Dating apps have a history of being sort of exclusive to straight people. Many are heteronormative, and many are sex charged as well. Often, this isn't an issue--people who get on these apps know what they want, and get it. But sometimes, an ace person who isn't aromantic might want to find a dating app to help them find a romantic partner.
And thus began my quest to find a dating app that asexual people can use comfortably to find someone who's looking for romance.
Quick disclaimer: NONE of this is necessarily saying that these apps should be more inclusive to ace people--as I said before, often people on these apps know what they want and pick the appropriate app. This is just me providing a guide to ace people, to allow them to pick the appropriate app as well since we know that not all places have to be inherently inclusive to us to be valid. Also, I didn't message anyone on the apps--I didn't want to waste anyone's time since I'm not looking for a relationship at the moment. This was solely based off how easy it was to find someone an asexual person thinks might be compatible with them.
Now, you'll probably all realize how this is gonna go.
You'll notice this doesn't have a picture of my Tinder. I literally deleted it so fast that I didn't remember to get a screenshot. But it was one of the editors' choice dating apps on the Google Play Store, so I decided I had to give it a shot (and that once I did, there should be nowhere to go but up).
First of all, I had to go into the settings on Tinder to even enable finding women, and I'm not sure if when I did enable it, it filtered to women who also wanted to find women or not. But that's a small side note. To be honest, the very small amount of info in the bios meant that I genuinely had nothing to go off of when choosing to swipe right or not. I understand that most Tinder relationships begin sexually charged, but for an asexual, that isn't viable. Most people's bios literally just had "420 friendly," "dtf," or various emoji. And apparently, people had swiped right on MY profile, which just had a pic of me, my name, and my age. (WHY?!)
So, my conclusion here is if you're DTF, Tinder is great. But if you're looking for something solely romantic and need a non-sexual attraction-based way to decide, Tinder is not for you.
Badoo was not particularly inclusive. It did have a somewhat thorough questionnaire, which is always good, but other than that I wasn't impressed. For one, even when I identified as bisexual (the closest to my pan/biromantic asexuality I could get), I still had to go into the settings to enable finding women, which seems weird. Additionally, I could not ID as ace, and Badoo seemed very geared toward the desperate--it had a rating of how popular your profile was, continually reminded you that your profile wasn't well-viewed, and insisted on upgrading. So overall it wasn't the worst, it gave me more info than Tinder, but it wasn't the best either.
3. Plenty Of Fish
I cannot yell at Plenty of Fish enough.
Quite honestly, I'm exhausted with it. I could go into how half the questions were completely shallow (how much do you make, would you date someone who "has a few extra pounds," do you have a car) and just told basic lifestyle, but I won't spend much time on these. As someone who looks for personality, I found the questions lacking (they'd only let you give one way to describe yourself for matching purposes) and they would only give me the option to find men or women, not both. No option to ID as ace, no real indication of personality without digging, and I still have an account at the time of writing this since it won't let me delete the account until I've had it for 24 hours.
Quite honestly, I'm tired.
4. Coffee and Bagels
Coffee and Bagels was definitely the most different dating app I found. It did allow me to be bi (and even default to bi) but didn't make you provide any info before creating your profile, and didn't really have any sort of quiz that it could use to match you. It pretty much seemed to go, "Here's someone of your preferred gender in your area. Fetch!" The concept was that it would provide you a "bagel" (compatible person) every day. But other than that it was nice and gave me as much info as I could have, so not the worst but definitely not the best.
Honestly, there's not much to say. Half of this app looked like the clickbaity "hot singles in your area!" ads and honestly, it didn't have anything special. It only allowed me to be into women OR men (guess bi exclusion is the theme here) and it was honestly just face-based. No real questions (just more income and body type) and nothing to get to really KNOW a person. The central thing was them being pretty and it just didn't work for me. Even though my profile is private in this image, it wasn't too different when it was public.
This was as far as I got on eHarmony. I actually learned that it doesn't allow same-sex relationships. In fact, if you want a same-sex relationship, you have to go on an entirely different site done by them, which is more than a little weird. Why create a dating app just for same-sex relationships when you literally have a dating app that you could put the option on (and maybe be a little bi-inclusive?) It's a mystery to me.
Bumble had a promising start at having bi and pan rep (you could choose men, women, or all) but it literally had no questions, just a brief bio about the person. I do appreciate the option to make friends instead of romantic connections for aro people, but it told me nothing about the people besides their appearance and, in the case of a few guys I saw, that "ball is life." I barely found any people worth talking to, and spoiler, the few I thought might be decent were women.
8. OK Cupid
Thanks to OKcupid, I am crying in the club.
Not only did they have options to identify as a gender besides male and female (including trans man, trans woman, genderfluid, androgynous, agender, nonbinary, and more!), not only did they have lots of questions to get to know a partner with super fleshed out bios, NOT ONLY did they have the option to rule out hookups... but they had the option to ID as asexual or demisexual and seek out other people who ID'd as asexual.
This was the app where I genuinely found a couple people in my area that I had to resist the urge to message since OKcupid was amazing at finding people who might be like me. It was amazing. It defaulted me to bi initially, since I said I wanted men and women, but I could change it to ace easily and found other people who id'd as ace as well!! You could look at people and see how they answered the questions you answered, and you could easily see what people were like.
I've said it once and I'll say it again. I am crying in the club. This is a great dating app for ace people and I'm honestly so incredibly happy that it exists. It's a great step toward ace inclusion.
Being ace isn't always easy, but apps like OK Cupid make it much easier. I don't expect all apps to be ace inclusive, but the ones that are make me so incredibly happy. It makes it so much easier to know we're valid, we're loved, we're cared for, and we too can find romance if we so desire.