Dating can feel complicated, confusing, stressful, and overwhelming. You can end the sentence with any of those words, and at some point, it will have been true—for all of us. With the advent of dating apps, the process becomes more accessible but can also have more moving parts. Which photo should you use? What witty prompt will garner a response? It would all be so much easier with a guide to help you find success in the form of real love. Enter Logan Ury, the director of relationship science at Hinge and the author of the bestselling book How to Not Die Alone.
Ury’s job is heading a research team whose goal is to help you find love. They examine the behaviors of successful daters and work closely with Hinge’s product team to ensure the app is effective and beneficial for all users. Ury further explores everything from dating myths to ways people stand as barriers to their romantic happiness.
With this in mind, Men’s Health spoke with Ury about her best advice for finding a partner on Hinge, mistakes to avoid, and the questions to ask yourself after every date.
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What’s your number one piece of advice for anyone looking to find a partner on Hinge?
Date like a scientist. Scientists use the scientific method. They develop a hypothesis and test it while remaining open to being wrong. At Hinge, we test every assumption and look at the data before making decisions. I encourage people to do the same with their dating lives, so experiment with your profile.
Regularly audit your photos and prompts, and remove any content that doesn’t get a lot of responses. Swap it out for something that could catch someone’s attention. Also, go beyond your “type.” My dating coaching clients often say they have a particular “type.” They don’t want help figuring out what they want—they just want assistance finding that person. But my research has shown me that these hunches are often wrong. In the end, the person who will make us happiest long-term does not always match our so-called “type.”
Therefore, my advice is to expand your parameters. Date someone older or younger than you normally do. Change your geographic radius. Be more open to someone from a different educational background. You may be surprised—and delighted—by what you find.
How can a person update their profile for greater success?
Your Hinge profile is your chance to tell your story, and that means showing different parts of who you are. You want to make sure there’s variety. Think about your profile as your opening line in a conversation—something your match can respond to or ask a follow-up question about.
When it comes to your photos, choose flattering and accurate pictures. Say goodbye to that attractive but outdated pic from five years ago. For the all-important first photo, start with a clear headshot. Share a mixture of different photos, including at least one photo of your full body and one showing you doing an activity you love. Incorporate at least one picture with friends or family. Hinge users say this helps them know you have a healthy social life. But make sure we can figure out who you are amongst the crowd! Don’t turn this into a game of “Where’s Waldo?”
When answering your prompts, try to skip the small talk and go deep. Select prompts that allow you to be vulnerable and help the other person get to know you. Answer the prompts in a way that encourages more in-depth conversation and leads to more meaningful connections. Include hooks that people can grab onto and ask you follow-up questions about. For example, if you write a prompt response about your talent for making great road trip playlists, you’re inviting someone to ask you for some of your favorite singalong tunes. Successful profiles include a mixture of both humor and vulnerability, so lean into both your silly and serious sides. Whatever you love about who you are, make sure other people can see it.
What do you think people overlook when it comes to dating?
As a dating coach, I discovered that while all of my clients are unique, many suffer from dating blind spots—patterns of behavior that hold them back from finding love, but which they can’t identify on their own. I’ve categorized the most common blind spots into a framework called The Three Dating Tendencies. Each group struggles with unrealistic expectations.
“The Romanticizer” has unrealistic expectations of relationships. “The Maximizer” has unrealistic expectations of their partner. “The Hesitater” has unrealistic expectations of themselves.
For The Romanticizer, you want the soulmate, the happily ever after—the whole fairy tale. You love love. You believe you are single because you haven’t met the right person yet. Your motto is it’ll happen when it’s meant to happen.
For The Maximizer, you love doing research, exploring all of your options, turning over every stone until you’re confident you’ve found the right one. You make decisions carefully. And you want to be 100 percent certain about something before you make your choice. Your motto is why settle?
For The Hesitater, you don’t think you’re ready for dating because you’re not the person you want to be yet. You hold yourself to a high standard. You want to feel completely ready before you start a new project; the same goes for dating. Your motto is “I’ll wait until I’m a catch.”
You can take my quiz to determine your dating tendency. It will help identify what’s holding you back, so you can break your bad habits and develop new ones. Your tendency impacts your behavior at every stage of the relationship, so it’s crucial to learn yours as the first step along your journey to finding love.
What’s the biggest mistake you see people make on Hinge?
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make on Hinge is waiting too long to go on a date. You’re on Hinge because you’re looking for a partner, not a pen pal. Get off the app and onto a date. Four to five days of chatting before you initiate the date is often the sweet spot. It gives you enough time to build that foundation of trust, but it’s not so long that the momentum drops off.
I’ve seen over and over the negative consequences of messaging too much before a date. When people text nonstop before a date, they create a fantasy of each other in their minds. Plus, great text chemistry doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll vibe in person. Wouldn’t you rather figure that out sooner? Why spend weeks or months texting someone instead of getting to the most important questions? How do you feel around this person? Are you excited about spending more time with them?
Also, video chats before an in-person date are always a safe, low-pressure way to connect. You can get a vibe check of your compatibility, and according to our research, video dates are likely to be way less awkward than you expect.
How can an extremely shy person make Hinge work for them?
Lean into your passions. What’s a topic that gets you going? Could you talk about anime for hours? Are you a master baker? Find the conversation areas that help you open up and show people who you are. Include those on your profile to give yourself the best chance at connecting with other people looking for love.
What signs can a person look for that a date has potential?
Many of us have long checklists of criteria for our potential partners. We spend the dates asking ourselves, do they check all the boxes? I call this “evaluative dating.” After these dates, we score our matches against these checklists and notice all the ways they fall short when stacked up against our imaginary perfect partner. Checklists aren’t inherently bad, but most people’s lists focus on the wrong things—superficial traits that are not correlated with long-term relationship success.
To help, I created the Post-Date Eight, a different kind of checklist, that can help us shift from an evaluative to an experiential mindset. This will help you focus on what matters—like how this person made you feel. Fill this out on the way home from your dates. You’ll be surprised by what it opens up for you.
On the other hand, how can a person know their date will never be a match?
Sometimes we meet people with a fundamental incompatibility that dooms a potential relationship. For example, if you and your date practice different religions and want your kids to be raised solely in your faith. Or if you have asthma and meet a smoker who doesn’t want to quit.
The issue is that we often confuse deal breakers with pet peeves. A pet peeve is a trait you find particularly annoying, perhaps more than other people do, but that you could get over. For instance, maybe you’re really into fashion, so you think you couldn’t be with someone with a bad sense of style. But unless you’re Anna Wintour, this is likely not a fundamental incompatibility. Someone’s sense of style is unlikely to impact your long-term relationship happiness. And you could always go shopping with them!
To differentiate between the two, ask yourself if something you think of as a dealbreaker is actually a fundamental incompatibility. In other words, could you absolutely not be with someone with this trait? Would you still reject them if someone were great on all other dimensions except this one? You’ll find that things you previously considered deal breakers are just pet peeves in hiding. Use this insight to broaden your dating parameters and be open to different connections.
Sarah Fielding is a freelance writer based in New York who covers a range of topics for outlets including Men’s Health, Bustle, and Insider, with a special love for mental health and sex and relationships topics. She’s also spent time living in Italy and Australia, writing as she traveled.