Left swipe. Left swipe. Left swipe.
Wait a minute--who’s that? Whether you diligently read profiles or halfheartedly swipe on elevator rides, let’s face it, dating apps make meeting that special someone a little easier. Sure, it may take a full five minutes to brainstorm your witty opening message, but that definitely beats the awkwardness of approaching the hottie in the Trader Joe’s checkout line.
If you’re new to the world of online dating you may not know where to start. Every day, it seems developers announce a “unique” new dating app but with only so much cell phone storage space, how do you know which ones are worth a visit to the app store? Don’t worry! We’ve researched the most inclusive and promising dating apps to score you the most matches for whatever you’re after.
In the five short years since it’s debut, Tinder has experienced a meteoric rise to dominance. Popular among straight and LGBTQ communities, Tinder’s swipe method set a new standard in user experience, influencing the functionality of competing apps. Simple setting options allow users to search for men, women, or both. Earlier this year, the app even introduced a “more genders” feature allowing users outside of the gender binary to express their gender identities accurately.
Couples accounts are common seeking thirds or “unicorns,” (individuals who date or hookup with couples,) so much so that the term has entered mainstream consciousness. While people join to find everything from casual hookups to potential life partners, many join just to see what will happen. Dagny Fleischman met her fiance through Tinder. “It seemed like it would be entertaining and I was pretty newly single, so I figured why not check it out,” she said.
Users can create a Tinder profile with Facebook photos and start searching within minutes. Upgrading to Tinder Gold includes additional perks, including the chance to rewind and re-swipe users you’ve already seen, the ability to see who likes you before you swipe, and unlimited likes.
Grindr has long held a reputation for casual hookups. However, the current user pool is much larger than just gay men. Mario Tarango explains, “There's been a lot more trans girls on Grindr and straight guys only looking for trans. There's actually a good amount of FTM also. It's way more open.” Just last week, the app introduced options for users to identify their personal pronouns as “he/him,” “she/her,” or “they/theirs” as well as multiple options for gender identification, including “non-binary,” “transwoman,” “woman,” “non- conforming,” and “queer.” Despite it’s reputation, Grindr’s users may indicate if they are open to deeper connections on their profiles and the app doesn’t allow for nudity in public pictures.
For those interested in “Right Now,” profiles allow users to identify as tops, bottoms, or versatile. Health and safety are paramount and users have the options to publicly disclose their HIV status and the date on which they were last tested for STIs. Users view images of matches based on proximity, and may click for profiles and to privately message once someone has piqued their interest. To avoid ads, members can upgrade to Grindr Xtra, which also comes with unlimited likes and blocks, as well as additional filters and the chance to view up to 600 potential matches. With more than three million daily users across the globe, Grindr provides a safe and simple method for users to find their lover.
With #OkCupidStory posts on Instagram, OkCupid celebrates its reputation for sparking long-lasting relationships. The app boasts an impressive 250,000 new connections every day. OkCupid goes beyond random profile similarities by having users answer a series of questions--covering everything from dating and sex to lifestyle and ethics--that are then compared to other users’ answers to provide a likelihood of compatibility. “Absolutely more [users] are looking for relationships rather than sex. I suspect there's a correlation between taking the time to fill out a profile thoughtfully and looking for a more substantial relationship,” said user Kristi Emmons.
Hannah Bliss met her wife on OkCupid and liked the flexibility it offered. “Well six years ago I had heard that it was a bit younger and you could specify what you were looking for ‘Friends, dates, long term, short term, etc," said Bliss. The full site presents potential matches that users can click on to learn more, while the mobile app offers a recall to Tinder, allowing users swipe left or right on entire profiles. Inclusive to all users, OkCupid offers twenty-two different gender identities and thirteen sexual orientations to select. Queer users even have the option of hiding their profile from straight users, which is helpful for those in the closet or people living in areas where being outed may not be safe.
Subscribing to A-List, a paid section of the app, provides users with a larger inbox, a chance to see who’s read their messages and liked their profiles, and an ad-free experience.
Plenty of Fish sees over four million users daily across the twenty countries available to the app. Juan Trejo, a current user, said he found a much higher focus on dating or at least meeting up with connections. Perhaps the profile requirements eschew hookup culture? “[It’s] very very detailed as far as what they make you put in your description. Like your job, salary goals, ideal first date, [if you] want kids or not, etc,” said Trejo. Plenty of Fish’s interface allows users to search however they feel most comfortable: swiping Tinder-style or viewing users based on proximity. While messaging is free, to see extended profiles and more than one photo of potential matches users must upgrade to paid membership.
