The most popular questions I get are:
“Where can I go to meet quality men?”
When I reply that online dating is the only way to go, they always follow up with:
“So, what’s the best dating site or dating app? Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Match, OkCupid?”
I will share my answer a little further down but I find the question of choosing the “right” dating app to be a uniquely modern phenomenon and also, a double edged sword.
On the one hand, you’ve never had more access to single people than you do on any app.On the other hand, the quality of the interactions have never been worse.
Years ago, you’d meet someone you liked, you’d ask her out, and you’d see where things went. It was rare to date more than one person simultaneously because there wasn’t the volume or the opportunity.
Online dating changed all that.
With dating apps and dating sites, people suddenly had access to thousands of potential partners to contact with a well-written profile and a handful of emails.
These days, old-school online dating seems quaint. (Even though I still recommend it). People don’t want to “waste time” with things that allow us to understand each other and connect like profiles or emails. We just want to scroll through pictures and meet instantaneously.
And so we do – and then complain about how much dating sucks.
Why does dating suck? Because you go out with so many creeps.
Why do you go out with so many creeps? Because you’re not screening them.
Why are you not screening them? Because it takes time, and you don’t want to take time – you just want to meet right away and see if there’s chemistry.
So while I think we can all agree that there are built-in problems with dating apps or GPS-enabled tools that allow people to meet total strangers quicker, this trend isn’t going anywhere. Their ubiquity and the ease of use makes them compelling to other busy singles who want to procure a date without too much effort while watching Netflix over dinner.
Here’s what you need to know without trying all the dating sites and apps out for yourself.
A quick look at some of the top dating apps and sites
Tinder’s like the OG swiping site: short profiles, no detail.
It’s kind of like a slot machine – which has its merits.
If you like dopamine spikes and always feel like you’re kind of dating without really thinking about it, Tinder spits out a lot of hot guys. The result is that you always feel like something is going on because you’re always matching with new men.
The downside is that you don’t really know anything about him, which makes having a good conversation on Tinder (or any other app, really) somewhat challenging.
And it also means a lot of opportunities don’t pan out. Why? Because men understand that app-based dating is a high-volume approach. If an average guy is going to be summarily rejected by 95% of women, he’s forced to swipe right on hundreds of women to get responses.
If he swipes on 500 women and 25 match with him, he cannot possibly have unique conversations with all 25 at once, much less take all 25 out for drinks on Saturday. So what you get is a lot of men who swipe right but don’t follow through with a text, or men who text once and fade away, swamped by the other options he’s juggling. It’s not men. It’s the medium.
If eHarmony feels glacial because you have to fill out a 436-question personality test to get any matches, Tinder is the complete opposite of that.
Which makes for a very male-friendly business model – low effort, high reward. Alas, I don’t feel Tinder is as good for women – unless you believe that choosing men based on looks alone is a good formula for marriage.
Chances are you end up swiping on only the most obvious hot guys, the ones that every woman also sees. And those guys ghost you. Simultaneously you pass up decent guys whose photos aren’t as impressive – even though it’s possible you might like them if you met in person.
With millions of options, I’m sure there are good men on Tinder but its reputation as a hook-up site makes me feel that you can do better.
Let’s be fair. Tinder isn’t uniquely bad. Every dating app presents similar structural issues, where great profiles and clever repartee are de-emphasized in favor of hot photos, swiping right, and texting.
But if you’ve found Tinder kind of icky and overwhelming and maybe want a little more control of who you’re texting, you go on Bumble.
Bumble is a free dating app that functions like Tinder, but women have to initiate contact.
In theory, it’s a good idea in that it weeds out some of the riff-raff. You’re not going to get hundreds of matches if you’re only initiating contact with guys that you’re open to talking to.
Plus, there’s a feature where if the guy hasn’t messaged back within 24 hours, he loses the potential date, which creates a sense of urgency for him to reply..
The problem is that Bumble still doesn’t give you much depth. 300 characters to tell your who story? That’s simply not enough. As a result, Bumble is a slightly improved Tinder, where you can skip reading long profiles and writing long emails…and then wonder why everyone seems so shallow and flaky.
Listen, I hate to talk shit about dating apps because so many of my clients use them, but, as a dating coach, any medium that gives you less information about a potential partner will be inferior to a medium that gives you more information.
At the same time, some of the women in Love U really like Bumble.
Sarah, a Love U graduate, says, “I like Bumble. I felt like I was more in control of who was contacting me.”
Penny, currently in the course, says, “the woman-approaching-men dynamic seems to result in a self-selecting group of more desirable men.”
So if we’re going down the list, put Bumble above Tinder for our purposes.
I’m well aware that there are more people on dating apps, and more people often makes for a better experience because you have more choices.
Similarly, I don’t claim that Match cool has the best user interface among all the dating sites. It’s a big brand name. It’s like a mall. It has everything. They own Tinder. They own OkCupid. They own Plenty Of Fish. They’re competing against themselves.
More importantly, Match caters to singles who are looking for love, and it costs money. And that’s a barrier to entry that weeds out lots of people who are just looking for a hookup.
Love U graduate Mel says, “There are more people. There are more thorough profile write-ups, and guys seem to be more invested and serious about relationships.”
