If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have been on quite the journey exploring dating apps. I tried my first one not too long before the pandemic started. I know, fantastic timing. Eventually, I landed a relationship that I was excited and confident about, then had a very unexpected breakup after four months. After taking a beat, I tried the dating apps again.
I previously shared a few of my struggles dating as a Christian and it resonated with so many of you. It can feel intimidating or taboo to try online dating, especially as a Christian, and it doesn’t have to be!
This post is a long one but I hope it’s helpful for you. I’ll review the ten – yes, ten – dating apps I tried or used. I decided to keep it all in one post as a reference. I’ve been sitting on this post for a long time and a while back, I thought about trying one of these apps again. I reread what I wrote here and decided it wasn’t a great idea. Let my experiences help us all! 🙂
I shared before that I tried Hinge, Bumble, and Match. That list has now expanded to include: OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, Coffee Meets Bagel, Christian Mingle, Upward, and Iris. I hadn’t heard of most of them before I tried them and the guy I dated last year? We met on Hinge.
This post will not cover every feature of each app (some have changed since I tried them) however, I will do my best to point out what worked for me, what didn’t, and ultimately my experience. Here are my thoughts on the most popular dating apps and sites.
For this app, you share six photos and answer a few prompts along with some basics (religion, age, height, location, etc.). You can also connect your Instagram account which shows up at the bottom of your profile. I chose not to add my Instagram but with all that, you get quite a bit of info about people.
Hinge shows one profile at a time to you. You can like something on a profile and have an opportunity to send a message too or you can pass. It’s very easy peasy, no swiping involved!
For the free version, you can see the number of people who sent a like or message however, you only see one at a time from the latest like or message. You accept the match or decline in order to see the next one. Once you’ve matched, either of you can message. For additional charges ($20/month I believe), you can see them all at once.
After matching, the message interface is basic so you can’t send photos, gifs, etc., which is another win to me. No strange or…questionable… pictures, if you know what I mean. Hinge now offers video and audio calls within the app, which is helpful if you don’t want to change platforms or provide your phone number to continue the conversation beyond texts.
Another nice feature is you can hide matches/conversations. I usually talk to more than one guy at a time so if a conversation fizzles out or I get ghosted, I hide the conversation. If I match with a guy but he doesn’t send a message after a day or two, I hide it. For me, it’s helpful to clear the clutter and only focus on the conversations I’m actually having. If they end up messaging, it appears with the others and any chat history is still there.
Another big perk about Hinge: you can identify preferences and even set dealbreakers. I look for someone about my age up to 7 years older, Christian, within 60 miles of me, and preferably taller than me. My dealbreakers are distance and not being a Christian. I briefly adjusted the height and age to include guys a little shorter or younger than me. So hey, no one can say I didn’t try!
With Hinge, you have the option to pause your profile without deleting it. This has been nice when I’m already having a few conversations or just want to take a break.
So what about the upgrades or paid version? I did pay for one month, and if I remember correctly, the only major difference was that you can see all your likes/messages at once. To me, paying extra wasn’t worth it so my opinion is to save your money. The free version is just fine. And again, seeing everything one at a time cuts down the analysis paralysis – you’re either interested or you’re not. 🙂
The best part to me about Hinge: a guy can like your profile and/or send an initial message but that’s it. You have to match to continue the conversation and without that match, he can’t see your profile again. I really appreciate that the access to me and my profile is limited.
I also really appreciate how simple the interface and experience is on Hinge. Instead of seeing a long list of profiles, they appear one at a time. It cuts analysis paralysis for me to see profiles one by one.
I don’t do well with the swipe left/swipe right dealio on other apps. I accidentally send rogue swipes when I’m just trying to see the full profile. Overall, I like how you can easily see a person’s entire profile on Hinge and either click the “x” button or send a like.
Another super helpful thing: you can’t see the likes you send out. There’s no way to know if the guy saw your like, checked out your profile, declined the invitation to chat, or anything. You just hit a button and poof, you won’t hear anything unless they match with you. For me, this also helps cut down my overthinking.
