Swiping Your Way to Love Is Hard. Here’s Some Advice from a Portland Pro

Online dating is one of the top ways people find romance these days, but getting started isn’t always easy. Luckily, we have a pro here in Portland to help out.

Ladan Radafshar is the founder and CEO of FernDate, a local branding service focused on online dating, and she’s helped hundreds of Portlanders find dates, romance and, yes, even love on apps like Bumble and Tinder.

Here’s her advice.

1. Pick the right dating platform. The most popular dating app in the U.S. is still Tinder, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best place to start.

“There are as many dating platforms as there are food carts in this town,” Radafshar says. “You’re not going to expect spring rolls at the fried chicken cart, right? The same logic applies.”

Radafshar recommends Tinder for anyone who knows the rules and red flags of dating apps really well — or is prepared to learn in a hurry. For beginners, she says Hinge and Bumble can be better places to start.

“I’m really loving Hinge these days for anyone under the age of 40. It’s trying to get people to date more thoughtfully, and the profile questions it uses are really cool.”

2. Focus on pictures, pictures, pictures. The best way to catch someone’s attention on a dating app is with great photos, and that takes some work.

A couple no-nos: taking posed photos for your profile or including only one or two. “Consider putting the maximum number of photos allowed,” Radafshar says. “No one will fault you for having too many photos. It gives dates a better idea of who you are.”

3. Be consistent. When building your dating app profile, it’s also important to choose photos that tell a clear and consistent story about who you are and what you look like.

“Don’t share your senior picture from high school,” Radafshar says. “Don’t share a picture where you weighed 30 pounds less. Don’t share five different pictures, each with a different facial hair configuration. This is confusing.”

4. Don’t lean on clichés. Dating apps are all about standing out, and if you describe yourself as “friendly, outgoing, and active,” Radafshar says you’re bound to blend in.  

“It’s easy to be ‘funny/smart/easy-going/sweet,’” she explains. “The trick is to showcase examples as to why you’re all these adjectives. ‘I’m active and outdoorsy’ turns into ‘Me and my morning coffee like taking hikes up to Council Crest. Nothing beats the view.’”

5. Manage your expectations. Being successful on dating apps isn’t just about telling your own story, it’s also about making sense of someone else’s story and setting realistic expectations — especially when it comes to someone’s looks.

“Assume that everyone looks like their worst picture,” Radafshar says. “This has a double benefit: If you assume wrong, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.”