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Dating can be challenging anywhere — but as any single New Yorker will tell you, dating in NYC is a whole other beast. For starters, no one moves to the Big Apple to fall in love (despite what every cheesy rom-com tells you). If you call New York City home (and you don’t have mom or dad floating you), you’re probably hustling to get ahead in some super competitive field while also trying to get a workout in, find time to check out that new bar that just opened up on your corner, make it to your old coworker’s birthday in order to keep your network warm — and the list goes on and on.
So if you’re going to add “looking for love” onto that already too long to-do list, you want to choose a dating app that’s going to give you the most ROI for your time spent on it. That’s just smart New Yorker math for you. But when you’re up against busy schedules that often conflict (i.e., you’re working the corporate 9-6 while she’s behind the line at N.Y.C.’s latest concept restaurant all night), plus a sea of seemingly endless dating options and, let’s be real, people who flake more often than probably anywhere else, you can start to feel burnt out pretty quickly.
To help you find a match in the most time efficient way possible, we’ve asked a few dating experts to share their best tips and advice for using apps to find love in New York City. Here’s what they had to say about overcoming the dating challenges specific to New York, which apps to use, and why they’re great for finding new love for New Yorkers.
Dating Apps and the NYC Dating Scene
“You haven’t met anyone special in that entire city full of people?” — every grandparent whose grandson has ever been a bachelor in New York City. And while it’s true that New York City’s dating pool is vast, dating expert Kevin Murray says those numbers can actually start to work against you. “Clients in New York certainly don’t have a problem with quantity — however, it’s where the quality dates lie that can be the problem,” he explains. “Since many apps search in a perfect circle mile radius, there’s a with problem pulling in potential matches from areas that are close by, because in social norms and reality they’re a whole continent away. For example: if you’re dating in lower Manhattan and are willing to date people located in upper Manhattan, most apps will pull in singles from Jersey City and Long Island. Many New Yorkers don’t want to cross the bridges to date someone on a serious relationship/recurring dates type of fashion.”
So, why not do it the old fashioned way? As social media researcher Sarah-Rose Marcus explains, no one has time for that either. “New York City’s fast pace and emphasis on career proves challenging for dating because people are so busy that it is sometimes hard to meet others face to face during their downtime,” she explains. “Even if people go to happy hours with their friends, they often don’t have the energy to strike up a conversation with a prospective partner.” And when you have met someone you’re interested in, whether it’s an online match or someone IRL, trying to find a time that works for both of you can prove more trouble than it’s worth. “Not only is there a struggle to meet, but there is also a struggle to set up a date once you have met someone due to conflicting work schedules,” Marcus continues. “Many people talk about how exhausted by dating they are: by carving out time on a weeknight after a long day of work, by dressing up, by traveling to an inconvenient location.”
So how can you use dating apps to overcome these challenges, not add to them? Erika Ettin, founder and CEO of A Little Nudge, has a strategy to help. “I call it the 5 to 1 Rule,” she says. “Get five matches, and write to all of them. Let’s say two write back. Of those two, one turns into a date. That’s a good ratio! Don’t just collect matches for the sake of collecting matches or for an ego boost.” Which can be easy to do, given the sheer volume of singles in NYC.
The Best Dating Apps in NYC
One dating challenge that’s specific to NYC is that filtering by location gets tricky. Set your radius too small, and you’re bound to get less available matches. But setting it even a little wider means you’re opening up doors to what would be considered a long distance relationship anywhere else — thanks to the fact that most New Yorkers rely on public transportation (ex. Brooklyn to Queens). Happn is a dating app that combats this by tracing your steps, and connecting you with singles who also frequent the same areas, making first dates more convenient. “Happn is an interesting app to use in N.Y.C. because it shows you how many times you’ve, literally, crossed paths with someone,” Ettin explains. “So, that person likely has a similar interest, lives locally, or frequents the same lunch spot. I know that if I crossed paths with someone at my favorite coffee shop in my neighborhood, I’d want to meet that person.” Also, if you’re in need of an opener, Happn give you a jumping off point. “Try something like, ‘We crossed paths a few times at 18th and 6th. I work at the WeWork near there! How about you?’ or, ‘Oh, I was at the Bed Bath & Beyond a few times this week since I kept buying the wrong size sheets!’ And everyone has a good, yet awkward, chuckle,” Ettin says.
Check out Happn
Billed as the “dating app for professionals,” The League has parameters set up to ensure quality over quantity. For starters, there’s a wait time in order to be accepted into the app, and once you’ve been cleared by The League powers that be, you’ll need to stay active on the app in order to continue using it. Inactive users get kicked off after two weeks, which means that the people you’re matching with are actually using this thing. “The League only show a handful of matches a day, trying to encourage users to give each match more scrutiny and attention than they would on, say, Tinder or Bumble, which have seemingly unlimited choices,” says Ettin.
Check out The League
Granted, the way a particular dating app gets used really depends on what the pool of users on the app decide they want them for. But if you’re looking for something more serious in New York City, you’re better off going with an app that positions itself that way. “The dating app Hinge is trying to combat the challenge of finding something serious by calling itself the ‘relationship app,’ which is more a branding technique than anything else,” says Ettin. The app also aims to keep its members on good behavior by pulling from your social networks to find matches connected through the friends you have on social media — the hope being that there’s less ghosting and more courtesy as a result, since these are friends of friends of friends here.
Check out Hinge
If you’re going to rock a beard, there’s no better place to do it than New York City — particularly if you’re living and dating in just about any part of Brooklyn. The creators behind Bristlr saw the affinity that New York women have for men with facial hair, and decided to design an app dedicated to connecting bearded men with their target audience and thus, Bristlr was born. There are some things that would only ever take off in certain places. Bristlr is one of those things. Get that beard the appreciation it deserves, stat.
Check out Bristlr
Coffee Meets Bagel
If you feel like the odds of dating in New York are against you, why not opt for an app where the numbers are in your favor? As of 2016, Coffee Meets Bagel had more female users than male. In addition to having the odds in your favor, the app also limits the amount of matches that you get per day — which means members aren’t swiping left and right into oblivion without giving any thought to the eligible bachelors being presented to them each day.
Check out Coffee Meets Bagel
If you’ve ever tried to make plans with anyone in New York City, you know a response that lists conflicts for the next two weeks is pretty much the norm. Apply that to online dating, and you’re looking at a back and forth of scheduling conflicts that might last for several weeks — and once you do finally meet up, you might not even like this person. That’s a lot of time spent for zero payoff. To eliminate the back and forth, Whim connects users with the goal of setting up an actual date. Once you’ve matched with a user on Whim, the app sets up a date based on both your availabilities and preferences. You can still message one another about logistics — but you’ll do so using your phone number (which takes a whole other step out of the process).
Check out Whim
The way a dating app presents itself is important. With OKCupid’s latest rebranding campaign on just about every subway platform in New York City, chances are high that eligible bachelorettes will be downloading (or re-downloading) this app to give it a(nother) try. In addition to this, OKCupid’s filter functionality also satisfies picky New Yorkers by allowing you to search by keyword to help find exactly what it is you’re looking for — whether it’s someone who you can chat about your latest Netflix binge with or someone who digs the same off-the-radar band that you do.
Check out OKCupid
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