Love U graduate Cici says, “Match seems to have a wide range of mature profiles. More information and pictures available for accountability make me feel safer knowing that Match’s algorithms seem to be pretty close in matching personality and interests. They have a reverse match feature that shows you which people are interested in you. So you’re not going to be looking at men who are not open to women your age, for example.”
It’s a feature I make all my clients use and the slower process of emailing makes it easier to identify scammers and fake accounts.
So I understand if you’ve been burned out on Match and are looking for something faster and easier. Just know that I start all my Love U clients on Match and encourage them to branch out to other sites if it’s not serving their needs.
OkCupid has been owned by Match since 2011. It’s known for having profiles that are more in-depth than a conventional dating app because it features a series of personality quiz-type questions
Like all dating sites, including Match, OkCupid has had to adapt to the times, reshaping itself to be more app-like. The idea was to do what Bumble does and lower the number of offensive messages for women, so while you can still send a message on OkCupid, it won’t show up in their inbox unless you match with that person. In other words, you may spend some time writing emails to people who never even see your messages.
Love U member Barbara says, “It’s where I met my current boyfriend. I also have several friends in long-term relationships from there. It was the most fun for me in terms of all the questions and flexibility to build the profile.”
Why Hinge is the best dating app
Hinge has more of a hybrid approach to app-based dating and designed its app to make profiles more engaging than sites like Tinder and Bumble. You have 80 questions to choose from and can write 150 character responses in any three of them. Plus, you have the option of displaying more useful information to weed out deal-breakers: political leanings, religion, alcohol consumption, interest in having children.
Unlike other apps whose sole purpose is to keep you swiping, addicted to the dopamine hit of being matched with an endless parade of new men, Hinge’s slogan is that it’s a dating app designed to be deleted.
As a dating and relationship coach, I like that. So do my clients. In fact, in my poll, more Love U members recommended Hinge as a means of supplementing their conventional Match profile.
Love U member Charlene says, “Hinge has lots of guys around my age, college-educated, could write in full sentences and generally more relationship-oriented.“
Love U member Jesse agrees that she found “a greater selection of men her age and men who are more intelligent, confident and communicative,” but also adds that she “would like 48 hours instead of 24 hours to respond to messages.”
Her other critique – and mine, as a writer – is that there’s not enough room in text boxes, so if you want to write something more substantive, it’s not ideal, although it is meatier than most apps.
Love U member Sam says, “To even have a profile on there, you have to pick from the already existing cool, fun, interesting templates that are incorporated within the dating app. And they have great conversation openers that even boring people can find something to say.”
Love U member Kat says, “Hinge is the only app I actually enjoy using and have had the most success with.” Meaning, matches that turned into dates. She pays for a premium so she could see everyone who’s already liked her, and she takes her time picking who she wants to match with. She hates swiping and having to make quick decisions so guys can send one message with their likes, but they can’t chat further until they both match. Kat feels like “the quality of men is higher. They’re mostly relationship-oriented, and they put greater effort into their profile.”
So according to my Love U clients who are generally smart, strong, successful women between the ages of 30 and 60, Hinge is the best dating app because it provides the most information, encourages relationships and functions most like an online dating site.
I still recommend Match and OkCupid because they have profiles and the ability to write emails on desktop instead of swiping and texting. Better conversation via email and phone usually makes for a better connection and first date when you finally meet in person.
To be clear: I’m well aware that there are plenty of good people on both Bumble and Tinder. I personally don’t like the swipe/text/instant-gratification nature of the medium. It rewards lazy men who swipe on 500 women, hoping to get 50 replies, and then push hard to meet the hottest of those 50 as quickly as possible. No wonder you hate dating apps!
If you think that men are shallow and don’t put in much effort in falling in love, then why spend all your time on apps built for their most shallow impulses?
The key to making dating apps work is to slow down instead of speeding up – despite the fact that you’re impatient and frustrated and so is every guy you’re texting.
Navigating the world of dating apps and dating sites
Dating sites are just like gyms.
When I’m asked which dating site or dating app is the “best” one, I want to emphasize that they all work just fine. I liken it to researching gyms and wondering which one will help you lose the most weight. It doesn’t matter whether you go to LA Fitness or 24 Hour Fitness or Equinox; all of them have the necessary equipment for you to work hard and burn calories.
So instead of obsessing about which gym you’re going to lose the most weight at, how about figuring out how to get the most out of your time at the gym?
In other words, dating apps and sites are just boxes filled with people. And if you’re a smart, strong, successful woman, 90% of those people, no matter which online dating site you’re on, are definitely not going to be your husband.
Given that, the trick is in figuring out how to connect with the top 10% of men on any site or dating app. No matter which site you go to, having a high volume of choices is everything.
Not for volume’s sake, though.
The goal isn’t to text thirty men at once and go on five dates a week. But you do need a deep enough pool of men so as not to use your site up in a month. So while it may sound great to be on some niche site for vegans or long-distance runners, the truth is there aren’t enough people in your area to justify an active membership.
Ultimately, this is up to you. But as I said before, the most important thing is not which site you’re on. There are good people everywhere. It’s what you do when you’re there. It’s how you market yourself. It’s how you make a connection. It’s how you flirt. It’s how you screen men before going on a first date.
That’s what I teach in month 2 of Love U, called Meeting Men.
I look forward to talking to you and seeing you there.