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Dating Apps: Exploring Your Options

Joanna BirtlesAugust 14, 2023

Dating Apps: Exploring Your Options

This blog was prepared by our very own Joanna Birtles, who generously shares her wisdom about online dating:

There are a variety of Apps out there to choose from, my advice, one at a time, don’t go signing up to every App or platform there is, you will get overwhelmed very quickly! Start with one, give it a go, if you aren’t finding it is working, de-activate that one and try another App.

You will find most Apps work on the ‘swiping’ method – you are presented with a profile, and you swipe left/right/up or down depending on whether you are interested in that person’s profile (be cautious when using too many Apps as a right swipe on one App may be a left swipe on another App!). Most Apps also offer free versions, and I always suggest trying the free version first before signing up for a subscription (however some of the more elusive/niche Apps will require a paid subscription to use).

Don’t go signing up to every App or platform there is, you will get overwhelmed very quickly!

So where to start?

You have well-known Apps such as Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and Ok Cupid. All four are very similar and offer free subscriptions though what you get in the free subscription depends on the App. Some things to note:Tinder is often referred to as the ‘hookup’ App.

  1. Tinder and Bumble – you can’t message someone unless you both match with the other.
  2. Bumble – If you match with someone, the female must make the first move and only has 24 hours to do so, following which the make only has 24 hours to respond before the match is gone. However once both people have sent a message, there is no longer a time frame. It is just a way to get the women to start the conversation and ensure matches don’t just sit there without anyone talking.
  3. Hinge – You can send a message to someone you haven’t matched with, but that person can still choose not to match with you.


The above are your more common general-type Apps catering to almost everyone however, many Apps cater to more specific types of relationships one might be after. For example:

  1. Zoosk – More for ‘mature’ dating, i.e., serious, over 40. It is a paid subscription as well, which weeds out those looking for a ‘hookup’, etc.
  2. Seeking Arrangement – Not quite your Ashley Maddison, however similar.
  3. Feeld – For those seeking something specific from others (think kink).
  4. MeetMe – I like this App as it shows you people in your area who are out and about and open to meeting, so if you are in the mood for a lunch date, you can jump on this App, find someone in your area also free and looking for a lunch date and catch up!
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Crafting an Impressive Dating Profile

As the first thing prospective suitors see on your dating profile is your photos, it is important to create an appealing profile; however, your profile should also be authentically you (i.e., no Catfishing!). Take it from someone who has been Catfished before, it isn’t pleasant, and it leads to an awkward situation.

Firstly, choose attractive photos. I recently criticised a friend’s Tinder profile as his first photo was his LinkedIn Corporate headshot. Ok for Linked In, not ok for a dating profile, on Linked In, one wants to portray their professional side, on dating sites, one should portray their personality and likes.

When selecting photos consider these tips:

  1. Select a variety of photos – up close selfies, full body shots, candid shots, social shots and above all else, photos of you smiling! When I am swiping away on dating Apps, I look for photos where I can see the person’s eyes (i.e., not all sunglasses or long-distance shots), and I can see the person’s smile (not all pouting shots).
  2. Include photos of you doing hobbies, and what you enjoy. For example, I like drinking wine so there are photos of me with wine in my hand, I love my dogs so there are photos of me with my dogs, I like travelling so I put photos of me in other countries. I am trying to attract our suitors who also have similar interests to me.
  3. Don’t:
    1. Use photos with Snapchat filters – remember to be authentic.
    2. Use only photos with friends/family– people don’t want to be guessing which one you are.


Write a compelling Bio.

I like to draft a bio that gives potential suitors a conversation starter. There’s nothing better than a match opening the conversation with a comment or question about my profile or bio rather than just ‘Hey how’s it going?’. Witty remarks are also great and are conversation starters.


When writing a bio, do:

  1. Emphasise your key interests and hobbies.
  2. Mention what you are looking for (e.g., a relationship, casual dating)
  3. Write your bio for your ideal person – remember you want to attract the right person to you, not just every man/woman on the App.


  1. Leave it blank.
  2. Be negative or critical – you want to appear positive and approachable.


As an example, my opening line on my bio has been ‘Ultimate dog mum looking for the ultimate dog dad, will steal your hoodies and probably your heart.’ This opening line tells a lot about me, firstly I am a dog mum, and my dogs are very important to me (emphasised by the photos in my profile of my dogs), it also reveals I am a bit of a romantic. I want to attract a man that loves dogs and is a romantic, the hoodie comment goes to my need for safety and security, I am looking for a male who wants to be the protector of his partner. When swiping through the Apps I look for these qualities in the potential suitors, and low and behold, I found a bio that was perfect. His pictures weren’t ‘all that’ and had he not had the bio he did, he may have ended up with a left swipe. His bio had the sentence ‘Hurry up and come steal my hoodies and put your cold feet on me.’ It told me what I needed to hear, and we’ve now had many successful dates, and it all came down to having the right bio.

