Review: Mainstream Dating Apps (Which Is Best For You?)
The digital dating community can be a crowded and confusing space, and a challenging category to navigate with or without experience.
If you’re looking for a connection and trying out online dating, the site or app that is best for you will be highly variable, and based mostly in the type of relationship you’re seeking. Certain apps are better for shorter term or more casual dating, while others are suitable for finding meaningful connections and longer term dating.
So if you’re seeking someone to spend the rest of your life with, or seeking someone to spend an evening with, suffice to say you can probably meet this prospective partner online.
Because the space is so saturated and often confusing, many of us simply give up after a certain duration. But for some it can be difficult to meet new people at bars or restaurants, or there may be a preference in knowing more about the person prior to a date. To help singles or those seeking different relationships via online dating, I decided to try several mainstream apps for individual reviews as well as a comparison guideline, that will hopefully aid the process for some, or provide insight for those new to dating apps.
This review will cover briefer reviews on several mainstream dating apps as well as comparisons between different apps, to help you make a decision that’s right for you prior to download, which can save quite a bit of time and energy.
OKCupid has been my personal preference and favorite app for online dating for several reasons, and I’ve definitely gotten the most dates and connections with using it.
The factor of differentiation in comparison to other dating apps is the questions feature, which allows users to answer fun questions and reply to topics that may be important to them. The questions address everything from politics to hobbies to the very strange (i.e. “would you date a serial killer?”)
After that, OKCupid matches you with others who have answered questions in a similar fashion using their algorithm, with most matches ranging from 80%-99%. I have found a couple of very high matches that truly seemed to be my male counterparts, or male versions of myself, and I question if that’s a positive or negative, but generally the matches are very polite and kind.
This is a good middle-of-the-road option, if you’re seeking long term dating, casual dating, or very serious relationships, you can find users seeking all. There are also users just looking for friendships, or people new to cities and trying to meet locals and expand networks. In comparison to Tinder and Badoo, OKCupid (created by Harvard mathematicians) tends to attract more serious, smart, and qualified users (although there are certainly exceptions to this rule), and users tend to be seeking more serious connections. It’s very versatile and has a lot of features, so the app can be used for a quick match, where you swipe left or right based on photos and names, or it can be used to find matches based on distance, match percent, or other specifications.
The paid features allow users to see everyone who has liked their profile, but unpaid users will always be alerted if there is a mutual match.
This app is ideal if you’re new to online dating, and searching for a more meaningful connection, but also not seeking a marriage within a week (some of the more traditional and older apps feel very much geared towards people seeking marriage quickly).
If you’re not sure what you’re looking for or having confusion about the process, the sign-up process is quick and the interface is really simple to use and navigate. There aren’t many apps that can match you based on percentage of similarity, and apps like Tinder tend to be more locationally-based.
Part of that defeats the purpose of online dating (dependent on why you’re using them), as a big part of the process is learning more about someone prior to the first date and trying to discern if you’d be a good fit or have any commonality. If you’re using online dating apps to simply find attractive singles in your area or a casual relationship, apps like Tinder may be better venues.
If you’re a female user, levels of unwanted contact and harassment or inappropriate behavior seems to be much lower here, especially compared to Tinder and Badoo. But ultimately I’d definitely recommend OKCupid, and feel it outperforms all of its competitors. Here is a look at some main pros and cons to bear in mind prior to download:
- Great middle of the road option, for daters seeking serious connections
- Great option for those new to online dating
- Seamless interface that’s easy to navigate and understand
- Low levels of lewd or inappropriate commentary or unwanted conversation
- Safety features such as blocking or reporting
- You can add up to 6 photos, write about yourself, and answer questions that matter to you
- The questions feature allows you to match with daters who are likeminded, and allows users to quickly establish any commonality
- You can set your own preferences, in terms of what you’re seeking in a match and age ranges or preferences
- If you have a certain “deal breaker” question you can eliminate those who have answered the question differently than you
- Very fast download speed time and easy to set up
- Different features allow you to match to others in different ways, so if proximity is your concern you can find users in your area, and if match percentage is your preference, you can also see numbers and chat with those who share the most similarities with you
- You can only see users who have liked your profile if you’re using paid features, however it’s important to bear in mind that you will always see mutual connections
Tinder has gained popularity for being a casual or “hookup” type app, and in using the app all of the connotations definitely proved true. This is an ideal app if you’re seeking something casual, and not looking for a very serious connection. In comparison to Match, Bumble, and OKCupid, users are much less formal and much less likely to be looking for serious connections or relationships.
