Dating App Experiences And Lessons Learned

With a seemingly endless number of dating apps available at your fingertips, it can be difficult to choose the best one to fit your life.  We provide some suggestions and lessons learned from some of the most common dating apps.

By Riley Stoltenburg, Masters Degree in Public Health

As a single lady who has moved to three different cities in the past four years where I knew absolutely no one, apps have been my go-to for dating. In my personal experience, dating in these cities has been the stereotypical disaster that girls frequently speak of.  After the introduction of dating apps a few years ago, it has become easier to meet someone with a swipe and direct message than approaching a stranger in person. These apps can be great for meeting new people, an excellent timewaster when you’re bored or a fun game to play when you’re drunk. However, they can also take quite a toll on your self-esteem when you become solely reliant on perfect photos and funny bios. And yet here I am, still using them trying to find a partner with little success. This article is an opportunity to share my experiences and the lessons I have learned from my years of using these apps as a reference for ladies dipping their toes in the dating app pool. 




For me, Tinder is the OG. I remember downloading this during my senior year of college and sitting drunk on the couch with my roommate “playing the game.” At that time, using a dating app was not as commonplace as it is now. It was something I used but only when I got the courage (usually in liquid form) to do so. I was also working at our schools’ gym at the time and saw a lot of very attractive men on a daily basis. I was far too shy to talk to any of them in person, and turned out I was still just as shy behind the screen.


Once I left my college town, those fears receded. In my new city, using the app not only seemed likely my only hope of finding a boyfriend, but also seemed like a good means of meeting some new friends in general. Fairly quickly I learned that it was easy to get matched, but hard to avoid the guys just looking for a hook-up situation. I did end up dating a guy from Tinder, but it did not last. After leaving my first post-college city, I relied on this app once again when I moved to another new city where I knew absolutely no one. To no great surprise is was much of the same. There are some decent guys on there looking for a real relationship, but by and large you are looking at a bunch of guys who want a one-night stand. Overall, I’d pass on Tinder (I myself stopped using it a while ago).




Bumble was promoted to me as the answer to Tinder’s shortcomings. Using Bumble, girls make the first move, which is a great concept in theory, as it prevents the initial inappropriate messages. However, in my experience, it involved a lot of trying to come up with clever opening lines that most of the time garnered no response. I have heard this complaint echoed by many of my single lady friends. Unlike most of the other apps, Bumble allows for pictures to be sent, but they are pixelated when they show up in the conversation. It is your choice to open the photos, which can be a gamble.


Oftentimes the picture I received was a pic of the guy’s dog or something innocent enough, but there were those few times that it turned out to be an unsolicited and (very) unwanted photo of certain body parts (cough, cough). These pictures can be reported and you can un-match from the person though. Nonetheless, after receiving a few of these photos on Bumble I can say I began to develop a sense of serious mistrust when looking to open pictures sent to me.


I have found the least luck on this app. Boys seem happy enough just to chat, which is generally fine, but there have been very few dates that have come of it. While I know plenty of friends who have had luck, this app is just not one for me. 




I started using Hinge about a year ago and like it the best of all the apps I have used thus far. It is still an appearance-bases app, but instead of a bio, you have to answer three questions from their extensive lists of prompts. I have been on a number of Hinge dates and have had very few “bad” dates. Nothing out of the ordinary with those bad dates; just a lack of chemistry or boring conversations.


With that said, my first Hinge date will always be burned into my mind. It was with a guy who had just moved to the city and didn’t know any good places to go out. We went to a brewery and the date was alright, with the usual small talk, a couple beers and a few forced laughs. However, as we walked to our cars upon leaving, he gave me a hug and the most awkward kiss of my life. As I broke away to head to my car he asked: “Can we make out in your car?” I was shocked and my reaction was to just laugh and say “uh, no.” But this guy didn’t quit there; to that he replied “I swear it would just be making out.”  I quickly told him no and got in my car, never to speak to the weirdo again.


Even with the odd first experience, this is still the app I would recommend, as I have had the best conversations and enjoyed using the most. I have had the most luck with it and will continue to use it.   


Dating is always frustrating, but online dating is a completely different monster. It is scary to put yourself out there, especially when the outcome is unknown. To keep myself sane I keep my notifications off and try to limit the time I spend on the apps. I recommend talking about it with friends, particularly guy friends if you have some, and have my friends go through my profile as I go through theirs as well. It is fun to see what the other side sees on those apps. It can be fun and I always tell myself it’s either going to be a good date or a funny story. Just keep going!

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