how does tinder work


The complete beginner’s guide to Tinder

Here's everything you need to know before you swipe your way to love.


Lauren L'Amie


Posted on Feb 17, 2018   Updated on May 22, 2021, 12:33 am CDT

How does Tinder work? If you have to ask, consider yourself lucky. If you haven’t already dipped your toes into the fresh hell that is online dating by 2018, you’re a rare and lucky breed. Odds are, you’ve at least heard of apps like Tinder and Bumble if you haven’t already tried them for yourself. If you’re waist-deep in the dating apps, maybe you’ve moved on to more specialty (or hookup-centric) apps like The League, Hinge, Her, Happn, Grindr, or Coffee Meets Bagel.

There are a ton of options when it comes to finding love online, and that can feel overwhelming even for seasoned serial daters or hookup-savvy individuals. Whether you’ve run the gamut or you’re just starting out, turning to Tinder is a solid and versatile option for every kind of relationship. How does Tinder work? Here’s everything you need to know before you land a few real-life dates.

What is Tinder?

Tinder is a location-based dating app that allows users to like (swipe right) or dislike (swipe left) other users based on their profiles. Tinder “matches” are generated when users indicate a mutual interest in each other. Since its launch in 2012, Tinder has generated 1.6 billion swipes per day and more than 1 million dates per week across 196 countries.

For the uninitiated, it seems like the express purpose of Tinder is to quickly and efficiently find an easy hookup or one-night stand. But since its founding, the app has evolved and expanded to become more than just a hookup app. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can harness all of Tinder’s potential for meeting relationship partners, casual hookups, new friends, a group to hit the town with, and everything in between.


How does Tinder work?

The concept of Tinder is simple: It’s about safely indicating mutual interest before users can contact each other. If both users swipe right on each other, they are able to message through the app. In a 2014 interview with GQ, Tinder’s founders explained that this double opt-in system alleviates the stress of approaching someone cold. “I noticed that no matter who you are, you feel more comfortable approaching somebody if you know they want you to approach them,” founder Sean Rad told GQ.

Once you’ve racked up a few matches by swiping, you can chat with them via Tinder’s messaging interface, which allows you to send text, GIFs, and links. While other dating apps allow users to send photos (presumably of faces, things, and potentially other body parts), Tinder has not employed this feature for very legitimate safety reasons.

On an app that removes IRL interaction from the equation, your opening line is everything. Thankfully, the internet is a treasure trove of brilliant introduction ideas like Reddit’s Tinder openers.

Before you start sending clever one-liners, however, it’s up to you to create the perfect profile.

Crafting your Tinder profile

There’s a subtle art to crafting your Tinder profile, and it’s as much about eye-catching presentation as it is about providing straightforward information. Racking up those right swipes is easy once you’ve learned that a good Tinder profile is a balancing act.

Think of your profile in several components. It’s all about a bio that captures your personality (without giving too much away) and photos that show off your best qualities. If you struggle to decide which of your photos have the best chance, you can turn on Tinder’s Smart Photos feature while editing your profile. It will automatically reorder your photos so that you’re always putting your best face forward.

If you’re feeling like a photo doesn’t totally do you justice, Tinder also recently added a GIF-like looping video feature. If you’ve taken some particularly hot Boomerangs, now is the time to test them out.

In Body Image
Pixabay (CC-BY)

What do Super Likes mean?

Each day, you’re given one “Super Like” that you can send to whomever you desire. To Super Like someone’s profile, tap the blue star in the center of the screen rather than swiping left or right. Honestly, the only major advantage of Super Liking another user is that they can see that you’ve given them the coveted blue star. They already know that you’re interested before they decide to swipe left or right.

For a price, you can upgrade your Tinder profile to Tinder Plus or Tinder Gold, both of which mean you get bonus Super Likes every day.


Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold

Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold are paid in-app subscriptions that amp up your capabilities on Tinder. Both extensions allow you unlimited daily likes, the ability to “rewind” your last swipe and do it over again, five Super Likes per day, one free Boost per month, and a “passport” that lets you swipe around the world rather than being limited by your location. Tinder Gold takes it one step further and allows you to see who already liked you, making it much easier to decipher whether or not you’ve got a shot.

Tinder has faced some scrutiny for its Plus and Gold pricing plans, which charge older users more money. At a 2015 TechCrunch conference, Rad explained that the plan was created to provide a discount for younger users. Tinder Plus costs more depending on where you live and how old you are. For instance, there are two prices for Tinder Plus: $19.99 if you’re under 30 years old and $34.99 if you’re over 30. If you live in a developing country, pricing will be lower than if you lived in the U.S.

If you feel like you still aren’t getting the attention you deserve, you can purchase a Tinder Boost. Much like “boosting” a post on Facebook or Twitter, Tinder Boost allows you to “skip the line,” and increase your profile views tenfold, which will hopefully increase your matches. You can find the purple lightning Boost icon on the lower right side of the app.

If you’re not sold on the Plus and Gold packages, you can also purchase separate Boost and Super Like packages. These allow you to dole out as many Super Likes as you wish.

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

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*First Published: Feb 17, 2018, 6:00 am CST