Why people fail on Tinder (and Bumble)


Here’s what I don’t get about Tinder. And Bumble (I’m recently divorced—that’s a long story I’ll tell another time).

Yes: it’s amazing and convenient and smart to be able to easily view all the single people around you, read a little blurb about who they are (which is sometimes pretty fucking weird), and then if mutual interest occurs (swipe right x’s 2), chat a little and then meet, like for coffee, or drinks, or casual sex…

Maybe just coffee.

But what I don’t get is, if we both swipe right, have a funny/normal exchange on chat—and then I ask a girl out—why is it the last I ever hear from her? Like I mean, either ALL of the girls I want to date are cursed to silence or death as soon as I ask them out (the chance that this is true is exactly .0000000001%—and if it is, I’ll just assume Satan is winning), or I fail to meet the secondary eyeball test (as in: swipe right is the first quality check, meet up is #2… fucking is like, between 3 and 26).

The chance this is true is 99.9999999999%.

Seriously though, I’m having a hard time with this, especially since I lowered my standards.

But let’s back up. There are four basic reasons people fail on Tinder:

  1. Too many hot people.
  2. Over-valuation of one’s own hotness (or lack thereof).
  3. The Club Effect.
  4. Paralysis by analysis.

Too many hot people

Exactly. There are too many hot people. And who swipes right on the fucking hot people?


I mean, there are girls I have absolutely no business even breathing near on Tinder—but guess what? Swipe fucking right. There’s no cost, right? For one, no one that hot is EVER going to swipe right on me, so the intimidation that comes with talking to someone that’s soap-opera beautiful isn’t an issue. Two, if Jessica Rabbit actually does swipe right, that means I might have hit the fucking lottery, because she’s seen my pictures AND STILL WANTS TO TALK!


So anyway, everyone’s swiping right on the hotness, and because at least in theory, that hotness is an option, people up their standards—and feel as if they’ve swiped right enough times because they don’t take into account that at least 90% of the people they swiped on are out of their fucking league.

I mean I know it happens to me, and I’m fucking smart. Think about all the dummies out there!

(Note: I actually DON’T recommend thinking about all the dummies out there. It’s horribly depressing. Kind of amazing there aren’t more car wrecks.)

Over-valuation of one’s own hotness

We’ve all done it. Looked into the mirror in our underwear, thinking: “you handsome devil you—what with your slightly less flabby manboobs and that one-rung washboard stomach; why there’s even some definition in your arms…”

But it’s the bathroom mirror, which makes people look better than in real life for some reason. I’m convinced part of it’s that we don’t see ourselves like other people do, kind of like how it’s weird to hear your own voice. But most of it’s probably just the lighting.


Whatever the case, people overvalue their attractiveness. For example, there are plenty of women with incredibly beautiful faces—but a lot of them are overweight (and not just a little chubby—like, a lot), and therefore unattractive to most men.

Sorry, that’s just the truth. It is America after all.

But it’s true for dudes too. For example, I happen to be fairly handsome—and also overweight (which is why I’m on the goddamn Whole 30—trying to GET FIT). But my theory is that we take into account our facial appearance more so than the rest of our body, and this leads to an inflationary evaluation of one’s own hotness (which again, is why I’ve deliberately lowered my standards—more on this later).

The Club Effect

The Club Effect is simple: imagine a club full of drunk people in their 20’s. A larger percentage than normal—say 50% or more—are good looking, and 25% are real good looking. Like July in a swimsuit calendar levels of hotness.

And everyone’s full of booze or drugs or both and they’re running around from the bar to the bathroom to the dance floor to the table to the bar to the dance floor to the bar… you get it. Problem is, unless there’s a bachelorette party or some other random, unexpected spark-plug for hooking up (like if a stripper asks you to snort coke off her ass—DON’T DO IT *I’m nodding yes*), most everyone’s going home the same way they came: no midnight rodeo’s. No late night breakfast dates. Maybe not even a phone number.


Here’s why: there are enough people—and particularly enough attractive people—that no one has to make a decision. Dance with a girl here. Dance with another there. Sit in the booth talking to friends. Look at that girl over there… it doesn’t really matter, there are always more options.

Plus, choosing means you’re done, even if someone hotter walks in, which ironically means the people who do make a choice are still screwed, because someone hotter/more interesting/different could show up at anytime, ending whatever momentary bond existed between you and Brian (if that’s his real name)—that’s gone—because a blonde just came in who’s skirt is so short her vagina might fall out.

Paralysis by analysis

You can only get so far on six pictures and 500 characters. But that doesn’t stop people from trying. And based on conversations I’ve had with a number of people, that’s yet another place where the Tinder train goes off the rails.

