A dating app is entirely the sum of its users — it’s the community that matters, not so much the vagaries of swiping or messaging, etc.
Below is a list based loosely on one that Maureen O’Connor compiled for The Cut in 2015. Where relevant, I’ve included her highly unscientific tags, followed by my own updated descriptions, based on recent news, personal experience and info from friends and colleagues.
“The woman’s tinder.” Ladies’ Choice format where we have the exclusive ability to message first. No unsolicited creepy messages. If you swipe right and get a “match” you have 24 hours to contact him before he disappears back into the ether.
“Single people who hang out at bars.” Formerly branded as the “hookup app” that heralded the “dating apocalypse” (Vanity Fair), it has definitely been downgraded to PG –as evidenced by the growing number of Tinder couples featured in NYT Vows column. Tinder bases matches on your Facebook profile, and will tell you if you and your match are connected through 1st, 2nd or 3rd tier connections (liked LinkedIn).
“Single people who hang out at coffee shops.” OkCupid is to Match.com, what Brooklyn is to Manhattan-slightly more artsy, slightly younger on average, etc. Extremely popular two years ago, it seems to have lost some of its users to the apps above. Possibly because its 300 plus questionnaire is just too overwhelming for some. Hint: answer the questions on qualities that are important to you, and skip the rest.
“Squares,” according to Maureen O’Connor of NY Mag. She is being judgy, and anyway, she’s probably still in her twenties. Match is one of the oldest, biggest, and most established dating sites out there. What she calls square, is what some of us older, wiser women would probably call “mature, responsible, and serious.” When it comes to love, what’s so bad about that?
“Jewish squares.” Again, Maureen is a kid! We know this really means “successful, solvent, and responsible.” Apparently, desirable also, because large numbers of non-jews have become regulars on the website looking for nice jewish men or women.
“People with nice jeans who live near your subway stop.” Happn matches you using geographical tracking. Their winning tag line is “find the people you’ve crossed paths with.” Disappointingly, none of the cute guys at my local swimming pool seem to be on it, but maybe that isn’t a fair gage as to whether Happn has caught on.
Formerly on par with Tinder, but responding to criticism, they entirely revamped themselves as the “conversation-based” dating app. It relies on your Facebook contacts, and so it discourages hookups that might cause embarrassment in your wider social circle.
A dating app based on activities. Come up with an activity, and then attract the right activity pal to do it with, or peruse date ideas and dig into the profiles behind them. Recently they’ve added some Tinder like functions to stimulate more use, but the jury is still out as to whether it enhances or detracts the original functionality.
Coffee Meets Bagel:
Also based on mutual Facebook connections, CMB was created by two millennial women to appeal to women. Each day at lunchtime, they send one match or “bagel” to your inbox and if you’re interested, its up to you to respond within 24 hours. Like Bumble, it puts women in the driver’s seat, but unlike Bumble, they offer more info on each match. Their tagline might be “quality over quantity.”
Intriguing or repulsive? This app requires you to apply, and then they either choose you or they don’t. Their tag line is something like “don’t settle.” A recent reviewer wrote for Business Insider, that “Tinder feels a cocktail party where you are looking to flirt with people you like, and the League feels like sorting through the resumes of potential hires.”
“The Soho House of Dating Apps,” according to Vogue. Exclusively for “creative people” (read “exceptionally hot, possibly creative, and usually famous”) who are chosen by a secret committee, Raya sounds a little like a virtual nightclub. Gawkers and paparazzi are not welcome.
Zoosk is easy to use, and combines elements from apps like Tinder with elements of more traditional dating sites like Match. As of April, 2017, however, the vast majority of male users seemed to be from New Jersey, with the next largest group being from Long Island. Maureen O’Connor would name this “the bridge and tunnel app.”