Cuffing season: a time to cozy up with your phone and half-heartedly look for love as you rewatch The Holiday. Depending on what you’re looking for, finding someone worthy of shared couch space might come down to the app. When Hinge first emerged on the dating app market in 2012, it stood out for its unique ability to find people you have mutual friends with, but who you don’t know, and who you actually might like. Gossiping about mutuals is a great ice breaker — but the concept of mixing Facebook with pleasure isn’t everyone’s idea of discreet.
Fast forward to 2021, Hinge won’t blow up your spot as a DL dater if you don’t want to link your Facebook. The app’s algorithm is pretty efficient at sending you potential matches that don’t know you, but probably know someone you know. This web of interconnectedness makes the app experience feel like you are dating within a community, rather than a void.
Hinge stands out from the crowded field of dating apps in other ways. It gives users prompts to make deep connections, and allows them to illustrate themselves with photos, text, audio, and video so that their profiles are more multidimensional. In October 2021, Hinge came out with a feature that TikTokers are particularly fond of: voice notes. With the update, users can answer prompts like “Dating me is like” or “I recently discovered” using their voice, letting potential matches get to know them a bit more intimately
Here’s how to get set up on Hinge to find the love of your life, a fun person to share a burger with this weekend, or a hilarious voice note that’ll make you TikTok-famous.
How To Set Up Your Hinge Profile
Hinge is free to download in the App Store and on Google Play. If you want to use specialized features, like filters for substance use and height or access to unlimited daily likes, you can opt for Hinge Preferred Membership, which costs $29.99 for a month, $59.99 for three months, or $89.99 for six months. You can sign up via Facebook to give the app access to your friends (so the app knows to avoid them), or you can sign in with your phone number to start fresh.
Next, you’ll have the option to add a ton of basic information, which you can choose to display on your profile or hide. The initiation questions start off easy with your name — your last name is optional and will only be revealed to matches — email, birthday, location, pronouns, and sexuality. Then it moves on to more intimate questions, like your feelings on children, religious beliefs, substance use, and political affiliation. Once you’ve got all the background information all squared away (or skipped) you can move on to the fun part: prompts.
If you want to change anything about your profile, tap the profile icon on the lower right corner, then the pencil icon to edit. You can also update your preferences, like where you live, who you’re interested in, and your member preferences, like what you’re looking for, which you only have access to if you upgrade to a paid account. You can also access your account settings, like choosing to show your active status, or pausing your membership if you’re into someone you’re dating or need a break from the swipe life.
How To Use Prompts On Hinge
One of the main ways Hinge is different than other dating is apps is that, rather than swiping right on a person’s whole profile, you can like or respond to their answers to one of their prompts, setting up an instant conversation.
According to Haley, 24, a New York City-based digital marketer, Hinge prompts are the key to really getting to know people on the app. “It’s a great way to break the ice and see if you actually have things in common,” she says. “I’ve had the most success with the ‘what’s a no-skip album?’ prompt because it’s a great way to start a conversation or discover a new artist,” she tells Bustle.
There are right and wrong ways to use the prompts on Hinge, however. While comedic or snarky responses to prompts might catch Haley’s eye, she says there’s a fine line between being funny and being crude. “I see a lot of guys talking about what they don't want versus focusing on the positive, and that is definitely a red flag for me!” Haley also notes that overly sexualized answers in PG prompts, like “Fun facts about me...” can read as a bit of a red flag. “'It’s a big turn off,” she says.
How To Add Voice Prompts In Hinge
Hinge’s new Voice Prompts feature allows you answer a prompt with your actual voice, popping off the screen and creating as realistic an impression as possible. “It’s nice to hear what someone’s voice sounds like, and the voice prompt also helps show personality (or lack thereof),” Melissa, 26, a nutritionist based in Vancouver, tells Bustle.
And while Hinge users say the voice notes can be super helpful to get to know someone better, they often teeter much closer to unbearably awkward. Eleanor, 28, a Los Angeles-based creative director, says that while there have been some very funny viral voice prompts circulating TikTok, most of them are “so cringe.”
To record your own voice prompt, head to your profile and then tap Select a prompt under Voice Prompt. Choose from a list ranging from heady prompts, like “A shower thought I recently had,” to spicy ones, like “Let’s debate this topic.” You have 30 seconds to record your answer, and once you tap Done, it will be shared on your profile. You can delete these at any time. “Just be as authentic as possible. The whole point is to be yourself,” Eleanor says.
How To Fine Tune Your Hinge Preferences
When you first complete your Hinge profile, you’ll be presented with Hinge members of all attributes. Meaning, you might see someone who lives 100 miles away and has a lot of what you’d consider dealbreakers in their profile. To sharpen your search, head to the filter icon in the upper right corner and adjust the settings to only show you potential matches that are in line with your preferences. There, you can opt to only see people with matching family plans, or of certain heights or political parties or ages. You can change these filters at any time, as well as update your own answers.
For Haley, the filters are crucial, as they help to keep both parties from wasting time. “I filter my area and age range really small and I also filter out a lot of religions — if that was something that was super important to my partner that I didn’t already have, it would be kind of a non-starter — and I also filter out people who don’t want kids,” she says.
Start Interacting With Potential Matches
When you open the app, you’ll see what the algorithm deems your daily Most Compatible match, in addition to a carousel of profiles that match your filters. You can only like up to eight users a day if you have a free account, so you won’t spend too much time swiping. You can tell someone you really like them by sending them a rose (Bachelor nation, much?); you get one free rose every Sunday, but can buy more if you need. You’ll also find 10 users’ prompts that the app thinks you’ll like, based on your settings, in your Standouts feed. To interact, you can like and comment on prompts or photos. The app will send the person who hasn’t replied a “Your Turn” notification to minimize accidental ghosting. If you want to chat more before meeting in person, you can also video chat or send voice notes in the app’s chat function.
If your conversations organically fall off with some users, Hinge will hide them after two weeks to keep your inbox tidy and active. So if you like someone, or think you might like them, don’t snooze on the thread.
Fill Out Your “We Met” Survey On Hinge
Per an email sent to Bustle from Hinge, it’s the only dating app that assesses how successful users’ dates are. The app will follow up with you a few days after you have a date with a ‘We Met’ survey. The in-app survey will ask each person privately if a) they went on a date and b) if they’re the type of person they’d like to see again. When you fill out the survey, Hinge will use the data to try to sharpen up accuracy of the next set of potential matches they send you, by using your feelings on the date as a guide. So if you want a stronger set of matches, it behooves you to fill it out.