This Is the Number One Way to Flirt on Dating Apps

The sexual tension between me and the person who gets my obscure internet references

High angle view of young woman using smart phone on bed
Turns out humor is just as important online as it is IRL
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Aside from that random woman on Indian Matchmaking who insisted humor was a red flag, most people find it an essential component of romantic attraction. Laughter can do a lot to build connections and establish trust between strangers, plus it’s just generally very cute and also fun, scientifically speaking. A recent poll from Hinge found 92% of users considered a shared sense of humor to be “an important factor” when starting a relationship, a number that should not surprise anyone who has ever been on or ever considered going on a date with a human person. But what’s actually surprising is that similarly high numbers indicate a shift in how people will judge a potential match’s sense of humor: based on their internet behavior and, most importantly, their taste in memes. 

As more of our lives are played out online, a person’s digital sense of humor — the contents of their meme stash — has become an undeniable marker of their dateability. In that same poll, Hinge found that, among 2,000 respondents, the number one most popular way to flirt was to exchange memes, with 73% of people saying they use memes to determine if their match’s sense of humor is compatible with their own. So, let’s say your meme library holds content of a lighter, more abstract ilk, like the Oogachaka Baby or the I Can Has Cheezburger Cat. If your match consistently draws from a notably topical or cynical vein featuring a lot of Jeff Bezos, is it really worth it to pursue something further? On the other hand, a match’s memes could highlight things you have in common. Maybe they’ve recently fallen down a rabbit hole of Zen Buddhist humor and ply you with lots of silly-yet-philosophical shitposts. If you’ve spent the last six months trying and failing to get into meditation, it sounds like you’ve got a match made in heaven.

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It kind of sucks that the current dating landscape necessitates choosing potential partners based on something so inane. There’s only so much to determine about a person from the curated version of themselves on social media or dating apps; what they lack in meme literacy could be easily made up for by being funny and charming IRL. Realistically, though, the dizzying amount of romantic possibilities out there has forced daters to look for any excuse to cull the herd, including whether or not you both secretly identify as a total Kit from one of @hellicity_merriman’s Karen-ified American Girl Doll posts. (Didn’t understand a single one of those words? Clearly you and I are not a love match.)

Still, you can’t completely write someone off over nothing but their meme taste — can you? Sure it’s fun to connect over weird internet gems, and sure, doing so can give valuable insight into someone’s broader personality and sense of humor. But liking the same shitposts is probably not enough to build a lasting connection on its own.

“While sharing the same taste in memes with someone feels great, it’s not the only thing,” Hinge’s director of relationship science Logan Ury said in a recent press release. When looking for a long-term partner, there are arguably at least several other factors to consider beyond the silly screenshots on a person’s phone. Plus it’s important to remember that a person who’s genuinely funny on and off the internet will likely have good taste in memes. But good taste in memes doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is genuinely funny.

So if a match doesn’t “get” your memes, that’s okay, Ury said. “You have a whole internet full of people to share that part of yourself with.” As long as you can provide some analog giggles, you’ll be set for life.

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