It’s been brought to my attention I have a unique perspective to dating and relationships. It’s taken as a given that nerds have a hard time meeting women and that online dating is designed entirely for chads and the like. I think that’s more or less true, but that doesn’t mean you can’t optimize your chances.
Tinder and dating apps more broadly are just social games at scale and though nerds generally lack the social experience to win these social games outright, they generally have as much or more experience with games more broadly. I find framing social games through the lens of videos games to be a rewarding strategy.
The Safari Zone
Most of you should be familiar with the Safari Zone in the main series Pokemon games (the new Sword and Shield game is dropping next month and I’m a little too excited for it). A closed off portion of the game where the standard capture rules are removed in exchange for the ability to find otherwise super rare pokemon. This game mechanic has had multiple iterations during the main series games so I’m going to stick with the original tried and true version of the Safari Zone for this article.
Within the Safari Zone — henceforth written as SZ — you have to catch pokemon within a limited number of “steps” and when you encounter a pokemon you are only allowed to “throw a rock,” “throw bait,” or “throw a ball.” When you throw a rock, the pokemon is more likely to run–but theyre easier to catch. When you throw bait, the pokemon is more likely to stay–but they’re in turn harder to catch. Pretty straightforward. The game within the safari zone is to balance the ease-of-catch with the likelihood of running away.
Messaging on tinder is designed much the same way.
The thing men seem to forget is that women are inundated with choices. If you get the chance to hang out with an attractive girl who has a tinder account, ask her to show you what’s it like on their end for like 5 minutes–you’ll be astonished. They swipe no on pretty much everyone until someone catches their eye, then they open the pictures, skim the profile and swipe yes. With like 90% likelihood they immediately match with that guy. This goes on for maybe 15 minutes and she has like 30 matches. It’s insane actually.
Women on these apps have endless options, subsequently they behave like someone with endless options–as a pokemon in the SZ.
Let’s consider the Tinder experience from the female perspective. We’ll stick with the hypothetical 30 matches from above. Women are probably not going to message you first, so let’s say of the 30 matches, 5-10 never send them a message. Leaving 20.
Of the remaining 20 matches, fifteen of them send something akin to “Hey.” Low effort messages. Now, unfortunately you have to still compete with one or two of these “hey” guys because they are just so attractive to her she doesn’t give a fuck about their low effort message.
This leaves about 5 plus or minus 2 accounts in the running and hopefully yours is in there. Great. The odds have greatly shifted in your favor. Here’s the next bit of free alpha. Of these 5 guys, they’re all pretty starved for female..ahem…intimacy, so they’re all trying to catch her the same way that you tried to catch that rare Scyther or Chansey in the SZ as a kid. You immediately threw a ball and they ran away.
“Omg I don’t want to miss this opportunity, let me immediately try to ask her on a date.” Wrong answer, she never responds.
If you were slightly more savvy, you might have gone straight to bait. “This will work, it increases the likelihood the pokemon will stay.” Okay, this might help. She likes the attention, she stays thanks to you witty opening line or compliment. She says “thank you” and some arbitrary emoji. Great, she responded! You try some more cutesie shit and she keeps talking to you. Tip-toeing around the fact that you want to catch this pokemon because you don’t want her to run away. Here’s the problem, much like in the SZ, the more bait you throw, the less likely the pokemon is to be captured. In fact, real life is similar to the SZ mechanics: for every bait thrown, the rate of capture is halved.
You may need to throw bait, but you need to remember that throwing rocks is actually what increases the catch rate. What do I mean by “rocks?”
You are far more likely to catch girls in the SZ by playfully teasing them than you are by complimenting them.
Let’s think about the scenario I laid out. Of the 5 guys still on the table for her, almost all of them are opening with a compliment. There’s nothing enticing about them. Rene Girard is a philosopher who came up with the concept of mimetic desire. He proposed, we want things which we see “an Other desire or have.” If all of these guys are pining for her attention, nothing about them stands out. However, if you open with playful teasing, you are now likely the only guy there who doesn’t seem like he’s trying that hard. This sends the message that you have options. It sends the signal that there are other women who want you.
There are other options to open with besides playful teasing. You could also open with something sort of vulgar or brazen as well. I don’t know if I’d suggest this if you’re not having much success to begin with. You might be seen at creepy and it’s pretty high risk.
As with all things, throwing a rock on the opening line isn’t guaranteed to keep her from running. She very well may not respond. That’s perfectly fine. From time to time, I’ll send another more brazen line the following week. The real goal is to get her to respond. Tinder recently has been secretive about their matching algorithm, but if there is still some semblance of the ELO left, then getting girls with a higher internal attractiveness rank than yours to respond increases the likelihood that your profile will be seen by other women. Even if she responds with a “not interested” or whatever, that’s a response. It ups your ranking.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying to harass women on Tinder. Use tact. Don’t message her with “OMG I WANT TO SLURP YOUR [redacted].” You’re trying to demonstrate you have high social value.
Okay, once she responds, I think it’s important to consider the other major mechanic of the SZ here, and that’s time. In the games, you are intimately aware that the pokemon can run away any second. So, you don’t spend a week and half texting the pokemon back and forth and learning everything about their life before you meet up. No, you throw your bait, your rocks, and then you start throwing pokeballs to catch it (yes, the metaphor is getting pretty convoluted, but just roll with me).
When you have the girl responding to your messages, it’s important that you follow this rule: you should always aim to get them to agree to meet within 3 exchanges. This is not a ironclad law, but in my years of online dating experience, this has been the one thing that girls have commented on the most as to why they agreed to go out with me. Often guys get stuck in this limbo of bullshit pitter-patter throwing bait instead of taking decisive action.
When you set the date, you need to be decisive, leaving the women with nothing but yes/no responses required. The exchange would look something like: “[witty transition] would you like to get together for drinks (Note: this is a yes/no question)?”
They ideally say yes, then you respond with “Great. What’s your #?” At this point, you transition OFF of the platform, pick a restaurant/bar, the day, “this work for you?” then don’t text her until the day before to confirm the date. This maintains the catch rate and while you get some flakes on the whole it makes you not look needy. Often women will give out their numbers with absolutely no intention of going on the date, they just want the non-sexual attention and validation from you leading up to the date, but if you’re not messaging them constantly it says a lot about your social value.
The SZ metaphor kind of fades here, but on the whole I hope this was insightful.