‘I Found More Success When I Started Using Dating Apps Like A Man’: One Woman’s Story of Challenging Gender Norms and Having Great Sex

Published: MAY 16, 2024 | Updated: MAY 23, 2024
One sexpert and one woman explore why online dating with a “masculine” approach may get you more connections...and sex.

On the night before her 31st birthday, Savannah Cole sat on the floor of her one-bedroom apartment with a glass of flat prosecco, a half-eaten slice of carrot cake, ready to swipe left on dating apps for good.


“Even though I was surrounded by success stories of people who had met forever partners online, it just didn’t click for me. By that point, I must have deleted and redownloaded Hinge and Bumble a dozen times. Every time, it felt like rock bottom,” Cole recalls. “It was like I wasn’t getting as many matches, or like I wasn’t getting the right ones. I was really ready to meet someone, but I felt I had no control over whether I would because everyone else was meeting on an app.”

Cole wondered how everyone around her was speaking this secret language of dating apps. While her friends seemed to thrive on swiping and matching, Cole felt she’d been born in the wrong era. Many social outings served as reminders that she couldn’t master online dating, but the rest of her circle could.

“More and more people had left the singles table at that point. A ton of them from dating apps,” Cole says. “At this time, my two best friends had boyfriends. Boyfriends who they just swiped on one second and fell into a relationship with the next. Meanwhile, I was sending messages to men I wasn’t even super attracted to, just to be disappointed when I didn’t get a response. I was shouting into a void.” 


The following afternoon, at a brunch to celebrate her birthday, Cole finally realized what her approach to online dating had been missing: a "man's" perspective.

A 'man’s approach' to online dating

Cole had always trusted her female cronies' opinions on dating, but that clearly wasn't working. So, when she felt desperate for answers to the question, “Why isn’t it happening for me?” she decided to turn to some of the men in her friend group.

“When I really looked at the difference in tone and mood between the way my guy friends initiated conversations on dating apps versus the way I did, it was night and day,” Cole says. “While I actually spent valuable time analyzing each profile to come up with a thoughtful opening line, they were just throwing out half-sentences like ‘you, me, drinks.’ And it was working.”


Cole’s male friends took turns sharing their proudest dating app achievements over celebratory mimosas. Their straightforward one-liners from “Hey beautiful” to “Got any weird hobbies?” had netted more dates combined than Cole had secured throughout the past month. To prove a point, one of them started a chat on Coffee Meets Bagel and scheduled a date for the following week, all while the group was still sitting for brunch.

“It’s all about leading with confidence and shooting straight,” one man friend advised. “Don’t ad lib. Don’t second guess.”

Believe it or not, his so confident it's almost flippant response is backed by research, according to sex and relationships expert Dr. Tara. Her own research, based on a survey of 5,000 participants, found that sexual confidence is one of the top three factors contributing to long-term romantic satisfaction.


“People with high sexual confidence know they’re worthy of pleasure and connection,” Dr. Tara tells Kinkly. “They’re more open to communicate and give and receive feedback. They’re more sex-positive and explorative.” 

Read More: Thousands of Dating App Users Share Their Hookup Tips

Learn to 'think like a man'

Cole shifted her dating app methodology from that point forward. She began to almost gamify her experience online, shedding her natural tendencies to overthink her responses and instead ask herself: “What would a man say in this situation?”

“It became a balance of staying true to myself while also taking on this almost callous persona,” Cole explains. “I started with rambling just a little less — heading straight for the point. I eventually cut the chit-chat entirely and started asking my matches out straightaway. I thought: a man wouldn’t wait to make the first move. So why would I?’”


The results of Cole’s experiment were nearly immediate. She found herself with more dates and, by virtue of that, having more sex. This came as a surprise to Cole.

“I had never really been the type to seek casual sex. Like, at all,” she says. “But I think when I started asserting myself on the apps, I ended up matching with more men who knew what they wanted. They weren’t shy about asking to take me home after a few drinks. And I started thinking: why not?”

Cole’s key takeaway from hearing male friends illustrate their dating app attack plan —  “lead with confidence and shoot straight” — converted quickly from scant matches to weekend dates topped off with torrid sex.


“As they say, I was shooting my shot left and right. I was actively telling myself not to be bothered if someone didn’t receive it well. I felt like I had started saying 'yes' to myself,” says Cole.

Cole’s hypothesis asserts that every man approaches dating with boldness, poise, and aplomb. The “persona” she created for herself online, which subsequently led to better dates and more frequent sex, might have been more based on the idea of what a man would do rather than what a man would actually do — after all, everyone’s methodology around dating is different, regardless of gender.

However, there’s something to be said for handling online dating with that “masculine touch” that relies mostly on the confidence to speak your mind. Dr. Tara recommends getting into the mindset by starting a positive affirmation practice.

“Telling yourself ‘I am worthy of love’ and ‘I am desirable’ can really help boost confidence when done daily,” she says. “Guided meditation for sexual confidence can also increase someone’s self-esteem and confidence. I have sexual meditations on my YouTube channel that people can try for free.”

