While swiping through the dating app Hinge recently, Morgan Portee matched with a man who she thought could perhaps be worth her time. His profile was interesting, he seemed gentlemanly enough, and he was a little older than she was — the exact thing she’d been searching for.
“He talked about having a date at a golf course or whatever, and I was like, Oh, that would be really nice,” Ms. Portee, 23, an assistant manager at a clothing boutique in Charlotte, N.C., said in a phone interview.
They continued to chat before she realized they had also matched on Tinder, the dating app she checks the most. After a quick inspection of his profile there, she noticed a shift. His Tinder bio included something along the lines of “don’t waste my time, I hate my time being wasted” and he was “way more aggressive,” she recalled. Still, they exchanged numbers.
“When we started texting from Tinder, that’s when he started talking about kinks and stuff,” Ms. Portee said. “But on Hinge, there was never anything sexual about the conversation. He was very nice and normal on Hinge.”
Like nondairy milk and streaming services, the variety of dating apps today has never been greater.
Vinylly pairs potential matches based on users’ taste in music. Stir allows single parents to connect. The Right Stuff gives people with conservative politics a place to mingle. And apps like Taimi and HER focus on queer, lesbian, bisexual, nonbinary, trans and gender-nonconforming people.
With dozens of dating apps available to suit virtually any preference, each with its own unofficial norms and expectations, it’s no surprise that users modulate their personalities from one dating app to the next. Whereas an app like Hinge incentivizes leading with details that suggest you’re serious about finding a relationship, an app like Feeld welcomes those who put their kinkiest foot forward. Users adjust accordingly.
Ms. Portee currently has a “whole freaking folder” of dating apps on her phone, including Hinge, Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, BLK (for Black singles), Bumble and Chispa, a dating app for Latinos.
To note, Ms. Portee is Black but isn’t Latino. “I got on there because of my friend,” she said. “I actually have a bachelor’s degree in Spanish studies.” Currently in search of a relationship, Ms. Portee is casting a wide net.
And even though she’s occasionally thrown off by the Jekyll and Hyde types of the dating world and promptly unmatches, her own dating profiles vary, slightly too. Her profile on Tinder, for instance, includes pictures of her out at bars, drinking and partying. On Hinge, it’s pictures of her at brunch, usually in a nice, “dressed up” outfit.
“While I do code-switch as well, I’m still the same person,” Ms. Portee said. “You get the same attitude, whether or not you see me being a little bit more fun and free, or you see me being a little bit more classy and mature.”
“Those are two sides of the same coin,” she added.
The app where a potential romantic partner discovers you first can have an impact on the likelihood of a match. David Coursi, a 29-year-old copy editor at an advertising agency in Baltimore, said that he almost had a missed connection with one woman he first matched with on Tinder — until she found him to be more appealing on Hinge.
“I very recently went on a date with someone who I had matched with on Tinder and we maybe messaged once and never hung out,” he said in a phone interview. “I matched with her on Bumble and she left me on read and then I matched with her on Hinge and she was like, ‘Oh my God, I think I’m in love with you, and this profile is, like, so much better than all of your other ones.’”
Mr. Coursi said the date was fine, but it didn’t lead to another. He said that in some ways the differences in his profile may have held him back, but when it comes to Tinder, he has the perception that no one is even reading his bio.
Some of the apps, he said, don’t leave room for much more than a “quick hit of judgment.”
“I feel like they actually designed the UI to be that way,” he said of the app’s user interface. “It’s difficult nowadays to get to someone’s profile.”
“It kind of rewards you for not doing that and just clicking through their photos,” he added.
It’s understandable to switch it up in order to increase your chances of a match, but there’s still a fine line between simply presenting different versions of yourself and straight-up lying. Strange encounters aside, Ms. Portee said that her dating app experience hasn’t been entirely negative, and having a range of platforms has been beneficial.
“It’s easier to weed out who I’m not interested in and who I might want to spend my time with,” she said.
Danielle Mitsch, 28, a hospital practice coordinator for outpatient behavioral health in Cincinnati, is currently on Bumble and Hinge. She was on Tinder, her favorite dating app, until last year, when she was barred from the app for reasons that are unclear to her.
On the two dating apps she still uses, she said she presents herself more or less identically — down to her photo selection — even if the written information takes different forms. She sees many of the same people across those apps, she said, and hasn’t noticed much difference between their profiles, either.
“I’m lazy, so to have a different front for each one, it’s just not me,” she said.
Under one prompt on Hinge, she wrote that she gets along with those who like University of Cincinnati sports. Under another, she wrote “first round is on me if you can beat me in Monkey Ball.”
On her Bumble profile, she doesn’t even have a bio. Just basic information, and a list of interests.
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