Dating these days is hard. For some, it’s the constant stress of balancing work and school with relaxation time. For others, including myself, working from a home office pretty much cuts out any possibility of meeting a cute new colleague on the job. Establishing a relationship with someone is pretty impossible when you don’t even have time to meet them. In an effort to help you out, everyone always has the same suggestion: “Try online dating! It’s so fun!”
Sure it is.
I tried online dating once for a month and a half and all I got were weird booty-calls, totally NSFW pics (seriously boys, what is it with sending strangers photos of your junk?), and the occasional semi-creepy older individual who wanted to “show me the ropes.” The Internet is flooded with sites like OkCupid and, on the opposite end of the spectrum, pricey matchmaking sites like eHarmony and Match. Television and radio ads for online dating always make it seem 100 percent foolproof; in reality, it’s about the equivalent of a National Geographic special on birds of prey.
So what’s a smart, savvy modern girl like you to do?
These online dating sites have made it their mission to weed out the creeps for you, or at least adjust their criteria to be more female-friendly:
Wyldfire, the forthcoming dating app founded by Brian Freeman and Andrew White, was designed “specifically around the needs of women.” While women are allowed to sign up free of charge, men who wish to use the app must be invited by a female user. The concept behind it seems promising enough: keep the bad apples out and allow only the women to invite their single, dateable male friends. As brand manager Jesse Shiffman puts it, “Everyone has that one friend who they think is a great-quality guy but they either don’t want to date themselves or want someone else they know to date.” Sounds ironclad… right?
There are still some glitches. As one reviewer puts it, “How many men in your inner circle do you consider dateable that you don’t want to date yourself?” But the idea behind Wyldfire isn’t bad—in fact, it’s downright drool-worthy compared to the all-out crap-shoot that is Tinder.
This dating app was created by Harvard Business School alum Justin McLeod who presented Hinge as the “romantic” alternative to the notorious hook-up app. Although not specifically developed for women, Hinge boasts an incredible retention and matching rate without the heebs or jeebs of more casual outlets. Like Tinder, Hinge allows you to see mini Facebook bios and a few select photos of potential suitors, but rather than random strangers, Hinge matches you up with friends of friends in the hopes that your buddies don’t associate with too many crazies. And unlike Tinder, the D.C. based Hinge works off a specific history-based algorithm.
“It’s just a combination of who you liked in the past, what their attributes are, and finding more people like that who are within your world of social connections,” says McLeod. “Because of the accountability and transparency that’s in Hinge — we show first name, last name, where you work, where you went to school, all these different aspects — you can’t just say whatever you want on chat. You have that social accountability as a result, which leads to very different behavior.”
Finally, an online dating app created for women, by women. Are we dreaming? Thanks to Siren CEO Susie Lee and Design Director Katrina Hess, it’s for real. “For women, a common [online dating] experience is one of harassment, reduction to sexual objects and lack of control,” says Lee. Weary of the same tired lines and glitches, the two put their heads together and came up with a better option.
“Siren encourages people to discover the individual beyond the profile photo. It’s about unexpected moments that make us smile,” she explains. “Women always control their visibility, and men get better signals.” Female users are given the option of turning their profile off when they’d rather not be bothered, putting the power back into their hands and allowing them to avoid uncomfortable. . . er, anatomy shots in their inbox when they open up their phone again.
The best part? This isn’t just your average, “I like cocktails and walks on the beach” profile: Each day, users are given fun, creative questions and video challenges meant to inspire thought-provoking conversations within the dating community. They even have their own in-house advice columnist. Talk about being prepared.
Okay, I’ll admit. The concept behind this one seemed a little too like that friend you have that is always trying to set you up with her brother. Still, when you boil it down, the format of Jess, Meet Ken is pretty novel, especially in today’s jumbled online dating sphere.
Jess, Meet Ken creator Ken Deckinger explains that women on modern dating sites are constantly being overwhelmed with lackluster options and far too many sexually suggestive, inappropriate messages. So why not let your fellow females scope things out for you?
“The reality is, women really do know how to sell a guy better than a guy knows how to sell himself,” Deckinger says. He points out that many women and men who might otherwise be great together get lost in the jungle of the Internet. On Jess, Meet Ken (which launched in beta a few months back) women are able to easily browse uploaded profiles, looking to essentially be “set-up” with already-vetted, presumably trustworthy guys through a mutual acquaintance. “It’s very challenging [for women] to determine which guys might be right for them, and at the same time, the guys that are right for them have a hard time cutting through the noise.”
So what makes him so confident in his match-making strategies? He met his own wife the same way.
“It worked for us, and we’d love to be able to share the experience we had with other people.”
Whatever your chosen site, tread safely ladies. Explore some of these female-friendly sites, but don’t forget to keep a watchful eye out for the creepers.