Online dating kind of sucks but here we go anyway
I’ve got five free dating apps on my phone. I think they provide amusement and a wealth of mediocre small talk, but very little in the way of genuine connections that lead to good dates IRL. Still, it seems this is the way to go on dates these days, so if you’re looking to dip your toe in the cyber-water, here’s my opinion on five of these apps, in order from best to worst.
Bumble is like Tinder, but with a mildly feminist twist. The app shows pictures and a brief profile of internet suitors. You swipe right for yes and left for no. When a woman and a man match, the woman must send the first message within 24 hours. The man then has 24 hours to respond to the woman’s message. Once a connection is made, the two of you can have a conversation. If the people matching identify as the same gender then either can send the first message. Bumble also has the option to just find friends. Bumble sounds good on the surface. It certainly filters out all those unwanted first messages and pixelates photos received to minimize the chances of seeing an unsolicited dick pic. Does that mean it leads to good dates? Not really. The lack of information in the profiles and lack of any kind of filters besides distance and age means that connections are made superficially and rarely translate to a deeper connection based on similar lifestyles and personalities.
Fun fact: Despite Bumble’s feminist rep, it’s also the only dating app on which I’ve ever received a dick pic, been called the c-word, and been told that a man’s ejaculate would cover my entire face.
OkCupid is both a phone app and a website. It’s recently made some major changes. Rather than getting messages from everyone, you now swipe through potential matches and see messages as you swipe. Profiles on OkCupid are extensive. Also, OkCupid uses multiple choice questions to help you connect with people who are similar on a deeper level.
Does all this depth lead to good dates? Not really. The profiles and responses, which you can read through, are so extensive that by the time you end up on that first date, you already know everything about the other person — from their favourite movies and foods to their sexual history and political views. So, do you pretend you didn’t read all that stuff and repeat the information in person or do you actually not read all that stuff and risk missing what would clearly be a deal-breaker?
Fun fact: Back when I first started online dating, OkCupid led to the most online conversations that turned into in-person dates.
3. PLENTY OF FISH
Plenty of Fish is also both a phone app and website. It has profiles and has some matching capability based on common interests. Anyone can message you, anyone can also send you voice recordings — these are not necessarily bonuses. Plenty of Fish, true to its name, provides quantity. Does all that quantity lead to good dates? No. It does not. In my experience, I had nothing in common with my matches besides the fact that we were both single.
Fun fact: This is the only website where I have seen multiple erect penises, not because they were sent to me in a message, but because they were the person’s profile picture. Pretty cocky guys, am I right?!
Tinder is a phone app, and if you’re not sure how it works by now then I’m genuinely surprised. #respect. Basically, it’s like Bumble, but without the time limit of having to send messages to open up a connection. Tinder also lets you super swipe a match per day so they can see that you’ve expressed interest before they swipe.
While I know of a few successful relationships that have started on Tinder, I think they’re the exception to the rule. I’m not sure exactly how well Tinder works as a hookup app (I do not hookup), but as a dating app it’s just a whole lot of no conversation that people are trying to turn sexy in a really awkward and not-at-all charming way.
Does Tinder lead to good dates? It hasn’t led to enough dates for me to know.
Fun fact: I did actually meet one great guy on Tinder and although that didn’t work out, it was a good enough experience to keep the app.
5. COFFEE MEETS BAGEL
Because what goes together better than a coffee and a bagel? Gee, I don’t know. A bunch of stuff? Coffee and sugar. Coffee and cream. Cream cheese and bagel.
Coffee Meets Bagel is a phone app that attempts to emphasize quality over quantity by sending you just one match per day at lunchtime. Unfortunately, matches are based on your Facebook friends, and friends of friends, and so on, which really limits the pool of options, meaning that some days you get no match at all. But that’s okay, because you can then look through a bunch of random people who don’t fall under any of the filters you have set up. To pick more than one of these people you have to spend some “coffee beans.” Hopefully, someday they’ll match you too and you can finally say hello to each other.
Once a match is made, however rarely that happens on CMB, a chat room opens up and you get to chat for nine days (or something like that) before it closes. The app recently (briefly) added a video function that has suitors record themselves answering a question of the day. The best part? There were no filters on whose videos you got to see. Maybe it’s just me, but as a straight 30-year-old woman who lives in Guelph, I’m not looking to date a 19-year-old woman who lives in Rochester, NY. But wait. There’s more. If I did see a nice video from a handsome local guy, I couldn’t actually start a conversation with him. Instead, I could “heart” the video and hope that maybe someday we’ll match so I’d finally be able to say: “Hey, cool video you posted six months ago.” The video function is not up right now (hopefully those responsible are on time out).
Fun fact: This app has led to zero dates, and a deep feeling of irritation any time I see a bagel next to a cup of coffee.
Graphic edited by Alora Griffiths/The Ontarion