Thanks to apps like Tinder, online dating has basically morphed into mobile dating nowadays. Though swiping through Tinder is an effective way to end -- or at least try to end -- your dry spell, it's not exactly the most safe app out there. Every Tinder user worries about meeting up with someone who looks totally normal in their profile but who's actually batsh-t insane IRL.
We understand your struggle, so we put together a list of apps that are similar to Tinder but have wayyy less of a creep factor. To keep things as broad as possible, we left out apps that are based solely on religion (sup, JSwipe) or on sexual orientation (oh hey there, Grindr).
We also excluded companies like Match.com and eHarmony, because you're probably already familiar with them thanks to the gazillion commercials they have. It's also much harder to use these sites without paying for their subscription service. We may be single, but we're not desperate enough -- yet -- to pay a monthly fee to end our Single Lady Syndrome.
Here are the multipurpose apps that can help you find platonic friends, fun buddies, platonic friends that double as fun buddies, relationships, whatever:
Hinge (iOS, Android)Hinge
You know how LinkedIn suggests second and third degree connections for you based on your current network? Hinge works exactly the same way, except it's for dating instead of job-hunting. The app lets you swipe through people who are friends of friends, so you'll usually end up seeing people who went to the same school as you but who you never met. When you get a match, you're able to message the person through the app.
Why it's less creepy than Tinder: Besides the fact that you're not talking to complete randos, you also get the full name of everyone you match with. If they list their work info in their Facebook profile, you see that too. A quick Google search verifies that they're a real person with a real job and real friends. And since there's no anonymity on Hinge, people aren't going to message you the sleazy pickup lines they do on Tinder.
A friendly forewarning, however -- the app is horrendously buggy and crashes the majority of the time you use it. It's painfully slow and freezes up every time you try to view someone's profile. If you're patient enough to tolerate how user-unfriendly the app is, Hinge is a great alternative to Tinder.
You need be over 21 for this app because it involves alcohol. It also costs $20, but you get a free drink and a pre-planned night out of it. You go on a Grouper date with two of your trusty friends in tow to meet up with three other people. Grouper specifies the place and time of the meetup based on your schedules. Your gang shows up, the other gang shows up, ya'll have a drink together and give it a few minutes to see if any sparks fly.
Why it's less creepy than Tinder: You're with your friends. If something feels off about the triple date, you guys can easily leave -- and since you're already with your BFFs, you can still make a great night out of what started out as a crappy date.
Meetup (iOS, Android, desktop)Meetup
Meetup isn't technically a dating site, but it's a great way to put yourself out there to meet new people whatever your intentions are. A Meetup group is basically a collection of people who live in the same city, share a common interest and want to do something IRL related to that interest. Meetups exist for practically everything -- yoga addicts, cooking aficionados, people who've recently moved to the area. Some Meetups host speed-dating events and singles mixers so you can find someone who's looking for the same thing you are.
Why it's less creepy than Tinder: You're not by yourself. Meeting people through Meetup also feels more natural, because you're not interacting with someone through a screen -- you're talking to them in real life at an event you both just happened to go to.
Coffee Meets Bagel (iOS, Android, desktop)Coffee Meets Bagel
Coffee Meets Bagel is unique because you can only view one person's profile -- which the app chooses for you -- per day. You can either "like" or "pass" on this person, and if you both "like" each other you're set up with a temporary phone line to text. If you're too busy to scroll through the infinite number of potential matches on most dating sites, CMB could be a good option.
Why it's less creepy than Tinder: Because Coffee Meets Bagel limits your matches to one per day, the people on this app tend to be looking for something more serious -- not just trying to get as many matches as possible. No one's sending out mass "wanna chill?" messages here.
OkCupid (iOS, Android, desktop)OkCupid
OkCupid is only slightly less creepy than Tinder. The biggest problem with OkCupid is that anyone -- regardless of whether you've matched with them or indicated any interest in them whatsoever -- can message you. On the plus side, it's really simple to block or report anyone who sends you inappropriate messages, and OkCupid's admin actually does shut these offending accounts down.
A lot of people compare OkCupid to Plenty Of Fish, which is similar in that they both claim to be free online dating sites with extra features for those who are willing to pay for them. On both sites, you can match and message people for free. We chose OkCupid for our list since it gives you more capabilities -- like being able to add tons of photos and see everyone's complete profile -- without forking over your hard-earned cash.
Why it's less creepy than Tinder: It's anonymous, so your name is private unless you choose to reveal it. Even if someone is creeping on you over OkCupid, chances are they won't be able to find out your true identity -- whereas with Tinder, they have your first name and mutual friend info to go off of.
Happn (iOS, Android)Happn
Happn could be creepy depending on where you live, since it's a dating app based completely on location. It shows you people who you cross paths with on a daily basis -- people who go to the same gym as you, people who have a similar commute. If you both both "heart" each other, you can message through the app.
Why it's less creepy than Tinder: On Tinder, you'll see tons of people who are just in town for the weekend or who want someone to hang out with ASAP. With Happn, that's less of a thing. If you live on a college campus or somewhere where there are a lot of people you'd be interested in meeting, Happn makes it easy to figure out who those passersby are -- but only if they want to know who you are, too.
Tastebuds (iOS, desktop)Tastebuds
Finally, an app for all those people who judge others based on what they listen to. Tastebuds connects you with people when you're into the same bands and artists, and it helps you discover new music. You don't need to stress about figuring what to do when you meet up in person -- a concert will probably be a win-win for both of you.
Why it's less creepy than Tinder: You don't need to use your real name if you don't want to. And unlike Tinder, Tastebuds isn't solely for finding a date -- it's a great place to find concert buddies or something equally platonic.
While we're talking about dating apps, MTV's new original series "Eye Candy" shows what happens when a Tinder-like dating app called Flirtual gets a little too creepy. Check out the trailer below to see for yourself:
Watch the hair-raising pilot episode here and tune in this Monday at 10/9c on MTV to find out what happens next.