If you’re not looking for anything serious, this is definitely an ideal app to get started with, and has the largest user base of any casual dating app.
Users tend to be attractive, and it’s important to note that some relationships have started on Tinder, but I generally hear people discussing meeting their partners (if it is a serious relationship) via other apps, particularly Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, and OKCupid.
With that in mind, the benefit to using this app is fast meet times, meeting those seeking similar relationships, and meeting users in your area.
The app is mostly locationally based, and does require a Facebook page to use and set up, so if you’re not keen on social media, you will need to set one up.
It’s most comparable to Badoo in terms of what users are looking for in general, but it tends to attract more attractive and smart candidates.
It’s important to bear in mind that you will have safety features such as blocking and reporting, however if you are a female user you can expect to have a high degree of lewd or unwanted comments and contact. If this is something that makes you very uncomfortable it’s probably best to get started with Match or OKCupid, which is much more tame and feels like contact is almost always mutual and appropriate.
The downfall of this app for me was definitely in being kicked off the site without any inappropriate behavior or conduct, and the customer service is very poor.
With that said, I do recommend this for anyone looking for very casual dating, and users who enjoy meeting up in person quickly. Here’s a look at some of the key pros and cons to bear in mind prior to download:
- Other than OKCupid, I have had the best dates using this app in comparison to other sites, and definitely met kind and smart people
- Users who are looking for locational matches will appreciate the area based matching (I was matched to two people on my block)
- If you’re looking for something casual or short term, this is an ideal app and you will likely find what you’re seeking quickly
- Users will find they meet up quickly, generally on the same day or in a few days
- Users tend to be attractive and smart, and there definitely seems to be a lot of users who have very good jobs that may keep them very busy
- If you’re too busy for serious dating or the timing is off, you can find other users who are transparent without running the risk of upsetting anyone else who may be seeking a more serious partner or different kind of relationship
- Even though it tends to attract casual users, there are some couples who have gotten into serious relationships using Tinder, they just tend to be in the minority
- I was banned from the app without any cause (many reviewers and users claim they experienced the same, and if you’re a paid user or someone who was chatting with someone without exchanging numbers, this is really disheartening)
- Female users can expect to have a lot of unwanted contact, commentary, and often lewd behavior, which can be uncomfortable, however you can always block and report users
- If you’re looking for a serious relationship or long term dating, this app may prove frustrating or disheartening
- The locational based matching system seems to lack any matching algorithm in terms of interest, hobbies, or likes
- Unless you’re using paid features, you cannot backtrack if you make a mistake and accidentally swipe left or right on someone
- You need a Facebook page to use the app
- The app can attract a lot of married people or those already in relationships, more so than any other app in the category I’ve used or tried previously
Badoo is an app and dating service I decided to try because it was suitable for desktop (or any computer) use, and most apps seem more suitable for phones. I deleted it after a few days of use as I found it to be, for lack of a better term, terrible.
Users were extremely inappropriate, the commentary was not at all unique or interesting, a lot of users seemed to be in relationships or married, and there was no clear factor of differentiation at all.
While we all try not to be judgmental or superficial in dating, if physical attraction matters a lot to you (at least initially), this app seems to draw in users who are average at best, and many do not appear to be healthy, or even happy. Female users can expect a high degree of harassment and annoying comments, and there is no matching algorithm at all, not even a locationally-based system.
You match with users in different states and cities, and the process is just confusing. It seems to attract people looking for pen pal type relationships and many do not want to meet in person, and use the site as a chatroom type platform.
Additionally, users can create private albums and nudity is allowed (however you can only view these photos by requesting the user with the album). There are also live stream options where you can get paid to stream video content for other users, and while I did not delve into this section much, there are definitely users getting paid for live streams free of any nudity or sexual content.
Some users are looking for new friends, but most seem to be interested in generally communicating via the internet, without any plans to meet in person.
I did not have any interesting conversations on this app, and you’re generally greeted with a very brief introduction, rude comment, or simply a comment on your appearance.
