Though only five percent of coupled-up folks met their partner online, according to the Pew Research Center, online dating has definitely taken off in the past decade. Though if you’re single, that’s no news to you: it’s nearly impossible to get through a conversation with anyone without someone asking “Are you online? That’s what the kids are using these days!”
But with so many choices: Tinder, Hinge, Bumble and countless other apps and websites, if you’re not looking to date until you drop (or until you develop carpal tunnel), which online sites are best for finding a relationship? Though there are no guarantees that who you’re matching with is actually single or looks like the photos they post (the fear of Catfishing is real, y’all) — online dating experts have been able to narrow down the playing field and give honest, candid advice about what apps will actually produce people who, ultimately, are swiping for the same thing you are: love.
So before you dive into the pool of quick decisions based on a single image and where one small box of text defines you, let those who swipe best give you some pointers of where to start:
What it is: Hinge is a dating app that will only match you with first, second and third degree connections via your Facebook friends. That way, you kind-or-sort-of have a mutual connection, or know someone who knows your possible future happy hour date.
Cool features: You have to act fast if you want to keep your match. Recently, they introduced a new feature where your match disappears within 24 hours if you don’t reach out or they don’t. Also, unlike some other apps, Hinge limits your daily match pool to 5-15, so you’re really forced to check back day after day.
Why it’s good for relationships: Julia Spira, online dating expert and founder of Cyber-Dating says Hinge is great because you know exactly who you’re talking to, since it lists their first and last name pulled from Facebook. “It gives you a feeling of confidence and safety to know that the person is genuine and authentic. Women love the app because it makes them feel safer while dating,” she says. “Users can also check with their friends to get the digital thumbs up or down on a potential date.”
2. Coffee Meets Bagel
What it is: Coffee Meets Bagel is a dating app feasts on your lunchtime break from work: you’re sent one match per day at noon.
Cool feature: Like, Hinge, time is of the essence: once you match, you can start chatting privately right away, but your messages will disappear after eight days. So if you like someone, grab their digits, stat.
Why it’s good for relationships: Spira says that CMB won the hearts of singles looking for love online the founders, the Kang sisters, turned down $30 million from Mark Cuban on Shark Tank because it didn’t feel right. Plus, Spira says, if you’re balancing a full-time job, a busy social life and still trying to find love, CMB makes it simple and not time consuming to date. “For those of you who feel overwhelmed with too many choices, or are too busy to log on regularly, this is a more manageable dating app,” she says.
What it is: Happn is an app that kind of gives you the option to have a meet-cute with someone you walk by every single day. Based on your location, it tracks people you’ve matched with who are literally close by and tells you every single time you pass each other in real life. If you can get over the stalkerish vibe, it’s actually a good way to meet people who live in your neighborhood.
Cool feature: You can connect the app to your instagram to see if your hashtags are compatible, too.
Why it’s good for relationships: “Remember Craiglist’s Missed Connections? Happn is the modern approach,” Spira says. “If you think you might miss out on a digital crush who hangs in the same hood as you, but are on the shy side, this app is for you. You won’t have to wonder about the one who got away.”
What it is: Often referred to as the ‘Feminist’ dating app, Bumble is a lot like Tinder (and was created by former Tinder co-founder and VP, Whitney Wolfe), except that once you match with someone, only the female can make the first contact.
Cool feature: Like other dating apps — CMB and Hinge — you have to act fast to express interest because matches disappear within 24 hours if you don’t strike up conversation.
Why it’s good for relationships: “It's great that women can enjoy being the one in control. Let's face it. Guys are competitive and want to get selected,” Spira says. “They also know they won't be rejected if she's starting the conversation.”
What it is: Though Tinder is typically labeled "the hookup app", it also happens to be the fastest growing location-based mobile and you can’t ignore that sometimes, it does produce relationships. After all with nine billion matches, 10 million users and 16 million swipes every single day, how could it not?
Cool feature: While Tinder is free, you can pay for Tinder Plus to use their passport feature (allowing you to swipe in other cities you’re visiting or relocating to) and the ability to go back if you accidentally swiped left on someone you meant to swipe right on. No more Swipe Regret for you!
Why it’s good for relationships: Spira says that digital dating is a numbers game and if you want a relationship, having Tinder puts the odds in your favor. Someone who might not be that into online dating may give Tinder a shot, only because it’s so easy to use — signing up with Facebook — and so many people already use it.
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Images: Fotolia; Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, Happn, Bumble, Tinder