Kaitlyn Duling
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In 2015, 50 percent of the U.S. population consisted of single adults, according to eHarmony, which has increased from 48 percent in 2011. That also probably means that an extra two percent of people thought about giving online dating a try. Ah, online dating.

With so many dating websites and apps out there, it's now pretty normal to use online dating to meet someone, eHarmony reports. There are 40 million Americans using online dating websites and those users range in age and all sorts of demographics. Today, 27 percent of young adults report using online dating sites, which is up 10 percent from 2013, likely due to the influx of dating apps on smartphones. For those 55- to 64-year-olds that use online dating, there has even been a six percent increase from 2013 to 2015.

More men use them than women. (Men make up 52.4 percent of online dating users compared to 47.6 percent who are women.) However these online dating statistics can change based on the site being used and location. That's also probably because there are some dating apps that are more feminist than others.

I, for one, cannot escape dating apps. At my own office, every other cubicle is filled with people who are trying to find “the one” or at least someone, with the help of a cell phone to match potential partners and online date. As a lifelong, third-generation feminist, I’ve always been a little wary of digital dating tools. Aren’t they just based on physical images? How can I really know someone’s true values and politics when I’m getting to know them online?

In fact, we know that 20 percent of women surveyed by global research agency Opinionmatters admitted to using an older photo from when they were younger and thinner. And more than 40 percent of men said they lied about their jobs in an effort to sound more successful. One in five online daters have asked someone else to help write or review their profile. Female users are seeking help from friends more so than men are: Thirty percent of female users have asked a friend for help with their profile, whereas only 16 percent of male users have asked friends to help create their profile. So how do any of us really know what we're getting anyway?

The potential pitfalls are many. But through the years, I’ve been in a host of conversations that have ultimately convinced me that, yes, I can be a feminist and, yes, I can swipe on Tinder.

And, shockingly, it seems to work out quite often for a lot of people — even feminists. While your best chance at finding love is through a friend, which is how 63 percent of married couples say they met their partner, you still only have a 17 percent chance that you will like the person you're set up with. Only nine percent of women report finding a relationship at a bar or club, and only two percent of men has made a relationship through that scenario, according to eHarmony. So where are people finding love? Online dating statistics show that 20 percent of those in current, committed relationships began online and seven of marriages in 2015 were between couples that met on a dating website. So, no, it's not all for hooking up (while it still is largely a hookup app). When it comes down to it, 64 percent of people who use online dating sites are looking for someone they have something in common with, and 49 percent say they are looking for someone with physical characteristics they are attracted to. And, actually, only 33 percent of women who use online dating websites say they have sex on the first online dating encounter, and 60 percent of female Tinder users say they are looking for a match, not just a hookup.

Is Tinder my fave? Nah. So I asked some of these aforementioned coworkers for advice on the dating apps I should use that aren't just another hookup app. They gave me the following answers, and I rated them according to my own thoughts, feelings and experiences. Let’s dig in.

1. Bumble

I knew Bumble would be my favorite dating app the moment I heard a man at work say (to my face), “I stopped using Bumble a long time ago. The women on there are too confident.” Yes, world, he did say that. He may have formed this terrible opinion because Bumble requires women to make the first contact with male matches. That means men can’t just slide into your app DMs and start with the creepy stuff anytime they please. When it comes to matching with same-sex crushes or BFFs, these rules don’t apply. Did using Bumble make me feel more confident? Not necessarily. But it does give women the opportunity to make the first move without the pressure or annoyance of constant “you’re sexy, want to come over?” messages from men.

2. Hey! VINA

Okay, alright, this isn’t really a dating app. It’s a friendship app, made for women who want to find female friends. It’s fun, easy-to-use, free and it connects women with other like-minded individuals. What’s better than women supporting and uplifting each other through positive friendships? I maintain that it could still be considered a dating tool, because you can always date the women, or the friends and relatives of the women you meet. The more time we can spend working together and supporting each other, the less time there is to be suspicious, competitive or otherwise negative towards other women in the dating pool. We all want all of us to get dates! Okay? Okay.

3. The League

When a coworker first told me about The League, he was explaining to me why I wasn’t in it. He described it as exclusive and suggested that I try to get on the waiting list. Excuuuse me? But, the man in question is definitely one of the Five Acceptable Straight White Men in My Life, a list that includes my dad and brother, so I trust him when he says that The League (which I still haven’t managed to join, by the way) is a great place to find a carefully-curated collection of men who are oriented towards careers, school and general achievement. And, I guess, dating? And potentially not being sleazy? Look, I haven’t yet fully decided how I feel, but I think this app has potential.