With apps like OKCupid, the extra space to fill out an entire profile may it easier to connect with those with shared interests, and users generally reach out to comment on some commonality, shared interest, and avoid simply saying “ur hot,” which is not unique or what I’m typically searching for in an app. I definitely do not recommend using this unless you actually want to chat with random people or make lewd comments, but other platforms like Reddit generally suffice for that category.
Users are given paid accounts for a few days, and even with the additional features, it’s still just bad. I would recommend any of the other dating apps covered in this review before Badoo.
Out of every single service, app, and product I have reviewed historically, this app had the longest list of negatives/cons. With that said, here are a look at some key positives and negatives to bear in mind:
- If you’re looking to simply chat with others online and form pen pal type connections, you might like this
- If you’re not actually looking to meet people in person for whatever reason, you might like this
- If you don’t like using apps on your phone, you may want to try it, however apps like OKCupid are generally just as good with desktop use
- You are allowed to add as many photos as desired without the typical 6 photo limit
- You can connect you’re social media accounts and Spotify account, if desired
- The “live stream” section features users streaming videos in real time, and you can get paid to do so
- Female users can expect a lot of harassment, unwanted contact, and lewd behavior, especially in comparison to other apps in the category
- High amount of fake profiles and scams
- High amount of scams targeting users for money and other valuables
- Depending on your personal preferences this may be a positive or negative, but unlike any of the other apps I have tried out or reviewed in the category, on this site users are allowed to have “private albums,” and nudity is allowed, however these photos are only available upon request and you do not have to view them (but presumably if you are connecting with someone you would be curious as to what they have in this collection)
- Many users are married or in relationships
- There is a setting where you can find profiles for anyone in your email contacts or social media accounts who may also be using the site, which is fairly creepy
- Profiles are very brief and it’s difficult to determine any information about a user based on such little information
- There is no algorithm that calculates matches, and there doesn’t seem to be any locational matching either
- You receive likes from people in different states and even countries
- Users do not actually seem to want to connect in person, and merely want to engage in banter and other forms of communication that seem to really lack value or purpose
- It’s difficult to listen to the noises when you get a new notification, and quite irritating and loud
- Most people are not looking to meet other users in person
Bumble is by far one of my favorite dating apps in a crowded category, and it was certainly unexpected as I had a high degree of trepidation prior to trying it out for the first time.
On Bumble, female users always initiate the first line and open the conversation, which was quite new to me, and I typically respond to messages on the receiving end. While I found it challenging to open or craft unique messages at first, I found most other users were very forgiving of the lack of experience, and it gave me a newfound appreciation for men using dating apps, as it’s not always easy to be the first one reaching out.
While this may not be a great app for female users who are afraid of always making the first move, it’s designed to completely eliminate unwanted contact and benefits both male and female users in a few ways.
Men can relax and expect to receive messages rather than always sending them, and women can prevent anyone from talking to them that they would not want to, which definitely reduces rates of harassment and lewd commentary.
The algorithm and matching system is more locational, but you can fill out a full profile to share your interests, hobbies, and values. You can be concise or expand on your thoughts and create a longer profile. In general, it’s similar to OKCupid in terms of offering a good middle of the road option, where users are not just seeking casual relationships, but also not looking to settle down immediately.
Overall, the user base is large which offers a lot of variety, and I’ve met a lot of kind and interesting people this way.
There are some interesting factors of differentiation with Bumble, aside from the female user establishing the first opening line.
There is a professional feature, where you can network with those in your industry (for free), or find mentors in different industries to learn new professional skills and gain new tools. There’s also a friends section where you can connect with those in your neighborhood or area, or meet locals if you’re traveling or have recently moved to a new area.
This is also good if you’re unsure if you’re ready for a relationship, or prefer to be friends prior to starting one. Unlike Badoo, users actually want to meet in person, and you can generally expect to meet up as soon as possible. It depends on the user and is highly variable, but most people want to meet up in under a week or so, and some will invite you to connect on the same day. I would highly recommend downloading this as well as OKCupid, if you’re looking for a genuine connection and a good middle of the road app.
It’s definitely better than competitors in the category, and a lot more serious than apps like Tinder or Badoo.
