The other day, a single friend of mine confessed that after a particularly disappointing Tinder meet-up, he went home and actually googled, “How to win at online dating.” He likened the entire process to a game, and he was frustrated that no matter how often he played, he couldn’t seem to get to the next level with anyone. Where were the cheat codes?
Lucky for him —and anyone else tired of being a “player” — there do seem to be tried and true methods that will drastically improve your chances of finding love on a dating app.
The League, one such app, recently debuted LeagueLove, where newly-engaged or married couples who met on the platform can share their stories and offer advice. Additionally, they pulled data from 100 “success stories,” which they qualified as League users who’d been dating for a year or longer, to analyze what their interactions had in common, and how they differed from those of unsuccessful matches.
When Anna Wood matched with her now-fiancé Tracey, she wasn’t even trying to be that successful. “I was not looking for a relationship at the time,” she tells BRIDES, as she was focusing on completing her MBA at Stanford. “But, well—I loved his smile. And, we had this great banter, which was really important to me. We met up, and everything was pretty fast from there.”
So in pursuit of those cheat codes, we asked Anna and Tracey to corroborate which League-identified success trends played out in their own scenario, and then extend any additional tips from personal experience.
See below for seven ways to raise your game, so you can eventually get out of it.
1. Talk that Talk, Baby
The average couple on The League sent an average of 10 messages before exchanging telephone numbers, while LeagueLove pairings had an average of 34 back-and-forths (about 17 messages each). Make an effort to get to know one another, and you’ll already be a little invested before you even meet face to face.
Tracey guesstimates he and Anna messaged Anna even beyond that threshold. “By the time we had each other’s numbers, we felt very comfortable,” he says. “We had this witty banter back and forth, and that led to a more playful, fun first date date. I wanted to do something that was still casual, but also special.” (The pair attended a Stanford women’s tennis tournament, followed by dinner, drinks, and frozen yogurt.)
2. Harness the Power of the Emoji
What you say is obviously equally important to matchmaking. Over 70 percent of LeagueLove users used their match’s first name throughout the conversation, and ended at least one sentence with a “haha” or emoji.
“An emoji is worth a thousand words,” jokes Anna, who appreciated Tracey’s frequent employment of ?, ?, and ?. “All of our convos were sassy and funny.”
Tracey admitted he holds back on the emoji firing in his guy friend group chat, but “with Anna, I wasn’t shy. A well-placed emoji is pretty strategic.” He also says they “haha”-ed a lot (“We’re not big ‘lol’ people”), and used each other’s names. “But I took it a step further: I dug in pretty quickly to nicknames.” Good tip, T!
3. Don’t Procrasti-date
Most online daters (this author included) are guilty of some proscrasti-dating—putting off actually meeting someone in real-life with meandering messages and non-comital, non-specific plans. (“I’m totally slammed at work, but let’s get drinks some time soon!”) Stop doing that. Over 80 percent of LeagueLove peeps suggested meeting up within the first week of interaction, and followed up with a possible activity — all within those 34 first messages. Anna recalls the tennis date happening within the first week or so of messaging, followed by a music festival the next weekend, and then a trip to Lake Tahoe soon after that.
“We made our schedules very flexible,” says Tracey. “I supported that she wanted to focus on business school and have fun and be single, but I was also really persistent.”
4. Ladies, Be Aggressive! B-E Aggressive Too!
In one out of every three heterosexual LeagueLove matches, the woman messaged first! Though this wasn’t the case for Tracey and Anna, both agreed that putting yourself out there and taking some risks were crucial for connection-making on a dating app.
5. Consider Age Before Beauty
We’ve always heard age ain’t nothing but a number, but LeagueLove couples had an average age gap of three years, compared to the six-year breach between non-success stories. If you’re looking to go the distance, it could help if there’s less of it between you and your significant other. (Anna is 28 and Tracey is 30.)
6. Try for Fewer Degrees of Separation
While this could apply to the idea that it’s helpful to have friends in common (For the record, Anna says, “One of the reasons I went out with Tracey was because you can see if you have mutual friends, and it turned out we had a ton in common.”), we’re also talking about the degrees bestowed on you by a place of higher education. Though of course there are exceptions, The League found that over 80 percent of LeagueLovers had obtained the same level of education, and more than half went to colleges and universities that are similarly ranked. This could indicate that sharing a value for education, and a similar educational experience, may have a positive effect on commonalities and interactions between the two of you.
Tracey is working on his MBA right now, while Anna completed hers and went on to start her own company.
See more: 4 Apps for Couples You and Your S.O. Can Try Right Now
7. Open Up a Little More Than You Think You Should
Our final tidbit doesn’t have official stats from The League as back-up, but comes straight from Tracey and Anna’s thoughts on how to find a meaningful, long-lasting connection on a dating app.
“I’d say—and this goes for both parties, but especially guys—don’t be afraid to be vulnerable,” says Tracey. “Let people see who you really are. If you’re sincere about finding a person, it takes being uncomfortable and open. That’s hard, but embrace it and you have a good chance at finding amazing things.”
For Anna’s piece, being open also means alleviating some of that built-in romantic pressure right from the get-go. “Just look to meet interesting people,” she says. “If you’re just looking to be in a serious relationship—any serious relationship—people can sniff that out a mile away. It’s not appealing to be the person who has to say, ‘I’m not convinced you want to necessarily be in a relationship with me.’ But if you’re just open to meeting people—whether it turns into friendship or mentorship, or a relationship—then that’s how you can be true to yourself the most and make the best, most authentic connections—then those turn into relationships.”