5 Apps That Make Online Dating Less Awful

From sexual harassment and misogyny to outright trolling, new horror stories about women’s adventures on dating apps like OKCupid and Tinder surface every day. To meet a pressing need, alternative apps and plugins for existing dating apps are minimizing the moments that make us want to bang our heads against our keyboards.

Whether you’re looking to filter out the “hey babe, u want it?” messages, need a refuge from the transphobia you encounter online, or don’t find racial exoticization to be as much of a turn-on as your harassers assume, try out these apps and plugins that will bring less negativity and more control to your online dating experiences.

1. Prevent the creepers from creeping on you with Siren.

Haters gonna hate, and creepers gonna creep. But they don’t have to creep on you when you’re using Siren.

After reading other users’ responses to a “question of the day,” this app lets women determine who can view their profiles and contact them. This feature not only diminishes the creep factor but also lets women protect their reputations, according to co-founder and CEO Susie Lee: "If … your client sees you on this online space, suddenly you are faced with an awkward situation of somebody knowing something about you that's not really relevant to your professional dynamic and it still compromises the woman's identity, because she can't be easily a sexual person and a professional person."

2. Meet pre-approved men with Wyldfire.

Since heterosexual women in particular experience trepidation when deciding which men are safe to engage with, Wyldfire only allows men invited by women to join. The app also minimizes creepers and spam by requiring all users to have a three-month-old Facebook account with at least 25 friends. CEO Brian Freeman explained in an interview “The reason we put control of the invitation into women’s hands, is that from our early focus groups we found that creeps were really the biggest problem in online dating and social networks.”

You said it, Brian. The struggle is real.

3. Take the reigns over your conversations with Bumble.

Imagine if your inbox only contained the messages you initiated yourself. I don’t know about you, but in this world, I would receive far fewer messages criticizing my profile, attacking my personal beliefs, and referencing sexual practices I do not care to hear about.

Since Bumble only allows women to start conversations, women only hear from the users they have deemed desirable conversation partners — which hopefully means less “Wanna see my dick?” and more “I just read that book too!”

4. Flag problematic OKCupid profiles with OKCupid (for the Non-Mainstream User).

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A lot of the questions OKCupid asks are fairly useless. Whether you prefer cats or dogs is not really going to influence my opinion of you. But other issues, like whether you believe women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved or whether you would prefer to date someone of a certain race, are critical.

Since different users have different criteria that are critical to them, OkCupid (for the Non-Mainstream User) lets you add customized summaries to OKCupid profiles that show if users are vegetarian-friendly, transgender-open, or whatever you specify.

It beats wading through all those questions addressing such important issues as how they’d react to a nuclear apocalypse.

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5. Protect yourself from sexual predators with Predator Alert.

While some OKCupid messages can be annoying or degrading, others are outright frightening. Predator Alert identifies users who may be using the site to target potential victims based on their answers to questions about sexual consent — so that you don’t have to learn the hard way who is and isn’t a predator.

Online dating can be fun and lead to fulfilling relationships, so it shouldn’t come at the price of feeling like a piece of meat. The good news is that as women, queer and trans people, people of color, and other marginalized users speak out about the awfulness of online dating, men and women alike are squirming at these accounts and innovating so that fewer horror stories and more love stories begin online.

Images: Giphy (4);

OkCupid (for the Non-Mainstream User)