Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Written By Austin Hall (@ADWAustin)

Dating, like life, is hard but ultimately worthwhile. Back in the day, you’d meet your true love by walking up to them and coming up with a good icebreaker. Nowadays, matching with someone can be as simple as moving your thumb to the right.

BUT! More choices brings more confusion, rejection, heartache, missed connections, and mixed signals. On the other hand, it leads to a greater chance at finding the perfect match, or a nice night out with an interesting person. Based on the week, it can be either extremely overwhelming or extremely satisfying due to luck, the proper app, and the number of good matches.

There are literally hundreds of dating apps out there, (and I’ve used more than I’d like to admit), so I whittled them down to my idea of what the best apps are based on a number of different categories ranging from 1–5, with 5 being the best score in each category (20 being the highest possible score based on how effective each app is in each category). I also stayed away from the payment options, mostly because most people don’t use them anyway. (I do with Tinder, but don’t tell anyone).

Some may cater to you better based on sexual identity, gender identity, sexual preferences, and a boatload of other factors. Unfortunately, I can only use so many based on my own personal preferences (i.e., straight man), but hopefully this article at least provides a baseline idea of what you might be looking for. It’s also worth mentioning that many of these apps include a multitude of different options based on your preferences.

So, without further ado, here are the best apps, counting down from 4 to 1:

4. Coffee Meets Bagel
Ease of use: 5
Chances of getting a match: 1
Quality of matches: 2
Profile attributes: 3
Interesting tidbit found on siteThey were on Shark Tank!
Score: 11
Apple App Store rating (as of September 28): 4.4 out of 5 stars (1.28k ratings)

On paper, you’d think Coffee Meets Bagel would be great. Set up your profile much like you set up your Tinder or Bumble profile (age, occupation, where you live, etc.) and swipe through a limited number of matches every day curated by the site. For straight women, the matches consist of men that are already interested in them. Straight men, on the other hand, find possible matches that have been selected by the app’s “smart algorithm”, which is mentioned in the description found on the app store, but only briefly.

For the LGBTQ+ users, you get the same curated selections as you would if you were a straight guy. I don’t know how they came up with that decision, but it feels like they bundled everyone else into one heap, much like choosing “other” to define your sexual orientation on different dating apps. How can they say that they cater to LGBTQ+ users when they don’t have the option to define yourself in a variety of different ways? In any case, it’s a start, but there needs to be more options on how you define yourself.

In any case, they give you roughly 15 to 20 possible matches per day, leading to long dry spells. I got one date, and it was fine, but I can count on one finger the number of matches I got, and I was swiping away five days a week for months. I don’t know about you, but it becomes pretty pointless to use a dating app when you can’t be matched with anyone to actually date.

3. OKCupid
Ease of use: 2
Chances of getting a match: 4
Quality of matches: 4
Profile attributes: 2
Interesting tidbit found on siteThey use math!
Score: 12
Apple App Store rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.1k ratings)

OKCupid is straight daunting. You answer a plethora of random questions; you include most, if not all, of the same info as the other apps but in greater detail; and, you can message anyone you choose. On the surface it sounds great, but believe me, that soon begins to feel like homework. The option to either swipe or browse through possible matches based on a compatibility algorithm is more limiting than you would expect. How can they possibly know that “person x” is only a 50% match based on random questions about your interests and personality traits? There is no percentage when it comes to true love!

Most nights, I would spend an hour on the site browsing like I was in a library, or swiping only to have to message anyone I had any interest in. Still, I met my second to last girlfriend on this site, so it can’t be all bad. Yet, it’s worth noting that to sign up, you say that you’re straight, gay, bisexual or other. Options for whom you’re interested in? Man, woman, other. Again, feels a bit on the limited side of things. I would suggest adding in a multitude of the different ways that people gender themselves.

2. Bumble
Ease of use: 5
Chances of getting a match: 3
Quality of matches: 2
Profile attributes: 3
Interesting tidbit found on siteYou can network!
Score: 13
Apple App Store rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars (577 ratings)

Bumble is arguably the most feminist dating app. You add the same info as you would with Tinder (more on that later), but this time, the gals are in charge. You can swipe all you want guys, but unless the girl likes you and messages you within twenty-four hours, you do not move on to the next round. It’s a great idea, and it works really well, but based on where you are and the number of users in the area, you could get a lot of matches or none for weeks. Of course, you could say the same thing for any one of these apps, but the more popular an app is, the greater your chances of matching with someone will be. I have gotten a few dates from the app, so it’s definitely worth looking into if you’re ok with weeks without a match.

What’s unique about Bumble is that you can also make friends and network on the app, both of which I’ve never used, but you can probably make friends and network with the same type of consistency. In other words, you will probably have the same type of success no matter what you’re looking for. Who knows? Maybe you get even more matches!

They also give you the option to be interested in men, women, or everyone, which seems to be a step in the right direction, though, there doesn’t seem to be an option to define your gender if you want, so I’m guessing they get it off of Facebook.

1. Tinder
Ease of use: 5
Chances of getting a match: 5
Quality of matches: 4
Profile attributes: 4
Interesting tidbit found on siteNow you can do it on a PC!
Score: 18
Apple App rating: 3.7 out 5 (1.95k ratings)

Tinder is probably the most famous and notorious of the apps out there. With the swipe of a thumb, you can reject someone based on their profile pic, or accept them by swiping right. But, it’s not just a face. The profile is a one stop shop where you present yourself much like you do on Bumble: Where you live, first name, age, job or school, and a brief paragraph to describe yourself. People usually think of it as purely a hookup app, but you can use it anyway you choose. Hell, I met my last girlfriend on the app, so if that’s the route you want to take, you can.

Based on the week, you can get a ton of matches or none at all. That’s just the name of the game. They also recently started giving you the ability to define your gender anyway you want, including genderqueer, non-binary, trans woman or man and many more. Though, I should add, you can only choose whether you’re looking for a man, woman, or both, which I find limiting, so hopefully they change that soon.

So what have we learned? Basically, there is someone out there for you. You just need to keep on swiping, texting, messaging, or, go the old fashioned way. But honestly, who has time for that?

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