The Most Popular Dating Apps Explained

Online dating wasn’t always so popular. There was a time when only your most date-hungry friend would be meeting people online and everyone else just looked at them like they were crazy. Now, if you’ve found yourself single in the last five years, you’ve probably at least tried one of the most popular dating apps on the market. Meeting someone online has become so normalized that it’s almost at the point where meeting someone IRL seems unlikely, if not impossible.

The best app depends on who you ask, what they’re looking for, and what their personal experience has been. With so many choices, how do you know what app is best for you? Well, you could just try them all, but before you start, here’s what you should know about the most popular dating apps on the market right now.

Tinder is where the swiping frenzy all began. Profiles consist of photos and a short bio (which is sometimes left completely empty), and all you have to do is swipe left for no and right for yes. If you both swipe right, that’s a match, and you’re able to start a conversation. Although it started as a novel way to meet people you probably wouldn’t come across otherwise, Tinder has devolved into a hookup app. Sure, there are stories of all the cute couples who have met on Tinder, but realistically, you probably won’t be one of them. It’s still one of the more popular options though, so if quantity over quality is your thing, Tinder is the obvious choice.

Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe was one of the co-creators of Tinder before she left the company and launched her own dating app. Bumble is similar to Tinder with the swiping and match functionality, but with Bumble, only the woman is able to send the first message. With same-sex matches, either person can send the first message. The idea behind Bumble, which has been called a “feminist version of Tinder” is to switch up gender normative roles in dating and allow women to have a little more control. If the idea of a woman making the first move appeals to you (and why wouldn’t it?), Bumble is the perfect app for you.

Coffee Meets Bagel
Created by three sisters, Coffee Meets Bagel is a little different from other dating apps because it provides fewer options—and that’s actually a good thing. Your profile includes a few photos and a short bio written around the prompts “I am”, “I like”, and “I appreciate when my date”. Every day, you’re presented with five or six potential matches that you either like or pass on. Once you both like each other, a chat room opens up for a week where you can talk to each other and figure out if you want to take things off the app. The format forces you to take things a little slower and actually consider your interest in each match because there isn’t hundreds more where that one came from.

With Happn, your matches are filtered based on whether you’ve actually crossed paths IRL at some point. In a big city where you see might walk past hundreds of people in a day without a second glance, Happn attempts to remind you that your match could be right in front of you if you were just paying attention. Instead of seeing random profiles, you’ll see people who you passed by at some point in the last few days. You can like them anonymously or send a “charm” so they know you liked them. If they like you back, you have a match and can strike up a conversation. It might still be online dating, but at least you can kind of say you met on the subway or at your local bar since you were technically both there… right?

Another one of the OG online dating platforms, OkCupid has rebranded as an app that wants to help people find love rather than a one night stand. With longer profiles and thousands of match questions to help you find people who are actually compatible with you, it’s a lot more in depth than any of the swipe apps. OKC is also notable for offering a number of different gender and sexual orientation identifiers so you don’t have to fit into a neat little dating-friendly box to find what you’re looking for.

Marketing itself as “the relationship app”, Hinge aims to be less superficial than Tinder but younger and cooler than Match. There is no mindless swiping either. Instead, you have a profile that you fill out using a number of prompts such as “Most spontaneous thing I’ve done”, “My last meal would be”, and “Fact about me that surprises people”. The prompts are designed to get conversation beyond “what do you do for fun” flowing and reveal a little more about what makes you unique. At the very least, it’s a fun break from the superficial swipe apps that are clearly all about how photogenic you are.

The League
When The League was launched in 2015, the bad press started rolling in almost immediately. The app was called elitist and snobby because of its extensive screening process and wait list. Basically, you aren’t going to get on The League unless you have an advanced degree and a successful career to go with it. It’s the dating app for people who would probably be successful on any dating app simply because they are a doctor or a lawyer or a business owner. But just because they’re in high demand doesn’t mean they’re interested in just anyone. If you have high standards and you’re unapologetic about it, maybe you should just own it and try to get on The League. That’s where you’ll find the people who aren’t turned off by your huge ego.

Match has been around for awhile and is considered the platform to use if you’re looking for something serious. Like rest-of-your-life serious. Part of the reason is because memberships are paid and not many people are going to spend money looking for hookups when free apps are so prevalent these days. With Match, you can fill out a thorough profile and lay out exactly what you’re looking for so you’re a lot less likely to waste your time with someone who will ghost you after two dates. At least that’s the idea, because let’s face it, if you’re dating, you should probably expect to be ghosted a few times along the way.

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