I love relationships, and I love men. But I’ve learned that I do NOT love dating around. As I enter my 24th year, I also enter into real adulthood in a new city. After graduating, moving, and settling into a new life, I realized something: I’ve been single for a long time, and I’m tired of it. My usual hangouts (bars, spin studios, coffee shops, and my female-dominated workplace) have not been proving fruitful when it comes to meeting nice guys, so, about a month ago, I decided it was about time for a change of pace. Because of all this, I was led to embark upon one of the weirdest, funniest, and most rewarding adventures of my life: I joined five different dating apps at once.
I’ve never been into online dating, so signing up for any app was daunting. That being said, though, I’m not one to half-ass a project. So I (fearfully) opted to download and create profiles on not one but five of the most popular dating apps, and I committed to spending a full month as a member of each.
I did this for myself, of course, but I also did it for my friends, my peers and for acquaintances. I wanted to definitively compare and test the worth, consistency, and value of each individual app. I tested their standards of profiles (yikes – see more below), their processes, and their successes and failures. I did all this for one main reason: to make this process easier for all those of you who want to try it. Go ahead, call me The Bachelorette of Online Dating (I’ll wait).
Here, you’ll find a breakdown of my experiences; the good, the bad and the creepy.
3. Coffee Meets Bagel
I, along with the rest of my editorial team, chose the five most popular apps to try (most popular based on relevancy, not actual numbers). I downloaded each app and made myself a profile. This part was harder than expected – for the sake of the experiment, I wanted to keep each profile consistent to the next. While each individual app is unique, I wanted to present myself as uniformly as possible. (For example, while Tinder has more of a “hook-up” stereotype than Hinge does, I didn’t want to present myself as more open to hook-ups on one versus the other.) It’s difficult to decide how to present yourself in this capacity – how much is appropriate to share, but how much is not enough?
Once these decisions were made and my profiles were created, it became official: There was no turning back.
1. It’s Going Down, I’m Yelling “Tinder“
Price: Free (optional in-app upgrades available for purchase)
I had seriously high hopes for Tinder. I have a friend who met her fiancé on Tinder, and another friend just dated a Tinderella for over a year. I believe in its potential. That being said, however, I went in with an open mind but a heavy sense of skepticism. I’ve heard the success stories, but I’ve also heard the horror stories – as, I’m sure, have you. Thankfully, though, Tinder is super easy to get the hang of. You connect to your Facebook to make a profile, so the photos are pretty much selected for you. Plus, no one can start a conversation with you unless you’ve already liked (or “swiped right”) them, which theoretically limits the chances of creeps (key word: theoretically).
Tinder: where a good bio is worth a thousand (cheesy) words
The high: There are SO many guys on Tinder. Some of them were incredibly sweet, even if they were sweet in a cringe-inducingly cheesy way (No, I’m not a Charlie’s Angel). I sincerely believe that Tinder is a great way to realize just how many fish are in the sea, even if that only serves you the purpose of realizing they’re not quite the fish you’re looking for.
Ah men, masters of the opening line
The low(s): There was the guy who told me he wrote me a “poem,” which turned out to be an unbelievably offensive piece of pornography that prompted me to feel like I needed to simultaneously take a shower and scream into a pillow; and of course there was the disturbingly high amount of men I accidentally “super liked.” I thought you could only “Pass” (left swipe) or “Like” (right swipe), but no – if you swipe “up,” it notifies the guy that you “Super Like” him. Seriously, it is so easily to mistakenly swipe “up” instead of “right,” so I look like the world’s most eligible yet most desperate woman in cyberspace.
In Conclusion: Tinder is not as scary as people think it is, but you still shouldn’t trust these strangers too quickly.
2. The Birds and the “Bumble“bees
Price: Free (optional in-app upgrades available for purchase)
Bumble is pretty similar to Tinder in that they both function on the premise of “swiping.”The thing that differentiates Bumble from Tinder is that, once mutual swiping occurs, the woman has to be the one to initiate a conversation. I’m not sure why I thought I would enjoy such enormous pressure, but it is safe to say that I do not. I did, however, test out a bunch of different conversation starters to see which get the best responses. My first day, I sent out ten straight-up “Hey, how’s it going?”s and received a 50% success rate (If you count “Is your tongue pierced?” as a successful response… No? Okay, then a 40% success rate.) Below, in descending order, I ranked a list of five of the opening lines I attempted. Please feel free to use them for yourself – and if you know of a GREAT opener, hit me up and let me hear it!
