Maybe you’re newly single and dipping your toe back into the romantic waters. Or maybe you’ve been at this dating thing a while, and you’re looking to change up your routine a little bit. Either way, it’s a big, wide, dating-app world out there, with plenty of decisions to navigate. But before you start stressing out about how to craft the perfect witty bio, or which photos make you look hot and approachable at the same time, you have another all-important choice: the best dating apps to actually download. It can be a little overwhelming — which is why the Cut asked a self-proclaimed serial dater to rate a few of the most common options.
Cat Keane, a 22-year-old merchandiser living in the East Village, averages about a date a week from the various apps she’s downloaded, says she uses them in the hopes of finding something more meaningful than a hookup: “If I wanted a hookup, I would just go out on any day of the week to a bar,” she says. Instead, she swipes. Here, in ascending order, are some of the best places to do the same.
Pros: If app-based dating is partly a numbers game, then this is where the numbers are going to be highest — Tinder’s primary appeal is the fact that so many people are on it. While Keane herself doesn’t have it, she says that most of her friends whose relationships began on dating apps have Tinder to thank.
Cons: Quantity isn’t the same as quality, and can mean weeding out a lot of duds — and a lot of people who are just looking for something you’re not. Reputation-wise, Tinder is “still more of a hookup app,” Keane notes. “I try to stay away from it, although I think nowadays, any app could be used as a hookup app.”
3. The League
Pros: This one does the stalking for you. “You get a lot of details,” Keane says of The League, a by-application-only app that links to a user’s Facebook and LinkedIn accounts (and has been accused of elitism). “I like it in the sense that you get enough information that you know — kind of — what you’re going into.” Plus, she adds, the men she’s come across “all seem to have real jobs … you see a lot of ‘entrepreneur’ on Bumble. You don’t get a whole lot of that on The League.”
Cons: Well, for starters, there’s that whole elitism thing — which, besides being off-putting, may also be misplaced. “I think that they love to say that they’ve got better quality guys,” Keane says, but “I think that’s total B.S. The guys could be just as shitty as the ones on other apps.” Plus, the application process can take a while — in Keane’s case, approval came three or four weeks after she downloaded the app — and users are only shown a few potential matches per day.
Pros: Bumble’s original claim to fame is that it puts women in charge — when two opposite-sex users match, the app requires the woman to make the first move. (For same-sex matches, either user can message first.) “Bumble is one step up from Tinder,” Keane says; its women-first setup means a dating pool with fewer creeps, or at least fewer unsolicited dick pics. But one similarity with Tinder is a positive: Bumble also doesn’t place any limit on the number of profiles you can swipe through in a day.
Cons: The requirement to send the first message can sometimes be stressful, especially if you’re not in a particularly banter-y mood. “I’ve done anything from a very basic ‘hey’ to a very in-depth ‘would you rather’ or just a comment on the picture,” Keane says, adding that men on Bumble aren’t necessarily the most responsive: “I think so many people are on it that they just use it as a confidence booster,” pumping up their ego with incoming messages without ever bothering to reply.
Pros: Beyond the typical About Me details that don’t actually reveal much about the person writing them, Hinge gives users space in their profiles to answer prompts like “where to find me at the party” and “most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done.” “Hinge is probably my favorite and also the one I recommend the most to friends,” Keane says. “You immediately get to know personality a little bit better.”
Cons: Like the League, Hinge limits the amount of potential matches a person can see in a day. The true serial dater, though, can opt for a paid membership, which removes the daily limit. “I no longer have that cap,” Keane says, “so that doesn’t affect me.” Now go forth and get swiping.