Your playbook to date and conquer.

Get your game face on. The busiest day of the year for online dating is today. 

It’s that time of the year. New year resolutions, though fragile, are fresh. And at the top of the list is the mission to find a +1 who will make the next round of holidays slightly less miserable. The busiest day of the year for online dating is today. You’ll need more than photo filters to persevere. To survive the dating games, you’ll need rock solid dating advice. Here’s the playbook to master the game. 

Tactic #1: Pick your battle field. 

This should be obvious, but I’m persistently baffled by the masses of lovelorn seeking their soulmate on Tinder. No matter how tight your game, you can’t win on the wrong board.

Here’s the quickie guide to dating apps: 

  • Prefer to treat dating as a numbers game? @Tinder. 
  • Tired of swiping and want to feel the slow burn? Try my new dating app, Happy Endings.
  • Covet long-term vanilla and prefer to get right down to business? @eHarmony. 
  • Want your own Virginia and Vita? @Her.
  • Want your own Anderson and Benjamin? @Surge.
  • Find romance in missed connections? Check out @Happn. 
  • Are you a chick looking for well-heeled boys? @Bumble it is. 
  • Do you prefer your love with a side of kinky? @Kinkoo.
  • Don’t know what the hell you want? @OKCupid. 

Tactic #2: Pick your bait.

Yes. The bait is the photo. But without the switch. Here’s your cheat sheet for the perfect profile photo.

Special note: If all you have are selfies, sit this day out. If all you have are feline selfies, sit this year out. Otherwise:

In it for the hookup?


Don’t even think about the dick pic. Just don’t do it. Even if you’ll never amount to more than a half-night stand, straight women and gay men will want to see who they’ll be fake smiling as you walk out their door. By all means, give a taste. But don’t be a cliche. Anticipation is your secret weapon. And it can’t be served with a bromide.


Showcase your secret weapon. That would be your tits. Or your hourglass. Or your ass. But keep the goodies covered… Barely. Make them work to imagine what’s underneath. But not too much.

For the love of Buddha, whatever you do, don’t post a close up of your face. Boys and girls are oddly attracted to all sorts of bodies. But with the close crop, they’ll assume you’re camouflaging the opposite of what they crave.

In it for the love story?


Don’t even think about a dick pic. Just don’t do it.

Bonus points if you can make yourself look tall and rich. 


Show your secret weapon. But be more subtle. Class up that ass shot.

Bonus points if you can make yourself look young and thick. 

(Yes. Both sexes are superficial AF.)

Here’s your photo tool kit: 

And the billion dollar question? How much retouching is too much? Just enough to get the date. Not so much that they’re pissed when you arrive. 

Tactic #3: Write Your Propaganda

Men need visuals. Woman need it all. Fellas? That makes your job much harder. If you want this… you gotta write for it.

In it for the hookup?


Here are your rules of engagement:

1. Don’t splay it. Play with it.

Bad example: I’m into MILFs. 

Good example: I can’t wait to get you alone when your kids are at school.2. Save it for the hookup.

We get it. You’re keen, borderline desperate. But whatever you do, don’t give away the ending. Bring it to a simmer and end with a cliffhanger.

Bad example:
They ask, “what are you going to do with me…?”
You respond, “I can’t wait to cum all over your ass.”

Good example:
They ask, “what are you going to do with me…?”
You respond, “That ass of yours has inspired plenty of ideas. All of them start with a ride in a crowded subway.”

3. Don’t state the obvious. Being horny is a given. 

Bad example: I’m horny. 

Good example: [Just stop typing.]


Here is your rule of engagement:

Don’t even bother with text. Just add more photos. 

In it for the love story?


Here are your rules of engagement:

1. That long list of “do nots” you hold sacred? Do not do it. Turn those lemons into lemonade.


No: “I don’t want drama.”
Yes: “I adore a woman who can keep her cool.”

No: “If you have kids, don’t apply.”
Yes: “I savor the freedom of not having any kids.”

