Autonomy: The Ubyssey's Sex Issue//

The declassified Tinder survival guide for women of colour online

So you’ve exhausted all of your other options.

Your Instagram DMs are barren, your Snapchat messages unopened and all the places that you might have a meet cute with a potential partner are closed due to the fact that we are living in the middle of a deadly pandemic. I’m sorry to say that it might be time to throw your hat back in the ring, and by the ring, I mean the bastion of disappointment that is dating apps in 2021.

Yes, I know that going on Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid is the literal embodiment of opening your fridge trying to find a gourmet meal, but instead finding a half-eaten sandwich and maybe a slab of questionable, potentially mouldy cheese, but I believe in you. More importantly, I’m here to help you.


Dating apps are simultaneously terrible and incredibly addicting. There is a power that comes with swiping left through potential partners. You don’t like their hiking photo (swipe left), or their pre-COVID picture at Celebrities (swipe left) or their walls are looking bare (swipe left). But here are my personal red flags.

The cursed fish photo

I have no idea why people in this city keep taking photos with big fish. They are creepy, they are confusing and ultimately fishing seems like a very boring activity. If the fish photo is the first photo on their profile, it has moved past a hobby and has turned into a lifestyle. Think about all the time that you might have to spend sitting in the middle of a cold-ass boat in silence with this person while they try and fail to capture a fish. And if they do catch a fish, it’ll be you taking the photo.

The gym rat

Sure, it’s great to like fitness, but a photo at the gym, hiking or swimming? Unless you want to spend the next year and a half going on jogging dates together, if more than 60 per cent of their photos are in activewear, swipe left and don’t look back.

The service trip

In 2021, if your potential partner is advertising their service trip to India or ‘Africa,’ surrounded by small children, swipe left. Or be ready for multiple (neo-colonialist) conversations which inevitably harken back to their lifesaving trip where they single-handedly ‘built a school’ in a week and bothered African children for a new Facebook profile picture.


So now you’ve matched. You liked each other’s faces enough that you both circumvented your natural intuitive response to swipe left and even gone as far as to start a conversation. I’m proud of you! Here are some nonos for your first conversation.

“No, where are you really from?”

Of course, finding out about each other’s hometown is a foundational question, but when it moves from a superficial question into an “Actually are you really X” game show. Unmatch. Block. Delete.

“You’re really pretty for a …” / “You’re actually my first…”

This is like the previous example, but a lot worse. They’ve embraced you’re different, but you are more than a sum of body parts or a prize for bragging rights. “Thank u, Next.”

“I love you, my chocolate queen”

You are not chocolate, you are not a spice, you are not a dragon. You are a human being and more than a fetish! Anyone who wants to call you an object as a term of endearment can ‘object’-ively show themselves out.


So you’ve decided to meet your match in person. That’s wonderful. But it’s important to be safe. Especially due to the pandemic, it’s important that you set guidelines for your date. I would advise a video call before, where you can discuss ahead of time how you are both going to keep each other safe. This could include agreeing on a pre-date isolation period, a COVID test or even agreeing to stay masked during the entire date.

Furthermore, it’s important to meet in a public location for your first meeting. Go for a walk and let a trusted friend or family member know where you’re going to be. If it would make you more comfortable, you can even share your location!

Happy dating!

This article is part of Autonomy, The Ubyssey’s 2021 sex issue. You can read more here.