At this point, dating apps are as common as Kanye’s rants — and maybe just as tough to figure out. Yet when it comes to choosing between trying to meet someone at a bar and hanging out behind a screen, I’ll take lying in bed and coating myself with Cheeto dust while perusing Tinder any day.

But even when buried in the depths of my own snacking, I realize that every Swipe® is a first impression. It’s a chance to communicate and connect. Yes, datings apps can be challenging, even overwhelming at times. But there’s a major difference between making mistakes while navigating online dating and just being an asshole. Below, some pointers I’ve picked up along the way.

1. Say something about yourself.

One of the benefits of dating apps is the speed with which you can decide if you have a connection with someone. No more awkward small talk. No more having to go to crowded bars when you’re tired. No more wondering, What am I going to do with this shirtless picture of me fishing? (Seriously can we stop using those pictures, though?)

Remember, the description feature is there for a reason. I’m not saying you have to attach the essay you used for the Common App. You don’t even have to make an award-winning joke. But the more you share about your interests and who you are, the better chance you have of forming a meaningful connection. Having Tinder and not including a bio is like having a toaster and not making Toaster Strudel.


2. Be and act interested.

Important reminder: I’m an idiot. I make jokes about dumb things like Go-Gurt for a living. But even I can see the importance of asking open-ended versus yes/no questions that lead to dead ends. Still, when I surveyed my sister and two strangers in my UberPOOL (they did not like me), they all said that this is a common issue they encounter with men on dating apps. Scientific? Perhaps not. But still worth thinking about.

Bottom line: Just because we’re interacting through a screen doesn’t mean we have to act like robots.

3. Learn that dick pics are never okay.

Guys, if you are lucky enough to get your Tinder match’s number, don’t ruin it by texting a dick pic. I know some people who refuse to believe men send dick pics. They do. So please stop. I’m begging you. In fact, don’t just stop. Stop, then ask yourself why you thought sending that shit was okay to do in the first place. That’s sexual harassment. Also, I’m scared to even look at myself naked in the mirror. So basically, I’m pretty sure you’re a sociopath if you send dick pics.


4. Don’t be like Halley’s Comet.

Halley’s Comet will appear next in 2062. It’s great to have something on the calendar to look forward to, but maybe plan something for before robots take over the Earth. The point of being on a dating app is to eventually meet up (hopefully sooner rather than later).

Look, we’re all busy, but until you see and talk to someone in person, you won’t know whether there is truly a spark. That being said, there’s a line between pushy and excited. If the person you are talking with needs more than one day to be comfortable meeting up, respect that. If I were a woman, I wouldn’t want to meet up with most men either. Unless it was Jon Hamm. Or Cap’n Crunch.

5. Accept that rejection is part of dating.

Save for food, water, and shelter, we’re not entitled to anything. If you match with someone and it doesn’t work out, respect that. No need to call them horrible things. No need to swear revenge on your kids’ names. Just. Move. On. Also, please note, once again, that this is not an excuse to send an unsolicited dick pic.

It’s taken me a long time to learn this and actually, I’m still working on learning it — but it’s important to realize that not being right for one person doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or that you won’t ever find love. Unless you send unsolicited dick pics. Plus, climate change is going to kill us all anyway, so we better learn to deal with rejection appropriately and move forward.

Read more tips from Tinder on dating safely