Which Dating Apps Are Right For You?

June 21, 2016

swipe rightBiological anthropologist Helen Fisher likes to point out that dating apps are not really about dating. The bottom line is these are not dating sites, they’re introducing sites.” For introductions, dating apps are hard to beat in terms of sheer numbers.

Fisher compares the swiping process to locking eyes across a crowded room with someone. Looking is a natural and effective first step in gauging attraction. Tinder and other dating apps don’t get you dates, they put you in a virtual crowded room with a bunch of other people.

As we know, not all crowded rooms are created equal. Sex ratio – which determines the Supply/Demand curve – plays a big role. Dating apps are rumored to be mostly female, but is this true? And are they all created equal? Priceonomics has crunched the numbers for us in The Sausage Index: Which Dating Apps Have the Most Dudes? 

What are the characteristics that determine where you’ll find the largest pool of potential soulmates?

Most Users

First, in terms of sheer numbers, you can’t beat Tinder. It blows away the competition.

Dating app market share graph

Age Appropriate

Americans prefer to date people the same age, with age differences in couples shrinking over time. That means 0-3 year gap -max – for most people. So where does your age group hang out? If you’re under 30, Bumble jumps from 8th place to 1st. Remember, Bumble is the app where women must initiate the conversation. Obviously that’s a very desirable feature from a female point of view (Bye Felipe!), and the boys go wherever the girls are.

More than half of Tinder’s users are under 30, and we see Hinge right behind. In the 30+ group, Coffee Meets Bagel is strong with nearly 60% of its users 30-49, and has the lowest number of users over 50, along with Hinge.

age by dating app

Sex Ratio

It looks like Christian guys have it made on Christian Mingle. Surprisingly, Black People Meet is 67% male – that’s good news for black women over 30, who often struggle with tough sex ratios in the dating market. And men are really well positioned at Coffee Meets Bagel.

If you’re a female reader, Tinder is king but Bumble runs a close second.

graph of dating apps sex ratio

Location

Tinder’s distribution of users most closely resembles the US population.

graph of dating app geographic popularity

Bottom Line

As you can see, there are several factors to take into account when choosing a dating app. The trend is strongly oriented towards the newer, i.e. non-traditional, apps, while algorithm based apps appear to be falling out of favor.  FYI, The Match Group owns 64% of the market share for dating apps – including Tinder, POF, OkCupid, Match, Black People Meet, and HowAboutWe. Tinder is the gorilla in the room – ignore it at your dating peril.

Here are several examples of strategic use of the other dating apps based on gender, location and sex ratio:

Woman, 25, NYC:

  • Bumble
  • happn
  • Hinge

Woman, 34, Chicago:

  • First Met
  • Bumble
  • Black People Meet

Woman, 37, Atlanta:

  • Black People Meet
  • First Met
  • Clover

Man, 27, Los Angeles:

  • Coffee Meets Bagel
  • Bumble
  • happn

Man, 38, Boston:

  • Coffee Meets Bagel
  • Bumble
  • happn

Man, 23, Dallas:

  • Coffee Meets Bagel
  • Bumble
  • Hinge

These suggestions are not comprehensive and may not be right for you. Dating apps have a wide variety of features that distinguish them, like one match a day vs. spontaneous match-ups throughout the day. You may prefer a religious app or want to focus on some other specific demographic. A good strategy is to mix it up, trying a handful of apps that attract the people you want while offering different features.

No matter which apps you use, you’ll still need to filter aggressively to identify the people worth meeting for a date. Women in particular need to be alert to all the Felipes out there, with their “shock and awe” dick pic campaigns and lame, offensive come-ons.

Finally, numbers don’t ever tell the whole story. One of my favorite couples met on the itty bitty HowAboutWe – he suggested a date slurping raw oysters, she hit the bid, and they’re getting married next year. It’s worth trying something random and outside the box occasionally.

Do these stats surprise you? How does your experience confirm or refute the demographics of these dating apps? What might you do differently going forward?