5. “Two truths and a lie – ready set go!” – 27% response rate
4. “What’s cookin, good lookin?” – 50% response rate
3. “Hey, how’s it going?” – 50% response rate
2. “This might sound crazy but I gotta ask – were you a contestant on The Bachelorette?” – 71% response rate (my personal favorite!)
1.“I need a new Netflix show. Any good recommendations?” – 75% response rate
My best opening line in action — what are the chances?!
The high: Bumble is genuinely full of nice guys. The fact that they know they have to wait for female-initiated conversation is a pretty good indicator that they are aware that most girls on this app are not looking for a one-time hook-up. I had some really nice conversations (and went on some nice dates!) – If you can muster the guts to make the first move, it’s going to pay off.
The low(s): First of all, it’s definitely disappointing when you have what you think is a great opening line, and then the guy never even responds. I made a genuine effort to reach out to every single guy I matched with, and I would have liked to receive some kind of response (since they already swiped right on me) each time. Also, I saw several different guys who were active on both Tinder and Bumble. A lot of them had slightly different profiles to appeal to the slightly different clientele on each app, which I thought was a little weird. For example, I came across a guy on Tinder who shared solo (shirtless) photos and a short bio, but on Bumble his photos featured himself with teammates (and with his mom!) as well as a longer bio. But of course, I’m currently active on not two but FIVE different dating apps, so who am I to judge?
In Conclusion: In general, I felt a better vibe from the guys on Bumble than on Tinder, but there’s a high risk involved. If your self-esteem can’t take the potential (and likely) hit of not getting responses after putting yourself out there, this app’s not for you.
Note: In the case of women seeking women or men seeking men, either party is given the option to start the conversation.
3. Let’s Play “Match” Game!
Price: $19.99/mo on iTunes for app access; full online access price differs by plan
Match.com is one of the OG dating sites, and you’ve probably seen their very active marketing strategies. Match.com boasts that “everyone knows someone who’s found love on Match.com!” and they want you to be next. It’s a very detailed profile system, and I have the highest respect for their dedication to authenticity and comfort. There are no free options for membership, however, so this one is only for those monetarily dedicated to a relationship.
The high: Man, oh man, did this site give my ego a boost. In less than a week, my profile was viewed by 128 guys, I received 21 private messages and the Match team gave me at least 10-12 official Matches each day. In general, the private messages sent on this site are far more detailed and personal than those of Tinder or Bumble, usually going far past “Hey, what’s up?” It’s very clear that the majority of men on this site are looking for love (in all the right places).
The low: So when you make your match.com profile, you fill out a series of questions about yourself as well as a series of questions about your desired partner. Although I entered my desired age parameter, most of the men who messaged or liked me were far outside of the age range. Despite being in my early 20s, I am apparently a big hit with the 35 and older set. While I understand that love knows no age (and I have no judgement for those who prefer to date outside their own age demographic), I’d like to have a bit more control over who can approach me (as I do with the other apps).
No, you are not just “older,” you are twice my age. Prime example of how age preferences on Match.com literally mean nothing.
In Conclusion: Match.com is a well-tested platform, and they clearly know what they’re doing. But if you’re in your early 20s, I think it’s safe to say that you are not this site’s key demographic.
4. I Went On A “Hinge” Binge
Price: Free for Basic Membership; $5+/mo for Full Membership
Whatever your preconceived notions are about Hinge, forget them. They’ve completely re-designed their platform in the last year and rebranded their entire existence. New York Magazine called Hinge “Match.com for millennials,” and Vanity Fair praised the new app for listening to the needs of women. Hinge is now known as the relationship app, “swiping left on swiping.” You set up a very detailed “story” (different from the typical “profile”), and viewers are allowed to “like” certain parts of your story as opposed to just the story as a whole. This is meant to foster relationships based on certain similarities, thus providing key talking points to get the conversation started. There is no swiping, there is only a fun and unique way to find common ground.
