True love in the digital age is just too hard to find. At least that’s what the self-appointed experts would have you believe. It seems that everywhere you turn there’s a new think piece eulogizing good, old-fashioned romance, giving all those technophiles who use their TiVOs to tape Leave It to Beaver a platform to gripe about how much better things were back in their day.
True, an embarrassment of riches has given the lovelorn more opportunities than ever to get distracted by the next dashing stranger that comes along. But on the flip side, the sheer number of worthwhile apps also means that there is a dating service out there for everyone, whether a single guy or gal wants to bond over a crazy first date idea or strike up an actual, in-person conversation at the nearest coffee shop. (How quaint.)
Here are 10 apps that go a step beyond your typical OKCupids and eHarmonys to prove that it has only gotten easier to date in the digital age. Get ready to have a very busy social calendar.
Want to go treasure hunting at a local flea market or gorge on gourmet mac and cheese? HowAboutWe uses shared interests as the basis for meeting that special someone, letting you post an idea for a dream first date and find a like-minded person interested in said offline adventure. (Each day you’ll also receive other people’s date ideas that might be up your alley.) With plans for meeting No. 1 out of the way, the real bonding can begin.
For some, beauty is still mostly skin deep. Those who feel that way can try to stoke the flames of romance with Tinder, an app from the same parent company behind Match and OKCupid, which shoots your picture to a guy or gal nearby. If you each give other a virtual thumbs up, Tinder makes an intro. If not, you’ll never know, saving you from the embarrassment of rejection. Sure, it’s more of a meat market than a meet market, but so is going out for drinks every Saturday night.
The newest bar or restaurant in the neighborhood is always the place to be, and what’s true in the “real” world is just as true for dating apps. Launching just in time for Valentine’s Day, Hinge examines your Facebook profile and recommends friends of friends who might strike your fancy. Should you each give a profile pic a favorable rating (on a 1-5 scale), a meeting is arranged. Finally, you can capitalize on all of those hours of pretending to look busy at work while you were really tweaking your Facebook profile.
This hunger-inducing app is online dating with a dash of Groupon, once again using your Facebook connections to mine for a potential match. And like mining, CoffeeMeetsBagel makes every discovery precious by suggesting just one person a day. If you choose to pass, you can hope for better luck 24 hours later. But if you like the person (and he/she likes you back), you each get a private text that leads to free goodies at local dating spots. Translation: even if the date is a disaster… free cupcakes!
It isn’t every day that a humble smartphone app is called one of America’s Most Promising Companies by Forbes. Tagged has over 300 million members that can bond over similar interests while playing simple games with names like Pets, Café and Mafia. Soon, the people who connect via the Meet Me option (2.4 million per day) are sending each other unlimited free winks and chats or spending cash to exchange virtual gifts. Hey, even in the cyber world love will cost you.
Save the unmitigated trust for after the wedding. Until then, the power of technology can be harnessed to make sure you’re not wasting your time on weirdos. Simply enter a phone number or email address and DateCheck gets to work, scouring public databases to let you know if your companion has a criminal record, actually owns that house or is lying about his real birth year. As the DateCheck website says, it’s “like having a private investigator right in your purse.”
MeetMoi is the current king of location-based online dating, tracking where you are and what you’re doing and sending you a notification when a possible match is nearby. Decide to chat with the person and you could be minutes away from an in-person interaction—the polar opposite of the stigma some give to high-tech dating. Plus, its new Wingman feature recognizes that there is strength in numbers by allowing whole packs of friends to be introduced to other nearby groups.
Still less than a year old in the USA, London-based Badoo is the world’s fastest growing social network, letting its 172 million users (and growing by 125,000/day) meet, chat and hit it off. With members from 180 countries, it’s perfect for that jetsetter who’s tired of wiling away hours at the hotel bar during business trips. Free users can reach out to 10 people a day, but pony up for the power of Rise Up and you’ll be more prominent in other people’s searches. Let’s see you try that at the bar.
Why spend hours scrolling through profile after profile when there’s an app to do the heavy lifting for you? Instead of using some mystery algorithm that might be as scientific as plucking names out of a hat, SpeedDate lets you find out firsthand if the chemistry is there. Just answer some basic questions about yourself, upload a photo and meet other singles through five-minute speed dates (live chats). Since the mobile app uses GPS data to connect you to men or women who are nearby, an actual meeting can happen at any moment.
Let’s be honest: it might take a date or twelve before you find Mr. or Ms. Right. Thankfully, you can have an automatic out with this app. DateEscape is like a more reliable version of your BFF, calling or texting you at a pre-set time just in case you need to make a getaway. (Pre-recorded audio even makes it sound like someone is really on the line.) The worst-case scenario: you’re hitting it off, ignore it and make your date feel special. The best? You have an excuse to head for the hills.