After browsing for a while, I felt like I was scraping the bottom of the humanity barrel. Keep in mind that I’m in a college town and don’t want to date beyond a 60 mile radius, so my options might be limited compared to your area. As I clicked “no” through profiles, the app obviously ran out of options that match my filters.
I found, and heard from friends too, that solid profiles become harder to come by the longer you use the app without breaks. When I paused my profile, I felt like it had more options again when I came back. If you find yourself hitting a wall, pause your profile and try again after a bit.
I also really appreciate how you only get two notifications: likes and messages. No notification overwhelm here. You’ll see what I mean by that as I review other apps.
If you’re going to try online dating, Hinge is the one I recommend, hands down. With Hinge, I’ve had the most productive conversations, most dates, and overall the best results. The filters and profiles are helpful so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time.
I give Hinge 4.5/5. My only thing is once I ran out of decent profiles, you can tell it was running out of options for me that matched what I was looking for. I wish it just stopped showing me profiles instead of showing me random humans.
I know I talked about this one a lot and promise the rest of the reviews aren’t as hefty. Let’s move on!
I tried this app soon after I started online dating and didn’t like it at all. So much that I deleted it after 10 minutes. But when the dating pool with Hinge seemed to be drying up, I started trying out other apps and revisited Bumble. I set up a new profile, paid for one week, and decided more firmly: I really don’t like this app.
Bumble actually offers three different versions: business network, date, or find friends. I haven’t tried those other avenues but it’s interesting that they offer that.
With Bumble, you post photos, an About Me section, basic info (height, location, exercise, drinking/smoking habits, pets, kids, politics, religion, etc.), and answer some prompts if you want. You can connect your Instagram and Spotify accounts too. From my understanding, there isn’t any requirement to set up your profile, other than your location.
In order to see profiles, you have to share your location. So if you travel, your options change to whoever is around you. I personally didn’t like this. Regardless of where I am, I want to see people around where I live.
Bumble is a swiping situation. Swipey swipe. You see one profile at a time and must swipe yes or no before seeing the next profile. Like I said before, I don’t like swiping. And instead of a “normal” swipe right, you can choose to send a star, or a SuperLike, to show you’re reaaaaally interested. Ya know, like middle school. You don’t just like someone, you like like them.
You can send likes for free but you can’t see matches without paying. I believe the only way you’d be able to have a conversation with someone without paying a subscription is if they pay to see matches and accept your like. Without paying, you can only set a few filters: age, distance, and two “advanced” filters like religion, height, etc. or you can choose to only view verified profiles. To verify your profile, you take a few selfies in the app. You can mark if any of these filters are dealbreakers.
The shtick with Bumble is it lets women make the first move. So guys can like your profile, but you have to message them first to open the door. In my opinion, Hinge does that too but better because you don’t HAVE to pay money to see matches.
My biggest stink about this app is that you can see the number (up to 50, after that it doesn’t show the number) of people who have liked your profile, but can’t see them at all until you pay up. And matches expire! If you match with someone and neither of you start a conversation within the first 24 (maybe 48) hours, you lose the match. You can pay money to get another chance if you want. But I think that’s bogus.
You can also pay extra for features like Spotlight where you’re supposedly at the front of the queue for 30 minutes to potential matches. For $50, you can get 30 spotlights. You can try it out for $5.99/each or select from other bundles.
You could also choose to pay for Boost, which get you 1 Spotlight, 5 SuperSwipes, unlimited swipes, a second chance to chat with expired matches, and more time to chat with matches. There are bundles for this set of features starting at $7.99/week up to $47.99/6 months.
I believe that gives you a rundown of the app, so let’s move on to my thunks.
