Hacking Hinge

Chris Reads
5 min readJan 20, 2023

All right, gather around, pseudo-misogynistic post number three in what seems like just as many months. I never thought I’d write something like this, but I’m truly out of content and craving clicks. Recently, I helped a friend set up a dating profile and gave him a few pointers based on my years of experience. Now, I’m sitting on a couch with my girlfriend, punting out this post. At least it helped me, right?

A few points of clarification: I will be primarily using Hinge as the reference point, but I believe these strategies should be quite consistent across all dating apps. I will be making constant references to ‘the algorithm’ and ‘your ranking’, which are based off the assumption that the application collects data to maximize engagement and willingness-to-pay, and also ranks people based on how often they get swiped on by others. On Hinge, users aren’t shown matches only when both parties like each other: daters send likes to people they are interested in, and then are either accepted or not. My strategy was created to find a long-term partner, but could contain some insights for all users, though I understand hetero female members have a completely different set of issues to deal with.

First and foremost, one needs to define their commitment, both in terms of endgame and time. Is the goal a relationship? Is it a situationship? Is it casual sex? Does one have time for one date a week? Three dates a week? Two dates every night? The first of these goals is simply important to keep in mind. The frequency of dates is one variable in the swipe ratio. The Swipe Ratio is how many likes one should be sending every day, against how many profiles they view in total, measured against a match to date conversion rate.

If someone wants to go on three new dates a week, then they first need to know how many of their matches turn into dates. This can be further broken down into how many swipes turn into matches. Of course, the Swipe Ratio can be expressed purely mathematically, but a roundabout estimate is good enough. The bottom line is to only swipe as much as to get enough matches to turn into dates. The important part is as follows: Under the assumption that there is a ranking system, any individual users ranking would be most benefited from receiving as many likes as possible, while disliking as many others as possible. Dating apps assess how how much engagement your profile creates through this, and then shows higher ranking profiles en masse to people who aren’t engaging. Sending too many likes without getting enough in return will result in your profile not being shown to as many people as a higher ranked person.

Consequently, the Swipe Ratio also considers how many dislikes one should be sending. This number should be at least fifty percent of the likes, but ideally lower: I find three dislikes to every like is a good number to avoid spending too much time on the app as well as sending sufficient dislikes. This also extends to the inbound likes that one receives: reject them in at least a three-to-one ratio, even though it might be tempting to get that instantaneous match.

A note on selective swiping: in addition to elevating one’s ranking and forcing them to carefully consider every person that they’re swiping on, selective swiping also teaches the dating app what your preference is to a very narrow spectrum. This can manifest in a body proportion, ethnicity, or personality type, which can be something that the user wants, or finds limiting. Defining a preference so narrowly to Hinge is also detrimental in that Hinge has a Daily Picks feature, which locks your “best matches” or whom you’re most interested in, behind a paywall.

Once a user has determined how many dates they want per week and estimated how many swipes they need to hit that quantity, the next step is to increase ones propensity to get matches and therefore their rating. Engaging with every like and match is key here. Send thoughtful “message likes” to people’s profiles. Don’t leave a match without starting a conversation with them first. Don’t wait too long between messages. Tell the app that “we met up” after you’ve met up. It’s important to remember that although dating applications have gamified the whole experience, and the only way to get dates is to play the game, there are also very real people behind each profile, who should be treated as ends, not a means. So, only send likes to people you’re interested in, sustain conversations with people you’re not leading on, and remaining respectful in all conversations.

A few quick profile tips that are littered across the internet, but would be remiss if I didn’t mention: Firstly, remember what you’re on the dating app for, and create a profile that is as broad or as narrow as you can to accommodate how many dates you want on a week. Ideally, somewhere between a niche aesthetic or vibe and a broad “fish holding provider” profile. Have at least two pictures with appropriately-heighted friends so people can see you have friends and guess how tall you are. Create prompts and have pictures that are easy to respond to; inbound likes feel good and also contribute to a higher rating. This can include: asking for recommendations, posting inoffensive but controversial opinions, and captioning all photos. Like a resume or cover letter, viewer time and attention is extremely limited, so it’s important to grab someone’s attention while providing pertinent information. For example, I like reading and my ideal partner is literate, so one of my prompts is a book recommendation: easy to respond to while demonstrating an aspect of my personality.

Even though it’s presented as a game with a tangible reward, remember why you’re on there, and remember your Swipe Ratio. If you’re already getting too many matches a week, stop swiping as much and tend to the matches that you have. If you’re not getting enough matches, perhaps it’s time to rethink your Swipe Ratio, your profile, or remake the whole thing if you think your ranking is now too low. If the stress of it gets overwhelming, it’s also fine to ignore your date quota and put the app away for a bit. I also have a running theory that the app will attempt to increase engagement by giving your ranking a bump when you’ve been away for a while, so it might prove productive. Hopefully you can use the app as it was intended , and delete Hinge.