Oh Tinder. You’re the weirdest, sleaziest, most beautiful piece of technology I know. What would I do without you? You’ve been responsible for some of the most incredible friendships, tantalizing romances, and enduring memories of drinks thrown in my face.
Earlier this summer, I quit my old job in marketing to travel and write. Jettisoned into all these new places — knowing not a soul — Tinder made it possible to befriend and beguile and be befouled by all sorts of interesting people. Czechs and Germans and hot-tempered Russians who know that the only time you can hurl alcohol respectably is when it’s still in the glass and the hurling is done with your forearm.
Pulling on my background in the email newsletter business (and what a great and respectable business that is!) where I spent hours agonizing over the smallest details — ought I use an em dash? colon? parentheses? — hoping to increase, by the slimmest of margins, the response rates to my emails, I decided to use the same tactics to turn my Tinder matches into actual Tinder flames.
Like you, assuming that you, dear reader, are among our lonely gaggle, a fellow dweller in the cellar of online courtship, I have always been somewhat disappointed by Tinder and apps of its ilk. I’ll swipe right on some bodacious, earth-shattering beauty, heart all aflutter (even more so if her description references one of my favourite books, bands or bagel shops) and then — miraculously — discover that she, too, hath swiped right on me! O happy day!
Inevitably though, and despite the eager minutes spent scrutinizing her profile, I’ll eek out a stillborn reference to one of the cities or poses or taco shops plugged in her profile, only to have our conversation (and nascent relationship) come to a quick and merciless standstill.
Tired of these unprofitable exchanges, I set out to improve my Tinder game.
Learning how to talk to the ladies (like a bard)
As I set out on this experiment, I had only one goal: to reduce the number of missed connections I had on Tinder. For whatever reason, first impressions matter a great deal, and having a bad first message is often the epistolary iceberg that sinks your romantic Titanic.
I refused to use pickup lines (as great as some of them are) because, while time-efficient, they’re lazy and only work sometimes. I wanted something that was spontaneous, personal — but also guaranteed to get a message back.
Suffice it to say, I found it: the name poem.
Name poems are pretty simple to create: take the letters of the person’s name, and string together a (semi-)coherent thought out of it, and press send. That’s it.
Simple, right? But surprisingly — they’re a hit.
Of course, I’m no poet. In fact, many erudite Tinderellas soon informed me that these weren’t “name poems” at all — but a particular type of poem called an “acrostic”.
Despite my flagrant philistinism, the poems made for good conversation — with many fledgling poets matching me bar for bar.
Nevertheless, they didn’t always work.
And I learned that when the first poem you send somebody doesn’t work — the second (and third) likely won’t, either.
(Although sometimes, poetic persistence pays off.)
I also played around with the form, sending more elaborate acrostics.
These take a lot of time — but they work even better.
How to create your own acrostic
Name poems can be funny, romantic, or personalized (Alaskan? Write them one about polar bears). They only take a few minutes to create, and if you think long and hard enough you can always come up with something clever.
However, sometimes you’ll encounter a beautiful Xhulia or Jingzhu that will really stretch your poetic imagination. For that reason, I’ll sometimes avail myself of my favourite online poetry tools, which you might find useful too:
So there it is. A surefire way to improve your response rate on Tinder. Beware though: if you send enough of these, you might be inundated with an overwhelming number of responses. (Thankfully, I’m a freelancer with nothing but time on my hands — and these stupid poems have helped me meet tons of genuinely great people. Seriously. Tons.)
In the grand scheme of things though, having a “high response rate” is a pointless vanity metric. As long as the right people answer you, who cares? This is just a creative way to make sure those right people don’t pass you by.
The Rise and Fall of @FairmountBagel
I was young. I was naïve. I started a citywide bagel war and took no prisoners.
PS: Some people are asking me “Okay — these poems work… but do they actually, like actually… WORK?”