I find all the features and extra charges to be confusing and unnecessary. But, to commit and give this app a chance, I did pay for one week. Pleeeeenty of guys sent likes but I only matched with two. Of the two, only one struck up a conversation and it felt more like an interview. By the end of the week, he hadn’t asked for a phone call or meetup. So I paid $18 for one conversation that went nowhere. Woo…
You’ll see as we continue through this post that paying does NOT mean you get better results. It gets confusing and muddies the waters when you can pay extra for other features, like SuperLikes, Spotlights, SuperSwipes, or whatever else. Maybe my 30 year old butt just can’t keep up with these apps, but it’s confusing! I want to set up a simple profile, see potential matches, and have conversations. That’s it! Anything beyond that feels needless. It’d be one thing if the extras worked but I didn’t feel it was money well spent when I tried.
I give this app a 2/5. It wasn’t as overwhelming as others, but I don’t like swiping, paying to see matches, and constantly getting bombarded to pay more. I know plenty of other people like Bumble, but that’s just my two cents.
If you read my previous post, you know I also really don’t like Match. Talk about overwhelming, holy cow.
Let me paint a picture for a second. It was a Friday night. I didn’t have plans. The Netflix and wine were good. I figured, let’s try a different dating app. Match was the winner for my next online dating adventure.
I’m mindin’ my business. Picking cute pictures and writing fun, thoughtful responses for the prompts. I save my profile and see if there’s anything I want to tweak. Interesting…I’m getting notifications already. I didn’t realize my profile was necessarily out there in the universe yet. I’m getting messages too. Wait. There are time-stamped notifications on who’s viewing my profile? Umm, some are viewing my profile multiple times? Weird. I have a dozen messages now? Okay, let’s scroll through those real quick. Eh, not interested in these guys. Maybe I need better filters. More messages already? More views and likes on my profile too? Most of these guys look like they’re trapped in their mom’s basement, come on! Now TWO guys saw that I read their message without responding and are calling me out? What the what?? It’s been 20 minutes! I need a break.
So yeah, I didn’t have fun.
One big thing that makes Match different than Bumble or Hinge is that you browse pages of profiles at once. I didn’t see a way to clear through potential matches so I’d have pages of results that were a no for me. To me, that’s annoying.
You get allllll sorts of notifications. Not only for likes and messages, but even time-stamped notifications on the views your profile is getting. So if someone is looking at your profile over and over, you’ll know it.
You can choose to pay for additional features like read receipts, where you can tell if someone has read your message. Within minutes of my profile being published, two different guys called me out for not responding to them. One was pretty rude, the other just wished me luck. But still! I personally felt like it was weird that a stranger could be notified that I was ignoring them. I felt like I was being watched or there was a pressure to respond – a pressure I didn’t experience on other apps.
I have three issues with apps like Match: notification overload, way too much access to me/my profile, and lack of working filters. Match was the first paying app I tried and regretted it after 20 minutes. I figured that if I paid for an app, I would get better results with people who are more serious and intentional with dating. Wrong. Oh so wrong.
First, the notifications are insane. I found it overwhelming and not helpful at all.
Second, there’s way too much access to me and my profile without many safeguards. I didn’t like the fact that anyone could message me. Not only that, but they could tell if I read their message and could message again? I didn’t like that the door was open to keep hounding me or be rude.
I already can hear some of you going, “Well, what if a nice guy does message. Isn’t it a good thing he can follow up?” To that I say: no! If a decent guy comes along, and I am interested, I respond. If I wasn’t interested, I wouldn’t. It’s pretty simple. If I sent a message or like and he didn’t respond, I’d move along. Apps like this, that keep all doors open, can become a breeding ground for overthinking and trouble.
This is why I like Hinge: you don’t get to review profiles over and over. You don’t get to send multiple messages or likes to the same person. And I got to say yes or no to potential matches. If I said no, that was it. With Match, you don’t get that first safeguard.
I will say that I wasn’t doing the work to block or report people. Even if I decided I wasn’t interested in someone, they could still look at my profile and message. And because you get a notification for every profile view, like, and message, it felt chaotic. Could I have weeded people out and blocked them? Sure, but I also felt like I shouldn’t have to spend my time doing that.
