If you're a millennial dating in 2017, chances are you or someone you know is on some kind of app.
And although dating online can sometimes feel like a "Groundhog Day" loop of bad match after bad match, diversifying your watering hole online — as in life — has the power to dramatically change your luck in love.
After all, all apps are not created equal.
If you're new to dating apps — or just want to try something new — here's some inspiration to just dive in. I've tried some of the most popular dating apps, and here's what I've found:
If you want to swipe mindlessly, try Tinder or OKCupid.
At its basest level, Tinder is a "hot-or-not" app. Matches are based solely on mutual physical attraction. OKCupid is similar, except you answer a bevy of super-personal questions first. (Such as, "Are you intimidated by a partner who is more sexually experienced than you?" and "Are you more attracted to virgins?" Whoa.) Answers are used as a metric for compatibility.
Tinder has a bad rap for being a hookup-only app, but it's not hard to find people who have met on Tinder and are in serious relationships. And with an estimated 50 million users swiping laterally daily, there's no way that everyone has nefarious intentions (unless that's what you're into, no judgments here!). But if you've been swiping on Tinder to no avail, you might want to give OKCupid a shot.
If you like the idea of a Sadie Hawkins dance, try Bumble or Coffee Meets Bagel.
Bumble and Coffee Meets Bagel put women in charge.
Bumble has been dubbed "The Feminist Tinder" and follows its predecessor's model with unlimited swipes on a seemingly endless supply of men. After matching on Bumble, a woman has 24 hours to initiate a conversation before the connection disappears forever. Looking for platonic relationships only? Bumble has a feature that allows you to swipe for potential new friends.
Similarly, on Coffee Meets Bagel (named because the creators wanted the batch of new matches to be something women look forward to every day, like a coffee break. What goes well with coffee? Bagels) women choose who gets to talk to them from among the men (or "bagels") who have already liked them. It all translates to a handful of "bagels" for women to review each day, on average.
(Personally, I had the least amount of luck on these apps because the dating pool skewed largely white no matter whether I was swiping in New York or in Los Angeles. And as a black woman, a lack of diversity is a problem.)
The limited number of choices presented each day made for a really slow process on CMB. But it might be worth it: It and Bumble have developed reputations as being places for people looking for serious relationships.
If you like your friends' friends, try Hinge.
Hinge pulls from mutual friends of your Facebook friends. It used to be a standard, swipe-centric dating app. Its engineers realized that users liked the sense of familiarity among mutuals a lot, but the run-of-the-mill swiping interface not so much. So meet Hinge 2.0: The new layout is more like Instagram than Tinder, and now instead of just "liking" someone overall you have the option to like one of their photos or a detail from their bio. (A friend described it this way: "It's like if Bumble and Facebook had a baby with LinkedIn.")
The Hinge interface is a welcome reprieve from the general left-right swipe interface. It makes me feel like my quirky bio answers hold as much weight as the carefully curated selfie selection I upload. (However, more men have "liked" my pictures than have "liked" my bio answers, so maybe they don't.)
If you like yuppies, try the League.
If you're into exclusivity, look no further than the League, where you first have to sync your LinkedIn account and await a vetting and approval process. Once you're in (you'll receive a notification saying, "You've been officially drafted into The League!"), every night at 6 p.m. you'll get a batch of five new people to choose from.
As with Coffee Meets Bagel, it can be slow going. I’ve been on the League for a few months now and have yet to find anyone worth talking to online or otherwise. But the idea is a good one.
If you're a celebrity, or like celebrities, try Raya.
Where do famous people find love when they're not hooking up with costars or dating childhood sweethearts? Raya. Normal people need not apply, as you have to be famous (or at least famous-adjacent) to be approved for this app, for which the waitlist is like the League, multiplied by 10. Basically, if your Instagram follower count doesn't have a K next to it, don't bother.
After submitting a basic application, your "creative influence" is gauged and an anonymous committee decides whether you're cool enough to join the club. Joe Jonas, Patrick Schwarzenegger and "SNL" star Michael Che have all been rumored to be on the app, so the cool kids appear to be present. But with a referrals-only vetting process, a $7.99 monthly membership fee and a strict no-screenshots policy, it's no wonder Raya is referred to as the "Illuminati Tinder."
What has been your experience on dating apps? Which is your favorite and why? Least favorite? And what apps would you recommend to the LGBT community?