It took roughly two years for Dan, a 36-year-old working in finance, to do something about his frustration with dating apps.
He’d been using Bumble and Tinder, off and on, without much success. On weekdays, forget it. Weekends, a fit of swiping right might land him ten or so matches. Maybe one, if he was lucky, would ever lead to a date.
“I was downloading the apps and then deleting them soon after,” he said. “It was so boring, trying to be unique, trying to be clever. I don’t think my personality comes across on them,” he said. “I’ve been unmatched [for] telling a joke. It was very frustrating.”
Dan knew other guys who were having all the luck in the world, which gave him an idea — why not check out the competition to see what he could learn about the behaviors of more successful men?
“I have a friend who doesn’t have much of a personality, and even he seemed to be having more success,” said Dan. “I wanted to see the other profiles of the guys.”
Single men are so fed up with the online dating game that some of them are resorting to virtual gender-bending, posing as women not only in order to suss out the competition, but also to experience life on the other side.
“At the beginning of the summer I had two clients mention, unprompted, that they made profiles of women,” said Blaine Anderson, a dating coach for straight men in Austin, Texas. “I thought it was unusual, but then another guy recently reached out on Instagram and said the same thing. I was like, ‘This is starting to feel like a pattern.’”
One day last week, Anderson polled her followers on Instagram to see who had done this, and over 250 responded in the affirmative.
“Women get a ton of matches despite what their profile looks like, and the reality is most men, even really eligible bachelors, guys who would make good partners, don’t get many matches,” she said.
Bumble did not respond to a request for numbers, and Tinder said the company doesn’t share data on matches externally. All companies have strict policies against catfishing, which is why the men in this article didn’t want to give their full names.
But anecdotally, men seem far less likely to match with people on dating apps than women.
One dater, Jeremy Cryer, recently went viral on Tik Tok with his plight.
“You do realize for guys we have to wait like weeks to get liked, let alone a person we are interested in,” he said.
His female co-worker, by contrast, was talking to 39 people after being on a dating app for three days, Cryer told his followers.
Dan found this to be true when posted a new profile about six months ago on Tinder — this time, as a woman. “I got far more matches,” he said, estimating a typical weekend might net him, or more specifically, his female persona, more than 50 potential suitors at a time.
For his experiment, he used the name and picture of an ex-girlfriend — “She lives in another country, so she would never find out,” he said — and started swiping. By examining other guys’ pictures and prompts, he started paying attention to what they were doing right, and what he was doing wrong.
Dan, who lives in Cheltenham, a spa and horse racing town in England, quickly began to wonder if a lot of his problem didn’t have to do with branding. One thing his competitors had, that he didn’t, was better pictures.
“My pictures tend to be selfies,” he said. “They had candid photos of [themselves] doing different activities.”
They also seemed to put more thought into their written profiles, describing themselves thoroughly, and talking about what they want.
Dan’s overall takeaway? He had been slacking.
“People put time into this,” he said. “I realized if I want to do better at the apps, I should too.”
Some men have specific goals when making profiles as women.
A 28-year-old who lives in New York City and works in social media, told The Post that he began posting on Hinge as a woman four months ago. He specifically wanted to see which profiles made it into the male version of the app’s Spotlight section, which showcases the most desirable, most-liked candidates.
Until then, he was getting a regular stream of matches, but he wasn’t sure they were the best quality women.
“I was doing decently, but I wanted to see if there was anything I could improve,” he said. “I wanted my profile to be at its best potential.”
He browsed Instagram and found a photo of a woman who lives on the other side of the country to use for his fake profile. His takeaways were specific.
“I learned that most of the men are at least 5’10 and are decent looking,” he said. “They also have a variety of pictures showing some hobbies, and I think one of the prompts is usually light-hearted and kind of funny.”
He and his female alter-ego are currently on a break from Hinge, but he is going to use this feedback to create a new profile, once he returns to swiping as himself.
“I think I should get one good picture of me on vacation doing something cool, like jet-skiing in a tropical location, or in front of some famous, Instagrammable location,” he said.
Others are playing online games of ‘Tootsie’ in order to eavesdrop on their competitors’ pickup lines.
Casey, 30, an accountant in western New York, wanted to see what kind of messages men send women.
“A lot of them were stupid like, ‘Hey, hey, beautiful,’ but there were a few that I thought were really good, like responding to something that was in my profile.”
Casey, like the other men interviewed for this story, justified his actions as ethical because he didn’t actually respond to anyone.
“I didn’t let it get to a point where I felt bad,” he said. “I wasn’t going to message anybody back, or make it more serious.”
Administrators on the apps tend to feel differently about these types of experiments.
Harry, a 22-year-old who just graduated from college and lives in Birmingham, England, got kicked off of Tinder within 20 minutes after making a fake profile as a woman.
“It started getting likes before the profile had even been completed,” he said. “People probably reported it, as it may have seemed too good to be true.”
Anderson, the dating coach, partly understands why men want to create profiles as women.
“They want to scope out the competition, which is arguably normal,” she said. “A smart guy is going to be curious about what other guys are like.”
After all, she noted, “in today’s age, an attractive woman has her choice of thousands of men she can swipe through in a single weekend.”
But she worries they may come away from the exercise feeling even more frustrated. They may feel exhilarated getting many connections as women, but when they return to the apps as themselves, they are still stuck.
“It reinforces their suspicions about dating apps,” she said. “And that is not the mindset you need to be successful at online dating.”
That appears to be the case for Dan, who already had one demanding, full-time job, and hesitated to spend much more of his energy on the apps, which were starting to feel a lot like unpaid labor. In the end, Dan may have learned a lot about what he was doing wrong, but ultimately, he decided — for now — an app like Tinder wasn’t the right platform for him.
“Why spend all this time swiping,” he said, “When any like I am going to give is going to end up at the bottom of the pile? It’s pointless, really.”