4. HER

I don’t want to put this at the bottom of the list just because it’s for the LGBTQ community, but I suppose it does leave out those straight feminists who are still on the hunt for a good man. For those queer feminists (like me!) who are tired of swiping through all their friends on OKCupid and want to level up to something more user-friendly and interesting, you can try out this Tinder/OKCupid mashup, which allows you to see other queer women in your local area. This might be fruitful for city dwellers, but as a rural gay, I didn’t find it extremely useful.

5. The Catch

This one seemed to have potential at first glance — women swipe through profiles, choose potential partners to “join a game” and then create a series of questions for those potential partners to answer, rating them after all the answers have been recorded. Instead of endlessly swiping or reading through profiles on PlentyofFish, you can cut right to the chase: Who did you vote for in 2016? Who pays for dinner on the first date? Have you seen A Wrinkle in Time? This one grows tiring though, because you have to be up for making questions and playing an entire multi-player game each time you want to see if there’s anybody cute and worthwhile online. There’s no sugar-coating it; this app quickly starts to feel like work. For women whose lives are already filled with the work of living in a patriarchal society? Maybe this isn’t ideal.

The online dating world is riddled with dating apps, but for many singles, seeking out the very best dating apps can be a little overwhelming — and feel a little wrong since so many of them can feel like they're only based on image. But the fact is that dating apps, regardless of their many cons, can be helpful for introverts and those sick of looking in all the other wrong places for dates. 

If you feel like scoping out the other free apps out there to online date, still, here are three (non-Tinder) options, according to Best Hookup Apps:

1. Hinge

"Hinge is one of the tinder like apps. In fact, it looks like a sister project of Tinder but that’s not the case. The UI is very similar to the Tinder but little more interactive and smooth. It uses your Facebook profile to connect with people.

"It will search for friends of friends of your friends who are using the app and showcase them to you. Hinge is not for people who are looking to get hooked up. The downside of this app is that one of your Facebook friends have to have on this app so that you can find people in friend’s circle.

"You can upload your profile pictures from Facebook, and Instagram. This system limits you especially when you’re not active on either of these social media platforms. No one can message you without getting MATCHED and you can expect to not see any inappropriate pictures because it uses Facebook and people can only use their official Facebook or Instagram pictures.

"Though, it lacks in fancy functionalities but it’s a good app for women who want protection and safety. Here is what Hinge says 'Inspired by love, and guided by authenticity, Hinge creates meaningful connections among those bold enough to seek real relationships.'"

2. Coffee Meets Bagel

"Coffe meets bagel is a free dating app, and pretty much different as compared to other flirting apps. Coffee meets bagel requires Facebook authentication like Tinder, but it doesn’t have the similar concept to Tinder.

"After completing your bio & profile, you’ll be suggested a Bagel. You’ll be suggested Bagel based on Facebook Friends mutuality, and it will remain for 24 hours. If you like the bagel, you’ve to like her profile, and if that bagel likes your profile back, then you’ll be able to chat with each other.

The messages last long for a week only and after that, everything will be erased. So, this app pretty much forces you to get connected in real like. If you don’t like a person in a week, then there is no point chatting back and forth for months, therefore, we really like this concept. This app is available for Android & iOS user, and a good alternative to Tinder like apps.

"If you want be in touch with the bagel then you can share a link of any of your social media profile like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever social media platform you use. Else, you can exchange your mobile number, but you’ve to be very careful, because you don’t want to get hooked up with a gold digger or criminal."

3. How About We

"How About We is our no.1 pick for free flirting apps. This is an easy to use app and similar to other free dating apps with standard procedure. It’ll ask you some questions at the beginning that helps the app to find best potential matches.

"It asks simple questions like “Your Favorite Movie,” so don’t get freaked out. In case, you don’t feel like answering any question, you can skip it (not a big deal). However, the profile picture is necessary, no matter what.

"There is search widget option at the top right corner where you can find singles looking to get hooked up. If you’re interested in a person, you can hit him/her up using “I’m Intrigued” button.

"This is a popular & part of HowAboutWe media company that focuses on dating related products. So, if you’re looking for some mobile dating apps then this app is definitely for you. The app is available both for iPhone and Android users."

Happy hunting.

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Kaitlyn Duling is a freelance writer, author, and poet who is passionate about supporting and uplifting other women. Her work can be found at www.kaitlynduling.com

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