1. The Ultimate 2021 SH Guide To Tinder – Part 0: Super Basics
  2. The Ultimate 2021 SH Guide To Tinder – Part 1: Understanding Tinder
  3. The Ultimate 2021 SH Guide To Tinder – Part 2: Preparations
  4. The Ultimate 2021 SH Guide To Tinder – Part 3: Considerations
  5. The Ultimate 2021 SH Guide To Tinder – Part 4: Profile Creation
  6. The Ultimate 2021 SH Guide To Tinder – Part 5: Settings
  7. The Ultimate 2021 SH Guide To Tinder – Part 6: Swiping & Behavior
  8. The Ultimate 2021 SH Guide To Tinder – Part 7: Messaging & Beyond

Hello, and welcome to the prequel to the complete SwipeHelper Guide to Tinder, 2021 edition.

This part of the guide is intended for complete newcomers, and absolutely optional if you already know how the app works. On the other hand, if you’ve never really used Tinder, or even any online dating app, then reading these following basics is highly recommended before moving on.

The Super Basics of Using Tinder

Tinder has started out as an extremely simplified online dating experience, but has gotten more complex in recent years. Before explaining the mechanics though, let’s get acquainted with some terms you’ll encounter repeatedly throughout this guide.


  • Profile – Your sales page, where the product you’re selling is you. This is where you show yourself from your best side, including but not limited to pictures, interests, and a short self-description.
  • Card – The minimized version of your profile a user sees while browsing profiles. It initially shows your first picture and some snippets of information about your job, school, or the start of your bio.
  • Deck – The stack of cards you “swipe” through, i.e. the profile cards that the app has currently loaded for you, which you go through one after the other, deciding to “like” or “nope” them.
  • Swipe – Moving the card either right or left on your screen to indicate liking or disliking that person’s profile card.
    • Swipe right: Like
    • Swipe left: Nope / Dislike
    • Swipe up: Super Like
  • Likes – The number of people who have liked you(r profile). Alternatively, the number of profiles you have liked in a given time.
  • Super Like – A special way of liking someone that puts your profile near the front/top of their Deck, but also lets them know you super liked them by coloring your card blue instead of white. The number of these you can use per day is limited by your subscription type (1 free, 5 premium) and more can be purchased for money. Their effectiveness is a subject of debate, but certainly situational and individual.
  • Match / Matches – A match occurs when two people both like each other. The number of matches is the number of people you have liked who have also liked you.
  • Score – Formerly, the level of attractiveness Tinder believes you belong to, thus the approximate level of attractiveness of the profiles it shows you. Currently mostly an outdated term, but still used to refer to how well you follow the unwritten rules of Tinder, thus avoiding the negative consequences of a low “score”.
  • Ban – When you break one of Tinder’s official rules, or too many users report you for unwelcome behavior, Tinder may automatically and indefinitely suspend your account, denying you access. There are no refunds issued for any premium memberships you may have purchased.
  • Shadow Ban – Not an official ban, and not accompanied by any notices, a shadow ban is a much more insidious behavior correctional tool in Tinder’s arsenal. If you break one of the unofficial rules of Tinder, such as swiping right on everybody, the algorithm may punish your profile with a very low score, making you basically invisible to others you haven’t yet matched with. (More on those rules here, or later in the guide.) You can still message your existing matches, but you won’t get any new likes. As such, it can take a while to realize what has happened, leading to a lot of wasted time, effort or even money spent on futile boosts.
  • Boosts – Consumable temporary boons to your card’s visibility, purchasable for legal tender. I.e. power ups you can buy to be shown to more people than usual, thus hopefully getting more matches.
  • Visibility – In how many decks your card appears, and how high up in the deck.
  • Plus – The first tier of paid premium membership. Comes with unlimited likes, as well as the ability to take back a mis-swipe, or to pretend you are in a different location than you are, among other features. See here for a complete list.
  • Gold – The second tier of paid premium Tinder. Shows you who already liked you. Basically useless.
  • Platinum – The newest, superest, duperest tier of premium Tinder. Is supposed to basically negate all the visibility downgrades free and premium accounts have received over the years every time a new paid feature that increases visibility has been introduced. At least somewhat. The jury’s still out.
  • Verify / Verified – You have the option of verifying your identity with Tinder by submitting a series of selfies, following on screen instructions, for the purpose of displaying a little badge on your profile that lets people know you are who you say you are. Or at least that you look similar to your profile pictures and are not a catfish.
  • Catfish / Catfishing – To catfish someone means to pretend to be someone you are not in your online dating profile. In the more harmless cases a catfish simply turns out to not look as good as their profile pictures have led the victim to believe (usually related to weight), while criminal intent is not unheard of.


Now we can get to how Tinder is actually used, though you may have already inferred a lot from the glossary above.

You start by creating an account, supplying your name and phone number at a minimum. Your number and last name (from Facebook) will not be visible to anyone.

Next, you create a profile. The later parts of this guide contain a lot of information on how to craft an attractive one.

Once your profile is set up, you’ll be presented with other people’s profiles in the shape of a deck of cards which you swipe through, left or right, indicating like or dislike respectively. A majority of Tinder users base their swiping decisions largely or exclusively on the other person’s looks, and do so within a few seconds. It’s still important to have an interesting profile, but an attractive first picture is the most important part, as almost nobody will open and see the rest of your profile if they don’t like what they see initially. There are just too many options to give everyone a fair shot.

When someone catches your interest, you may tap center-right on their pictures to see the next one, or tap center to open their full profile with all their pictures, interests, common friends (if using Facebook), short bio, etc. you may then either like/nope them from here by pressing the heart and X buttons at the bottom of the screen, or go back to the card/deck view and either use the buttons there, or swipe right or left on the screen to indicate a like/dislike. You can of course like/dislike them either by swiping or pressing buttons without opening their profile first. The app will also introduce you to the controls when first signing up so don’t worry about remembering or visualizing all of that precisely.

If someone you liked also likes you, or vice versa, a match is created. If you’re the reciprocant (Yes, I just made that word up: “The person who reciprocates”.), you’ll be shown a pop up after you send your like, letting you know you’ve made a match and inviting you to send them a message. It is customary for the second person to like, or the reciprocant, if you will, to send the first message. It is also customary for the man to send the first message in a (cisgender, heterosexual) match-pair. The latter rule overrides the former in most cases.

Finally, once you’ve matched with someone, they will appear in your matches / messages section of the app, and you can start chatting with each other. I don’t have to tell you that the intended outcome is to meet up for a date, but in case you’re used to more “classic” online dating experiences, you should know that things move rather fast on Tinder. If you haven’t exchanged numbers and set up a date within a week of starting to talk, chances are the conversation will peter out without leading anywhere, often rather abruptly as one of the conversationalists finds themselves distracted by a more interesting prospect.

Caveat: Some people like to chat longer, especially if there’s some distance between you. Don’t ruin a great conversation by rushing things, but also don’t get your hopes up before actually meeting.

Beyond these basic mechanics, there are also a ton of premium features to be aware of, many of which we’ve already hinted at in the glossary. These are covered extensively in the linked guides, as well as later on in this series, as we decide whether or not to pay for a premium subscription, but I do think at this point we’ve reached the limit of what can be called a super-basic guide. As such, I hope you found this information helpful and invite you to read on in Part 1 of our Ultimate Tinder Guide, as we gain a deeper understanding of how Tinder works behind the scenes, so that we may use this knowledge to our advantage when creating a profile.