Find the Right Dating App
With more than a thousand dating apps available for download—and with more people meeting romantic partners online than through other means—choosing the right platform is the first challenge in digital dating. How do you choose the best one for you?
Well, there’s no right answer to that question, as each app appeals to a different demographic and connection type. While no app limits users from seeking different kinds of connection, here are the most apt descriptions for the more popular apps:
If you’re looking for a one-time fling or maybe some casual dating, then Tinder or Grindr may be best.
Known for its reputation as the “hookup app,” Tinder connects you with singles in your area. After reading a brief description and looking through select pictures, you can quickly swipe right to match or left to pass.
Grindr, one of the dating app pioneers, is exclusively for men seeking male partners. One of the simplest apps, it requires a username, a photo and answers to a few questions. Then you set your preferences and select your “tribe,” which is the social or physical category with which you identify, such as twink, jock or trans, among many more. Then you can message freely and without restrictions.
Match.com and OkCupid stress the importance of interests and matching people who share commonalities.
OkCupid, which initially was a dating site, delivers in-depth compatibility information similar to a dating site but with the interface and features of an app. Users are given a match percentage with their new matches that lets them know how compatible the pairing may be.
Also originally a dating site, Match.com expanded into a free app to make services more accessible to current and new users who are looking for a lifelong partner, not just a partner for the night.
Something in between
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, or you’re open to anything, Hinge and Bumble strike a balance between the focus on compatibility and physical attraction.
“Designed to be deleted,” Hinge clearly presents potential deal-makers or deal-breakers, such as political and religious preference, desire for children and so on. But profiles are also photo-heavy, and the option to accept or reject a candidate is easy and fast.
Along those same lines, Bumble resides in the quick yes-or-no split-second decision realm, with a key twist: Women make the first move. If two people match, the woman has to send a message within 24 hours or the match expires; the man also has 24 hours to respond to her message, so they both have a time constraint. For same-sex connections, either person has 24 hours to message first, and the recipient has 24 hours to respond, or the match is lost.
Tips for staying safe
Now you have your sights set on an app to download, but before diving headfirst into the dating pool and getting carried away with all your new matches, you should make a plan for your safety.
Given the increased ability to screen potential partners before meeting them in person, it can be easy to forget you don’t actually know this person yet. Always approach in-person dates with caution and care, and keep your own cybersecurity in mind as you swipe.
Here are some easy-to-follow tips for navigating physically and sexually safe dates and hookups:
- Keep messaging activity in the app for easier disconnection. Online dates don’t always work out, and a clean break is easier when you haven’t exchanged numbers or other social channels.
- Be mindful of what information you’re sharing: Could this person easily find your location without an invitation?
- Always meet in a public setting for the first time.
- Tell a friend where you are and what time you expect to come home. Sharing your location is a great way to keep your friends looped in on your whereabouts. Some apps, such as Noonlight, can even alert authorities if you’re in danger.
- Don’t feel pressured to have sex at the first meeting, unless that’s your intention.
- If it is your intention to sleep with your date, bring protection for safer sex.
- Stay aware and alert even after the date is over. Be sure your date isn’t trying to follow you.
Simply put, there’s no single best dating app, but choosing the right one can save you a lot of time and energy. Regardless of which ones you select, you’ll learn quickly if you’re in the right place based on the quality and number of matches you receive. Don’t wait too long to turn those virtual meetings into in-person connections, but always keep your safety in mind. Download one app, or five, and see for yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised by what, or who, you find.