Welcome to Cuffing Season: How to Find Love in the World of Dating Apps
Updated: Sep 21
There is nothing like the impending season of the holidays to make you realize the fragility of being single. Maybe it’s the dropping temperatures, maybe it’s how fast the sun disappears - maybe it’s all the good cheer that makes you realize how tired you are of being alone. Whatever the reason might be, it’s cuffing season and it feels harder than ever to keep someone around.
Enter the world of dating apps. Your perceived soulmate seems to be just a few swipes away, but how do you know where to find them? This is where I come in. A year ago, I set out to try every dating app I could possibly find and then, I tried them. I navigated the good, the bad and the ugly so you don’t have to.
Now, I caution with this disclaimer before you go into my recommendations. I am doing this as a heterosexual, white woman. I also allow that for some (most) of these apps, there is a degree of user variability in what you do and don’t find appealing in a partner, and what someone would and would not find appealing in you. I might have more success on an app versus another based on whether the people on there like how I translate on the screen. So take it with a grain of salt. My word isn’t gospel...just pretty d*amn close.
The Apps Worth Your Time
Bumble holds a special place in my heart. Mostly because it’s the only app that I’ve had the highest amount of first dates with (we’ll save the second date challenge for another blog…) While the premise of the app is all about female empowerment (ladies, we get to send the first message, a dream come true!) it’s really not entirely different than any other swipe app. The biggest benefit is that if you don’t receive a response within 24 hours, the match expires. So while it stings that the man who you imagined a whole life with based off two mirror selfies and a fish photo has disappeared into the ether, at least it weeds out the good from the bad. Bumble also is the most detailed as being able to specify what you’re looking for in a match beyond age and location. Height, religion, how active they are - the sky’s the limit.
Guys have the magical ability to come across as more engaging on Bumble compared to other apps - even if that magic is shattered upon meeting. You can connect your Instagram, Spotify, answer questions about yourself. Everything just feels a little more legit on Bumble. And I can honestly say, the nicest men I’ve met have come from there. At least they still follow me on Instagram, even if they never plan on speaking to me again. You never know, they could change their mind someday.
I wanted to like Hinge the most. I really, truly did. The concept is the best setup for women. You’re limited to the number of likes you can give, eliminating the guys who get on apps just to swipe on every girl they see. You can answer three questions about yourself that people can like and respond to, giving it a step up from just a picture like. However, fewer likes mean fewer matches which means slower response times. Hinge just feels like a conversation app you can go back and forth forever on. Unless you are pursuing other apps, you’re not going to have dozens of men knocking the door down to talk to you, so it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of talking to the same person without really making plans. Still, I put it at the top because of how many success stories there are. It’s not for me, but it might be the perfect app for you.
Coffee Meets Bagel
This app is a little more niche, but the concept is appealing. Truly designed as an app to be deleted, you have eight days after matching to get your matches contact information before the conversation closes. You receive curated matches at noon every day based on profile matching. You’re able to like other users, but you’re limited to how many you can give in a day. If you’re looking for more curated interactions, this might be the app for you. Keep in mind, the app hasn’t hit the mainstream as the most popular, so there are fewer people to choose from. If you’re overwhelmed by the abundance of choice though, give it a shot. You might find the perfect bagel to your coffee!
Now this one is brand, baby new. So naturally, experience with it is still fairly minimal. However, in theory, this looks promising. Facebook has been capturing most of our data since we were preteens. What better way to find your match than through the app that has truly seen you evolve the most. With anything new, there is room for error. I put this as worth a shot simply because it is new but backed by enough power that it’s worth giving a shot. Users afraid of their Aunt Martha discovering their account need not to worry - the account is not posted to your Facebook unless you specify otherwise.
I’m giving Tinder a shoutout solely because of how mainstream it is. I also went into writing this thinking I had found the connection that I had been waiting for all my life - and then he updated his Tinder profile. Now I cry myself to sleep most nights. but that is neither here nor there.
The mindset on Tinder is that nobody is on there for anything serious. Even if he tells you he is, girl, he’s lying. Still, sometimes all you need is a bi-weekly snuggle for when the Texas temperatures drop to 64 degrees. Hello, Tinder. If you know what you’re going into, then you can have a good time with Tinder. Just be aware, when he says he’s not looking for anything serious, he really means it. You’re not going to change a Tinder boy - just take them as they are.
The Apps You Can Skip, Unless...
Match & eHarmony
I group these two together because they are the OG’s when it comes to dating platforms. They have the most users and the highest track of connecting couples for life. I know several success stories from both sites. Still, navigating these sites aren’t for the faint of heart. As you have to pay in order to use either one, make sure you are willing to dedicate time to using these. If you want to get legitimate, serious matches, you’ll have to spend some time doing it. You have the best chance of finding it through these platforms though. There's no swiping and answers are much more in-depth. If you’re willing to dedicate the time, you can find potential. Otherwise, you might sit this one out.
OkCupid is the millennial version of Match. You can answer a seemingly unlimited list of questions and get matched based on compatibility with another person. OkCupid gets to the heart of what matters to you - it can be overwhelming though. More options don’t necessarily mean better options and it’s easy to get down a rabbit hole of answering and over-analyzing question responses. If this set up sounds intriguing, give it a whirl. OkCupid is one of the few apps that allows the most self-expression and identity tags and can be as specific as you want it to be. Just get ready to be mulling through a lot of potential with little payoff.
The Apps You Don't Even Need to Bother Downloading
Badoo, Zoosk, Hily, Happn, The League, Plenty of Fish
Don’t even bother downloading these apps. Don’t type them in the app search bar, don’t click on the icons - just don’t. Seriously, there is nothing redeeming on these platforms. Either nobody is on them, the interface is convoluted, or ultimately I’m bitter because it’s been a year and The League still hasn’t accepted my application. I’m sorry I don’t have enough Instagram followers, I just need somebody to love. Honestly and truly though, there isn’t anything these apps offer that you won’t find ten times better on any of the other apps listed above. Save yourself the finger tapping. You’ll sleep better at night without them.
The dating world can seem like a never-ending scroll to find someone. In the words of comedian Jared Fried, "It's never been easier to find someone but harder to keep them." Still, if you never know when love will come tapping through your screen. So take a chance, download an app and find your boo for cuddle season.
Or sit around and wait a few more years for everyone to get uncuffed again. You never know, you just might be the perfect second wife. Until then, I'll just keep swiping.