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

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 a dating 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 client bios, app choices and introductory messages. One of the biggest mistakes men make is lazy first messages on dating apps. Women make this mistake too but it’s mostly on Bumble.


Unofficial Rules Of Online Dating: Likes, Hearts, Right-Swipes, Comments, Favorites & 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 woman on an online dating site. It is not uncommon for a woman to receive a 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, an emoji reaction and a like is. Being coy, ambiguous or indecisive can be seen as a red flag on dating apps.

Hinge Etiquette: Hearts vs Commenting On Profiles

When it comes to Hinge, once has two options for expressing interest in a person: liking a photo or answer to prompt or comment on a photo or prompt. Likes are a dime a dozen so always better to comment with something specific and add commentary, or opinion to it along with a follow-up question (in addition to a like).  It’s best to comment on something that is original, unique as women tend to hear the same lines dozens if not hundreds of times. Unless they are new to the app, chances are they have heard it before.



Hinge: Like vs Message vs Send Rose

Hinge: Like vs Message vs Send Rose



Bumble: Right-Swipe vs React To Photo, Emoji Reaction Feature On Bumble

When it comes to Bumble, things are a little different. People are unable to send a comment until after they match so all you have is an emoji reaction to send on specific prompts or photos. Like Hinge, it’s all about standing out. If you like the same photo/prompt everyone else does, it’s hard to stick out. I generally recommend just swiping right on something unique or something you identify with rather than the easiest, most obvious prompt or photo.


Bumble React To Photo, Bumble Emoji Reaction

Bumble React To Photo, Bumble Emoji Reaction


How To Get A Woman’s Attention On A Dating App, How To Stand Out On Dating Sites

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

Sites like while effective as 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.

Coffee Meets Bagel – Commenting vs Send Likes Only

CMB Messaging

Sending Comments On Hinge vs Likes Alone

Hinge First Line, Opening Message

Women Will Assume You Are Being Lazy And Casting A Wide Net

It’s true, likes are lazy, low-effort actions. They don’t signal anything. It’s possible to send a like without looking at the profile. Messages convey more thought, effort and sincerity.

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: 

Bumble and Women’s First Messages: Bad Openers On Bumble

The same logic applies to women of Bumble. It’s not enough to say hi, hey, what’s up, how’s your day on Bumble. For every low-effort, lazy intro message a more attractive, enthusiastic and engaged women will message the guy you are interested in. Sure, not every guy will reply, but you need to put your best foot forward or why even bother liking, matching in the first place? Bumble CEO stated that an increase in replies of 60% occur when a first name is used in a message.


How To Comment On Prompts, Photos, Captions and Answers To Prompts

Always look at the entire profile. Assume the most obvious prompt or photo will get the most comments and thus be tough to be creative, unique and separate yourself from the competition. Look at the captions for clues. Comment on nostalgia, emotion, location, background, expressions or details in the photos. Take a gamble now and then. Playing it safe is boring and likely results in the same message everyone else has sent over already. Emoji reactions are lame on apps like Bumble – don’t use them.


Online Dating Tips For Men: Don’t Read Into Likes, Winks, Matches

Just because someone likes your profile or matches with you on a dating site, doesn’t mean they are in to you. They could be bots or spammers, could be fishing for likes and followers on Instagram, could be looking for an ego boost or pen-pal, or they could be auto-liking and copy-pasting generic messages to all matches and seeing who responds and whom they like the most.

Don’t overinvest in people that don’t match your effort, enthusiasm, etiquette and responsiveness. Be optimistic but don’t read too much into people. Don’t be the one to always start conversations or carry the conversation with additional questions. If you can’t afford to be selective, work on your profile, photos, smiles, wardrobe, poses, bios, prompts and opening lines, so you can afford to be more picky.


Dating Apps Where Men Message First

Except for Bumble, guys can message first on most dating apps. Apps like Hinge allow men to message women directly rather than wait for a match to occur.


Dating Coach Services

First date ideas, wardrobe styling, places to meet singles, where to sit at bars and restaurants, body language, vocal intonation, eye contact, conversation skills, how to flirt over text, how to be more approachable and get people to start conversations with you, mock dates and more.

About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, 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, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally. 

Dating App FAQ's  |  Online Dating Resource Guide  |  How To Be Successful With Dating Apps

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