Women of New Zealand - it's been more than five years now since Tinder splashed onto the scene, and swiped the old dating rule book away.
It used to be that you'd go down to the bar, make some eyes at the cute lads along the way, and with a bit of luck they'd sidle up and start a chat. Sure, some culling was required, but at least you could do it right there and then, live in 3D!
Well, that doesn't really happen much any more. There's a whole new generation of lads out there who have never, ever in their lives cold-approached a woman. The reason being, they're glued to their phones on Sunday and Monday nights, queuing up the week's dates from Tinder and Bumble.
We love to hate dating apps. We load them up, swipe up some matches, then rage-delete them when gammy-tooth Derek turns out to have three kids by two exes. It's enough to make a girl binge-eat her way through a Bridget Jones marathon.
Sure, dating apps can be frustrating, but they are also a super effective way to meet lots of eligible bachelors who you'd never stumble across "IRL".
Your profile is your sole path to making a match with a high-quality chap. If you don't match, you can't chat. If you can't chat, you can't go for a quiet G'nT or five, then slip him back to your boudoir mumbling "I don't normally do this".
To understand what men think makes a great profile, I needed to talk to the boys. In particular, I sought the advice of one of the most desirable, eligible bachelors I know, and veteran of many dates both digital and non.
Enter Mr X, an inner Auckland denizen who has been on more than a few good and bad digital dates in his life, and knows a thing or two about what a profile says about you.
This is his gold-plated advice on how to pimp yourself for the 21st century. Ladies, ignore him at your peril.
Have a great first picture
First impressions count. This is probably the single most important part of your profile, so take your time, and make it great.
Your first pic should be of you only -not with friends. It should be high quality, in good light (preferably daytime), and not with sunglasses.
Avoid a cropped shot, where you've evicted your friends and you're left lurking over one side of the frame. It's just weird. Ideally it's a close-up head and shoulders, but full-length portrait is ok too. If you do just one thing, choose this first photo well, it's responsible for 90 per cent of your matches.
All your pics are grainy and blown up
You're setting up your profile at home one evening, and you're randomly pulling shots off Insta and FB.
Trouble is, Stacey took that shot from the far side of the club and your face is about 3 pixels wide. Easy, just zoom in right? NO. It looks terrible. Even blown up to double size from normal resolution is a big 'no-no'.
pixelated photos look cheap, and I can't tell what you look like. Left-swipe.
Too many group shots
Don't do this. To quality gentlemen, this is a frequent left swipe. Life is short, and you're asking me to compare every photo to tell who you are.
You would be AMAZED by the number of times, on that tiny screen, I literally cannot tell who is who.
Lighting, makeup and outfits combine to make this feel like a bad game of Cluedo. Don't be Miss Mystery in the Conservatory with the Left Swipe.
Secondly, as a guy, I'll usually find one of your friends more attractive than you. It's nothing personal, just the law of averages. Then I'm going to have to think carefully about whether I would accidentally crush on your mate should we start seeing each other.
Include a full-length shot
If it's all selfies and close-ups, then sorry ladies, I'm going to assume you're a larger girl, or very tall, or very short. Even if you aren't.
Include a full length shot of you looking fab. There are literally hundreds of guys out there who will like your body type just as it is.
The only thing you do by being cagey about this facet of attraction is end up on a bunch of bad dates with guys who are shorter than you, or are only into artistic waifs when you're a luscious madam.
Pointless and painful for all. Everyone has an outfit and an angle that will show off their figure in all it's glory.
Very common photos that aren't so great
There are a few types of photos that you'd think would be awesome, but kinda aren't.
These include you at the end of the Colour Run or a Yoga festival, all sweaty and happy.
By all means include an active shot of you running, or kicking the shit out of someone in MMA (mmm kinda hot), but this is one occasion where you want that camera to back the truck up! Don't go close. This shot is just to round out who you are, not an identifier.
One of the best photos I've seen in this vein was a kite board shot with the subject in about 1/10th of the frame, kicking it off the lip of a wave like a pro. Sexy! On reflection, it might not even have been her. But whatever, it got her a right swipe.
Another type of shot to play down are shots that involve you wearing a lot of gear. If you're a scuba diver, a shot of you chilling with a soda on the boat would work better than you with your mask, BCD, and weight belt on. Aqua blimp!
I'm a diver, so I get it, we love the sport but all I want to know as your potential suitor is that you do it. Likewise horse rider, skier, or anything with a helmet or goggles. By all means include one, it tells me about you. But in general, stick to the far away rule.
Other photo disasters to avoid
• All sunglasses shots. I can't tell what you actually look like. Left swipe.
• All selfies. I can't get any context on you, and you look self-absorbed even if you aren't. Left swipe.
• Never smiling. Either you are dour and humourless, or you have bad teeth. Remember, you might think you look cuter with a pout, but every other human prefers photos of you smiling. It's how we're wired.
