Review: Dating Apps as Experienced by a Straight Seattle Girl

It’s 12 days until Valentine’s Day and if you’re on the hunt, there’s definitely still time to find someone to spend it with! For Seattleites who have a busy schedule, recently moved to the city, or just don’t meet new people in their everyday lives, dating can be tricky. That’s where online dating comes in. Which app should you use? Which one is the best? The answer isn’t that straightforward: it depends on what you’re looking for. 

I just want to meet someone who thinks I’m as amazing as I think they are, makes me a priority, is my partner in crime, and loves my dog. Is that so difficult? Clearly. Our generation and the era of online dating creates a certain “dating ADHD”. People think they’re just one swipe away from someone better. What happened to developing a crush, investment, and meet-cutes? I guess it’s the way of the future and I need to come to terms with that. This past month, I tried Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, Bumble, and Skout and here are some of my thoughts.

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unnamedTINDER | Dating, relationships, and everything in between; fast-paced

Tinder allows you to send and receive messages only from people you’ve mutually swiped ‘yes’ to. It is estimated there are 50 million Tinder users around the world, which makes for a big pool—or ocean—to fish in.

PROS: You will get the most action here in the immediate and quantitative sense. You want a date tonight? You want to go on 5 dates this week? Upload some decent pictures, write something slightly witty, and it can easily happen.

I got the opportunity to meet people I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to meet, which really, is the biggest draw for online dating. For example, I met this genuine guy who had just moved here 4 days prior from Chicago. I met an intelligent, funny guy visiting from the Bay Area who is doing amazing genetic research that will impact the lives of millions. I met a ton of tech guys who ranged in level of social skills who I wouldn’t have crossed paths with organically.

CONS: You can’t undo a swipe (a Bumble feature) and if you decide to have a swipe-fest, you will run out of “likes” unless you subscribe to Tinder Plus for $9.99/month. Even after carefully reading through each profile before swiping, I still got a few disgusting messages. I experienced some bugs in the app, but it improved a lot with the update from January 30th.

I feel like I’ve wasted hours of my life swiping and my thumb hurts.

CMB_icon512x512COFFEE MEETS BAGEL | Slow-paced for the busy; higher quality matches

You get ONE match per day at noon based on your Facebook circle, preferences, and location. It’s possible to unlock more matches if you acquire “beans” by inviting friends to use the app or paying money. Once you connect, the chatroom is open for 7 days.

PROS: If you’re looking for a professional and educated guy, 96% of users have a Bachelor’s degree and over 33% have a Master’s degree. The men here are looking for dates and/or relationships rather than hookups. It’s less overwhelming, I didn’t waste hours endlessly swiping, and it is a better fit for my busy schedule. The guys I chatted with and met had—at least on paper—the qualities I am searching for.

CONS: Turns out, they hook you by giving you 3-5 matches the first few days and then it drops to 0-2 per day. This is a glacial pace compared to other apps. If I said no to my 1-2 carefully-curated algorithmic matches for the day, I might get zero that day. Unlike Bumble and Tinder, there are no unmatching capabilities. If I decided I didn’t want to chat with a particular match anymore, I had to wait out the 7-day period until they disappeared off my list… awkward.

Bumble_dating_app_company_logoBUMBLE | Women hold the key; higher quality matches

Women control the gateway to communication, reducing the number of unwanted messages. They must message within 24 hours or the match disappears (men can extend one match per day for an additional 24 in the hopes the girl will message him).

PROS: There are a lot more nice-looking, educated, have-their-sh*t-together men on Bumble than Tinder (percentage-wise). People here seemed more thoughtful in their picture choices (less pictures of just landscape and shirtless selfies). In case I got swipe-happy or my eyes were starting to glaze over, I get 3 “backtracks” per 3 hours to go back and take a second look.

I love that I can sort messages: unread, recent, nearby, and favorites. I can send pictures and see when they are typing—iMessage style. I felt that users here wanted to chat more before meeting up and I didn’t get any inappropriate messages. This is my favorite app in terms of user experience and quality of matches. I felt that I’d go on a second date with every person I met here.

CONS: I didn’t always get responses (which can be a change for girls) and there are less users than Tinder. If your style is to click rather than swipe (options available in Tinder), it may take some getting used to. I also felt—and this was confirmed by other users I talked to—that there were super nice looking, eligible bachelors for the first 25 profiles/few days, and it seemed to taper off quickly. We also found that we rarely matched with these men.

icon_1024x1024OKCUPID | Compatibility ratings great; anyone can message

You will be asked a series of questions—your response and the response you’d want your ideal partner to pick. Questions include the slightly random and odd, “Do you believe in dinosaurs? Are your parents ugly? Do you own any dice with more than six sides?” to actual questions about your preferences. Then you will be shown your compatibility rating as you browse profiles.

PROS: Even if you don’t end up dating, it might actually be possible to find friends here that are intellectually and background compatible with you. But can boys and girls really be platonic friends? That’s a whole other topic.

CONS: I had so many people I wouldn’t have matched in any other app messaging me with “hey girl/sexy/beautiful/gorgeous” and messages riddled with spelling and grammar errors. It was exhausting trying to filter through 100 messages. Turn off your notifications for this one.

Skout_square_logo_vector.svgSKOUT | It’s overwhelming and there’s too much to sort through 

PROS: None. If you are really bored or lonely and looking to chat with anyone and it doesn’t matter where they live, you will like this app. I received 98 messages in 24 hours—at least half weren’t from the Seattle area.

CONS: You can change your name (people end up picking AIM-like usernames). My first AIM username in middle school was “HugsAngel3”, but you don’t see me using that now. 70% of the people who requested to chat didn’t have a picture, are from a different city or country, or are outside the age range I’m seeking. There are ads within the app! I kept accidentally clicking on them… annoying.

OTHER APPS 

Do people still use Plenty of Fish? It feels like the MySpace of dating apps. I don’t have enough Facebook friends to use Hinge, which bases matches on mutual friends and uses timing to push dates: giving you 24 hours to send the first message and 14 days to chat before expiring. Another app that uses location-based technology, Happn, bases matches on how many times you cross paths with someone (which is both cool and creepy).

*Update 8/1/17: The League launched in Seattle and proves to be a promising dating app with less prospects per day (like Coffee Meets Bagel) and “higher quality matches”.

If you have stories about any of the apps I used (or didn’t use), I’d love to hear from you! WHEW! Dating is exhausting and I feel liberated after deleting all of them. Happy swiping!