My experience with Match was the first time I got nervous about online dating.
I got nervous that I’d ignore or tick off the wrong person and they’d do something. Maybe I’ve watched too much Criminal Minds and true crime, but the way apps like this are set up make me nervous. Just because some guy messages or likes my profile doesn’t mean he has the right to have access to me and this setup lets guys feel like they do. I don’t like that at all. Thankfully, I only had a few rude messages. But it’s sad that I’m saying only a few, right?
Finally, my filters weren’t honored at all. I said I’m looking for a guy within 50-60 miles, around my age, and is a Christian. I got messages from all over the world, from men older than my dad and as young as 18, and very few listed as Christian. Oh and a woman even messaged me.
By the end of the month, I received somewhere between 250-300 likes and I lost count of the messages. That probably sounds like a weird brag, but it didn’t feel flattering at all. I only went on one date after messaging for a few days and we mutually ghosted each other afterward. I used it for the month I paid and it didn’t feel productive at all.
So to sum up, I think apps like Match are a hot mess. 0/5. Do not recommend.
If you’ve read this far, you’re a trooper! I know I had briefly talked about my experience on these three apps on my previous post but really wanted to do a deeper dive into my review so you have a better understanding if you decide to try them out.
I don’t have nearly as many thoughts for the rest, I promise. Most dating apps are pretty similar to each other so I’ll try to focus more on what I found unique or different. Most were major flops for me. The stories. Oh, the stories…
This one makes me salty because holy cow, can we say expensive?
So this app was actually recommended by a friend who knows a couple who met on eHarmony. So hey, it works, right? eHarmony markets itself as the #1 trusted dating app since it uses compatibility scores to show you smart matches. This friend told me that it also has a money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied in the first few days. *This is not true.* I was NOT pleased with my initial matches and didn’t feel like it was worth the money so I started jumping through the hoops to get my money back.
Turns out, I didn’t read the terms too closely when I chose and paid the 6 month plan. I know, that’s my bad. Apparently there are very few states where you can get that refund. And even then, I bet there’s more criteria in order to get out of the plan you choose. Always read the fine print, people! Learn from my mistakes and trust your gut too. I ignored my radar that something was up with the lengthy terms and conditions.
When you start on the site, it says that you start for free however, you can’t really do anything without paying. You choose between a six, twelve, or 24 month plan. I chose the 6 month plan which totaled $206.56, even after the “promo” they had. I was pretty dang salty when I learned I was locked in and could not get my money back.
Here’s my thing though: if this is the #1 trusted dating app and is so effective because of the compatibility score, why lock people in to such long plans? There isn’t a monthly option so I find that incredibly sketchy. Or as my girl Bailey Sarian would say: suspish.
In some ways, this felt very similar to Match so I won’t rehash all the things because we all know how much I like Match.
For my area and criteria, my initial matches were less than impressive. I did meet one guy and we went on a few days but ultimately that fizzled out. He’s a great guy and we are still friends on Facebook and it’s really fun to see how he’s doing and what he’s up to. There are very few guys from my online dating attempts that I genuinely enjoy seeing or hearing about so that’s cool.
That guy is the only one I met up with or chatted with. It’s the most money I dished out for a dating app and, for me and what I’m looking for, I didn’t get out of it as much as I thought. So I give it 0/5. I cannot justify the cost and I feel burned. Next!
This one felt like a broken record for me. It’s very similar to Bumble where you have to pay for a premium account to see matches and there are other features like super likes, boosts, etc. AKA all the bogus junk (in my opinion).
Each profile has a percentage score to indicate compatibility. You can then expand that score to see how many topics you agree and disagree on. Then on top of answering basics and a short summary, you can answer 500+ questions. You can set preferences for your ideal person and identify dealbreakers with a premium account.
