I like to think of myself as a soldier for the single woman, nothing appeals to me less than accounting for another person’s whims and wishes when I barely have time for my own nonsense. However, if there’s ever been a time to question my commitment to singledom, it's during the festive season.
First, there's the PDA couples that go into overdrive in December, not just at your local Chistmas Market but online too (#boydidgood!!). Then comes those tense family gatherings where at least one auntie didn't get the modern-day feminism memo and starts interrogating you about marriage and kids over the roast potatoes. And don't get me started on the festive romcoms... like I love them, but why do they make me want to move to Los Angeles and fall in love with a music producer while giving physiotherapy to my old frail neighbour??
You can see where the trouble lies. And for that there is only one solution: distract myself with online dating to create a false sense of hope that 'the one' is just around the corner if I actually made an effort to find them. I shouldn't say false, to be fair, maybe this one will be the one if I stop ghosting everyone after matching? Just maybe?!
So, in an attempt to make a connection that will provide more substance than the one-night-stand army that has invaded Tinder, I downloaded Hinge. And so the social experiment began... again.
First of all, what is Hinge?
Creating a real connection is Hinge’s raison d’etre, it sells itself as Match.com for the younger crowd, without Tinder’s superficial picture-only swiping, and its slogan is literally 'designed to be deleted'. It used to have the same function as Tinder when it came to swiping, but has increasingly adapted to the ever-evolving intricacies of online dating, including question and answer prompts - WITH a voicenote feature!! - and installing a ‘Your Turn’ reminder to reply to messages, a tactic to decrease ghosting.
So how does Hinge work?
When you install Hinge, you can do so using Facebook or your mobile number. I chose Facebook because I’m lazy... and I clearly don’t care about hacking apparently. Hinge uses 'a sophisticated algorithm' to help facilitate connections (they previously used your Facebook friends.)
When you first start your profile, alongside uploading your Facebook profile pictures which are automatically pulled through to the app (you can change them later and connect your Instagram if you want), you’re asked to choose three questions to answer that will thus appear on your profile as cute titbits to start conversations. Cue sheer panic.
Now, I’m quite the keyboard warrior when it comes to witty remarks - my Instagram captions could honestly be entered into awards - but this shook me to my core. Not only do you have to choose a fun, quirky question that will adequately express your personality, but then also think of an equally funny answer?! It’s a sweat-inducing prospect, and while clearly meant to be all fun and games, with potential matches deciding whether our personalities are compatible before even having a conversation, it’s far too much pressure to put on three questions as far as I’m concerned.
With your string of images and three questions laid out, your profile can also include your age, height, job, location, political leanings and whether you drink, smoke or do drugs. You can even include your star sign if so inclined, but don't be fooled into thinking the men that do actually care about astrology, astroglogyfishing is the new catfishing I swear. Then you're free to roam.
When someone likes you, they have to match a certain thing on your profile, whether it’s liking a picture or commenting on one of your answers. You get a notification, and you can choose to reply, remove, or just click match and then leave them to initiate conversation. When it’s your turn to reply, you’ll be told so, no ghosting here ladies (unless you ignore the notification like I do very regularly... oops).
How is Hinge different to other dating apps?
As a somewhat experienced online dater, how did my venture into Hinge compare to other apps? Well within minutes of my first conversation on the app, I’d been invited to Lisbon for a first date – all expenses paid. 'Is this a great start or am I accidently venturing into escorting?' I thought to myself. My next few conversations with matches were very classic small-talk, 'How’s it going?' being the opening line of choice for many. Compared to Tinder, that was still much better than the peach or cheeky monkey emoji openers I usually get. Yes, really - nothing like a single emoji from a stranger to spark true love.
On that note though, one wild development I found was that the women on Hinge are actually much more like the Tinder lads I’m used to. For reference, my male Tinder matches almost always start the conversation commenting on my body, whereas the women tend more towards a nice, simple, 'How are you?'. On Hinge however, that’s flipped on its head. Where the men would more often open with a question or at least 'Hello', the women would rush straight to point out my best physical feature. One literally opened with 'Ass'. Oh, thanks Stephanie - not really sure where we go from here but great compliment nonetheless.
