Android users looking for love just scored big: Tinder is finally branching out from the iPhone, and is available in the Google Play store.
If you’re a lonely heart with a Galaxy S3 and you’re wondering why I’m talking about small pieces of flammable wood, take a seat and get comfortable because it’s time to learn everything there is to know about Tinder, arguably the most addictive social dating app.”The straight version of Grindr” is blowing up.
1. If you want to hit it off on Tinder, you need a Facebook account.
Tinder links up to your Facebook and uses your photos and interests to match you with prospective romantic partners. This is both comforting (you’re less likely to get Craigslist-Killer’d if you’re going on a date with someone willing to link up their established, easily traceable online person to their Tinder account) and kind of disconcerting, since it means whatever you put on Facebook may be responsible for kicking off the love affair of your life.
But no matter what you think of it, if you want to use Tinder, you have to link it to your Facebook. It uses your Facebook profile picture as your avatar photos, so you might want to eschew group shots or photos of yourself winning a hot dog eating contest mid-bite. This also means that if you’re one of those people who refuses to get Facebook, you’ll have to stick to eHarmony.
2. Prepare to find out that everyone you know is on it.
Tinder launched in October 2012 and it’s already set up over 75 million matches. And even though it started off exclusive to iOS, its user base is already so robust that it likely includes someone you know. Brea, a 26-year-old Toronto-based user, was impressed by how she’d often see mutual Facebook friends shared with guys she chose as matches. “And I’ve seen maybe a dozen people that I’m actually friends with on Facebook myself,” she says.
Hallie, a 25-year-old in Brooklyn, often chooses to match with men she has mutual friends with – but that can lead to awkward situations. “I added one guy because he seemed cute and then later on he messaged me. It turns out we were going to the same concert the next day, and said maybe we’d meet up. The concert got cancelled, so I was really surprised when I saw him at McCarren Park that night. I freaked out a bit and then figured I could just pretend I didn’t know him, but then turns out he was friends with my friends and we ended up spending the next two hours as a six person posse. Neither of us acknowledged we had met on Tinder.”
But the awkwardness worked out; Hallie says they’ve been on two dates thus far – and only a few of their friends know how they actually met.
3. Watch out – you may start getting more judgmental than Joan Rivers at the Oscars.
Tinder lets you browse through the profiles of its users, and it encourages quick categorization. With a swipe of your finger you can sort people into those you might be interested in meeting and those that don’t make the cut. You can kick off a real-life romance or make sure you never run across the digital avatar of a would-be Romeo again, depending on which way you swipe. You either press the heart button or hit the X button, and there’s no going back. In this way, the app functions very similarly to a “Hot or Not” app, and it facilitates snap judgements based on photographs and shared interests. Woe to those with less-than-flattering Facebook profile pictures.
And because Tinder lets you set a range of ages you want to see, you end up automatically siphoning out people who aren’t in your stated age preference. Which means that wise-beyond-his-years 19-year-old will never be able to woo you with his witty conversational skills, because you won’t even see his profile.
4. Beware of “Tinderizing” your fingers.
All of that swiping leads to rejecting a lot of potential suitors, but even though the format protects egos from bruising (you don’t find out if someone rejected you, only if they also choose you as a match), there is one undisputed casualty in the Tinder game: your fingers. People get so swept up in zipping through profiles that there’s already a term for how sore your digits get after a serious session: “Tinder finger.”
If you’re swiping on your Tinder app so frequently that your finger starts hurting, that’s probably a sign that you should take a break. It’s also a sign that Tinder’s incredibly fun to use.
5. Even Miss USA uses Tinder.
You’d think that a so-good-looking-it’s-not-fair beauty queen with a Master’s degree wouldn’t need to log on to find a date, but it is 2013 and even the prettiest of our tribe of humans is hopelessly hooked on technology. Nana Meriwether, aka Miss USA 2012, outed herself as Tinder user in an interview with The Cut. So in addition to hooking up with friends of friends, it’s entirely possible you can set yourself up with one of the Beautiful People with this app.
6. Watch out for bots and spam.
Unfortunately, just because Miss USA actually uses Tinder doesn’t mean that every crazy-beautiful girl on there is for real. Whenever an app blows up in popularity, scammers look for ways to make a quick profit. And since Tinder treads on the most emotionally vulnerable ground of all – romance – its users are ripe for the rippin’ off.