No: “I don’t do vegan.”
Yes: “Nothing compares to a whiff of crisp bacon and fresh coffee in the morning.”

*Note the single use of “woman” versus “women”. Trust me. It makes a difference.

2. You’re being judged. Every picture. Every word.

Sorry, fellas. I don’t know what to tell you other than Prowriting Aid is your best friend.

3. Spare a few sentences about a hypothetical future with your special whip in it.

Trust me. This shit is catnip.


My +1 who wouldn’t mind an impromptu jaunt to Costa Rica, our days a random playlist of cycling, scuba diving and beach picnics.


Don’t mention marriage or kids unless you’re a master wordsmith. Otherwise, stick to vacations, an active Saturday or a lazy Sunday.


Unless you’re queer, don’t worry about the bio. Men won’t bother. (But for optics, have two to three filler sentences of anything that doesn’t include kids, marriage or cats.) 

We can’t change that photos are visual magnets for men. So don’t waste your time writing essays. Instead, focus on writing succinct, clever photo captions that will help him savor the eye candy even more. Bonus points if you can spoon-feed him an opening line.

Example: I had a love/hate relationship with my pack. Can you guess where I’m hiking?

Queer or bi? Give that future hypothetical a go.

Tactic #4: Execute in the field

Rules of Engagement1 Send the first message. (Or with Happy Endings, a submission.) Man, woman. Non-binary, fluid. It don’t matter. If your target finds you attractive, the gesture will be appreciated.

2. Never send a second message, if they haven’t responded to the first. Unless you’ve added significantly more photo effects, a second message won’t make a lick of difference.

3. Two sentences + one question relevant to your target. The question shouldn’t have anything to do with how they look in the photo. But rather, on what they are doing in the photo.

Final Battle Cry

Get to work. Dust of your digital photo feed. Stretch your fingers. And dig deep for an inspired profile. You’ve only 24 hours to find the “one” or the “one for tonight”, before the holidays are forgotten and the resolutions disintegrate. But if you’re lucky, 24 hours is all you need. Go forth. Conquer.

Until the next chapter, 

Behind the Smoke and Ceiling Mirrors
I’m Harlem. Fully stacked, I’ve built a cheeky, new dating app called Happy Endings. Chemistry can’t be swiped, but it can be written.

Chemistry can’t be swiped.

“I’m rarely sober when swiping.” – Something Tyrion could say. But didn’t. Image Credit: Macall B. Polay, Courtesy of HBO

But I’m betting it can be written.

Three years ago, I made an ill-informed, possibly malformed, decision. After a respectable stint of coupledom mediocrity, I chose to wade back into the dating waters. And was silly enough to be excited about it.

Although I didn’t do the research before breaking up, I did do a deep dive before taking the swim. Unbeknownst to me, I learned I had piqued nine years prior at the seasoned age of 18, the fate of most women. OkCupid actually had to write a puff piece to encourage men our own age to give us a shot. What’s more, I discovered I was a member, soon to be cat owner, of the rarified doubly doomed demographic. Not only was I in my thirsty thirties, I was African-American. Still am, truth be told. OkCupid stats divulged not even my own Black brethren would respond to my efforts to rise above a mediocre love.

In the early days, I panicked. And I questioned that ill-formed, now confirmed malformed, decision. But I’ve made out just fine. Despite my Double-D status, a cheeky profile coupled with cheekily subtitled photos has proven sufficient to ensure a steady stream of contenders.

I’ve now dated online for nearly three years. Not because I suck at it. But because I’m an optimizer. I’ll be damned if I left one mediocre relationship only to enter another. Having ransacked seven dating sites, I’ve come to the conclusion that chemistry optimization isn’t possible in an online universe of shitty profiles.

“You came for the tits. But you’ll stay for the wine.” – Margaery’s inner voice. Image Credit: Macall B. Polay, Courtesy of HBO

How am I supposed to unearth true love when my swipe destiny depends upon whether I included a cleavage pic? How can I hope to increase my desirability without a “day-to-night” shoe-transitioning skill set? Who the hell knew just over 91.1% of men want a chick who wears flip flops during the day and stripper heels at night? I’ve also learned that while no man wants drama, they all want chemistry. On demand. I don’t know of a man or woman alive who’s mastered the art of instantaneous combustion without drama.

