You know Tinder. Right? By this point, late night comedians and your dad have driven the “swipe right” jokes into the ground. You probably long ago downloaded and deleted Bumble, too, and dabbled in the more-intimate-but-still-vapid dating pool available to you on Hinge. It’s onto greener pastures—not as green as actually being in a fulfilling relationship, but still a brighter hue than those of your past dating app experiments. And the newest dating apps (or features) you can find in 2020 are certainly trying to be more colorful.
According to a Pew Research Center study, 12 percent of Americans reported having entered into a committed relationship with someone they met on an app, a number that’s either dismally low or remarkably high, depending on how cynical you are about love. Sociologically, dating apps give us another perspective on where we stand as daters. And where we stand is disgruntled, but not yet brow-beaten. There’s seemingly still a growing market for dating apps that offer something a little different from the most popular ones—dating apps for people with stomach issues, dating apps for people who want to safely share explicit images, dating apps for farmers and Christians and farming Christians. (Not for nothing, but there’s also a growing appetite for off-the-rails dating shows. For example, Love Is Blind.)
The following 10 dating apps are some of the best, most innovative options that have launched in the last year or will roll out nationally soon. They don’t flip dating on its head and make it suddenly easy or automatically fulfilling, but they do change up the rules. Perhaps the latest and greatest will appeal to you. But if not, there are always the go-to dating app standards, which you can find here.
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How do you feel about giving Facebook control over your love life? A-okay? Then great, Facebook date away. You create a separate dating profile within your real profile, and then the algorithm pulls info about your attended events, active groups, and interests on Facebook to set you up with matches—none of whom are your current friends, unless you opt into a Secret Crush option. Cute. The success of this newer feature from the massive social media company depends upon how active you are on the platform. Some of us are very, some of us haven’t touched it in months.
Lex, a dating app for pretty much anyone who doesn’t identify as straight and/or cisgender, first existed as an Instagram account for personal ads inspired by those of decades past. From there, it morphed into a crowd-funded app called Personals that recently rebranded as Lex, where text ads are emphasized more than image-driven profiles. On it, you can filter and search based on your dating preferences, post your own ad, connect to your Instagram (but only if you want), and message other users within the app. It’s a close as you’ll get to recreating the queer personal ads and missed connections of the ’80s and ’90s on a modern platform.
The Round tips its hat to dating logistics. During a session, you have a 10-minute “matchmaking round” to check out pre-selected profiles and pick your best match. When you do, the app will prompt you to set up an actual, in-real-life date at an actual location with your match within the next 48 hours. It might just curb that conversational burnout you inevitably get on other apps—you know, the one where you lose steam and never end up meeting in person. The Round is in its beta stage now, which you can apply to join in select cities.
The League, a dating app for people with impressive LinkedIn accounts and financial acumen, has been around for a minute. But it’s new, in-app speed-dating feature, League Live, changes up the game, giving you six minutes to talk to three promising strangers via video. You can chat it up, quickly flirt, or just get a better vibe for them than an overly edited, filtered profile picture can convey. Awkward as hell? Yes. Time efficient? Also yes.
AskMatch is another new feature that exists within in already-popular dating service. You know Match: the app that bills itself as a meeting place for real people who really want to date. But should those real people need an extra boost, AskMatch acts as a dating coach—an actual human tasked with hearing about your dating woes and giving you advice. It’s probably more productive than complaining to your friends. It’s also only part of a paid subscription to Match, and rolling out nationwide this year.
Blindlee is another dating app that is leaning into video chatting. But here, you and the person who you’re video chatting with appear blurred to each other. Over three minutes, you chat it up without really seeing each other’s faces, helped by conversational prompts, and then the woman can decide whether or not she wants to un-blur. The app is only available in some cities worldwide, including 18 big U.S. metropolitan areas.
In the realm of faith-based dating apps, NIM is a new option for Muslims who have marriage on the mind, not casual dating. Its options are tailored as such: You can clarify Sunni or Shi’ite denomination, comply with Sharia law and request a chaperone on the app to oversee your conversations, and more easily converse about religion and family values. The matches are “hand-picked” for you daily, women initiate conversations, and users can pick their gender and gender preference. NIM is also application based and only now broadening its geographical reach.
S’More, which is only available in some big cities, also dabbles in blurring. With a profile photo blurred out, you’re supposed to spend more time reading a match’s profile (you’re given five at a time) to get to know them. On it are basic facts, voice-recorded responses to personal questions, favorite songs clips, and more. Once you start interacting with their profile, their face will start to unblur. You can also get feedback from the app on your own profile and match rate. Nothing like analytical analysis to make you try harder.
Ship hands the reigns to your friends. On the app, you build a network of friends and make them do the heavy-lifting of match-making, going through profiles and gauging how well you’d mesh with a potential match. If you’re shy but your friends are not, this app is a good one to investigate.
You know what everyone can get behind? Dogs. And so, of course, there’s a dating app for people who have, and cherish, dogs—and who aren’t against using their dog’s cuteness to get a date. Is your pup impressive enough to score you a match? That remains to be seen. But bonding over dog ownership—and other, more normal topics of conversation—seems wholesome in a way that other dating apps aren’t.
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