In theory, dating apps are simply a way to meet potential love or sex partners. These smartphone-dwelling matchmakers can even facilitate experimentation, helping users code for and discover what they want from another person in any given moment. They provide a way to meet people on a user’s own schedule, which potentially democratizes the whole dating process. (Honestly, who can afford to go out every night? Carrie Bradshaw was clearly a con artist.) To look at it from a distance, the future of dating is easy and great! And yet...and yet.
She’s not without her complaints about the dating app format in general, though. “On principle, I don’t really like that I’m being reduced to a Pokémon card with a few photos and stats and swiping based on that,” she says. “But I got extraordinarily lucky and met my now-boyfriend, who downloaded Bumble for nearly the same reason I did! We agree that it we both felt icky making snap judgments based on dumb things while first using the app, but I guess there was enough thoughtful info that was in each of our profiles that led us to swipe and meet.”
Why it's awesome: Plenty of Fish, sometime styled as POF, boasts 4 million daily active users, with 65,000 new users each day, apparently, and claims users send 1 billion messages per month. After registering for POF, hopeful daters take a personality test that then helps POF determine what they call, "Your Relationship Needs." Basically, it's a way to make sure users know what they want from their love lives, and to ensure that it serves users other profiles that meet that criteria. One unusual quirk: The site recently launched a feature that allows users to message others through Google Home. Says Spira: "They have a large user base, are a free site, and are very popular."
The timer is designed to encourage contact, and some people really do appreciate that feature. But if you're someone who procrastinates, Bumble may not be for you. Also because women must message first, Bumble tends to weed out the slightly more insecure males. However the rate of overly confident males tends to be higher than I've seen on other apps. Bumble also has a BFF feature, but that's really not the focus of a dating app gallery, so I'll save it for another time.
I was on Clover for quite some time but had forgotten it even existed until I started to throw this list together. I felt like it was a less successful hybrid of OkCupid and Tinder, and I also felt like the user base was pretty small, even though I live in an urban area with plenty of people who use a wide variety of dating apps. Clover says it has nearly 6 million users, 85 percent of whom are between the ages of 18 and 30.
"People didn’t have mobile phones and laptops, and the process was people would go home, log on slowly, see who had written to them and write back," she says. "The courtship process was a lot slower, so it took quite a while to get from the first interaction to actually going on a date. Plus in those days, there was a stigma associated with online dating. You did not tell people you met your spouse, or partner, or even a date online."