For women, online dating can feel like a bit of a minefield. From receiving unsolicited pics and messages to being harassed or verbally abused on dating apps, the world of online dating sometimes seems like a far from safe place. According to a study by Pew Research, a worrying 53% of women surveyed felt dating apps weren’t a safe place to meet people. Women ages 18 to 34 also are the most likely demographic to report negative or troublesome interactions on dating apps. As many as 57% of women surveyed had received sexually explicit messages, with 44% having experienced being called an offensive name, and a further 19% of women reported being threatened with physical harm on online dating sites and apps. These statistics are eye-opening and shocking, but does it mean online dating isn’t safe for women?
Thankfully, we don’t think that’s the case, although it is important to ensure you opt for apps that offer safe, inclusive spaces to meet others, whatever your preferences. Apps created by women, for women, and those that allow women to take total control of their dating experience — as well as those offering something a little different, like matches based on astrological signs or favorite games — are those we’ll focus on here.
So settle down with your favorite beverage and some time to spare and read through our pick of the best dating apps for women. There’s sure to be the right one for you on this list.
You also can check out our roundup of the best dating apps, or browse through the best dating apps for dating during coronavirus to help you find The One during lockdown.
On Bumble, women are in charge — a ballsy move. You have total control over who you start up a conversation with, which means no creepy unsolicited messages or pictures. It also means you won’t waste time filtering through unwanted messages in your inbox. Once you’ve made a mutual match with somebody of the opposite gender, you have 24 hours to make the first move, and the man gets 24 hours to respond. The downside is that if you’re super busy or a bit forgetful, you might miss out on the opportunity to make your move, although you can extend this window by 24 hours if you’re really keen to chat but haven’t had time. Likewise, men can also choose to extend the time limit for 24 hours if they’re really hoping to hear from a particular woman.
The upside is that your matches won’t languish, forgotten, as it puts a bit of pressure on you to communicate in a timely manner. On the downside, the app may attract a more passive crowd, so if that’s not the type of personality you’re attracted to, you may be out of luck here.
Bumble also prides itself as a safe, friendly place for women — and people of all genders — to interact. The app has a strict code of conduct in place and prohibits pornographic material, and it requires users to respect each other at all times. If you’re the type of person who enjoys finding out a fair bit about your matches before striking up a conversation, Bumble may not be the app for you, as each profile is limited to a concise blurb and six photos.
Admittedly women can be a bit more detail-oriented than men at times, that is to say, we’re more inclined to sweat the small things. Pew Research’s recent study revealed that women place more importance on certain profile information than men do — for example, 72% of women surveyed said that it was very important that a potential match’s profile include information about the type of relationship they were looking for. You won’t generally find that level of detail on dating apps like Tinder — it’s great for a quick swipe and match, but you don’t really know that much about your potential date before you start chatting.
Things are a bit different with OkCupid. Detailed questions allow you to dig deep into the psyche and personality of your potential match before you’ve even struck up a conversation. You can see whether you match on core values, religious beliefs, political views, or whether you share the same taste in Netflix shows — equally important, we’d say.
OkCupid is one of the older dating sites out there, around long before apps were even a thing, but to this day it’s one of the best for getting to know more about a potential paramour before you connect. It’s not perfect, however. Anyone can message you, so if you don’t want to receive unsolicited messages, this might not be the app for you. You can’t see who likes you either unless you upgrade to OKCupid Basic, which will set you back $10 a month or $30 for six months.
If you’re worried about unsolicited messages or harassment, you can pay for Incognito Mode, which hides your profile from any members you’ve not already messaged or liked — and you can turn it on and off at any time. OKCupid takes the safety of its users seriously, with tips for online safety on the site and the option to block any users who are bothering you — or report a profile to support if you’re being harassed. As far as being a safe dating app for women, it’s not bad, but it’s not the best, either.
This wouldn’t be a list of the best dating apps for women without HER, the largest, most popular free dating app for LGBTQ+ women, with more than six million users worldwide. We love that users are verified — you’ll need an Instagram or Facebook account to sign up — reducing the risk of catfishes and bots. It’s simple to get started on the app and match with like-minded women by liking their photo. The app only will notify you both if there’s a mutual match, at which point you can chat, so you won’t receive unsolicited messages.
It’s free to use HER or you can subscribe to premium from $15 per month to see who’s online right now, filter searches by sexuality, and enjoy a whole host of other features.
