A Guide to Dating Apps for Men: Do's, Don'ts and FAQs
- Dating apps are still immensely popular, with more apps being developed—and more people making profiles.
- The online dating and dating app experience is different for heterosexual men than it is for heterosexual women.
- Here's a quick how-to guide for cisgender men dating cisgender women on how to get the most out of dating apps.
If you're a heterosexual man and are wondering how to find a date online, you've come to the right place.
Online dating apps proliferate, but not every cisgender guy is equally successful at using them. Whether you're just looking to date a little or hoping to find a real relationship, we'll lay out what you need to know about dating apps for men seeking women.
Why is dating so difficult for guys?
Well, that's kind of a whiny question, my guy.
It's true that hetero-focused dating apps function differently depending on the gender of the person using them. Cisgender women, generally speaking, can potentially pick and choose among many suitors, while cisgender guys—again, generally speaking—may have to use "the shotgun method," swiping right until they get carpal tunnel syndrome in hopes of finding a match.
"If we're talking about heterosexual people, there's no question that online dating for men is a numbers game," said Natalie Finegood Goldberg, L.M.F.T., a sex therapist and psychotherapist with Creating Change LA in Los Angeles. "Men reach out to significantly more women, and women reach out to fewer men—and respond to fewer men. Men are left with the onus of having to cast a really wide net in order to get more responses."
This imbalance can cause some frustration, and that frustration can lead to some unforced errors from guys who complain they get no matches on dating apps. For instance, simply taking the time to complete your profile goes a long way toward creating trust and upping your response rate.
A completed bio can increase your incoming message rate by 28 percent, according to Zoosk.
Do dating apps work?
Perhaps it's not that dating apps don't work. Maybe it's that you're looking in the wrong places or in the wrong manner.
One way that apps have made dating different is by creating an expectation of perfection. Posed, professionally lit, filtered and flawless photos are all over these apps as we look for just the right attributes. We may sift through so many potential partners that our standards become raised to unreachable levels.
"My beef with dating apps is they sort of create a shopper's mentality," Finegood Goldberg said. "They create a belief system where people think they can pick and choose what they want—I can pick the person with blonde hair, the person with a big butt, who has no kids, likes soccer, and so on—and then they want one person who has all of that. It's a create-a-date."
Simply reminding ourselves we're looking to date fallible, imperfect human beings just like us may make it possible to push past one or two unchecked boxes on our laundry list of what makes the perfect partner.
Which dating apps have the most users?
Often, choice is a good thing. But when it comes to dating apps, how do you decide? App users might be one way. Which sites are most popular?
If you're looking for a sheer volume of users, there's no app better than Tinder. Forty-six percent of people who have used online dating apps have used Tinder, according to Pew Research.
Interestingly, the Tinder male-to-female ratio may not be as off as some people think: As of 2023, it's reportedly 63 percent male.
Yes, that makes the Tinder gender ratio unfavorable for guys—but is Tinder a good dating app anyway? With so many more potential mates, it's at least a place to start.
Hinge is a relative newcomer, but it's reportedly one of the top three dating apps in the United States, with 23 million users. How does Hinge work for guys? Well, with a gender split similar to Tinder—64 percent male vs. 36 percent female—on the surface, it would appear that Hinge might function similarly, and the Hinge success rate (as long as you define success as matches) reflects that.
Men get about one match out of 40 likes, while women get one match out of every two likes.
With a user base that skews younger—the average user age is 25—and a model designed to get you a longer-term match, Hinge is more than just a straight hookup app.
When considering Bumble vs. Hinge, the first thing to take note of is the twist: Women must be the first to message guys. Is Bumble good? With 50 million active users, it seems this model is certainly popular.
Bumble is the second-most downloaded dating app in the world. The Bumble success rate is comparable to that of Hinge, with men getting one match out of every 40 likes, on average.
Another consideration in the Hinge vs. Bumble debate is that Bumble has 25 million active users in the U.S., while Hinge has less than half of that at 10 million. Another interesting twist with Bumble is that there's a time limit. Once a match has been made, you only have 24 hours to send or receive a message before it expires.
Match.com is one of the oldest dating apps, founded in 1993, and its user base reflects that. It's a potentially good place to find women 40 and older.
Eleven percent of Americans ages 30 to 44 were using the app in 2020, 65 percent of whom were male, according to Statista. About 70 percent of Match users were looking for a long-term relationship, as opposed to only 50 percent on Tinder.
The Match.com app download count is up to 50 million, making it the eighth-most downloaded dating app in the world.
Plenty of Fish
The Plenty of Fish dating app—or PoF, as it is also known—is an innovator in the dating app field in that it allows you to exchange a few messages before making a match, mimicking in-real-life (IRL) communication.