To be 100% honest, I think this is more of a girl problem than a guy problem. Honestly, as a guy, I think it’s fair to just come out and say it: the blurb doesn’t really matter as long as she’s good looking enough to swipe right—what the blurb can do is break a tie.

Maybe it’s the same for some women, but I’ve been experimenting with my own blurb, and it does seem to matter. The texting that follows matters too, and if one little thing is off, as in it could prompt a “that seems weird” or “creeper status” or “who says that” kind of reaction, you’re done. Keep in mind, I haven’t changed my photos, nor have I said anything nearly as outlandish as I have here—and yet, the rate of matching varies incredibly based on the text.

My guess is it’s yet another manifestation of the princess complex—the notion we plant in the heads of little girls (and continuing right on through high school) that life is perfect, and the man they meet won’t be too hot or too cold, but just right.

Problem is, if you’re specifically looking for reasons to disqualify people, you’re going to find them. Plus, jokes and personality often don’t translate well in text, especially if you’re given only 500 characters—or texting back and forth with someone you’ve never met. Nevertheless, that’s what Tinder gives you, and I fear some people make the most of it—in the worst possible way.

And that, Charlie Brown, is why people fail on Tinder. There are too many hot people, everyone overvalues their own hotness, The Club Effect means there’s an emphasis on searching, not finding, and paralysis by analysis kills it all. Although, I’m sure the hotter you are, the less any of this matters.

Anyway, in an effort to combat these factors, I lowered my standards. It used to be 7’s and above: swipe right. I’ve now dropped the threshold down to 5+’s—as in, average, but there’s something attractive or interesting or unique about them (definitely not the fact she put a horse head over her own in one of her pictures—I don’t know what that’s about, but like 5% of girls do that and it’s really fucking weird. Also, flipping off the camera is so fucking tired. I get that at one time it was cool, but that time has passed—swipe left).


(Weird, right?)

To give you a reference, I’d like to think I’m a 7+ (handsome with awesome biceps), but as I know we tend to overvalue our own hotness, I take it I come off as a 6 (tall, a little better than decent looking, but slightly overweight). As a guy, what makes this hard is you sometimes see 6’s walk around with 8+’s or even 9’s, and then you think you can attain that (in fact, I was one of those guys—until I got divorced).

But you can’t. So 5+’s it is—and oh by the way, I get that using a number to represent a human being is degrading, but we’re talking about fucking Tinder, which is one of the most degrading things possible. Think about it: it’s a dating app where if you don’t match very often (yours truly), it’s because people don’t think you’re good looking enough. And you’re reminded of that fact.


Aside from that, let’s everyone go ahead and get off our high horse. Don’t apologize for who you are, and don’t ask anyone else to apologize for who they are. In most cases, no one gives the slightest fuck, one way or the other. I can’t stand the whiny feminist who’s bitches about the negativity of the male gaze anymore than I can the person who voted for Trump out of spite because they’re mad at liberals who correctly tell them they’re voting against their own best interests.

The fact of the matter is that some groups of people, whether it’s race, sex, class, etc., have it harder than others—people who suggest otherwise are just assholes. At the same time, if you’re in one of those groups, going around actively looking for reasons to play the victim is a mental trap that undermines what you think you’re fighting for.

We’re all human. We all make mistakes. So please, for the love of God, stop being so sensitive.

Oh, and being single means you’re objectifying people. All the time. And that’s OK. It’s OK for people to be attracted to how someone looks. Or not. Using a number just quantifies it—and even that’s subjective.


So anyway, I matched with this girl, solidly a 5+, and we had a great conversation—I thought at least (we talked about aioli and eating crab, which we agreed is the bacon of the sea—sorry, West coast bias). And then I asked her out and never heard from her again.


(Sea Bacon)

I didn’t make the second cut.

I shouldn’t be surprised really, because no one on Tinder owes anyone else on Tinder a damn thing (actually I think it was Bumble, but same difference), but when it’s a girl you’re only halfway attracted to in the first place, a girl you just hope happens to have an amazing personality and looks a little better in person than she does in the photos… I mean, that’s a swift kick in the balls, friends. I’m metaphorically hunched over with pain in my stomach, coughing.

Still coughing.

I don’t get it. I honestly thought I’d have less competition by dropping down to the 5+ level, but apparently not. Either that or I’m fooling myself.

Although, there’s always the small chance Satan is winning. I mean: Trump, Brexit, the Patriots winning the Super Bowl in the most amazing comeback ever, Nazi’s… again, 5+’s won’t date me…

Yeah, pretty sure that’s it.

If you liked this, you’ll love my book, Cherry City Pulp–the ultimate satire and classic American novel rolled into one. Hope you enjoyed the read. If not, swipe left.

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