Why have women become the LADSLADSLADS of Hinge? I honestly couldn’t tell you. Perhaps it's just that the pool of women who date women on Hinge seems larger - in comparison to my Tinder experience - and so i'm subject to more f*ckgirls. However, the positive takeaway there is that for the bisexual and pansexual communities, Hinge seems to show me equally as many women as men compared to Tinder (where I see one woman for about every tenth man.)
Bumble was very much the same as Tinder in that sense, in my experience, but on the bright side I haven’t had anywhere near as many peach emojis from either women or men on that app.
But in terms of starting an actual conversation after matching, Bumble and Hinge are on par: matching does not always equal conversation on either of them. Tinder, however, is basically a match to conversation guarantee. I take full blame for the lack of conversation on Bumble, since you know I’m the one that’s meant to start the conversation (for my male matches) and I’m often too disinterested to come up with a decent opener. However, Hinge is an equal playing field, and I’ve found more matches than ever will ghost as soon as you leave them to initiate conversation.
It could be the blatant hook-up culture on Tinder that means conversations are initiated immediately, but I think it’s more likely that on Tinder, you’re not expected to put actual effort in. Hinge and Bumble, you need to think before you speak, and how many of us on online dating apps are actually on there to start a relationship? Are most of us not just passing the time during the boring parts of a Netflix binge, or boosting our egos after failing to pull IRL on Saturday night?
How does Hinge most compatible work?
Perhaps this general indifference, or despair at meeting someone actually decent within a 10-mile radius of your home, is why Hinge introduced their ‘most compatible’ feature. Intended to push you towards those you’re more inclined to like, this feature uses a Nobel-Prize-winning algorithm (for a service to shagging I can only assume), that learns from users’ preferences through their liking and passing activity, and pairs them with those who they best align. When you’re paired with someone, you appear at the top of their feed as you do theirs. It’s a nice idea, but also means if you don’t like their profile you’re probably living in denial about what’s good for you and destined to failed romance... not to get super dark about it.
How does Hinge preferred work?
If I’ve suitably ruined your mood for romance, never fear, there are positive ways to invest in your dating future on the app. While Hinge is free to download, there’s upgrade options for ‘Preferred Membership’. It costs £27.99 a month, or £55.99 for three months and £82.99 for six. But what are you paying for? Apparently, twice as many dates (statistically, you’re not literally forced on a date or anything), the ability to send unlimited likes (I didn’t even realise I had limited likes to be honest) and you can set greater preferences for education, family plans and vices PLUS you have access to dating experts. That might honestly be worth it, at least when it comes to my dating life, Millionaire Matchmaker really screwed up my idea of dating.
Another useful feature of Hinge Preferred is the ability to see everyone who likes you. As a free member, you can only see them one at a time, and so have to reject one by one as I go through them. For me, that’s honestly a lot of admin… did I mention I’m super lazy? Seeing all of them at once then was actually super useful, and a great ego boost to be honest - nothing like a sea of men simping for you to validate that self-esteem. Unhealthy validation? Yes. Still love it though? Absolutely.
What are the best answers to the Hinge questions?
With said laziness in mind, it’s time I introduce you to the easiest way to guarantee matches on Hinge: with some of the best answers to the Q&A section of your profile.
Hinge IRL, the dating sites additional platform for ‘advice and insight into modern daters’, is a secret haven of Hinge success and contains a series of articles detailing the best responses to various questions. Analysing the best answers that get the most engagement - including words - for each individual prompt, there’s a ‘best answers’ guide on Hinge IRL. Here’s a snapshot of their best answers to ‘Most spontaneous thing I’ve done’ and 'Last meal' prompts...
Grazia Looks At Hinge's Best Answers
So basically, the weirder your life has been, the better? Their generic advice across the board when to comes to the best answers is to create detailed ones, and paradoxically both being as weird as possible and as basic bitch as possible will equally get you more likes and comments, so it all really depends on who you’re looking to attract. Women, we have two choices: weirdos or basics. That is my takeaway.
And honestly, that sums up my entire online dating experience. Whether it’s Tinder, Hinge or Bumble, be warned: the weirdos are everywhere, the basics are everywhere, you just have to hope one of them is the exact mix of weirdo and basic that you yourself are. I’m yet to find that unicorn, but I have faith in your abilities more than mine…