Liking vs Messaging On Dating Apps Like Hinge, Should You Like Or Message Matches First? Should You Comment on A Photo or a Prompt?

Ask around and most people will tell you online dating is all about photos or mostly photos. While photos are by far the biggest factor in one’s success on dating apps, there are plenty of ways people self-sabotage their approach when it comes to initiating conversation. As an online dating photographer and consultant, I want to make sure that not only are my photos effective but also make sure they will be used optimally. To do that, I review clients bios, app choices and introductory messages.

With so many dating apps out there, there are so many options to initiate interest or at least acknowledge the existence of someone you found online. happens to be one of the worst culprits out there with the ability to like a photo or a profile, wink at a person and favorite a profile while Hinge is a close second. All these options present a myriad of way to initiate contact but none really are effective at being direct and efficient.

Men — picture yourself in the shoes of a female on an online dating site. It is not uncommon for a woman to receive dozen if not hundreds of messages, likes and matches a day. Think about that for a second. If this happened offline at a bar for example, do you think a woman is more likely to initiate conversation with someone who approaches here directly or someone who winks at her from the corner booth across the room.

Remember, messaging women is only one part of the equation. You have to have a good profile and prompts so that your messages are more effective. For tips on how to optimize your profile and prompts, read this post:

Women don’t have time to sift through these subtle indirect nudges. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Sifting through so many points of contact can be a full-time job. She does not have the time to figure out if you favoriting her is a way to bookmark her profile, nor does have the time to figure out what the difference between a wink and a like is. Being coy, ambiguous or indecisive can be seen as a red flag on dating apps.

Your best bet to get the attention of a woman is to be direct, reference something in her profile that intrigues you and let her know what you have in common. Make sure there is enough photos in your profile and enough information about you written that she can also reference and comment on. Keep it light, creative and insightful. Asking a question about a photo in her profile can show that 1) you actually skimmed her profile and 2) want to find out more about her. It’s amazing the responses one can respond by writing something beyond “hey”, “what’s up”, “where are you from”.

For some additional tips on how to initiate conversations on dating apps, check out this previous piece I wrote on conversation starters.

Sites like while effective to some alternatives to other sites for specific demographics has done a great disservice to the dating population by signaling that these types of indirect nudges are acceptable and even preferred. This could not be further from the truth.

Men should not use these tools to test the water to gauge interest. These points of contact will have a hard time standing out from the other men who are messaging the exact person you are trying to get to acknowledge you. Direct messages signal more confidence, less ambiguity and stronger interest over likes alone.

Likes are quick, lazy, generic, lack sincerity and take absolutely no effort. You should not pursue this approach unless you want to be ignored or are seeking something casual. Most of my advice is geared toward relationship focused mature adults. Conversely, if those that receive the first contact should recognize these low effort communication signals as a red flag and focus on those that have read your profile, and address you by name.

Understanding where in the dating funnel you can improve is a big part to overcoming hurdles, reducing self-sabotaging efforts, and optimizing your profile based on unbiased 3rd party sources.

For additional online dating etiquette, check out: 

About Eddie Hernandez 

Eddie Hernandez is a professional photographer specializing in natural, candid online dating photos. Featured in the SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle. In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice and date ideas.

Dating Profile Critique

For those of you who are remote or virtual dating help and are looking for an online dating profile critique you can read more about my services here.

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Online Dating Frequently Asked Questions (Photos, App Choice, Wardrobe, Messaging, Bios and More):