OKCupid Vs. Bumble
Out of all of the apps I have tried, OKCupid and Bumble were definitely the leaders of the pack, and proved to be the most successful.
While this is definitely a personal preference and based on your own unique needs or desires in a relationship, these are the two I would generally recommend over all of the others, and I would recommend downloading both and seeing what you’re personal preference is based on success rates and your own experience. With OKCupid, the matching algorithm based on questions is ideal if you’re looking for someone with a lot of commonality, shared values, and similar views. You can see how they have answered the questions and decide for yourself if any questions are deal-breakers or must-haves.
It’s a great middle of the road option, and you may find you like this if you’re not seeking a casual relationship, but are also not seeking a marriage immediately. Users are generally smart, well rounded, and the user base is quite large, so there’s a lot of variety. I’ve had a few 99% matches that seemed to be like male versions of myself. If you’re someone who generally is attracted to those with very different values or believes “opposites attract,” clearly this is not an ideal option. However, research has proven that this line of thinking tends to be a myth, and we usually get along best with those with shared interests and higher degrees of commonality.
The algorithm seems pretty strong, and while there are a few glitches, in general I’ve had the most luck with this app in comparison to all others.
With Bumble, this is an excellent addition to the category with a lot of unique factors of differentiation that make it quite unique to use.
There are benefits for both male and female users on this app, and it completely prevents women from ever receiving unwanted contact, lowering rates of lewd comments and harassment greatly. For men, it’s nice to have the option to not always have to lead the conversation, and using this app has definitely given me a newfound appreciation for a lot of the troubles men must experience using online dating apps. Whenever a mutual connection occurs via Bumble, you receive a “Boom!” notification and have 24 hours to start reaching out.
There are also options to connect with professionals in your industry, or simply network to make new friends, which is great if you’re traveling or have just moved to a new town or city. It’s not an app where users are all seeking either casual relationships or a very fast paced relationship that will lead to marriage immediately, so it’s ideal if you’re looking for a connection and some serious, but a relationship that offers balance and is based in timing. If I had to pick one app to use, it would be OKCupid, simply because there is no other matching algorithm that seems stronger, and the profiles are the most extensive, so it feels like really getting to know someone prior to meeting.
But Bumble is great as well, and definitely a second favorite.
In comparison to Tinder, both Bumble and OKCupid have more users seeking serious connections and stronger algorithms. In comparison to Badoo, there is really not much to compare. To reiterate, Badoo is bad.
The Final Verdict: Which App Is Best For You?
In trying to find the perfect dating app for you, it’s important to consider your personal desires and needs, and more so than anything, the type of connection or relationship you are seeking.
If you’re interested in casual dating, apps like Tinder are probably your best bet. If you’re seeking good middle of the road options, I highly recommend Bumble or OKCupid. If you’re trying to cut down on lewd comments or unwanted contact, I also recommend Bumble. If you’re looking to get paid to live stream and make pen pal type connections that are better off limited to Reddit forums, then you may like Badoo, but I feel like most people would not enjoy using this platform at all, as it masquerades as a dating app, but is really something uniquely different, and quite unpleasant to use.
If you’re seeking marriage very quickly, you may find users on OKCupid or Bumble, or you may be better off using a paid service like Match.com, where users tend to be very marriage oriented. You will find marriage oriented users on OKCupid and Bumble also, but it tends to be more of a progression, and done over a longer period of time, which is my personal preference.
You can try downloading a few apps at once to pinpoint your personal preference and go from there, or start with 1 or 2 so the process seems less overwhelming. For the winner, and based on personal preference,
I would download OKCupid if only given a single option, but would prefer to have the addition of Bumble if given the choice. Tinder and Badoo, the latter in particular, did not do much for me, and while I had a few dates via Tinder, they were very nice people but not generally very serious or what I was looking for. My single best date was found using OKCupid, and the matching generation seems stronger than any other platform in the category.
Irrespective of what you opt to download, it’s important to always bear in mind individual preferences and needs, and place an emphasis on safety above all else. It’s also important to not have a list of demands from a partner, set expectations far too high prior to a first date, and to have an idea in mind in terms of what you want from a prospective partner, as well as how you want to treat them.
It’s also important to not give up or become discouraged and exercise patience, as it would be fairly rare to settle down with the first or second person you meet, and all good things happen in time.