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I am obviously back on the market, ready to embark upon Phase 3 of my post-separation adventure, and am dabbling in dating apps once again. New on the scene since I was last single are Bumble, Happn, and Hinge.

I have tried them all and want to share my findings.

All of the below apps are free.

First, the oldies….

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OK Cupid – “Public dating arena”

Key feature: Ideally, everyone is supposed to answer extensive questions to be assigned a match compatibility rating with other users based upon a complex and scientific matching algorithm. Unfortunately, some users don’t answer any of the questions – or only answer a few questions – and therefore the match ratings aren’t accurate. Anyone on the site can search for and contact any other user.

Pros:

  • Lots of people!
  • Also has an internet interface / website

Cons:

  • There’s no screening process. In other words, anyone with an account can contact you
  • Match percentage isn’t necessarily accurate

My experience: Overwhelming and frustrating. I was bombarded with messages, mostly from guys I was not interested in: from local 20 year olds looking to play games (repeatedly contacting me, harassing me, closing their profiles, then opening a new profile and repeating the process) to 60-something year old dudes in semi-nearby cities to guys looking for hook-ups and/or a tour guide while they’re on an upcoming vacation or business trip. Plus, I constantly wondered about software bugs and glitches because some high-matched local guys were invisible to me, despite my being a top match of theirs and vice-versa. However, I met some great guys… including Texas.

Interesting sidenote: Texas and I were not highly matched. If I recall correctly, we were only 60-something percent compatible. Mars, on the other hand, was a high match in the 90-something percentile.

It’s also interesting to note that the people I hit it off best with were not the people whose profiles were shown in my match results: Texas, The Blond Mandarin, George, and Smith.

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Tinder

Key feature: You are only able to make contact with someone if you mutually “like” each other. This cuts down on all the noise and reduces unwanted messages.

Pros:

  • Simple
  • Easy
  • Nice interface with good graphics
  • Only after you “match” with someone (mutually like each other) can you contact each other

Cons:

  • No ability to filter out people who don’t live locally. I get tired of matching with guys I think are local but then find out later they were only here on a business trip or vacation. Womp womp. Tinder should require that all users input their home base. Maybe I’ll send them that tip for improvement….

My experience: Tried and true and the least frustrating of them all. While I was off the dating market, Tinder improved by offering a new “super like” option and also has a new layout. However, they also eliminated the “Moments” feature.

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And now the newbies….

Bumble – “Tinder with a feminist twist”

Key feature: Similar to Tinder in that you both have to like each other in order to contact each other. However, the woman must reach out with the first message within 24 hours after matching or else lose the match. Men cannot send the first message. Bumble claims that this promotes respect and can prove it: there are only 0.002% reports of harassment.

Pros:

  • Simple
  • Easy
  • Nice interface with good graphics similar to Tinder’s. No surprise, really, as it was started by a Tinder co-founder
  • Highest rate of attractive guys (seriously, where did all these good looking guys come from?!)
  • As a female, it is unlikely you will be harassed

Cons:

  • The woman must send the message within 24 hours after matching or lose the match forever. New update: Men must respond to that first message within 24 hours or lose the match forever.
  • Like Tinder, no ability to filter out people who don’t live locally.
  • Radio silence from 90% of my matches despite sending the obligatory message. What the….?

My experience: This app was actually highly recommended by Dude #5 from last fall. He met his girlfriend on it soon after we ended things. However, I found that it quickly became overwhelming because I was now solely on the hook for messaging all these guys I had matched with. I also realized that if we matched, why should it matter who messages who first? It seemed like a good idea until I tried it. Guys love it because they say it takes the pressure off them.

UPDATE! Soon after I posted this and sent Bumble a letter of complaint, Bumble started requiring a response to the first message sent within 24 hours or else the match would be deleted. This seemed to dramatically help response rate. Brilliant move, Bumble!

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Hinge – “Meet potential dates through friends via Facebook”

Key feature: Hinge claims they’ve taken the anonymity out of dating. The app connects through Facebook to show you friends of friends who are also single and interested in dating (because, duh, they’re using Hinge). Like Tinder and Bumble, you can only contact someone once you’ve mutually liked each other. The kicker, though, is that you only have 14 days to establish a connection. Your matches expire after 14 days and disappear.

Pros:

  • Like meeting the old-fashioned way through friends
  • Everyone lives locally

Cons:

  • Your matches disappear after 14 days
  • Some people aren’t friends of friends, after all. Some simply live locally and have both a Facebook and Hinge account
  • Massive bug in their Facebook/Hinge photo interface. The app forces you to select 8 photos from Facebook but doesn’t give you access to most of your photos. As a result, I couldn’t use my most recent photos and had to resort to using photos that were several years old

My experience: Not for me. I didn’t want to be forced to give out my phone number or go on a date with someone within 14 days of matching with them. Also, I didn’t hear from 98% of the people I matched with before the match expired and disappeared.

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Happn – “Meet the people you cross paths with”

Key feature: Connects you in real-time with other users who are within 800 feet. Users can only make contact with each other if they mutually “like” or “charm” each other. Likes are anonymous until they are mutual, but charms are not. “Charming” someone is basically letting them know that you like them even if they may not like you back.

Pros:

  • You must mutually like each other to make contact through the app
  • You might recognize someone from the app in real-time

Cons:

  • Creepy

My experience: I downloaded it because it was highly rated in the app store. It was thrilling at first. Would I walk past anyone I later recognized on the app? In the end, I wasn’t too excited about it. I was only on the app for 3 days and saw the same people repeatedly, including people who live in my neighborhood. It would also show me who happened to drive past my house in the middle of night. I found that a bit creepy. Seems it would be a bit too easy to stalk someone by establishing a pattern in their schedule.

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My clear favorite is Tinder, closely followed by Bumble. They are the only two I am still currently using.

Which dating apps have you tried? Which one is your favorite?

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