PoF is massive. Currently, it has 170 million users, according to Statista data cited by Roast, and it claims to have made more than 2 billion matches.
The vibe of PoF is a little more thoughtful than some of the others, perhaps due to the extensive profile questions it asks users to answer. It's one of the most mentioned dating apps on a Reddit board for dating over 40, which is a little surprising given that the average age of the PoF user is 28.
Still, with 3 million daily users, it seems to be an app on which you can meet people of any age.
Coffee Meets Bagel
The Coffee Meets Bagel dating app was designed by three sisters and reflects a desire to put the control of dating firmly in the hands of women. The way it works is women receive a "bagel," which is a potential match as determined by the app's algorithm.
As with Bumble, women have 24 hours to reach out before the match expires.
Women outnumber men on the app about 60 percent to 40 percent, but remember that the pool of potential matches is much smaller on CMB than it is on Hinge.
- An Exhaustive History of Dating Apps: Lonely hearts and videocassettes paved the way for dating app ads.
- Dating Apps Can Be a Sexually Risky Business: A study indicates a link between meeting online and potentially unsafe behavior—use your head.
- Should Dating Apps Offer Mental Health Support?: Studies reveal the impact of swiping on self-esteem.
Are there any dating apps I should avoid?
New dating apps launch often, some of which meet the test of time and quality. Others, however, seem to be a little less aboveboard. Be careful about which apps you choose to use.
Some may appear at first glance to provide quick and easy matches and lead to an exchange of messages—only to ask for payment to proceed further. Others seem legitimate and trustworthy until you begin looking at the reviews. Do some homework.
Remember that even on the more mainstream, widely used dating apps, people are people. Not everyone is on dating apps for the right reasons, so use precautions and go in clear-eyed about the experience.
"Trust your instincts," said Martha Tara Lee, D.H.S., an AASECT-certified sex educator and clinical sexologist with Eros Coaching in Singapore. "If something feels off or suspicious about the person you're interacting with, trust your gut instincts. It's better to be cautious and skeptical rather than falling victim to a scam."
Be cautious about sharing personal information, she said. Conduct reverse image searches, and take note if the person changes their story.
"Look out for inconsistencies," Lee said. "Pay attention to any inconsistencies in the person's stories or behavior. Scammers often make up elaborate tales to gain sympathy and trust. If something doesn't add up or feels too good to be true, it's important to proceed with caution."
Should I use a dating app?
As long as you're careful, honest and upfront about what you're looking for, there's nothing wrong with using dating apps. They're a wonderful modern tool to break the ice with people you might not otherwise get to meet—but there's no substitute for real-world interactions.
"The problem with dating apps is the vacuum it's created around dating and relationships," Finegood Goldberg said. "There's now this sort of belief system that you can't meet people in real life. People have shifted their thinking.
"Prior to dating apps, there was always an opportunity. Trader Joe's, the gym, parking your car—these were all opportunities to interact with people. Whereas now, people are so compartmentalized that it's like, 'That's my day-to-day life, and this is where I find people to date.'"
What's the average time needed to find a relationship with online dating?
Everyone's different and has their own definition of what constitutes a relationship. If you're using dating apps, patience is a good watchword to keep in mind.
On average, according to a Shane Co. survey, to find a partner, it takes roughly:
- 3,960 swipes
- Eight months and 11 days
- About 5.83 hours each week
And, yes, it did appear to take men longer than women to find a match. Women took less than eight months to match, while men took closer to nine months to partner up.
How do I find a good potential date on a dating app?
Instead of asking that, how about you ask this question instead: How can good dates spot you on a dating app?
Being honest and open with people allows them to get to know us and vice versa. People learn about each other—the good, the bad, the ugly—via communication, both online and in person. Be real and hopefully, people will be real with you.
"You could just go to dinner with them," Finegood Goldberg said. "You maybe don't need a 15-day back-and-forth text exchange. There are so many people who say things like they chatted back and forth for weeks but then met in person, and they weren't feeling it. You have this thing where you meet in person, and you just get this gut feeling: 'Nope. This person is not for me.'"
What if I get no matches on dating apps?
For guys using dating apps, the unfortunate truth is it's a numbers game. You have to optimize your profile, put yourself out there, and swipe early and often. Try to remember what women could be putting up with on their end, and let that give you a little more patience.
"There are so many women who are just bombarded and inundated with offers of booty calls, dick pics, stuff that a lot of women aren't interested in dealing with, so their filter is a lot higher," Finegood Goldberg said. "One of the things I always talk about with men is to cast a wide net. If someone looks even remotely interesting to you, reach out."
The bottom line
Dating apps seem to be here to stay. Use them cautiously, judiciously, and with an honest and open heart.
With a little luck and patience, you should be able to meet some fun, interesting new people—whether that's a friend, a date or perhaps even "the one."