Safety Precautions

We have all heard unfortunate stories of people meeting on dating apps and being hurt. There are people who depict themselves as someone they are not to lure unsuspecting victims in (referred to as ‘catfishing’). Here are some helpful tips to ensure your safety for online dating:


  1. Don’t give out personal information – anything that can reveal where you live, where you frequent or work. I am always very cautious when talking with people on the App when asked where I live, I usually mention the suburb over from me. If someone asks what I do for a living, I mention the industry (e.g., I am in the legal industry), but I will never mention where I work.
  2. Don’t move to chatting on other means too soon, and if you are asked to chat on WhatsApp or Snapchat, raise your suspicions a little. WhatsApp is often the preferred method of communication for scammers and catfish. It isn’t always, but if someone suggests talking on WhatsApp rather than just communicating by text message (noting that WhatsApp requires your phone number anyway!) I get suspicious.
  3. Meet in a public location when meeting for the first time. Don’t be pressured into the meeting at their house or them coming to your house. There have been many times where I have had the comments, ‘I can just come round to your place’ or ‘it would be easier to get to know each other in a quieter location, I can just come to yours.’ I usually respond to something like this, such as ‘You’ll need to take me for a drink first’ or ‘I always make it a rule to meet in a public place first’. This is nine times out of 10 met with understanding. For the other 10% I either get unmatched or the person keeps trying to persuade me. If I get unmatched for setting a boundary, well, I have just dodged a bullet! If they keep pressuring me, then they get unmatched or blocked, and I will often report this behaviour to the App.
  4. When meeting for the first time, always let someone know where you are going, who you are meeting and what time to expect an ‘I’m safe’ message or call. I always send the photos of the person I am meeting, along with their name and any other details they may have given me to a friend, I let at least one friend know where I am going and what time, and we have an arranged ‘message me at this time, if you don’t I will call, if you don’t answer or call me back within 5 minutes I call the police’. I always set an alarm, if things are going well, I simply text the friend that all is going well, and I will let them know when I am home safe. I recall a time when a friend of mine went on her first date with a man she met on Tinder on a hike in a location about 45 minutes from our town. Another friend and I were informed of this, and both of us expressed serious concern about going on a hike with someone that you had never met in a location where there was little reception and not many people. Notwithstanding our reservations, this friend proceeded to go on the date, and we made safety plans, she was to call us by a certain time, and if she did not, we would be calling the police. Thankfully all went well, and she called us from her car before her deadline (and she ended up happily married to this man!). The point is, though, to have a safety plan, things may happen, but if the police need to be contacted, someone needs to be able to advise the police where you were, who you were with etc.
  5. Do trust your gut instincts – If something does not feel right or if someone seems too good to be true, proceed with caution! We have all heard of the recent case where a female thought she was talking to/dating the actor, Lincoln Lewis. There is a TV series (8 seasons currently!) of situations where people have been catfished. These are some red flags to watch out for:
    1. If the person tells you they are an actor or model or some such celebrity (this is not to say that these types of people aren’t on the Apps, just proceed with caution and suspicion! I have had a situation where I matched with a man who was somewhat of a celebrity (an ex-rugby union player, had been on Made in Chelsea and was now some high-flying CEO type). I was 100% suspicious, not to mention his photos were dreamy! I proceeded to meet him and I was pleasantly surprised that it was, in fact, the real deal! I agreed to meet with him first because his conversation didn’t raise any red flags, he wanted to meet me, and we met that same evening, having matched earlier that day (he wasn’t trying to hide from me as most catfishes will!).
    2. They have a traumatic story that they tell to try and get sympathy. We all have history and trauma, but if someone is telling you a story straight out of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or Days of Our Lives – Red Flag!
    3. They won’t speak to you on the phone, won’t Facetime with you or won’t meet up with you – massive red flag! Most of the Apps these days have a phone/video component so you can chat/video without exchanging your number. Some people I know have the rule that they won’t go on a date unless they have spoken with or videoed with the person they are chatting to. I don’t necessarily go by this rule, though if given the opportunity or I feel like I need to know if the person is the real deal, I will ask to talk on the phone or video chat if this is refused…. then there is no date happening. I have, however, been on plenty of dates where I haven’t spoken to the person on the phone or video them, and that’s because I wasn’t getting any gut instincts that were telling me I had to.
    4. They ask you for money! This is a huge red flag and should be avoided. Think of the Tinder swindler if this ever happens.

Think of the dating situation like getting into a swimming pool or lake, put your foot in first and test out the water.

Dating, in general, can be overwhelming. Dating after separation/divorce after being with your partner for many years is even more so. The world of dating has certainly changed. My suggestion is to think of the dating situation like getting into a swimming pool or lake, put your foot in first and test out the water. Start with one App and see how it goes. If you don’t find it suitable, perhaps step to the side and try a different App or if the water is too cold, back out until you are ready to try again. Go in with an intention and a positive attitude, you may find someone straight off the bat, or you may end up deleting, re-installing, deleting, and re-installing different Apps.

Still, if you have a positive attitude and an intention of what you are looking for, it can be a lot of fun! You may even make some great friends along the way (one of my Tinder matches has become one of my best friends!). Embrace the new you and enjoy the journey!

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