For Cole, overcoming the self-doubt and insecurities that plagued her dating app usage was an essential first step. Previously, she took receiving a “bad batch" of candidates while scrolling through a dating app as a personal affront and a symbol of her self-worth. 

“When Hinge released the Rose feature, I remember feeling especially lost. Why did I have to start paying just to see men that I would like? I felt desperate and needy spending money in the hopes of getting dates,” Cole says. “But then I started considering the fact that a confident person invests in themselves and puts their resources towards that. My self-worth goes way beyond how I choose to use a silly little app — paid for or not.”

Dr. Tara affirms that reminding yourself that your value isn’t attached to your online dating profile can be an essential part of online dating. 

“Make sure that you have a daily self-care and self-love routine for a more positive experience,” she tells Kinkly. 

Redefine dating app success

Empowering yourself to find a meaningful connection can require much more than confidence-boosting measures, though, particularly if your approach to dating apps stems from conventional norms that dictate how we can and should act. Gender-based societal ideas certainly influence the way we present ourselves, even online. 

“Be bold, but not too bold. Be smart, but don’t be a showoff,” Dr. Katrina Johnson León, Ed.D. writes of our expectations for femininity. “Don’t forget; you have to have a perfect shape and be well-coiffed.” (Sounds like America Ferrera's speech, doesn't it?)

The traditional approach to online dating calls for femme users to remain a bit more passive or wait to be digitally approached by a potential mate.

“Unfortunately, societal norms and gender expectations still heavily impact dating,” Dr. Tara says. “For example, a sex-positive woman and [a sex-positive] man are perceived differently. If a woman expresses herself in any sexual way she may be seen as promiscuous or a ‘whore.’ When it comes to marriage, if a man is up front about looking to get married then he’s usually positively seen by women. If a woman is up front about the same thing it may scare many men away.”

In spite of this, bucking up traditional norms and taking the initiative in your love life gets results. Studies show that women who initiate first contact through dating apps ultimately connect with more desirable partners than women who wait to be contacted. However, women are four times less likely to send a first message than men. When Cole started challenging convention and asking for what she wanted, her profile started getting traction. 

“I realized I’d rather match with someone I’m really interested in by taking a risk than settle for a bunch of just ‘okay’ men because they reached out first,” she says. “This became even more true when I started using the apps to have, like, really great sex. I didn’t want to settle when it came to that. I wanted to experiment and try new things with people that made me feel sexy and open.”

Prioritize your values and goals 

In order to navigate the gender norms woven into the fabric of the digital dating world, Dr. Tara suggests determining your personal dating goals and sticking to them. 

“People should stay true to their dating goals because the right person that has the same goals will come along,” she says. “A strategy [worth trying] is only talking to people on the apps who have similar goals. That can be more affirming and produces a more positive experience.”

For Cole, the self-discovery that came with prioritizing her sexual growth became a primary goal of using dating apps. Once she shifted her point of view based on feedback from the men in her life, Cole found herself having more sex than she ever had — and liking it.

“I’ll just say it: I love having sex. I’ve never felt confident saying that before,” she laughs. “I started seeing a sex counselor recently to heal some of the guilt and trauma I had around intimacy in the past, too. This has really been my most physical era. I’m really pretty proud of it.”

Whether your dating goals involve finding a short-term partnership, a long-term relationship, or casual intimacy, prioritize experiences that align with where you see your love life progressing instead of connections that leave you feeling unsatisfied. Ultimately, Cole has yet to find Mr. Right on a dating app, even though she claims her online experience is far more fulfilling since she started “dating like a man.” She’s learned that settling down isn’t her primary dating goal for the time being, and has suited her app usage to fit in with that. 

“I’m not as filtered in the way that I view profiles anymore,” she explains. “I used to really dig into their career, their height, whether they smoked. Now, I’m a little less intent on making sure that every swipe could be a husband. I’m sure I’ll be more selective down the line. But this is what’s suiting me right now.” 

So, does online dating 'like a man' really work?

The thesis statement of Cole’s journey to find a use for her dating apps that gratifies her needs isn’t: “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Implying that all men are taking to Hinge, Bumble, and the like with charisma and a devil-may-care attitude fails to take into account that everyone is nuanced regardless of how they identify.

Instead, Cole’s perspective shift demonstrates the transformative power of challenging norms and embracing confidence to find the matches that work for you. By adopting a mindset inspired by the traditionally male perspective, Cole found a way to prioritize her desires for greater success in her love life. 

Whether you’re pursuing a meaningful relationship, casual intimacy, or personal growth, true satisfaction can be found in fearlessly pursuing what fulfills you, shedding your insecurities to chase the connections you want.

Take it from the men in Cole’s life who steered her in the right direction: “Lead with confidence, and shoot straight.” 

Elizabeth Kirkhorn

Elizabeth Kirkhorn is a writer and essayist living in Manhattan. She is a graduate of The New School's MFA in Writing and currently lends her voice to a Creative Strategy Role at Dotdash Meredith, where she focuses on health & wellness brands. Elizabeth's writing spans a wide range of kinks and curiosities, and can be found on, MysteryVibe, Byrdie, and beyond. Elizabeth's personal passions include creating fetish content that's friendly and accessible to all...

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