• Worst of all - mostly Snapchat face filters. The message these send me is you're not comfortable with who you are. I might forgive you for one, but any more than that is an instant left swipe.
Ahh, the bio. We've been at this game for half a decade now, but still as a whole we're terrible at this basic task.
I've lost count of the number of times I've scrolled through some pics, felt a spark of attraction, then hit the bio and bolted for the hills like a man possessed. Or a man escaping from someone possessed.
Less is more, but nothing is worse
The empty bio is not acceptable in 2018. You'll still get matches, but discerning guys will pass and you'll be left with the also-rans. First and foremost, no bio shows a lack of effort.
If you can't be bothered with this, will you be bothered chatting? Or bothering to show up if we set a time to meet? Or stack your plates in the dishwasher, should we marry?
Likewise, the "I'm no good at these things / I never know what to write here / my friend wrote it" comment. We're past that stage now girl. Swat up, make an effort, and put a few words down.
So what length bio is right? I can't say for sure, but I get compliments on my bio and it's about 50 words long. You might choose 25 or 60, but there we have a range we know can work.
Start with who you ARE, not what you want
A super common mistake many women make is leading off with a list of the things they want (and don't want) in a partner.
On the face of it, this seems sensible. You're being honest! You're screening out the riff-raff.
The problem is, unless it's done with exceptional humour, it very frequently comes across as a laundry list of past relationship tragedies. As you tick off your criteria, I imagine Derek who wore pants too wide, Ben who used a calculator to split the bill down to the cent, and Silvio who fled back to Argentina when you dropped the b-word.
This stuff can unfold on a date, but your bio is not the place for it. Instead, be positive and tell the potential suitor about you.
Humour is the way to say anything
"But how will people know what I want! I'm drowning in dudes who just want a quick turn, while my eggs are dying!" you cry. Easy. You can say what you want, if you do it with humour.
Want kids in the next few years? "Huge fan of maternity magazines, bonus points if your nan knits booties."
After something longer term? "We might not get to 75 years like the Queen and Prince Philip, but let's aim the bar a little higher than two dates?" On this point only, if you really can't come up with something funny, it's ok to say "Looking for something long term".
Which leads us to…
Say what you're here for
Setting out your stall on what you want, in a relaxed manner, is probably the most important part of your bio. And getting it right is going to save us all a lot of time.
Sadly it's an evolution that NZ digital daters are still working through. Not so in, say, Amsterdam. There, you'll find bios that contain a refreshing range of honest human desires, like this:
"I'm here for 5 days, where are all the hot boys!"
"I'm mostly after for friends with benefits, let's see how it goes"
"I'm in a great open relationship. Looking for other connections that are meaningful"
"I'm looking for something long term"
"Kink-friendly" (the mind wanders)
Remember, say what you are looking for, not what you're not. Positivity is sexy. And one small suggestion: don't use the word "meaningful" when you mean "long term".
Marriage is not for everyone, and there are plenty of short and medium term relationships that are hugely meaningful to the people involved.
Bio sins to avoid like the plague
"Looking for a guy with a good sense of humour". Oh dear .You might as well say "I'm looking for a human being." Everyone wants that. Literally. Every. Single. Woman.
Actually make that every human being. It does nothing to distinguish you… why would a guy with a GSOH choose you? He's a catch and he knows it, so save your precious characters for proving to him that you're funny too.
"I deserve a good man". You know nothing John Snow. No one deserves anything… we earn quality relationships through attention, kindness, generosity, and warmth. Show me you have those things. For the kind of considerate, thoughtful guy you crave, "I deserve" is a huge turn off, and it does nothing to deter douche bags.
"If you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best". This is literally the worst quote ever. All it says to a nice suitor is "I have never once tried to gain control over my teenage anger and irrationality". This is a human failing, not just a female one. But if you're thinking like this, try some meditation instead, and never use this phrase, or anything like it. Ever.
So what makes a good bio?
Here's a basic bio format that anyone can follow. It's not rocket science, but it works for me and most guys I know agree.
• What are a few of your passions and interests outside work?
• What are you here for?
• A little quip about something
Here's one I prepared earlier, using my own advice:
"Unrepentant cat fan seeks outdoorsy gentleman for something of the longer term variety. Interest in indoor plant collections, manga, and rom coms a plus. Ability to dance salsa a bonus, but could be taught to a willing participant! 5'11 in heels… just sayin."
This lass is telling the interested gentleman something about her interests, in a way that's more fun than a list. Cats over dogs, weird and cheesy movies, dancer. Hidden in the subtext, she's kind, because she's offering to do something (teach dance) to someone she likes. And she's saying "please don't be short", without actually saying it.
Finally here's one I read recently, and quite liked:
"I don't save lives, but I try not to ruin them".
Now, this doesn't give me much to go on, but it's funny and self aware. I found her cute. We're going on a date this week, I'll let you know whether she's telling the truth.