John Minchillo/AP Images for ProFlowers

Valentine’s Day 2020 is on the horizon, and if you don’t have a special someone – you’re not alone! Fortunately, there’s now more ways than ever to meet people from the comfort of your own phone. The modern Dating App universe can seem daunting, especially if you’ve yet to take the plunge or perhaps had a bad experience with the online dating world years ago. That’s how it felt to me, but when my phone died last year and I was forced to get a new one – I took it as a sign to give them a try.

I’ve spent time on the four major dating apps, both with their standard free editions and the paid premium upgrades. There’s different benefits to all of them, so let my real world / road rules experience help you find which Dating App is right for you! Fire up that phone and read along as we plunge deep into Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid and Hinge.

First, what all of these apps have in common is use of the location feature so you won’t see anyone too far away from you pop up. It also allows for anyone in proximity of you at that moment – whether at their jobs or at a near by club, to be included in your shuffle. Got it? Cool, here’s where the paths diverge.

Tinder

When people think dating apps, they think Tinder. Making “Swipe Left/Swipe Right” pop culture buzzwords, its format has become the blueprint for the bulk of dating apps in its aftermath. While it has a reputation leaning toward hook-ups rather than relationships, it feels overwhelmingly like it has the largest pool of users for potential dates. It also allows for a “Super Like,” where after a certain amount of time you can send an attention grabbing chance for a match.

Bumble

For opposite-sex dating, Bumble stands out from the pack as the one that puts the power in the hands of women users. If a man and woman match, the woman has 24 hours since the match was made to respond or else the match expires. If the clock is ticking down too far, men have an option to extend this countdown. If you plan on going the Bumble route, the paid upgrade is worth it as it allows you to see anyone who has swiped right on you (giving you the option to match), rematch with expired connections and more daily countdown extensions. If you’ve never used a dating app before, the layout is probably the most accessible to give you a feel for the flavor, so start here. One thing to keep in mind is that because of the sheer volume of Bumble users and the 24 hour window for matches (which the person who is supposed to respond may entirely miss if they don’t have the app open that day) it could be a bit discouraging if you don’t get a match for your first few days on it. But stick with it, you’ll generate a buzz soon.

OKCupid

This is purely anecdotal, but in my personal experience the dating app that’s resulted in the most marriages of people in my life has far-and-away been OKCupid. The most customizable of all the apps, OKCupid stays truest to its dating website origins (launched in 2004, it’s as old as Facebook but notably wiser) by being rooted in answering questions. Mostly falling on a Yes/No binary, the user answers a limitless selection of prompts ranging from politics to personal hygiene. The user can answer or ignore these questions as much as they want, but the more questions answered, the more plentiful and successful these matches become. I’ve been told (again, anecdotal) it takes quite the prompt for potential dates to meet-up with anyone under a 90% match, so this app really requires an effort from the user. It’s also worth noting that OKCupid has managed to stay ahead of the curve in helping users find their ideal match by emphasizing inclusivity. OKCupid was the first dating app to include a pronouns feature with 22 gender and 13 orientation options. OKCupid has publicly stated they’re expected 20 million new conversations started and 10 million matches around Valentine’s Day, so crack open a box of Sweethearts candies and get to answering questions!

Hinge

You’ve probably seen the ad with the memorable tagline “the dating app designed to be deleted.” Say hello to Hinge. The “dating app for people who want to get off dating apps,” last year Hinge became the fastest growing dating app, with good reason. In order to be on Hinge, the user has to share a minimum number of images and answer three questions. A potential date has done the same, and as soon as one likes or comments on these pictures or answers, the user is notified and sparks have a chance to fly. For the standard free version, the user is limited to ten likes/messages per day, which really makes users highly considerate of who they’re messaging instead of it being a swipe-fest. The upgraded version (“Preferred Hinge”) allows for unlimited swipes, additional filters (height, children, politics) and the option to see everyone who likes you in one view instead of one-by-one. Personally speaking, I’ve had the most success with Hinge. I’ve had great matches with great people, including my current partner – who I consulted before writing this piece. She gave her blessing as long as I included that I reached out to her by commenting, not on an image of her, but a meme she posted we both found hilarious. Highly recommended.

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