There’s a score they call the IQupid to gauge how complete your profile is. It also lets you know the highest possible match based on the questions you’ve answered. So if you’re a numbers person, you might enjoy this.
There are different categories of profiles to browse through like: recommended, Cupid’s picks, likes you, match %, new people, online, and nearby. Then more categories like vaccinated, pro-choice, passport, etc. You can see some categories without paying but some require a badge which you earn by answering relevant questions. For example, to get the vaccinated badge you answer a few questions then get to see others who have earned that badge. If those categories are deal breakers for you then I guess it’s a good way to narrow the pool down.
You can’t see who likes you unless you pay however, you can see who has sent an introduction message to you. You can also see the likes you’ve sent out.
Honestly, I find both the app and website to be really confusing. It just feels like every corner of this app has a lot going on. There are different places to see intros versus messages. So many categories to browse through. And silly features like super likes and boosts. I just find it overwhelming and not helpful.
I did the bare minimum to set up a profile to scope this app out and in the hour, I got about 70 likes and a handful of intros. Nothing interested me enough to stick around. I give this a 1/5 because at least you can browse profiles and read intros sent to you. My preferences weren’t honored though so I was getting intros from guys that aren’t Christian or looking for anything including hookups and friendships. No thanks!
Similar to OkCupid, there are lots of categories and you can earn badges for answering questions like vaccination status. This app puts an emphasis on your location so they tend to push those who are closer to you. And similar to others, you can see messages but have to pay to see likes or those who are interested in you. You can also pay for extra features like read receipts.
I find the biggie features and differences for this app to be SO odd.
First, you can go live on this app. You can also see who’s live and watch. And they can be anyone from anywhere. Doesn’t sound sketchy at allllll, right? And they push it a lot right along with those who are near your location!
Second, you get notifications on who likes you AND who views your profile. We know already that I don’t like that. You also get separate alerts so you know AGAIN if someone sent a message or liked your profile. It’s just redundant and weird to me.
Third, you browse profiles one-by-one but instead of seeing a name along with the photo, you get a headline. Which can be anything. Most people put nonsense or something like “ask” or “seeing what’s out there.”
Finally, there didn’t seem to be a helpful way to set preferences and I didn’t find a way to note deal breakers.
My experience on Plenty of Fish (PoF) was just…cringey. Many cringe. Much bad.
So I mentioned on this app that you set a username. My first name was already taken so I included my middle name and a number. Big mistake. For safety reasons, I highly HIGHLY recommend never publicly posting your full name or identifying where you work. I figured my middle name was generic enough and welp, I was wrong.
Because of the different websites I have and this app zeroes in on your location, someone googled my first and middle name plus the town I’m in and within a few clicks, found who I am, where I work, etc. This person already struck out with me within a few comments but then made it known that he found who I am. I was uncomfortable already but that pushed me over the edge.
I know it’s not hard to track someone down and I’m putting myself out there on these apps and even more so by having a blog and site like this however, this was flat out creepy and wrong. So I politely said that I hope he finds what he’s looking for and I am not interested. He sent a rude comment back then unmatched with me.
Here’s the issue: when he unmatched, the conversation disappeared. That made me really uncomfortable. I managed to take a screenshot before he unmatched and I sent to some friends to show the shenanigans but honestly? My head immediately went to some true crime scenario where this guy tracks me down and does something. And with him unmatching with me, would anyone know to contact Plenty of Fish to see all my chat histories? I don’t know and I felt really bothered and unsettled about it.
Separately, I was having one conversation that I thought was going in the right direction. We had been consistently messaging for about a week so I felt comfortable giving him my phone number. I let him know I had a bizarre incident and wanted to delete my profile so if he wanted to continue our conversation, he could text me directly. This guy told me he wasn’t ready for a phone relationship.
Cue the red flags, right? I reiterated that I simply wanted off the app because something else made me feel unsafe and I just wanted off the app but wanted to continue our conversation. I didn’t mean to rush things, I just wanted to change how we texted. He sent a long paragraph saying he thinks I’m cool and he’ll think about texting but right now, he’s not ready for a phone relationship.
