By Dr. Laura McGuire
Greetings queerios, allies, and friends! In this special edition of Asking For A Friend, I’m going to take you on my personal tour of dating apps. I frequently get asked which dating apps or sites I recommend and, to be honest, I don’t often know which ones are the most “in” at the moment. But, as a relationship expert, sexologist, and a single-and-ready-to-mingle woman, I decided to dive in and share my digital dating experiences.
Full disclosure before we begin: these are my personal experiences. I am not receiving incentives or compensation from any of these apps or sites. I am a queer, cisgender woman, and I have almost exclusively dated women for the past four years of being single. I have used these apps in Florida, Texas, and New York. Each person’s unique preference, identities, and location will alter how they view these avenues for matchmaking. I am always clear in my dating profile that I am looking for a relationship, so my experiences don’t speak to hook-up culture. Thus, take everything I say with a grain of salt, and try using the apps through your own individual lens.
What it is: A dating app exclusively for queer women.
First Impressions: Women! So. Many. Women. If you’re a queer woman who has tried online dating, you know how hard it is to find other queer women in your area on mainstream apps. You try and you try, only to be left with about three options. On HER, there are plenty of women around you at all times, and matching goes pretty quickly. Plus, if you’re shy, the app even gives you conversation starters to get things moving with your matches.
Overall Thoughts: This is definitely my favorite dating app when I’m exclusively looking for queer women. Sometimes, I’ll open the app just as a self-esteem booster. (In some places, I’ll get about 20 likes a day—that feels divine!) You also aren’t required to fill out a pesky “about me” section. The con is that the app doesn’t include indicators as to what type of relationship (or hook up) each woman is looking for and, despite the suggested conversation starters, I rarely get actual dates from the app—no one steps up to meet in person! But, the app does host parties in select cities, so you can try your luck in-person if there’s one near you.
What it is: A more prestigious version of Tinder.
First Impressions: Do you want to feel like an ugly underachiever? Yes? Well, join Bumble! Everyone here is so freakin’ good looking and they all have seriously legit careers. At first, I really liked that. Who wouldn’t? But I soon found many of my matches to be really full of themselves. The few nice folks I interacted with, however, were definitely looking more long-term relationships and serious commitments.
Overall Thoughts: As someone who has kids and a career, I liked the maturity level of many of the people I saw on Bumble. However, I didn’t find many queer women, trans, or non-binary folks, so I’m not sure how much this one has caught on with the LGBTQ community.
What it is: This is the funniest and most plentiful app I have encountered. Lots of info, fun quizzes, and cheerful aesthetics.
First Impressions: I may be biased, because this one is my favorite! I love to ask people a million questions, so this site is my jam. The site asks you tons of interesting and personal questions on every imaginable topic and then uses that information to see how compatible you are with potential matches in your area. They also give you great writing prompts to help you fill out your profile. My favorite is the “I’m often thinking about…” prompt. My answer? “How to marry Rachel Maddow.”
Overall Thoughts: I have made some really good friends on here—it’s definitely a place you can make platonic connections, too—as well as a number of dates. I will warn you—when I switched from seeing only women to all genders, I got about 1,000 likes in 36 hours. It was overwhelming, to say the least. I turned it off after that. But, there are lots of LGBTQ members on here, so hooray for that!
What it is: The classic for millennials.
First Impressions: I like this site because it doesn’t mess around. The people on here are ready for serious relationships and to settle down. I have met some really gorgeous and smart women on here, but none have led to relationships.
Overall Thoughts: Sadly, Match.com seems to be on the decline, as I can never find too many people in my area on the site. Still, it’s definitely worth a try. Though their membership fees are high, they do offer a refund if you don’t find anyone you like.
What it is: A place to find sex.
First Impressions: I hate it. It’s like the worst of humanity had a convention and they’ve all gathered together on this app.
Overall Thoughts: I have a former coworker who met her long-term partner on here, so I hear it’s not all bad. But if your main objective is to find someone to rub yourself against, this might be the perfect place for you.
What it is: A place for crunchy hippies to find love.
First Impressions: This is the first dating app I ever used. The first girl I messaged ended up moving across the country to be with me, and was my first-ever girlfriend. This site directly asks whether being a vegan and recycling are important to you. But, being a rather crunchy granola gal myself, I tend to find lots of like-minded people on here, even though it’s a rather small and unknown site.
Overall Thoughts: This one is definitely niche, but I like it for that reason. If other, more mainstream, apps and sites make you feel too “out there,” this may be your bliss. The site has lots of open-minded and queer folks, but is overall small in size.
Two other not-exactly-dating sites I find fascinating are Seeking Arrangement (SA) and FetLife. SA is interesting if you refuse to date for free. It’s a sugar baby/sugar daddy site and, if you can get past some of the gross old sleezeballs on here, I know many people who have found nice partners with a mutually-beneficial twist. FetLife is for those who are into the kink/BDSM scene. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s not for you. You will see many up-close-and-personal photos of members’ genitals, lots of bruises, and sex toys. But if you are kinky and want to find supportive play partners and friends, this can be a great avenue to do so!
I hope this list helped wet your appetite for finding love. Dating is challenging, exhausting, and overwhelming, but know you aren’t alone in your journey. Have fun and don’t take any of it too seriously! After all, we’ll probably meet our soul mates at the grocery store. Happy hunting!