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A sexologist gave my Tinder profile a BDE makeover


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Photo: Stocksy /Leandro Crespi

Ever since writer Kyrell Grant’s tweet about “big dick energy” went viral, it seems like you can’t swing a…cat without hitting a list of who or what is packing or lacking in BDE. (Cheat sheet: Rihanna, Martha Stewart, scorpios, hot yoga, and CrossFit have it in spades.)

For the uninitiated, BDE is a new term for an age-old concept. “It’s an energy. An aura. It’s that cool security, a quiet confidence, a way of carrying yourself,” explains clinical sexologist Megan Stubbs, Ed.D. “It’s someone who is really secure with themselves and the skin they’re in.” Someone who’s oozing sex esteem.

“It’s an energy. An aura. It’s that cool security, a quiet confidence, a way of carrying yourself.” —Megan Stubbs, clinical sexologist

But! There’s always a but…“It’s not overly showy or try-hard,” says Stubbs. It’s not Amanda Bynes in She’s the Man and it’s definitely not that guy with 15 pictures of himself holding a trout he presumably just caught on his ‘gram or Tinder profile.

Yep, BDE is something you can have IRL and in your feed. “You can totally have BDE online. We get a lot of information from the videos and images of people on social media, and that includes their vibe,” says Shadeen Francis, a marriage and family therapist.

Because I’m over here faking an “I’m so over it” ‘tude towards my ex and Stubbs confirms that you don’t need to have a Big Dick™ or even a dick at all to have BDE (anyone else for switching the term to “big uterine energy”?), I decide I want to dish a dose of the vitamin D online. And because “BDE looks natural, but there is finesse to it,” as Stubbs puts it, she and Francis graciously agree to give my Tinder profile a BDE makeover.

Keep reading to see how two sexologists revamp my Tinder page to give me that “you know she got that big dick energy” vibe.

online big dick energy
Before: Wicked Witch vibes and dirty restrooms. Photo: Well + Good Creative

The photos

When I made my profile, I purposefully presented myself—flex pics, selfies, and all—so that others could judge me on my looks. Shallow? Maybe. But let’s be honest: Do you ever really read people’s profiles before you swipe? (I don’t *shrug.*) That meant showing off my best features: my abs (lol), and my eyes.

Stubbs nixes my sports-bra-clad first picture, which was taken in a green-lit basement, right away. “That green glow gives off a Wicked Witch of the West vibe. And let’s face it, neon green just isn’t a flattering color—even if your abs do look blocky,” Stubbs tells me. She suggests I opt instead for a picture of me smiling at my box, which would still let people in on my CrossFit obsession.

I have two other blatant flexing photos, which Francis warns make me look a little thirsty. “One of the most agreed upon qualities of people with BDE is a noticed effortlessness to their confidence,” she explains. “So while you may have something—like your body—to show off and be proud of, and a “look at how strong I am” pose may get you well-deserved recognition for your fitness regime, it’s unlikely to give the impression that you have BDE.” She recommends swapping them for something less posed and polished, like say, a photo of me *actually* working out.

I also have a bathroom selfie in my gallery, which I thought gave a cool-girl Cali vibe. I was wrong.

I also have a bathroom selfie, which I thought gave a cool-girl Cali vibe. I was wrong. Stubbs says it didn’t add anything except a lot of confusion. Why did you bring your coffee into the bathroom? Why is the mirror so dirty? Why are you taking selfies in a dirty bathroom?? Considering I’m sober-curious, Stubbs says a photo of me drinking coffee is a good idea…just not that one. It’ll likely encourage my suitors to invite me for a cup of joe instead of a glass of gin, she says. So I add a photo of myself sipping cold brew on the streets of Manhattan (no toilet or dirty mirror in sight).

I still need three more photos from my image slideshow. Stubbs suggests I think about what my perfect Saturday might look like. Do you wake up and go for a walk with your dog in the morning before hitting up a local farmers’ market for good-for-you superfoods? Or do you go to a spin class in the a.m. then meet up with friends at a rooftop bar for pink drinks? “What do you want to be able to do with your potential partner besides CrossFit?” she asks me. “Think about that, then include photos of yourself—alone or with friends—doing those activities.” I add a group beach photo (no just-caught fish in sight), a mini golf action shot (my dream date, TBH), and photo of my mom and me kayaking (wifey material, amirite?).

BDE Tinder
After: All smiles (but still plenty of abs). Photo: Well + Good Creative

The description

With my photo game now handled, Stubbs turns her attention to the words on my bio. “It’s not about each individual photo or the description, it’s about the vibe, the person they create together,” she says. “But for a writer, you could be having so much more fun with your description!”

Called out. My previous mini-bio was lame:

health & fitness writer @ internet
social media editor @ crossfit gym
smiler @ humans

This bio might actually have less BDE than grippy socks.

Stubbs’ number-one rule for writing a BDE-filled bio: “Keep it positive! Nobody wants to know what you *don’t* want in a partner. Or what you *don’t* like.” Sure, we all have our list of musts and must-nots—like, must not go barefoot on airplanes and must not be weird about sex juice/fluids/smells—but you don’t need to share them on your dating profile.

Stubbs’ second rule: Include a call to action. “Ask a question!” she says. “Use phrases like ‘tell me,’ ‘what’s your favorite,’ or ‘if you can giving me a convincing argument for x, I’ll y.‘ People with BDE make others feel invited in. Plus, this will help weed out duds who’s go-to line is ‘hey’ or ‘sup.'” Ugh, yes please.

Here’s what I come up with:

Sporty femmebeing with messy bun and muscles. Spends days writing about health and wellness, dressed in black. Spends nights reading roxane gay and mary oliver, sweating/slaying barbells, and laughing at my own jokes. Total sucker for knowing hands, hearty appetites, and eye contact. Tell me your favorite book, and I’ll consider adding it to my Audible wish-list.

I hit “update” and wait for my new and improved matches to roll in.

Two days later, it’s still hard to tell which matches were made pre-makeover vs post, so the verdict is out on its effect on others. But its effect on my own confidence is major. This project may have started as a way to boost my online BDE, but the end result is way more ~me~ than it was before. I might still take an embarrassing amount of flexing photos after getting my WOD on, but at least now someone has to take me on a date to learn that little quirk.

Find out the most wanted trait in dating, according to singles. And if you’re looking for someone who can literally keep up with you? It might be time to try a fitness-based dating app instead.

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