Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and to continue our modern love series this month, we wanted to explore how singles in the 305 use the modern tools of matchmaking: dating apps.
Most people will agree online dating in Miami (or anywhere) can be brutal. Sifting through hundreds of online dating profiles, texting with several strangers at once, and getting ghosted aren’t everyone’s idea of fun. But for better or worse, it’s the way of the world. In fact, a Pew Research Center survey shows that a majority of Americans think online dating is a good way to meet people, and for young adults it’s increasingly becoming the way to meet people.
“I think these apps for sure have helped people find love, myself included,” says Kimmie, a New Tropic reader who met her current boyfriend on Bumble. “It’s awkward to meet people in person at first and not really have any idea of who they are, and you wouldn’t want to invest time into someone who stands for everything you hate. It’s such a big world that you need to look beyond your neighborhood, but at the same time weed out the creeps.”
But if love is a numbers game, dating apps give us more options than we know what to do with. And there’s no shortage of platforms to choose from: Tinder, Grindr, Bumble, Hinge, The League, Coffee Meets Bagel, Her, Match.com —the list goes on. There is even one for farmers.
With all those choices, we wanted to find out which apps are most popular in Miami and how online dating here is different than in other places. So we surveyed a small sample of Miamians with the help of Mariana Rego, a software product manager and freelance writer who does research on dating in Miami. Here is what they had to say:
So which app is it, Miami?
☑️ BUMBLE: Among the people we talked to, Bumble seems to be the most popular dating app for both men and women. Launched in 2014 and founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd, it’s been described as a feminist dating app, because women are the ones that make the first move. Bumble has added filters that allow users to narrow down your interests, such as what you want from a relationship, level of education, political leanings, and personal vices. Still, it’s not for everyone. Rachel, a New Tropic reader, says she doesn’t like that women have to reach out first. “Miami is already a town where dudes have an advantage, and most of them don’t want a relationship,” she says.
HINGE: Hinge is another popular app that stands apart because its developers removed profile swiping, a gaming feature, on a lot of the other dating apps that can encourage superficiality. Instead, you can “like” parts of someone’s profile, without having to commit to a match.
Rego says Hinge has a “delightful user interface” and that it has made online dating less overwhelming by automatically archiving inactive conversations. Others have told us they like the question and answer feature because it gives a sense of a person’s values and whether you have shared interests.
TINDER: Launched in 2012, Tinder now has 50 million registered users, so it’s enormous and widely used. It also has a reputation for being the “hook up app” because its algorithm relies mostly on proximity and physical attraction. Some of our respondents said they’ve used Tinder, and one of them said it’s great “if you just want to get laid.”
THE LEAGUE: The League is an app that prides itself on exclusivity. Users have to be vetted and it can take weeks to get approved, unless you want to pay for more immediate access. It limits how many profiles you can see at one time, which helps with swipe fatigue. But the app starts to feel a lot less exclusive when you start seeing the same people on other dating apps.
And the elite factor is a turn off for some. Rego said she doesn’t care if someone goes to Harvard. “I just want to know if he’s a nice guy,” she said.
THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY OF ONLINE DATING
In our most recent piece about dating in Miami, we explored how demographic and cultural factors can make dating here particularly tough. But some of the people we reached out to debunked the idea that online dating in the 305 was more difficult than anywhere else:
“Online dating is hard, period,” says Kimmie. “Having lived in San Jose and Boston, it’s really not that different. The people are different, but not their personalities. The good ones are out there; they just take time to find.”
Another respondent told us “it’s like anywhere else, but with more realtors.”
However, Rego says there are some identifiable trends in Miami when it comes to online dating profiles: “A few years ago tiger pics from Thailand were popular. But those went away. Then came the Machu Picchu pics. Those were hot for a bit, but they aren’t around anymore.”
What’s in now? “Dog pics. And fishing pics are, too, which might be an excuse to show a shirtless photo,” she says.
Some of our female respondents said the hardest part of online dating in general has been sexual harassment and receiving lewd messages. Many of them also said they’ve received unsolicited photos of genitals. What ever happened to just grabbing a good ol’ cup of coffee and chatting?
Claudia Duran, a Miami matchmaker and relationship expert, told us that one of the biggest problems she sees with online dating across the board is a lack of accountability. “That accountability has gone the way of the Dodo, and users think ghosting is okay.” She says so much availability has created a feeding frenzy that allows people to hide behind technology.
“I don’t think that chemistry is a numbers game,” Duran says. “Racing through profiles isn’t going to accelerate the chemistry.” Whether it’s online or IRL, the important thing, she says, is to be authentic.