Profiles recycle inane catch phrases. Questionnaires feel futile. Snapshot decisions become robotic. If diagnosing chemistry is the end game, dating apps need a new playbook. Chemistry can’t be calculated or swiped.

But I knew chemistry could be written.

In a rare forage of offline dating, I dabbled with seeing a former classmate. The dabbling was attributed to the large swathe of country between each of our coasts. I can’t recall who first made the suggestion. But to pass the time until said swathe became smaller, we embarked on writing a tale of erotica together. I wrote the first chapter. He then wrote the next. And so forth and so on we swapped, until we reached our climax. So to speak.

We never reduced the swathe between us, but that tale remains one of my most titillating memories. To this day, giving that story a read gets me hot, bothered and optimistic. Online chemistry is possible.

Moreover, I learned a little something about him. During our keyboard exchange, I discerned:

  • He was clever. He realized anticipation was the main event and made a production out of it.
  • He was sentimental. It takes writing prowess to keep the tale smoldering, while mentioning grade school exchanges of candy hearts.
  • He could handle an unexpected twist or two. And for every twist, I was met with a creative turn.
  • He kept it real. Let’s just say I learned he was an ass man.


“Look. I’d love to send you a dick pic…” – Theon’s Tinder profile. Image Credit: Macall B. Polay, Courtesy of HBO

In six chapters, I discovered more about this man than any dick pic could ever reveal. And the discovery felt more organic, more genuine, than reading someone’s carefully manicured responses to a questionnaire.

Whenever swiping chunks of my life away, I flirted incessantly with the idea of building my very own an app; an app that would set potential matches to the task of writing a tale of erotica together. Never mind, that I couldn’t code a lick. I still flirted.

After having eye-rolled my 374th “I love to laugh”, I made another decision. Whether malformed is yet to be determined. One year ago today, I resolved to learn how to build a web app for the sole purpose of building a platform to find love. Enter Happy Endings, my debut into the long and illustrious line up of dating apps.

  • But instead of skimming pedestrian user profiles, potential matches browse racy first chapters.
  • Instead of filling out questionnaires, potential matches pick their favorite genres such as BDSM, science fiction and furries.
  • Instead of struggling to cross the virtual barrier, potential matches choose whether they’d prefer to role play their jointly typed tale or go on a first date.
  • Instead of swiping right, potential matches write the climax of their very own happy ending. They’re able to let their love, lust or kink run wild, no matter the flavor, in a safe place and without judgment.

There’s no question I’ll have my kinks with this approach. I introduce myself, not merely to entice you to try the app when it launches; but to share the journey, the choices, and of course, the kinks involved when creating a cesspool for chemistry optimization. How will I manage to honor the #MeToo movement when possibly as many as 62% of women have rape fantasies? Should I classify race and sexual preference as genres or identities? And how do I persuade a guy to toss his profile pic next to the genre “hotwives”?

“You love who you love.” – Finally. An actual quote. Image Credit: Macall B. Polay, Courtesy of HBO

But these are the kinks I’ve willingly, even lustfully, embraced. How rough could this road be, given the current reign of Cersei and Jaime? And by airing these kinks, I hope to start a conversation that inspires a better dating platform. Will Happy Endings help potential matches find their soul mates? Maybe. Maybe not.

But at least they’ll get a good story out of it.

And to all men seeking instantaneous combustion… Don’t want drama? Don’t pick the genre. Pick comedy and MILF instead.

Share my frustration? Drop a comment. What do you love to hate about the online dating scene?

Until the next chapter,

Behind the Smoke and Ceiling Mirrors
I’m Harlem. Fully stacked, I’m on a quest to build a dating app that adds a little kink to your love story. Not yet satisfied? Join my mailing list.