If you are “on the apps” like I am, then you’ve probably grown accustomed to many of the usual trends — ghosting, catfishing, and even Plenty of Fish‘s newly coined phrase “OnlyPlans,” which refers to repeatedly making plans with someone without following through. Personally, I can’t tell you how many photos I’ve swiped through featuring men proudly holding a freshly-caught fish or “I’ll fall for you” prompts that are finished with “if you trip me.” It all starts to feel pretty tired after a while. But sometimes dating apps do lead to positive, or at least interesting experiences that aren’t so run-of-the-mill. For example, my best friend Emily swiftly swiped right on a Tinder profile advertising a free, front row ticket to an NYC Paramore concert, and ended up at the show that same evening. The dude had flown in from Charlotte, NC and was seeking a one-night-only style date with zero expectations, save for full appreciation of Hayley Williams’s insane vocals. But, what if she wanted more than that . . . say, a lasting connection without an expiration date? How should she know which dating app is most useful for building a relationship with the type of person she’s looking for? How should any of us know?
That’s exactly why I began testing the waters, signing myself up for as many apps as I could to get a feel for each one. From taking notes about benefits only available to premium users (aka those who pay to upgrade for a weekly, monthly, or yearly fee) to analyzing my encounters in an effort to come up with a list of pros and cons — I’ve learned the ins and outs of nine different dating apps that are popular right now. Of course, there are more than nine and I’m not on Feeld, Lex, Chispa, or HER, so I conducted interviews with current members in order to write thorough reviews of those apps.
My research has led me to determine which platforms are best for developing long-term relationships, exploring sexuality, and finding quick hookups or even “situationships,” which Tinder has reported 49 percent of young singles (18-25 year-olds) added to their bios in the past year. Some dating apps, like Clover and Plenty of Fish, offer a livestream feature, where you can connect with new singles instantly, as a non-traditional way of getting to know each other. There are also apps that value stance on social and political issues, with Chispa designing profile badges to help people express their opinions and Tinder reporting that activism and voters rights interests both increased (84 percent and 37 percent respectively) in 2022.
Ahead, I’m breaking down the basics of each app so you know which one(s) to sign up for, whether or not it’s worth an optional payment plan, and what your profile just might reel in. Thankfully, no actual fish. At least not yet.