HER has strict community guidelines to create a place where “everyone can unapologetically be themselves, feel safe, and build wonderful relationships that are based on trust, identity, and community.” The app also has a zero-tolerance policy for abusive or harassing behavior and a strict no-nudes rule. It’s a pretty safe space to connect with other women for friendship and dating, provided you’re 18 or older.
If you’re a woman who loves to game and can be found raiding rivers in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or taking on friends in a game of Overcooked on weekends, then Kippo is the app for you. People are using the app to find their “player 2” both romantically and just in a gaming sense, with Kippo spawning many beautiful friendships since its launch in 2019.
The emphasis here is on getting to know each other over a game of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, or The Division 2, rather than meeting up in person for dinner or drinks. In the strange times we’re living in, the app has seen an influx of new users, all happy to connect virtually without the pressure of a real-life meetup. It’s free to sign up, browse profiles, and message other users, although there is a cap on the number of messages you can exchange daily. To remove the cap on DMs and access other premium features, you can subscribe to Kippo Infinity for $10 per month.
We like to think that a dating app focused on gaming is a pretty safe space to meet other like-minded people, however there’s not much information available on the app’s safety and privacy policies — or what to do if you’re being bothered or harassed by other users. Kippo also isn’t yet available in any other locations besides the U.S., so if you’re in the U.K. or Europe, you’ll need to find an alternative dating app for now.
Coffee Meets Bagel
Coffee Meets Bagel no longer requires you to use Facebook to set up an account — good news if you’re not a Facebook fan, although you still need to use your mobile number to create an account — but it does mean that the app could be open to bots and catfishes. Once you’ve set up your profile and added your dating preferences, it sends you a few “bagels” — profiles of potential matches — a day. You get 24 hours to decide if you want to “like” or “pass” on each bagel. You’ll only be able to DM your bagel if they like you back, which means this app gets bonus points for no unsolicited messages.
Coffee Meets Bagel lets you add up to eight photos of yourself and create a fairly detailed profile, which should make it easier to suss out whether you “like” your bagels. However, the downside to the app is that, whether you’ve chatted or not, your private chat room expires after eight days. This means you’ll need to exchange numbers or move to another means of communicating, which puts pressure on women to give out their personal details. Depending on how comfortable you feel after eight days — a fairly short period of time, in our eyes — this may not be something you’re happy with.
The app also loses points for its reporting features. Reporting a profile in Discover on the iOS app is fairly simple, but right now there’s no in-app function to report a bagel on the Android app. This is a little disappointing to say the least, although you can submit a support request and add screenshots of the offending profile, which seems like quite a convoluted, time-consuming process to us.
On a positive note, Coffee Meets Bagel has strict user guidelines such as a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, hate speech, and abusive behavior. The app prohibits pornographic images and every user must upload at least one photo in which their face is clearly visible.
While we’re not in any way implying that all women are into astrology, you have to admit that many of us are, well, more into it than most men you’ll meet. If you’ve ever spent time checking out a match’s birth chart or even reading your own horoscope online, then Nuit might be a good dating app for you to check out.
Nuit is based around astrological matches — we’re talking real astrology here, not the cheesy horoscopes you see in the newspaper. Just enter your date and time of birth and the app creates your birth chart, giving you some interesting insights into what makes you tick and why you act and think the way you do as well as useful information on how you connect or clash with others. Okay, so the app may not be able to find your soulmate purely based on your sun sign and time of birth, but what it can do is show you how you’ll match up and what views, behaviors, and thoughts you have in common. Whether you believe it or not, some signs are more compatible than others — and at the very least it may give you an idea of personality clashes you may experience with a potential match if you’re, say, a watery Cancer and they’re a fiery Aries.
Nuit is geared toward inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community and includes nonbinary gender identity as well as an expanded spectrum of orientation preferences — so if you’re a woman looking to date somebody of the same sex, your profile won’t be shown to straight users, unlike most heteronormative dating apps.
The app is fun to use, free, and boasts a gorgeous design that means you won’t feel the cringe factor opening it to check your matches in front of your friends. You can use Nuit to meet like-minded people as well as a match, although the fact it’s fairly new to the market means there’s not much information on what steps the developers are taking to keep people safe while using the app. The user base also is still fairly small, but hopefully, it will grow in time.