a guide to which dating app is the best for you
Which one to download if you have your shit together? Which one to download if you want fill the void in your life with meaningless swiping? Plus more info.
Newly single? Lonely? Bored? Horny? You, my friend, probably need to download a dating app (and also potentially have a cold shower and get a hobby, but I can’t really help you with that). But open the App Store and there are now so many options it can seem impossible to pick. Do you want to find everlasting love? Do you have particular specifications? Do you just want a quick shag? Your choice of app may depend on your answer to these -- and many, many more -- questions.
To make it marginally easier, here’s a look at some of what’s out there.
If you’ve ever used a dating app, chances are it will have been Tinder. We all know how it works: you swipe, you match, you ignore each other. It’s now so common that thousands of couples who met on the app are even getting married; it also makes it really easy to get laid.
Best for: pointlessly accumulating matches who you will probably never speak to or meet.
Worst for: anyone who doesn’t want to spend five hungover hours on a Sunday morning swiping left to every single profile and feeling as if human connection is so elusive as to be functionally impossible to achieve.
The point of Bumble is that women make the first move, something that the founders say makes the dating app experience more “empowering” for women. Whether or not that’s truly the case is debatable: it pretty much depends how empowering you find the admin of messaging 15 identical people first, to be honest.
Best for: women who want to grab the reins of life, throw caution to the wind, take control of their destiny and be the one to send ‘Hey, what’s up’ first.
Worst for: women who can’t be arsed.
Every day you walk past hundreds of people, some of whom you probably fancy. Wouldn’t it be good if there was a way to actually meet and talk to them? This is the basic premise of Happn, an app that matches you with people you crossed paths with.
In lots of ways, this is great. If you’ve walked past someone you really like the look of, you get the chance to actually speak to them without having to pushily approach them. But beware: the only time I ever used it, I matched with and talked to someone I saw on my walk to work every day, who two days later saw me late, bedraggled, hungover and wearing a horrible, mismatched outfit I’d almost certainly got from my bedroom floor. We never spoke again and I had to change my route to work.
Best for: people who have their shit together.
Worst for: people not confident they won’t bump into their matches looking like they just crawled out of a bin.
If you’re a queer woman on a regular, made-for-straight-people dating app, chances are that you’re pretty fed up with them. Every other woman you match with is looking for a threesome; Tinder, for some reason, KEEPS SHOWING YOU MEN. Enter Her, an app designed by queer women for queer women. Not just for dating, you can also meet friends on the app: its founders say it’s all about creating community.
Best for: queer women.
Worst for: straight women ‘just looking for friends’ or asking you if you want to have a threesome with them and their mediocre boyfriend.
Unlike other apps, which are aimed at (or at the very least conducive to) casual hookups, Hinge’s mission statement focuses on helping you find a ‘meaningful’ match. Profiles are designed to be more thoughtful, asking users to fill in questions that make them really think about what they want out of a relationship and matching them with friends of friends.
Best for: meeting someone you might legitimately like to spend your life with.
Worst for: meeting someone you’ll sleep with three times and then immediately ghost or be ghosted by.
Launched in 2004, OkCupid predates the other apps on this list. It can be pretty comprehensive, allowing users to fill out a longer profile than many other dating apps, as well as answering ‘match questions’ to give an idea of someone’s feelings on politics, sex, lifestyle and more. It tends towards the left-leaning, artsy kind of person: you’re unlikely to meet an investment banker on there, for example.
Best for: people who don’t want to judge matches purely on their pictures.
Worst for: people who don’t want to read the words “rock climbing” or “polyamory” ever again. Anyone who doesn’t want to see a picture of anyone wearing one of those steampunk hats.
It’s a dating app for people who went to private school. That’s it. That’s the whole thing.
Best for: Tories.
Worst for: literally the rest of humanity.
Much like Hinge, Once suggests that the endless carousel of faces we swipe through daily might not be the best place to meet someone we actually want to be with. Its premise: you only get one match per day, which is fine as long as the person you like also matches with you or doesn’t turn out to be really, really tedious. Good luck with that one!
Best for: busy people, discerning people.
Worst for: people who want to fill the void in their life with meaningless swiping.