You have only 150 characters. How do you get that tricky balance between humorous and useful? How authentic should you be? And which prompts should you pick?

Your profile answers are a launch for messaging

Your answers to prompts on dating apps such as Hinge and Bumble need to give people inspiration to message you, usually either by asking a question or expressing an opinion on something. So if you put “My perfect date involves vegan pizza” they can ask what you like on your pizza. If you put “I’ll pick the topic if you start the conversation: Is tomato integral to the definition of a pizza?” they will feel compelled to express their opinion (hopefully in a light-hearted way that leads to a playful debate!).

Answers to prompts need to be specific

Research shows that you need to be similar to your target audience but distinctive. In other words, you need to have enough in common with your ideal date but stand out from the competition. Compare these two responses to a prompt on Hinge:

My simple pleasures... Pancakes, music, reading, self-care, notebooks, plants, games

My simple pleasures... Pancakes with chocolate and banana, string quartets, novels by Kazuo Ishiguro, Qi Gong, neat writing in beautiful notebooks, purple foxgloves on my balcony, a game of Dutch Blitz

The first one shows a good range of interests but is instantly forgettable. The second is more personable, more colourful, warmer and more authentic, right? So what’s going on with the way we process the two answers?

One explanation is that being specific rather than general enables deeper processing: the picture we conjure up is more tangible and real, and our emotions and senses are actively involved. We may have to find out more, for example by googling Dutch Blitz. In a novel, it’s considered better writing to be more specific, as it draws and develops the characters in a more engaging way and enables you to have a stronger emotional response to them (whether positive or negative!).

A second explanation is that we are are more likely to trust someone with specific examples in their dating profile. This is because we have more information (to round out our impression of them as a real human being), and because information that would be hard to invent is perceived as more authentic. In these days of AI, bots and scams it provides a simple way to check someone is genuine – either from the profile itself or by asking questions to clarify and confirm.

Third, there is humour in the eccentricity. We smile at someone who admits they binge-watched Sex Education while eating a lot of jaffa cakes but not if someone just says they watch a lot of Netflix.

And fourth, admitting to quirkiness conveys that we are comfortable with ourselves and are unapologetic about our habits, passions, and obsessions.

Which prompts should I pick?

If one purpose of answering prompts is to make it easier for people ask you interesting questions, another is to convey something of your values and what you’re looking for. You get to choose three prompts on Hinge and Bumble. So have a balance of fun, conversation-generating answers and more serious, value and purpose-driven answers.

Some possible answers to Hinge prompts

To share the experience of my clients, I thought I would answer the Hinge prompts myself, so here are some answers I might give if I were still dating! Most are light-hearted, some are more serious; all are true. I hope they help convey how eccentricity (and neurodivergence) can be celebrated AND generate interesting topics of conversation!

(Note: For some, I give more than one possible answer.)

We’ll get along if… You enjoy dissecting topics of conversation to the nth degree

My hidden talent… Being colour-coordinated at all times

I get way too excited about… Winning a game in a tennis match

My perfect date is… Somewhere with comfy chairs, soothing music, and proper iced coffee with hazelnut syrup

Pros and cons of dating me… You won’t have to guess how I’m feeling. It might not always be the right time to hear it 😊.

Try to guess this about me… Do I play the violin or the trumpet?

I’ll pick the topic if you start the conversation… Is there a non-material dimension to reality? Is empathy a function of imagination? If you had to have a pet or a child, which would you choose? Would you date an AI?

A life goal of mine… To tick off everything on all my lists once and for all

Green flags I look for… Someone who does voluntary work or has friends who are refugees

I’m looking for… Someone who is happy not to talk while we’re eating

The dorkiest thing about me is… I see all the words in front of my eyes as I talk

This year I really want to… Go to a folk festival

My typical Sunday is… Tennis, brunch, reading, afternoon tea, choral evensong

Together, we could… Correct all the misplaced apostrophes in the world

Two truths and a lie… Previous jobs have included teacher trainer, research assistant and data analyst

My simple pleasures… Pancakes with chocolate and banana, string quartets, novels by Kazuo Ishiguro, Qi Gong, neat writing in beautiful notebooks, foxgloves on my balcony, a well-structured day, fresh bed-linen, a game of Dutch Blitz

The key to my heart is… Consistency, calm, curiosity, compassion, clarity, creativity, and chemistry (and alliteration 😊)

How do I answer the Hinge prompts for myself?

When I work with people on a one-to-one, we start by thinking about what they like about themselves and what kind of person they are looking for. It’s only once you are able to celebrate who you are and have a clear idea of what your ideal partner will value that you(or we) can really create a profile that will attract people that are right for you. So get in touch and start your journey towards healthy dating!