Well, okay then…so yeah. I never heard from him again.
Aside from that, when I dug around on preferences and settings, I noticed you’re automatically sending notifications when you view someone’s profile. You have to turn that off if you don’t want that. When I saw this, I was actually digging to try to find how to delete my account. Overall, I just felt a bit too on display and didn’t like that at all.
As you can see, my experience with PoF was unsettling and pretty bizarre. For many reasons, I didn’t find it helpful and I wasn’t encouraged by the quality of guys on it either.
When I wanted to delete my profile, I couldn’t figure out how and had to Google it. You have to jump through hoops to not only unsubscribe email notifications, not send notifications out you may not want, or keep yourself remotely safe on this app but also have to dig to remove yourself. It actually made me a little angry.
0/5. Do not recommend.
Upward (formerly known as FTH) was the last app that I gave a fair shot. I would say this is basically a Christian version of Bumble. And guess what? I still don’t like swiping apps, haha.
For free, you can send likes and if they like you as well, then you match and can start a conversation. If you want to see your likes, you have to pay. And if I remember correctly, women have to send the first message.
I matched with about a dozen guys and only had two conversations that really went anywhere. One led to a few video chats and the other led to a few dates but both ultimately fizzled out.
This one is pretty iffy for me. I don’t like the swiping setup but I didn’t find it as overwhelming or hard to navigate like Christian Mingle. If I were to recommend a Christian dating app, this is the one I’d point to first. I spent a few months on this one and, likely due to my preferences, I just didn’t get much traction with this one. So I say eh, it’s alright.
Y’all. Words cannot describe how confused I am about this app. I quite literally can’t describe it to you, it was that weird to me. There’s unique then there’s just…confusing. I just want to see/share some basic info, pictures, and have some conversations. Why ya gotta make it weird?
0/5. Do not recommend. If you understand this app, please feel free to comment.
Basically just scroll back up to eHarmony and throw in more Christians, and you have Christian Mingle. Notification overload and all. I got some of the weirdest messages on this one and again, maybe it’s just with the area I’m in, but I did not have ANY success with this app. Not one I’m quick to recommend to anyone.
I saw an ad for this on Instagram. It starts off by having you go through stock photos and you select if each is attractive to you or not. Yep. Where previous apps maybe started with your location to find matches or dealbreakers, this one starts with attraction. It tries to match you with someone who you find attractive from anywhere in the world. And you only get to post photos and a few things you like and don’t like. There isn’t much info or substance on profiles because it’s all about attractiveness.
The curious part of me can appreciate that this app starts off so differently than others however, it wasn’t helpful for what I’m trying to find.
When I got my results, I didn’t find most to be attractive and they were from all over the place. Some guys liked my profile but I didn’t start any conversations. I was on it for maybe 20 minutes total so I don’t really recommend it.
Short answer: yes and no. Not to sound like a fortune cookie, but only you can know if you’re ready and willing to try.
If you’re thinking about diving into the online dating pool yourself, know that you might wade around for a bit and that’s okay! I feel like there are two types of peeps on dating apps: those that end up dating someone from the first few matches orrrrr the ones that are on/off dating apps for a while. I’m in the second camp.
Collectively, I actively tried these over the course of a year and a half. In that time, hundreds of guys liked my profiles or messaged me. I estimate that I matched and talked with over 100 guys. All that talking produced about 20-25 first dates (including phone or video calls – yay covid), maybe a dozen second dates, and a few third dates. At this time, I am not on any and am taking a break for a while.
Dating should be fun! And for the most part, I’ve had fun. If you try any of these and it stops being fun, I encourage you to pause or delete them.
If you’ve tried dating apps, which one(s) have you tried? What was your experience? Are you more or less likely to try one after reading this post? What questions do you have? Let me know in the comments!