This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Every single and lonely millennial is on at least two dating apps. Without them, it would be impossible to meet someone at a Time Out-approved Bavarian beer hall pop-up and split an Uber home for profoundly disappointing sex.
The amount of rutting you can actually get done off these apps, though, is entirely dependent on how much effort you can bear to put in—whether you're willing to reply to inspired openers like "hey" and "hi" and "where do you live???", or if you'd rather sack those off in favor of dying alone.
However, what you must learn is that, despite their advertised convenience, all dating apps will disappoint you. Here's why, from my point of view as a mostly straight, cisgender white woman (I'm sure the apps are all disappointing to you in their own unique ways), they all suck. Conveniently, I've ranked them for you, from least to most disappointing:
1: Grindr and other straightforward hookup apps
I have never used Grindr, except on my friends' phones. But observing, I see a magical place where people who want to fuck can do so without fuss.
You may be compelled to ask: "Why have straight people not got onboard with this yet?" Well, besides the fact that if a true hetero-Grindr existed, men would ruin it for everyone within an hour by firing off the flappy tongue emoji to every woman within 50 miles, this is actually what Tinder was supposed to be for. Then: The first day someone said "my cousin just got engaged to someone she met on Tinder!" the dream died. I don't doubt people have found love through Grindr, but they’re still considered mavericks.
Make no mistake, though, Grindr users: That's probably not his real dick.
Tinder is less disappointing than most other dating apps because it has precisely no USP beyond convenience and ease of use. You're not required to write a witty bio—a few emojis and a bored selfie will suffice—and neither of you is expected to message first (or message back, ever). Tinder will never send you reminders to not ghost people—it would break the servers—and there are always members who just broke up with their partner re-joining to keep the numbers up.
It is shitty, and it knows it's shitty, but getting people to quit Tinder is like getting people to quit smoking: very hard, and quite likely to end in a tantrum. But don't worry! It will still disappoint you! Because you will see all of horny humanity for what it truly is: rank. Also: When you find someone attractive, then you match, you'll feel momentarily great. Then you check their profile again and… what's this? A photo with a sedated tiger? Loafers without socks? A… Boomerang from the gym?
Delete, delete, delete!
Hinge promised so much—the perfect midway point between a stupidly long questionnaire about your "values" and the swipe-happy world of modern dating apps. For those who don't use it: You answer three prompt questions, which the other person can comment on as a sort of icebreaker, it's a bit of a group-job-interview-type one.
However: This means that everyone's answer usually just mentions Peep Show, because straight men have finally realized that nothing dries up a vagina like mentioning Rick & Morty in a dating bio. If you match but don't reply, or chat but think better of it once you've asked what they did over the weekend and they respond with "just went for a climb :)," the app will keep an aggressive notification open with those hideous words, "Your Turn," next to Simon, 25. Any digital interaction that does not allow me to get bored and leave is not one I want to be involved with.
Happn was supposed to be the app that put an end to those moments where you fall in love with someone on the bus or in line at a coffee shop but don’t have the balls to speak to them. With Happn, you can just look at your phone to see if you liked each other without having to make any real-life human interaction. But this method is flawed for one simple reason: No one uses Happn.
Not used this one, neither have any of my friends, but everyone seems to have a friend of a friend who got catfished by a Ukrainian model who turned out not to be a Ukrainian model, so yeah, I guess pretty disappointing in that regard.
6: The Inner Circle / The League / Other 'elite' dating apps with 'The' in the name
There is no way around this: If you feel the need to join an "elite" dating app, you are a Tory [conservative political party in the UK]. Exceptions given only to people who went on a terrible Tinder date and got a targeted advertisement for one of these, as if by magic, in their Facebook Messenger on the train ride home. As I include myself in this category, I am eligible to say the following about these shit-heap apps: 1) There is nothing exclusive about The Inner Circle. I got in right away, and I'm someone who uses public transportation, which is not elite behavior. 2) The League: You will download this, realize you're number 23,578 on the London waiting list and delete it after this number hasn't changed for three days.
There are honestly too many reasons why Bumble is the dirt-worst dating app for me to string into a 200-word paragraph, so here are the headlines:
Forcing women to message first is not inherently feminist. It will not improve my life, and it does not emancipate me from years of living in a misogynistic, capitalist society. It is just really fucking inconvenient.
The first time you download Bumble, you'll think that everyone is really attractive. This is the algorithm laughing at you. Rumor has it that people who get more right-swiped (i.e. are more attractive) will be put at the top of the deck, to tempt, but never match with sevens on a good day/fives (to be honest) on a bad day like you.
Because of its supposed "wokeness," Bumble attracts an inordinate number of softbois who will talk a big talk about smashing the patriarchy but won't smash, haha, anything else.
Those notifications with messages like "You made the first move! Girl power!" or "63 likes, any one of them could be amazing!" are useless. If I have to be notified about anything to do with a dating app, it should only be that someone very, very rich wants to go very, very down on me.
They once deleted one of my photos because you could see my panties (nice ones), so it's apparently not a thirst trap safe space, to which I say: What the fuck is the point.
By the way: If you’re a rep from any of these apps please don’t delete my account. I love you really and don’t want to die alone.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Helen Meriel Thomas on Twitter.