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The Best Dating Apps for People Who Hate Using Dating Apps

I know, I know, but they actually work.

Close-up of woman using smartphone in a garden
Getty Images

In theory, dating apps are a streamlined way to find a partner. They provide a way to meet people on your own schedule and can even facilitate experimentation, helping users code for and discover what they want from another person. Statistically speaking, there’s plenty of evidence that dating apps work—especially for those among us whose endgame is getting into a LTR. There's data that says marriages among people who met on an app are less likely to end after the first year, and the vast majority of Americans think that, ultimately, apps are a good way to meet people.

And yet...and yet. Although dating apps are supposed to take the headache out of trying to meet someone, many people consider them a necessary evil—or just plain evil. We understand why: dick picks, ghosting, it's not all rainbows and butterflies out there for a woman-identifying person trying to meet someone. While there might not be a one-size-fits-all dating app that everyone loves and totally works—the point of these apps is to connect people, and people are sloppy!—below are the apps that even the bitterest-about-dating among us will happily swipe through.

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S'more
Bridget Burns/S'MORE

We all know the struggle of selecting the perfect set of photos for a dating app—can a few photos really represent you?—so what if we took all that snap judgement and hot-or-not BS out of it? Brand-new app S'more (you know, something more) is doing just that. S'more sets out to help you get to know a person before you even get to see them. Gone is the concept of swiping right or left based on looks; instead, S'more users first establish connections based on mutual interests.

How it works: Each day you'll receive recommended profiles based on your previous activity on the app (the algorithm takes into account the kind of people you swipe 'yes' to the most), but the matches' photos are blurred and only become visible when you engage with the profile more. Whether that's asking the other person a question, or sending them a "wink" to let them know you're interested, the photo will slowly become more discernible as you get to know each other.

S'more limits the number of chats you can have going at one time, incentivizing users to narrow in on the connections they're hoping go somewhere. What's more, each profile features a "kindness score" to encourage users to be nice on the app.

S'more is only available in New York, Boston, and D.C. right now, but will soon be available in Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Texas, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.

Available on iOS, Android coming soon.

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Tinder
Tinder/Bridget Burns

For many modern daters, the word “Tinder" is accompanied by the Darth Vader theme song. The truth is, no app embodies the “necessary evil” aspect of swiping the way Tinder does. And it’s not even Tinder’s fault: As a pioneer of the current dating app format, Tinder’s utter ubiquity means everyone has an opinion about it. And because the dating rigamarole kind of sucks in general, that means a lot of people have negative opinions about it. But you have to hand it to Tinder, they really did change the game.

Yet, where Tinder acts as a gateway app from which some daters move onto apps more aligned with their specific desires, for others it remains the best of the bunch. The OG features users love? The bio, which depending on what users choose (a lyric, a favorite motto) can be used to spark conversations, and the radius feature, which allows users to find people in their area—or not their area. One user we spoke to said she even used the app when traveling for work internationally to practice her Spanish.

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Feeld
Feeld/Bridget Burns

Feeld is an app for people who know what they want. It describes itself as a place to “meet open-minded couples and singles near you,” making it the premiere app for unicorns and those who want a more openly kink-friendly app experience. While that may sound pretty niche, there are plenty of pros that the average dater can appreciate. Knowing that all potential partners are looking for hot, fun people to hookup with in a judgement-free zone, means that you can skip over those awkward first few dates and early-sex convos. Plus, if you end up with someone long term, you know that he or she is fully aware of your kinks and interests—right from the start.

Available on iOS and Android devices

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Hinge
Courtesy

Hinge may seem like it plays second-fiddle to Tinder, but it has a pretty elite user base (99 percent of its daters went to college, for example). Hinge bills itself “the relationship app,” implying other sites belong to the “hookup app" genre. It also only pairs you with people with whom you have Facebook connections, potentially giving your matches a bit more accountability than the utter randos you might meet on Tinder (especially if you live in a big city).

Building a profile requires users to answer questions that give potential matches a sense of their personalities, whereas some apps let users get away with generic info like height and religion. Another perk: If a user looks at your profile, they get put in a queue for you to look through—no swiping required...necessarily.

Available on iOS and Android devices

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Coffee Meets Bagel
Courtesy / Design by Bridget Burns

Sure, it has a goofy name and the phrase "Meet Your Everything Bagel" as its tagline, but there's more to Coffee Meets Bagel than the optics. Like other apps, CMB connects you to people with whom you share Facebook mutuals. But unlike other sites, CMB only lets women see men who have already swiped right on them, and only allows the woman to give out five likes per day from among those matches. (If you're looking for a same-sex relationship, the swiping experience is similar to that of Tinder, but users will only be shown one high-quality match per day.) While it might seem restrictive, that might be why it works. One user told us that "the limited amount of daily swipes made me more thoughtful and deliberate with the app." That's opposed to, say, letting your best friend swipe through Tinder while you're in the bathroom of the bar. It just goes to show, don't judge an app by its silly name.

Available on iOS and Android devices

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Bumble
Design by Kevin Peralta

Bumble was founded by Whitney Wolfe, a woman whose goal was to make dating (and now, even networking and friendship) more female-friendly. How that manifests on the app, for the uninitiated, is a Sadie Hawkins-esque interface that requires women to message their male matches first. Then men have 24 hours to respond or else the match is erased. (For women messaging other women and women-identified folks, either party can respond first.) The goal: Make women feel safer online. While some users complained that putting the onus on women is "annoying" and "overwhelming," we have to say...respect to Bumble for putting women first.

Available on iOS and Android devices

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