Her’s strength lies in building community and allowing users to connect with other queer women. Dattch, the former incarnation of the app, focused exclusively on meeting that special someone. With the rebrand to Her, the focus of the app evolved to simply connect women to other women, building community among lesbians and queer women. Founder Robyn Exton designed the app to cater to the wants and needs of queer women: user dashboards contain information on local queer events, a feed on queer news, and options to chat with other users. Premium users can see who’s online now and who’s liked their profile, have access to unlimited swipes, and even rewind on users they’ve already passed up. Users in less metropolitan areas may feel the app offers limited dating options, though the app continues to grow. One user, Eileen McKinney felt the community aspects were unnecessary and found Her difficult to use. “The user interface doesn’t make any sense,” said McKinney. For those strictly looking to date, the other functions may be getting in the way.
Jack’d provides users numerous options to connect with local men. While Grindr often encourages stereotypes of queer manhood, Jack’d is known for a racially diverse user base, creating an atmosphere some users feel is more realistic than Grindr. 30% of users identify as black, 25% as Asian, and 20% as Latino or mixed, making it the most diverse gay dating app available. With 1.2 million downloads and 450,000 men logging in every day, Jack’d can deliver whatever relationship you’re looking for. Trejo described it as a 50/50 split between dating and hookups. Users are only allowed three public pictures and two private photos can be shared with matches at each user’s discretion. While the app defaults to a grid view of potential matches, users have the option of swiping as well. Paid features include unlimited swipe matches, more filter options, the ability to send more photos, and the option to browse anonymously.
Bumble’s founder Whitney Wolfe co-founded Tinder, though she left in 2012 and sued the company for sexual harassment. Drawing on her expertise and personal experience, Wolfe founded Bumble as a feminist dating app designed to put women in the position of power. Users swipe left or right to select potential matches, much like Tinder. However, in heterosexual matches, only the woman can message first. Matches between same-sex users allow either user to message first. There’s a twist though--Bumble matches only last twenty-four hours before disappearing. A long standing issue on other apps, matches between two women often result in neither sending the first message. Bumble’s pressure to message now or forever hold your peace may be just the push needed to get one party to make the first move.
Premium users have the option of extending matches for an additional twenty-four hours, re-matching with expired matches, and seeing which users have already liked them. Bumble has over eighteen million registered users and has already expanded to include setting options allowing users to swipe for networking on Bumble Bizz or friends on Bumble Bff.
Upon realizing Bumble’s lack of inclusivity for queer, gay, bisexual, and curious men, Bumble invested in Chappy. Chappy is brand new and focuses more on meaningful connections than impersonal hookups. Designed to allow for greater options than Gindr, Chappy asks users to identify exactly what they’re searching for: “Mr. Right” or “Mr. Right Now.” Those who are unsure or open to either option can look for “Mr. Who Knows.” The app then allows users to match with others who selected the same option they did. This brand new app is currently available nationwide in the USA and the UK and already boasts a hundred and fifty thousand monthly active users.
Depending on your outlook, Happn can be perceived as hopelessly romantic or slightly stalkerish. Created in Paris, Happn uses hyper-localized GPS to connect people who are already physically present in each other’s everyday lives. While it doesn’t tell users exactly where their matches are, Happn provides information on where users cross paths and how often they’ve done so since downloading the app. That cutie in the seat across from you on the bus, the hottie rockin’ out to Queen in the car beside you at a stoplight, and the mega babe in front of you at Starbucks could now be potentially found somewhere other than Craigslist’s “Missed Connections.”
Users can “charm” potential dates to let them know they’re interested, or “like” them to create a match. While scrolling through the grid of people you’ve just missed meeting is free, messaging is only available behind the paywall and if both parties like each other. With almost forty million total users, chances of finding someone special are high. Happn gets points for connecting people who are actually nearby, but striking up a conversation about why you and your love interest are always crossing paths can feel a little awkward.
If you’re ready to settle down, Hinge may be your best bet. The app’s site notes that it’s “a relationship app,” as opposed to the typical dating app. Once you connect your Facebook profile to the app and fill out your profile (height; engagement in smoking, drinking, drugs; ideal last meal; first kiss; etc.) you are considered a member. Members are permitted to like up to 10 people per day, but there is no swiping. On Hinge users like and comment on specific photos or profile bits, allowing users a starting point for conversation that other sites miss. Users who pay for preferred memberships are rewarded with unlimited likes, additional filter options, and access to Hinge Insiders--a member experience team to help with everything from opening messages and planning the first date to proposal ideas. While Hinge has potential, it’s not popular enough yet to be useful to people outside of metropolitan cities.
No matter who you are or what level of relationship it is you’re after, you now have ten dating apps to choose from. Go forth and start swiping, liking, texting and trying--we’re rooting for you!