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Swiping for love on dating apps has become second nature for most American singles. But as our hands experience mild carpal tunnel syndrome and our inboxes fill with flirty conversations, we may find ourselves glancing up from our screens and asking: Which app is really worth my time? Bumble vs Tinder? Hinge vs OKCupid? It would be nice to know if all this work is going to pay off with an IRL bae.
Tinder and Bumble reign supreme as the premier dating apps for millennials, offering users the opportunity to swipe through potential matches from their phones in hopes of landing a date. For a long time, the apps were seemingly different enough, but Tinder’s recently announced “women talk first” initiative is steadily encroaching on Bumble’s territory as a dating app structured for women.
While both dating apps boast countless success (and failure) stories, it can be difficult to pinpoint which of the two is the best when it comes to simply creating real-life connections.
Bumble vs Tinder: The pros and cons
It’s impossible to test every dating app’s success rate purely because of how differently everyone define “success.” Does success mean an actual first date or a long-term relationship? Maybe success is a great one-night stand or one full in-app conversation that doesn’t end with an uncomfortable comment. The point is, success is variable, but pros and cons lists are tried and true when it comes to narrowing down your options.
The Daily Dot spoke with representatives from both apps, gathered real-life stories, and researched every possibility. Here’s our breakdown of Tinder and Bumble, from pros and cons to special features.
Pro: Gives women the power
Bumble is a dating app that empowers women to make the first move. The app only lets those who identify as women message a match first; matches will disappear after 24 hours if the woman decides to not act on it. Bumble’s mission to let women message first wards away any unwanted messages and notifications that they would normally receive if it weren’t for the app’s cornerstone setting.
Chelsea Lessing is a 23-year-old woman in Austin, Texas, who met her boyfriend on the app. For Lessing, feeling in control of her dating experience was a major plus in terms of security and censorship.
“I liked having the choice to be the one to initiate conversation with Bumble,” Lessing told the Daily Dot. “It kind of added another layer to being able to figure out who you want to talk to, so it was a bit less overwhelming.”
To Lessing, the app seemed to be less about hookup culture and more about finding someone to go steady with, which she hadn’t experienced when using other dating apps.
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Pro: Bumble offers more than romantic dates
Bumble is more than just a dating app, though. The app has expanded its platform giving users the opportunity to socialize sans romantic or sexual interaction. Bumble offers different sectors like Bumble Bizz, where users can professionally network, and Bumble BFF, where users can build genuine friendships. And if you’re already on the app for dating, it’s simple to switch over to Bizz or BFF to try setting up a friendly date.
Con: Lacks gender variety
Bumble was originally designed to eliminate traditional gender roles in heteronormative dating, but it also offers same-sex matchmaking. The only difference is that users who are interested in the same sex can message the other without any restrictions. In this respect, Bumble functions the exact same way as Tinder.
However, Bumble isn’t friendly to users who identify as transgender or non-binary or other identities. Only users who identify as male or female can use the app, This puts Bumble at a significant disadvantage compared to options like OKCupid and Tinder, which offer multiple options for gender identity.
Pro: Everyone’s on it
The mother of all dating apps, Tinder doesn’t need much of an introduction.
The app isn’t shy about its goal of encouraging genuine connections versus one-night stands, but it’s no secret that the app has a reputation for fast, casual dating. Whether that means a few casual conversations that end in a blink of an eye or one-night stands is up to each user’s interpretation.
Since the app is one of the leading outlets for singles across the globe to find potential matches, the user base is fairly large.
According to a 2015 study, 72 percent of millennial college students use Tinder to find a relationship or even a date, which can range from anyone from the ages of 18 to 24. What’s more, online dating as a whole is much less taboo than it once was. As of 2016, Pew Research Center found that 59 percent of adults favor online dating.
Pro: Tinder welcomes all gender identities
Tinder makes it easier for users of all genders to swipe freely.
In 2016, Tinder expanded its gender options from male and female to a wide range of genders one can identify with. According to Rosette Pambakian, head of brand at Tinder, the dating app has 37 gender identities, as well as the ability to add any term that best describes a user’s gender. When creating your profile, if a user identifies other than male or female, they click “More” and choose or input their specific gender.
The app’s accommodation to all genders has proven beneficial. According to Tinder founder and chairman Sean Rad, the app’s calculated 250,000 matches with transgender users in 2016. Even though the large number is something to nod your head at, it’s lagging behind the reported a total of 26 million matches in 2016.
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Con: Actual dates are a rarity
Have you ever taken a moment to scroll through your inbox? If not, you may want to avoid that section of the app, it’s like a never-ending abyss of failed matches.
According to LendEDU’s survey of 3,852 college students, only 29.2 percent of Tinder users say they have met up with matches compared to 70.8 percent who haven’t. The survey focused on college students as their demographic since 80 percent of the app’s base are millennials.
So, if you think about the 70 percent of millennials swiping on dating apps like Tinder, it can seem like many prefer to play the game of “hot or not” just to boost their ego rather than being proactive on finding their soulmate.
Con: Tinder can be a hub for harassment
Tinder has a bad rep for online harassment in the DMs. The app doesn’t set a precedent for who can message who first, which can feel intrusive—especially for women or nonbinary folks who would like to decide for themselves who to speak to or what to say.
For Lessing, Tinder’s messaging interface invited unwanted advances and some pretty shrewd comments from men she matched with.
“With any dating app, especially as a woman, it was a bit overwhelming having a lot of people trying to talk to you at once, and trying to understand what they are wanting from being on the app,” said Lessing. “I think the most common thing from dating experiences on Tinder or Bumble is that people like each other, but aren’t on the same page with what they want.”
However, Tinder’s forthcoming “women talk first” initiative will allow women to make the first move and weed out unwanted advances from matches. The app announced the initiative in February 2018.
Bumble vs Tinder: Which should you choose?
Depending on what you’re looking for, each app has its own obvious claim to fame.
Whether you just want a few drinks and someone to take home, or a safe space to flirt without fear of harassment from strangers, or you’re sick of rampant heteronormativity when it comes to dating apps, there are good and bad things about Bumble and Tinder. Just remember to prioritize safety and consent first, no matter what.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Kristen Hubby is a tech and lifestyle reporter. Her writing focuses on sex, pop culture, streaming entertainment, and social media, with an emphasis on major platforms like Snapchat, YouTube, and Spotify. Her work has also appeared in Austin Monthly and the Austin American-Statesman, where she covered local news and the dining scene in Austin, Texas.