The high: I felt like my story was an excellent representation of who I am, which made me feel confident that the men were pretty authentic as well. It’s definitely easy to start a conversation based on mutual commonalities, and Hinge does a great job of diving into personalities instead of just outward appearances.
First of all, notice in this picture that this guy chose to comment on the “What I’m Reading” section of my story, which means it was the part that most resonated with him personally. I love that, but I was genuinely offended that this guy chose to begin our conversation with the word “Fuck.” While I obviously get and enjoy the game of “Fuck, Marry, Kill,” I thought it was a pretty aggressive and disrespectful way to attempt to make a connection. Also, I clearly wasn’t putting in a ton of effort, but this guy went straight for the “what are you up to tonight” kill.
The low: Hinge is still getting started again after rebranding, so they don’t have a massive user base. Also, considering how detailed the process is, it’s a little bit complicated. This one is not for the faint of heart, but that low also doubles at a high: the people using this app are definitely invested in a positive and long-term outcome.
In Conclusion: I’m really looking forward to seeing how Hinge works in the future, and I would sincerely recommend it to any friend looking to work hard (and potentially pay some cash) to find a serious relationship.
Note: I live in Chicago, but I’ve heard that Hinge is significantly more popular in the NYC area.
5. Abby Meets Bae-gel (“Coffee Meets Bagel“)
CMB functions on the heterosexual concept of #LadiesChoice, meaning that women only receive matches who have already liked them. Each day, I received a curated list of men who had already liked me. Not only did this make me feel like a baller, but it’s cool that the ball is ultimately in the woman’s court (See what I did there?). Once the woman likes back, both parties are notified and a chat room is opened. After that, CMB offers a few conversation-starting ideas to get the ball rolling (I should really stop with this “ball” metaphor.).
The high: It’s nice to go through a carefully-selected list of men who have already expressed interest, and CMB’s profiles are also a lot more detailed than the likes of Tinder and Bumble.
This was one of the more successful conversations I had on this app, which is really saying something.
The low: Since there are several steps required to make a mutual match, there’s not much instant gratification. Also, surprisingly, once a chat room opened, there was far less likelihood of a conversation starting than in those on the quicker, simpler apps. Literally none of my conversations on this app made it anywhere past the small-talk stage.
In Conclusion: Coffee Meets Bagel was developed by a group of sisters, and their quirky and fun outlook on online dating was refreshing. I’d recommend this app to someone who already has a very good idea of what they’re looking for in a relationship. And of course, how adorable is their advertising!?
Note: In the case of women seeking women, men seeking men, or a man or woman seeking both men and women, each user receives at least two quality matches per day (in an effort to effectively give everyone involved a number of high-quality options without giving one person more control).
The most bothersome (and interesting) part of the entire experience for me was not, in fact, that many men (and women) are just looking to casually hook up (you do you, friends!). Most disturbing to me were the methods by which they went about their attempts to “just hook up” — and their assumptions that you’ll be susceptible to the idea. While there certainly is a large group of people who use dating apps to find a one-nighter, there is also a large group of people who want more. My advice: be open about your own intentions, and don’t judge the people whose intentions are different. And please, for the love of all things holy, at least get a little creative.
In Conclusion: Quick Stats
Most Dates: Bumble
Most Successful Conversations: Bumble
Most Conversation Attempts Received: Match.com
Most Offers to “Just Hook Up”: Tinder
Cutest Guys: Bumble
Nicest Guys: Match.com
Creepiest Guys: Tinder
Biggest Selection: Tinder
Coolest Concept: Coffee Meets Bagel (Honorable Mention goes to Hinge)
Most Detailed Profiles: Match.com (Honorable Mention goes to Hinge)
Overall Favorite: Bumble
Overall Second Favorite: Tinder (I was surprised too!)
After a month chock-full of small-talk, pick-up lines, and virtual introductions. I’m definitely ready to slow down. However, I now believe more than ever that there are plenty of eligible men out there – and in 2017, there’s no right or wrong way to meet them. I chose to maintain my memberships on both Bumble and Hinge, and I’m always looking forward to what app the dating world creates next. That being said, though, I gotta ask: know someone who needs a girlfriend? Give them my number – or just tell them to swipe right.