Navigating dating in a world where Instagram and imagery serve as currency can be nothing short of exhausting. Many of us are lost in a sea of swipe rights and DM's, and without ticks of approval and character references from mutual friends, how do we tell if the people we are matching with are really, well, a match?
Here, we turn our attention toward the direction of dating apps, to provide a comprehensive list of the most popular platforms, the kind of people they attract, and how to navigate each without feeling utterly overwhelmed and/or potentially catfished.
Perhaps one of the most well-known apps, and also one of the most notorious, Tinder is a swipe-based (aka appearance-based) dating app that requires little to no effort other than signing up and being in the vicinity of other people. With very few regulations or requirements, the person you meet on Tinder will likely be totally down to meet up for a ‘one night only’ situation, and may or may not look completely different in person than they do in their carefully selected profile pictures. For testimony (and a laugh) Tinder Nightmares can confirm this. However, not all hope is lost. We do personally know of some success stories, but let’s just say that some rigorous weeding out may be necessary.
Raya is another swipe-based app that people who think of themselves as important / creative, used to meet other people who think of themselves as important / creative. This is due to the simple fact that, in order to use Raya, you must first acquire a referral code from another user. The code is then used to submit an application linked to your Instagram account, after which you will wait patiently until said application is reviewed by the Raya committee and either approved or denied. Using the app feels like entering the Good Place version of Tinder, everyone is attractive and successful and / or famous. The pros: people seem to be generally more attractive and likely more successful. Cons: it’s $7.99 per month, it’s not location based (so you’re often faced with a lot of nice-looking people who are on the other side of the world), and the flow-on effects of being included in something exclusive can often be to the detriment of one’s character, if you know what we mean.
HER is founded and designed for queer women. Perhaps one of the more well-known LGBTQIA+ dating apps for women and non-binary folks, the HER app sets itself apart by being known to be more community focussed, as opposed to hook-up based. They have three different features: Meet, Feed, and Events – where you can locate events for queer women in your area to connect with your community. The matching process itself is based on age and location preference, so at least you won’t be disappointed after matching with someone only to discover they live in Canada.
To us, Bumble feels like the sensible older sister of Tinder with better morals and a five year plan. Their tagline, ‘Make The First Move’, requires women to send the first message after matching with someone of the opposite sex, with the intent of shifting old-fashioned power dynamics (this hasn’t yet fully emancipated us from the patriarchy, but we’ll send updates should this change any time soon), what this does do is weed out the people who end up on the aforementioned Tinder Nightmares, and creates an environment where women feel slightly more in control. Anecdotally, of all of the above, we’re able to cite the most long-term dating app success stories to Bumble, which we’re hoping comes down to its self-proclaimed ‘wokeness’, deterring any duds.
Hailing from a predominantly female office, our firsthand experience of Grindr (and ability to report on it) fall fairly short. Marketed towards gay, bi, and trans men, the app works to connect you with those closest to you – even if it’s the same room. For research purposes, we asked some of our male friends to weigh in on what they use the app for, which was best described by one as “a late-night crawl”, instead of something used to connect and foster a long-term relationship. We all need ways to blow off steam, which Grindr seems perfect for, just maybe not for those wanting serious prospects.