The modern world of dating is a confusing place – not only do we have to contend with thirst traps, ghosting and breadcrumbing, but we’re living this reality online. Why walk up to someone in a bar when you could be head down in your phone, swiping right on a random face in a catalogue of strangers?
Or so the wisdom goes. And with every dating app promising something different, this love roulette begins the moment you go to the app store. So we wanted to ask the people who use these apps to talk us through them: the good, the bad, and the one with fuckboys. First up: Hinge.
Hinge sells itself as the only app on the market supposedly “made” for dating: a spokesperson says the app’s USP is that you will get dates, rather than one night stands or friendly pen pals. And not only does it vow your diary will be jam-packed but it also tries to avoid leaving you in dead-end chats by building your profile around a mini Q&A so people have easy conversation icebreakers.
It also recently added a unique feature called ‘We Met’ that invites users to share how their dates went and use this information to inform future matches. Does taking lived experience into account puts the app ahead of other offerings on the dating market? We asked users what they think.
Lauren Crouch, 31, from north London has been using Hinge for the past year and agrees with the notion that it is more of a ‘relationship’ app than Tinder and Bumble. Especially because it allows you to be more specific with what you’re looking for – you can exclude categories like smokers or people with children.
“I love that you can be more choosy,” says Crouch. And she isn’t the only one. Despite Hinge also not having fulfilled its promise of a relationship, 27-year-old Sophie Milner says that she feels it has “more soul” than other apps: “Nobody uses Tinder anymore and there’s not that many hot guys left on there.”
Milner has used Hinge on and off for five months and thinks the quality of men is better and the functionality way more interactive. She explains: “Every user has to pick and answer three questions out of a selection, and you can like people based on their answers as well as their photos.”
She has also swapped her phone number with a few matches but does say that like the other apps, it is still easy to get bored when using Hinge. “There’s not much connection with online profiles these days – no matter how attractive or funny someone comes across.”
Kyle Sowden from Manchester agrees that the question format does put it above most other apps. “Hinge requires you to put more thought into your profile by answering questions that become a part of your profile, allowing your personality to come across – I found this leads to higher quality matches.”
The 23-year-old also agreed with the idea that it is more about relationships than sex, than other apps. “The people on Hinge are less likely to be looking for a one night stand from my experience (take that as you will), so it’s more suited to people looking for something genuine.”
Sowden’s biggest gripe was the lack of people on the app, as one of the few people we spoke to for this feature who lived outside of London. It seems the app still has room to grow nationwide, rather than focusing on the capital.
And 39-year-old Lucy* said this small group of people has been a long-standing problem on Hinge. Joining two years ago, she is one of the earliest Hinge adopters we spoke to. “Then, as now (to a lesser extent) there were not many users, so I didn’t get many dates,” she says.
She also feels that Hinge isn’t immune from the same problems as other apps – after two dates with a man she thought had gone well she was ghosted. “So far, so typical,” she says. “I’d be keen to get the user base up, and also to get people messaging more, and getting off the app and out into the real world!”
The biggest advocate of Hinge we spoke to, was Maya*, 23, from Surrey who started using the app in August and has already found herself with a boyfriend. After an 18-month relationship with a man from Tinder ended and she was ghosted by another man, Maya says it was time to try something new.
Failing to click with other apps like Bumble because of the type of people she was meeting on there – “it just seemed to be white city boys” – she decided to download Hinge. At that time, it was based on hooking you up with friends-of-Facebook-friends (hence ‘hinge’). It no longer works that way.
“I wasn’t going on dedicated Hinge benders, it was just casual,” she says. But within a week Maya had met a new man who, when we speak, she has been dating for two months. “I never had that kind of stomach flip from a kiss before. I get it every time I look at him, which is gross but also really fucking nice.
“I guess I never thought I could click with someone I met on an app the way I have done; I felt app dating was a placeholder for me, to meet as many people as possible and learn about what I wanted from my romantic relationships.”
As well as delivering on its promise of dates, Maya was impressed by the layout of Hinge. “It’s extremely sleek and mixes the photo aspect of Instagram with the question element of OK Cupid. There’s no long bios, just three questions alongside five photos. Plus you can include vital info like height, political opinion and your habits i.e. whether you smoke or do drugs.”
But Emily Hennings, 24, from Peckham, said she found the layout very fiddly and hated Hinge from the word go. “It felt like more work than it needed to.
“Dating is already an effort, I don’t want to have to take 20 minutes to look at a profile,” she says. “I tried it and spoke to a handful of people but the app was just too difficult and I got bored.”
Hennings says she wouldn’t recommend Hinge and hasn’t witnessed much success from it. “Even my friend who recommended it thought she had found her one true love, but they never met up...”.
The other glaring issue raised by users was the fact that the app allows you to set ‘ethnicity preference’ filters when you create your profile. Users have a choice between saying they are ‘open to all’ ethnic backgrounds, or specifying those that are ‘dealbreakers’.
Maya said: “Racial preference filters should always be a no go. Being able to reinforce the prejudice we excuse with ‘preference’ or ‘my type’ is a terrible idea and only increases segregation or fetishising in dating.”
HuffPost UK has contacted Hinge for comment on the ‘racial preference filters’ but has yet to receive a reply. This article will be updated with a response.
*Names have been changed on request to protect people’s anonymity.