Ah, the dating app: It鈥檚 pretty much the modern-day meet-cute. Just ask dating and relationship expert Wendy Newman 鈥 and the roughly 80 percent of Americans who agreed it was a good way to meet people in a recent study. Prior to meeting her current boyfriend, Wendy met a lot of frogs 鈥 and we do mean a LOT 鈥 while researching her book, 121 First Dates ($11). Named for (you guessed it!) the number of dates she went on in the name of dating research (not unlike fellow author Melissa Pimentel), we think it鈥檚 fairly safe to say she鈥檚 something of an expert on modern-day dating and the apps that frequently accompany it. Read on to find out which ones she was a fan of and which ones she says you should 鈥渟wipe left鈥 on.


1. String: This newcomer to the scene promises to match you on a deeper level based on a list of 36 questions that studies say accelerate intimacy between two strangers and foster a 鈥渕utual vulnerability.鈥

Pros: With availability currently limited to the San Francisco Bay area, it may be too soon to tell, although she says the questions can be a fun/cute game to play.

Cons: At a cursory glance, Wendy says that sadly, 鈥渁 fun game鈥 is about all these questions are good for 鈥 they aren鈥檛 deep enough to offer real insight to the human psyche. 鈥淸They鈥檙e] fake compatibility questions,鈥 she says. For those that truly seek to be matched by compatibility, she says you have to look at the questions through the filters of 鈥渉ow can I best connect to someone and connect to a husband/wife [or] partner?鈥 And these? Ain鈥檛 gonna cut it. Citing queries like, 鈥渂efore making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say/why?鈥 and 鈥淕iven the choice of anyone in the world, who would you want as a dinner guest?鈥 Wendy says most of these are wishful thinking, fantasy, or 鈥済et-to-know鈥 you questions as opposed to deep, meaningful ones.


2. Tinder: The release of Tinder more or less turned online dating on its ear with its swipe-n-go, lightning-strike approach to online dating. Originally viewed as a 鈥渉ookup site,鈥 the app shows users nothing more than a profile picture, age, interest and, more recently, education and job status before asking them to swipe right (thumbs up) or left (thumbs down). More recent features also include a new communal element that allows you expand your social circle.

Pros: 鈥淚 like Tinder!鈥 Wendy tells us. 鈥淚t gets people off the couch.鈥 What鈥檚 more, Wendy says it鈥檚 very male-friendly. 鈥淭he way it鈥檚 designed is really attractive to a man鈥檚 brain,鈥 she says. 鈥淸They like] the game of it.鈥

Also on her list of pros? The total transparency with regard to relationship status. If someone is in an open relationship or is polyamorous, 鈥渢hey鈥檒l lead with that,鈥 Wendy says.

Cons: Safety and privacy concerns were at the top of Wendy鈥檚 list of cons. 鈥淚f you鈥檙e afraid to meet people鈥 this is not gonna be your site,鈥 Wendy warns. 鈥淸There may not be ] enough info [given] for a woman to feel safe and bold [enough to date].鈥


3. Match: Match.com is pretty much the old standby of online dating. The premise is simple enough 鈥 make a profile, search for a 鈥渕atch鈥 and connect. Easy, peasy, right?

Pros: As what many would consider the original dating site, Wendy says that Match has a leg up when it comes to funding and helping its users take things offline. 鈥淭hey run the show [because they have] the most money for meet and greet events,鈥 she tells us. 鈥淸They ] lead the way in offline connection.鈥

Cons: A dated model and a dwindling male pool. 鈥淢ore and more [men are] getting off Match and getting onto Tinder,鈥 Wendy says.


4. OKCupid: This modern version of a Match-style site makes online dating accessible to the masses by forgoing membership fees.

Pros: It鈥檚 free! OkCupid is more closely aligned to Match or eHarmony in the sense that it allows for the creation of a more traditional profile, without the pricey membership fees. 鈥淚 used to think if you weren鈥檛 willing to pay $40 for love, you weren鈥檛 worth my time,鈥 Wendy says. But after finding many of the same men on OkCupid as she found on Match, many of whom were quality candidates (one of whom turned into her current boyfriend!), Wendy was sold.

Cons: Not many 鈥 OkCupid is a pretty solid bet as far as dating apps go, at least in Wendy鈥檚 books.


5. Bumble: This site puts the women in control when it comes to communication; in fact, male users aren鈥檛 even allowed to make the first move. Designed to cut back on unwanted harassment from overzealous male daters (although a friendly 鈥渆xtend鈥 option exists for them to indicate their interest). Bumble is all about making women feel safe.

Pros: Bumble is probably a pretty safe bet for women with Wendy鈥檚 aforementioned safety concerns 鈥 its whole foundation is built around 鈥渃ountering problematic and antiquated hetero dating concerns鈥 (although it is open to mutual communication between same-sex users).

Cons: Wendy鈥檚 main beef with Bumble was its age barriers. 鈥淚 think Bumble is great, but it鈥檚 really for 20s and 30s,鈥 she shared. 鈥淚f a woman is 40 or over, she鈥檚 not going to be able to find what she鈥檚 looking for.鈥


6. Coffee Meets Bagel: Promising 鈥渜uality over quantity,鈥 the main thing that sets Coffee Meets Bagel apart is its match-a-day system. Sending you just one match for review every day at noon (based on things such as mutual Facebook friends and interests), the idea here is that you鈥檒l be able to take your time and be choosy with your matches.

Pros: While Wendy says the site鈥檚 filters are pretty decent, she notes that they can also be pretty hard to find.

Cons: Wendy says the thing that sets this site apart is also its downfall. 鈥淚 know they鈥檙e trying to have people be more thoughtful rather than swipe, swipe, swipe,鈥 she says, but it鈥檚 also 鈥渓imiting. You鈥檙e stuck with one person for the day 鈥 if you鈥檝e accepted them, [you have to] wait around for them to reply.鈥 She also notes that with fewer members than some of the other apps, you鈥檙e at risk of 鈥減oor matching quality.鈥


7. eHarmony: Using 29 鈥渃ompatibility traits鈥 to analyze your personality and match you with others of similar mindsets, eHarmony claims to be the 鈥#1 trusted relationship services provider鈥 in the US.

Pros: Like other sites before it, Wendy says the main pro to eHarmony is that it offers you access to people you may not otherwise meet. 鈥淚f [you see a man] in a taqueria, he might be really cute, but you don鈥檛 know his availability,鈥 she reasons. Furthermore, he might not be open to a meeting 鈥 鈥渉e might just be hungry!鈥

Cons: 鈥淚t makes people jump through hoops to get to each other,鈥 Wendy muses. 鈥淵ou have to prove [you鈥檙e a fit] before you can reach out.鈥 As someone with plenty of experience in the arena, Wendy says putting that much time, energy and heart into a connection that might be over within five minutes of meeting makes it easy to get burned out on dating entirely. 鈥淥n the next one, they鈥檙e gonna say f*ck it,鈥 she says. 鈥淸You want to] get to the real person as soon as possible.

Based on Wendy鈥檚 feedback, it sounds like Tinder and OKCupid are currently your best bets when navigating the dating site pool. A word to the wise? 鈥淟earn to swipe left fast,鈥 Wendy says. 鈥淵ou鈥檙e not gonna鈥 want to talk to everyone. Get past the things you鈥檙e not interested in.鈥 A good rule of thumb when learning to sort through the human dating pool quickly? 鈥淧ay attention to what they鈥檙e saying instead of how cute they are.鈥

Do you agree with Wendy鈥檚 analysis? Let us know over @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)