you’re not interested, swipe left.
But if you’re really interested, you can swipe up to use a “Super Like” although this is generally considered needy. It’s also a limited resource unless you pay for Premium.
If you swipe right on someone and she swipes right on you, then you’re a match and can chat within the app.
If you don’t match, you’ll never know if she swiped left on your or she just never saw you in the app.
With a free account, you get around 50 “likes” per day. That plus the complex algorithm means you should be careful with your swiping. If you swipe right on every profile you’ll be shown to fewer women.
My personal rule: Only swipe right on women you’d be excited to match with. Simple. If you want to read more about this, it’s another topic I covered in a recent article: How to win at Tinder.
How does Tinder work: sending the right messages
Once you’ve matched with someone, you’re free to start chatting in the app. I’m not going to give you any rules about how long to wait or what to say. Tinder doesn’t work like that.
Message when you have time to. Whether that’s straight away or two days from now doesn’t matter.
Keep your first message simple and friendly and for god’s sake, don’t be a creep. As I said earlier, as long as you’re not being weird and you say more than just “Hi,” you’re already off to a great start.
How to start a conversation on Tinder is something you’ll learn over time. For more info, take a look at that article as well, also written by yours truly.
As for how to send a message, tap the speech bubble in the top right corner. You’ll see new matches at the top and existing conversations below them. The messaging interface feels very much like text messaging and WhatsApp, which makes it very easy to use.
Make Tinder Work for You
Hopefully, this has done enough to answer all those “How does Tinder work?” searches. By this point, you’ve got an account and created your profile. You’ve also got a handle on how to match and what to say on your first message to women on Tinder.
If you haven’t already, I’d suggest taking the time to read the articles that were linked above too. Each of those will cut down on the amount of learning you’ll need to do. I wish I’d read something like this when I first started out rather than learning the hard way!