Make sure that hottie you’re flirting with isn’t just a heartless bot – there are already confirmed scams where fake profiles are programmed to send flirtatious messages encouraging users to go to a website and input their credit card information.
People who fall for this can get charged $80 a month in some cases, and there are a variety of schemes, many that involve cam girls. This kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen because Tinder links up to your Facebook profile, but where there’s a will to scam there’s usually a way to scam. Justin Mateen, the co-founder and CMO, says Tinder is working to keep bots out. “We are facing a bot problem, but it’s a very tiny percentage of our user base, and we are taking necessary measures to protect our users. Some of short-term fixes we’ve already implemented, but some of the longer-term fixes will take longer to implement. We are adding a block and report button, so eventually if someone gets flagged, we’ll delete their account.”
7. You might as well delete your OKCupid profile (especially if you’re in college).
Even though Tinder isn’t as well-established as dating sites like OKCupid, it’s already teaching them a thing or two. OKCupid reached out to Tinder for help in developing a new feature for its app that allows users to swipe through pictures. Tinder cooperated and ending up giving OKCupid access to its UX – so basically, the student surpassed the master.
Now, Tinder skews young, so if you’re over 30, I’d hold on to some of your other dating service accounts, since demographically you have substantially slimmer pickings. But for college students and younger twenty-somethings, this is the dating app you want.
8. Make sure you don’t wind up on Tinder Lines.
Tinder is a young app, but it’s already popular enough to have reached that vaunted milestone of app fame, which is when you get a website making fun of its users. Tinder Lines collects some of the more boneheaded attempts at pick-up lines from the site, and even though it only shares the first names of the people who say stuff like “You ever seent interracial porn,” it’s still not the kind of site you want to see your attempts at witty repartee on.
Mateen’s main tip to first-time Tinder users? Stop using corny pick-up lines. “I’ve seen so many pick-up lines and I just want to tell all the new users that pick-up lines just don’t work,” he says. “Once you make a match with somebody, rather than starting with a cheesy pick-up line, actually look at the person and come up with a clever, witty first line to start the conversation. It’s a lot more effective in the real world and it’s a lot more effective on Tinder.”
9. Location tracking is a big part of the app.
You use Tinder to meet people around you, so you need to enable location-tracking to start hooking up. You can set a perimeter of just a mile or a wider geographical swath, but if you’re checking your phone from L.A. you’re not going to get matched up with someone in Vancouver.
Brea says she sees lots of options when she’s looking at Tinder from her hometown of Toronto. However, when visiting her parents lake house in a more remote area, firing up Tinder means things get intimate fast. “My friends have used it at their cottage before and met people on the same lake as them,” she says.
And Tinder plans to keep location-tracking as a primary way to filter matches. “If someone’s over 100 miles away, there’s no point in matching them up,” Mateen says.
10. Like moths to a flame, bros flock to Tinder.
There are all sorts of people that use Tinder, and even if you’re a Level 5 Vegan Scientologist who only wears orange and rejects the gender binary, you can probably find romance (although you might have a problem with the way Tinder only lets you choose from “male” or “female” when selecting your sexual preference). But there is a visible Bro population on Tinder, and it might make you frustrated if you’re a staunch opponent of the iBankers in polo shirts.
Tinder is winning the hearts and minds of students on college campuses, with reps who come to schools and try to make the app a popular download. And it’s working. Nick Anull, an economics major and fraternity member at Tufts University, told the Huffington Post about frat parties with guest lists culled from Tinder and a Valentine’s Party where a Tinder account was an entry requirement.
But don’t say no to Tinder just because of its college-kid popularity. The app’s user base is becoming more demographically diverse as it grows, and now that it’s available for Android, millions more people have the chance to check it out.
And if you’re in a relationship and you’re wondering why you just read a whole article about a dating app, you shouldn’t discount Tinder. Though the app is still primarily used for romance, Mateen says Tinder has big plans to expand into a friendship discovery tool, so instead of just matching people up based on a potential relationship connection, it will expand its service to include match-ups based on common interests.
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