The Pessimist’s Guide to Online Dating

It’s up for debate whether the internet has made dating more like applying for a job or applying for a job more like dating, but nowadays both involve seeing something you like, putting a lot of thought into an application and then not receiving any response.

But relationships, like jobs, are a necessary evil, and if you’re hoping to find love in the 21st Century chances are you’ll have to resort to dating apps, and getting the most out of these requires a familiarity with certain expected conventions.


First of all, and most importantly, you need an attractive set of pictures. It’s on these that most prospective partners will base a snap judgement on your character, and it pays to remember that, despite what you think you might have learnt from Richard Curtis movies, nobody likes eccentrics.

Photos of you indulging in weird and unusual hobbies like line dancing or painting will only alienate potential matches. You should save revealing such unseemly habits until after you’ve tricked someone into falling for you. In the meantime it’s better to stay conservative and follow these standard templates:

  • A picture of you wearing sunglasses in the driver’s seat of a small car.
  • A picture of you with a dead animal.
  • A picture of you either skiing or climbing a wall studded with colourful plastic rocks.
  • A picture of you waving a can of Red Stripe at a music festival that isn’t Glastonbury.
  • A picture of you very obviously pissed out of your face that you unaccountably think makes you look irresistible.

If you don’t have any of the above, you can also consider half a dozen photos where your face is obscured by a cartoon dog’s nose and Where’s Wally glasses or, if you’re sophisticated, a single black and white photograph in which most of your face is obscured by shadow.


Next comes the bio. These can be particularly dense with jargon and euphemisms that is difficult to decode, which is why nobody reads them.  Some of the most common ones and their translations include:

  • INFP – I like to take part in spurious online surveys.
  • 😜😝🤗🤑😇 – I have spent so much time using dating apps that I have forgotten how to speak English.
  • I love to travel – I have so much more money than you.
  • I am incredibly ambitious – I have so much more money than you.
  • Good job; own house; own car – I have so much more money than you.


Once you’ve secured a match, coming up with an engaging opening line can be tricky. It’s tasteful to avoid hoary old chat up lines, but best not to overthink this: remember that the aim is just to open a dialogue. The two tried and tested ice-breakers are:

  • If you’re a woman, the word ‘Hey’ with absolutely no follow up.
  • If you’re a man: a photo of your cock and balls.

If online dating proves anything it’s that yes, your ideal partner is out there, yes, they live in your area and no, they’re not interested.

Having familiarised yourself with the above you’re sure to land a hot date soon, but it’s important to be thick skinned. Don’t get disheartened if you don’t immediately pick up lots of matches.

While Tinder and Bumble might look like a catalogue of potential romances, it’s more accurately a catalogue of people who expressly do not fancy you, so get used to 95% of swipes not being matches, rising to 100% for anyone you find physically attractive and interested in all the same things as you.