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Love at First Swipe: Americans Reveal How They Use and Stay Safe on Dating Apps

Top10.com Staff
A header image for a blog about dating app usage and safety
Are you new to the world of online dating and not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we'll be going over everything from tips to help you set your profile up for success to how long it typically takes people to go from matching with someone to a second date.

We conducted a survey of dating app users, to learn about their online dating habits. In this survey, we got insights into the dos and don’ts of a successful dating profile and found out what users do to stay safe on dating sites and apps.


To learn more about how people use dating apps, we surveyed over 1,000 American dating app users over a three-day period in March 2023. The survey was conducted via an online form with a mix of open-ended and closed questions. There was an equal split of male and female participants.

Our primary focus was to get insight into the biggest red and green flags people come across while browsing dating profiles. Based on their responses, we were able to determine the top 10 turn-ons and turn-offs you are likely to see when online dating. We also asked questions about what people who use dating apps are looking for, how quickly they decide whether or not to match with someone, and what safety precautions they’ve taken when meeting people online.

From Match to A Second Date: How Long Does It Take?
A graphic illustrating insights from a survey about dating app usage

The world of online dating moves quickly, so it's no surprise that deciding whether to match with someone happens in a matter of seconds. Our research shows that it takes about 41 seconds for a person to swipe left or right on a dating app. 

According to our research, 37% of singles will mingle and message online for one to three days before a date is set once they match with someone online. 32% would prefer that it be 4-7 days. However, even with the convenience of technology, distance is still a factor. We found that people are willing to travel a maximum of 42 minutes to meet up with their potential special someone. 

It takes even less time to determine if there will be a second date. On average, Americans know 37 minutes into a date if they want to see the other person again. With all these factors at play, it's important to make the most of every minute when trying to find love online.

Americans’ Top 10 Dating App Turn-Ons

For those who have been striking out on dating apps, it could be something you're doing (or not doing) to turn away potential matches. According to our survey results, here are a few things you can do to get people to swipe right.

We asked dating app users all over the U.S. what they do and don’t like to see when swiping through profiles to find a significant other. Based on the survey results, we were able to determine the top 10 turn-ons and turn-offs. Here’s what we found:

Top 10 Profile Turn-Ons:

  1. Similar interests and hobbies

  2. Physical appearance (height, physique, etc.)

  3. A witty/funny bio

  4. Similar relationship goals

  5. Photos with a cute pet 

  6. Sense of style 

  7. Similar religious and/or political views 

  8. Career/job title 

  9. Education 

  10. Compatible zodiac signs 

While a witty bio and a cute pet photo might be enough to get a foot in the door, there is no substitute for having similar hobbies and values. 64% of Americans believe that having mutual interests is very important for a successful marriage, so if you can find someone with shared passions right off the bat, you’re on the right track.

According to our survey, an overwhelming majority of dating app users (nearly 79%) agree that someone who matches your sense of humor and can lead an intelligent discussion (62%) is what they look for in an ideal partner.

Another thing to remember when texting someone on a dating app is that it pays off to be a reliable messenger. That's because more than 70% of online daters find quick responses to be a turn-on when chatting with a potential match.

Top 10 Profile Turn-Offs:

  1. Too many photos using filters

  2. No bio

  3. Only having group photos on their profile

  4. Only having one photo on their profile

  5. Photos with someone whose face is blurred out

  6. Too many photos of them at the gym

  7. Photos holding a fish

  8. Too many shirtless/beach photos

  9. Bio is a well-known quote

  10. No link to their social media 

According to Americans, being shady and withholding information are the main red flags to watch out for on dating profiles. Using too many filters on your photos, leaving your bio blank, and not linking your social media profiles are cardinal sins when seeking a match.

Vanity is another big turn-off for many singles, as gym pics and shirtless photos also claim spots in our top 10 dating site turn-offs.

Good looks may earn you a few matches on Tinder, but the key to building a lasting connection is good communication. Messaging matches on online dating apps is an art form that can take hours of practice to perfect.

Corny pickup lines aren't going to cut it anymore, as nearly 20% of Americans agree that using a cringey joke to break the ice is a real deal breaker.

While the content of your messages is under scrutiny, online daters also look at the frequency and timing of your texts. Texting at odd hours (very late at night or early in the morning) is a red flag among 33% of dating app users.

Other dating chat missteps our survey respondents experienced include making crude or inappropriate comments, asking for explicit photos, and immediately talking about religion or politics.

The Top 10 Dating App Safety Precautions Americans Take

Online dating allows you to meet potential partners, often at the cost of uncomfortable interactions with people who are decidedly not “the one.” These interactions can result in concerns beyond running into a catfish (fake profiles that are made to trick people looking for love, often to scam them in some way).

To better understand how users are keeping themselves safe when dating online, we asked participants what safety precautions they take before agreeing to a first date.

Top 10 Safety Precautions People Take:

  1. Make sure the date is in a public place

  2. Keep your personal information (like addresses) private

  3. Have your own transportation plans to/from the date

  4. Share location with friends/family

  5. Research a date on social media to confirm their identity

  6. Have an escape plan (meeting friends after, for example)

  7. Tell friends/family the name of their match

  8. Phone call before meeting

  9. Video chat / FaceTime before meeting up

  10. Organize a double date / group date

Almost 80% of survey respondents agree that meeting in a public place on the first date is a must, and over 60% say you should never share your personal information with a match.

Additionally, 62% of users make sure they have their own transportation so they aren't relying on their match to get to/from a date, and 54% share their location with friends and family before heading out to meet a match.

You should always do your due diligence and research your match via social media before agreeing to meet anywhere. When a date refuses to offer their social media or video chat with you before a night out, it’s probably a good idea to cut them off completely.

A quarter (26%) of Americans in our survey have felt unsafe when going on a first date with someone they met on a dating app. Over one-third (34%) of women have felt this, while 18% of men report the same.

When it comes to sleuthing a potential love interest’s social media, we found that the social media apps Americans look up their potential matches on the most often are Facebook (69%), Instagram (67%), and LinkedIn (22%).

RAINN has even more dating app safety tips to help you stay safe when searching for love online.

Closing Thoughts

From crafting the perfect dating profile to navigating the timeline of a match and staying safe while dating online, we hope you've found some valuable insights and tips. Whether you're new to online dating or looking to up your game, remember to keep an open mind, be true to yourself, and have fun.

It may take some time and research to find not just the right person but also the best dating app for your specific purposes. With a better understanding of the usage and safety of dating apps in the U.S., we hope you feel more equipped to navigate the world of online dating and find your perfect match. 

Who knows? Your next great love story could be just a swipe away.

Top10.com Staff
Top10.com's editorial staff is a professional team of editors and writers with dozens of years of experience covering consumer, financial and business products and services.