Expert tips on how to find a relationship on a dating app

Sarah Ilston
·8-min read
Photo credit: Tim Robberts
Photo credit: Tim Robberts

The past year has been a hard one for many of us, particularly those looking for love — many of whom will regard the last twelve months as a year lost when it comes to dating.

With lockdown lifting, our social lives returning and dating firmly back on the agenda for 2021, now seems the perfect time to refresh profiles and re-enter the dating world, but rather than slip into old repeat-swiping patterns, what steps can we take to actually try and successfully cultivate a relationship from a dating app?

Of course, there is no one guaranteed method to finding love — most of the time its simply down to luck of the draw — but there are some steps you can take to bolster your online dating profile, so you're attracting the type of person who a) wants to be in a relationship too, and b) you're compatible with, according to Logan Ury, Hinge’s Director of Relationship Science.

Here she outlines her expert-approved dating profile tips, along with advice for match fatigue, as well as Prompt and message suggestions:

Make your profile an honest yet flattering reflection of yourself

The key to a great Hinge profile is selecting photos and Prompts that show us who you are. Think about your profile as your opening line in a conversation — something your match can respond to or ask a follow up question about.

Choose photos that are accurate and flattering. When it comes to the all-important first photo, start with a clear headshot. Ditch the photos with filters or sunglasses because these make it harder for us to see what you look like. Also have a mixture of different types of photos, including at least one photo of your full body and one that shows you doing an activity you love.

Photo credit: Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
Photo credit: Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

One common mistake users make when choosing photos is featuring too many group photos. One group photo can be great to demonstrate that you have close bonds with your friends or family, but it can be challenging to figure out who you are amongst the crowd. You don’t want to turn this into a guessing game.

When answering your Prompts, try to skip the small talk and go deep. The first step is selecting Prompts that allow you to be vulnerable and help the other person get to know you.

The top two Prompts that receive the most likes and matches in the UK are ‘I’m looking for’ and ‘We'll get along if.’ Both of those require Hinge users to do some soul-searching and share more about who they are.

The second step is to answer the Prompts in a way that encourages more in-depth conversation and leads to more meaningful connections. In other words, no one-word answers — whatever it is you love about who you are, make sure other people can see it.

Don't include cliche predictable answers to your Prompts. The key to an interesting profile is to think of unique, personal responses. This will help you stand out from the crowd. If you need more tips on crafting your profile, check out the Photo and Prompts Guides in the app.

Photo credit: Hinge
Photo credit: Hinge

Limit your messaging to avoid match fatigue

On Hinge, we limit your daily likes to avoid this. When you have a limited amount of matches allowed per day, you’re likely to take more care and time with each one.

If you’re feeling fatigued, try to avoid messaging more than one person at a time. This allows you to invest in that person and decide whether you want to keep going or move to the next. If you speak to more than one person at a time, it can make getting to know them feel like another thing on your to-do list rather than something that should be fun.

Another technique is to stop rushing through profiles. Don’t just like the first thing you see on a profile. Take time to read their Prompt answers, look at their other photos, and then comment on something specific.

Ghosting is also a major source of dating app fatigue. To help, Hinge has the ‘Your Turn’ feature that provides a friendly nudge to respond to your match. It helps limit accidental ghosting.

Skip the small talk

Once you’ve been through the standard questions, you should skip the small talk and avoid cliche questions such as, 'How was your weekend?' Ask them about specific photos or Prompts on their profile to learn more about who they are.

You can also try taking turns answering the famous 36 questions. They escalate in intensity and intimacy from 'Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?' to 'If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?'

These aren’t just random questions. They were designed by psychologist Arthur Aron and his colleagues for an experiment in which they paired up random strangers to ask each other a series of 36 questions. They tested the power of 'sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self-disclosure.' Aron and his team found that these particular questions help potential partners bond by building connections and promoting vulnerability.

Photo credit: MoMo Productions
Photo credit: MoMo Productions

Another option is to take the next step and ask someone on a video date. Video dates are a safe, low-pressure way to connect. You can get a vibe-check of your compatibility, and according to Hinge research, video dates are likely to be way less awkward than you expect. At the beginning of the pandemic, very few Hinge users had been on a video date as it was typically reserved for our most intimate relationships. Now, almost 50% of Hinge users have been on a video date, and a third find them easier to arrange than in-person dates.

Look out for verbal and non-verbal cues

When chatting with your match, pay attention to how invested they are in the conversation. Are they asking you a lot of questions? Do they seem distracted or present? Are they being flirtatious or serious? Are they teasing you?

Whether in person or on a video date, look out for non-verbal cues that someone likes you. For example, when someone is interested in you, they do something called mirroring — mimicking your body positioning. If you rest your hand on your chin, they do the same. To see if someone likes you, mirror their body position for a few minutes. Then change the position of your body. If they mirror you within a few seconds — that might mean they like you.

Keep momentum up after matching

When you match with someone, you should send a message as soon as possible. It’s crucial to build momentum early on, in fact, your best chance at getting a response is within 24 hours of matching — ask them questions to discover who they are beyond their profile.

After those initial get-to-know-you questions, keep things fresh by asking follow-up questions about their Hinge Prompts or switching to a new topic. To get past the small talk, you can ask questions like 'What’s something that makes you lose track of time?' or 'What’s your go-to, getting pumped-up song?' Research shows asking personal and thoughtful questions is the best way to get to know someone.

When it’s time to set up a date, don’t be coy and leave things until the last minute. Agree on a specific day and time, and check in with the person the day before to confirm. That helps ensure that the date actually happens.

Hinge research shows that most people are comfortable taking their messaging off the app within five days of chatting. This gives you enough time to build that foundation of trust, but it’s not so long that the momentum fizzles. It can be a bit nerve-wracking to ask someone for their number, so why not switch it up and give them yours? If the conversation is flowing, write something like 'Let’s switch to text. Here’s my number.'

Don't limit yourself to an instant spark

1 in 3 Hinge users said it takes them until the second or third date to know if they are compatible with someone. Some of the best connections come from a slow burn rather than an instant spark — showing that you should give someone a chance, even if you don't feel that initial pang of chemistry.

Some questions you can ask yourself when assessing your date:

  • Do you share the same values?

  • What side of you do they bring out?

  • How do you feel when you’re around them?

  • Are they making an effort to ask you questions? (Your match should make an effort to find more about you — it shouldn’t be a one-way conversation)

Logan Ury is Hinge’s Director of Relationship Science — a behavioural scientist who focuses on dating and relationships. She is the author of How to Not Die Alone, a step-by-step guide to modern dating. Previously, she studied psychology at Harvard and then ran Google’s behavioural science team, the Irrational Lab. Logan also works with clients across the country as a dating coach and matchmaker.

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