Two hours after my ex-boyfriend moved out, my phone rang—I had landed a job in Montreal. It was a breath of fresh air. Instead of holding back tears each time I passed by our favourite Toronto coffee shop, my single life would be filled with wine dates and walks through Old Montreal.

But after months of frequenting dive bars, reality hit, and I knew I needed to find a better way to meet people. So I gave in to my friends’ pleas and joined Tinder.

When the application launched in 2012, many, including myself, considered it a straight version of Grindr, the site designed for gay, bisexual or curious men to hook up anywhere in the world. But as I swiped through pictures of nearby singles on Tinder, I realized that it’s more than a quick fix for a one-night stand. The app has become a virtual bar where people meet. If the eligible bachelor I “like” hits the green check mark on my profile, we can start messaging each other—it’s as if we’ve locked eyes at a local watering hole. So I started chatting and even dating. But all the Tinder fails became frustrating. Why didn’t some of my most intriguing matches lead to dates? And why weren’t some of the guys I matched with striking up conversations? Was I supposed to message them first? Could something that seemed so simple (swipe right!) really be this complex?

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I needed answers, so I decided to go to the source: men. Here are a few tips they shared with me that helped maximize my Tinder dating experience:

NO SELFIES Your best duck face might be funny to a friend, but it’s a turnoff for most men. Although all the men agreed that your first photo should be a clear headshot, they thought selfies show a lack of self-confidence.

Dave, 31, a lawyer in Toronto “It shows a certain type of girl. How many selfies did she have to take before she actually got one she liked?”
Joseph, 34, a producer in Vancouver “You should be able to find good pictures of yourself taken by other people. If you can’t, it’s kind of a warning sign. It also kind of suggests narcissism.”
Julian, 29, an acupuncturist in Toronto “Only having blurry pictures of yourself or pictures from one angle gives me the impression you’re hiding something.”

LIMIT GROUP SHOTS The other extreme is loading your profile with shots of you and your friends having a good time. Men don’t want to play Where’s Waldo to figure out which bridesmaid you are.

Greg, 27, a journalist in Montreal
“There’s another girl at every swipe. If I’m not sure which one you are, I’m saying no.”
Joseph “It’s especially annoying when it’s the first photo. You have one photo to get my attention, and you failed.”

USE YOUR PROFILE TO TELL A STORY No one wants to read paragraphs of likes and dislikes. But most men find Tinder’s bio section underutilized. Say a bit about yourself; list your true interests or what you’re looking for. Then use your photos to show yourself actually doing those activities.

“It doesn’t have to be the unauthorized biography of Tinder Girl 86. But text is a way to really get across how your mind works.”
Leslie, 29, a policy analyst in Toronto “It’s like a resumé. There are hundreds of girls out there, so you have to have something that stands out.”
Vincent, 30, a sales rep in Montreal “Famous quotes are a turnoff. There’s one quote that girls use by Marilyn Monroe: ‘If you can’t take me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.’ That’s aggressive. I have no interest in knowing you at your worst or best at the moment. It tells me nothing about who you are.”

SEND THE FIRST MESSAGE Make a move and keep the conversation flowing. There’s no need to wait several hours before responding to a message.

Adam, 32,
who works in media in Montreal “Always having to reach out with a witty comment is stressful. It’s hot if a girl messages me first.”
Vincent “Sometimes it takes hours for a girl to message me back. By then the conversation has lost momentum.”

DON’T FAKE IT Also known as “Be yourself.” Men want to see if you have the same type of humour and be reassured that you have enough shared interests to spark conversation on a date.

“Don’t be afraid to offer your opinion. If you have a certain sense of humour, show it. We’ll see if we click.”
Joseph “I get a one-sentence answer, and then I have to keep probing. I know some girls are shy, but don’t be afraid to ask me questions.”

DON’T PLAN AN ELABORATE FIRST DATE Men don’t want to feel pressured to have to spend hours with you on the first meeting. If the first few rounds of drinks go well, they’ll propose a follow-up.

Daniel, 29, a resident physician in Ottawa
“I don’t know why some girls want me to meet them and all their friends the first night. I don’t know you yet; I don’t want to be introduced to your entire life story right away.”
Leslie “Never, ever go for dinner on the first date. Pick something more casual where either of us can walk away if there’s no spark.”
Adam “If drinks are going well, I’ll even suggest we catch a show or grab food the same night.”

TAKE A TINDER BREAK IF THE DATE GOES WELL With all the options out there, it can be difficult to stop swiping. But most men agree that if the first date is a hit, try not to go on Tinder for at least a day. They don’t want to know how much you are playing the field.                                       

Dave “After the first or second date, it’s a bit off-putting if someone’s always active.”
Julian “I try not to go on to give it some level of commitment. I want to wait for a second date and not introduce all these other variables.”

So with these simple tips in mind, swipe away. You might just get swept away.

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