Apps / Dating / SpillSesh Interviews

#SpillSesh: The Best (And Worst) Apps for Gay Dating

I’ve had a post like this on my list for ages – thankfully, the topic never goes out of style. As I find myself back on dating apps for my (76th?) round, I am reminded that each app has it quirks and some serve certain purposes better than others. So, combined with my own experiences, I talked to two other followers who had just as much to say. Thank you to Fadi and Daniel for participating. Oh, and give Fadi’s gay dating podcast a listen too!

1. Which dating app(s) are you currently using?

F: None, I’m abstaining from it. The last time I used it was Nov 30 2019, it’s been 4 months and I’ve never felt better. I hope to continue this way. I’ve been using dating apps for 10 years then whenever I get into a relationship, I stop of course. But unfortunately, It’s been a habit that I go back to it quickly once the relationship is over.

D: I’m currently on Hinge, Tinder and Grindr.

L, Esq.: Hinge and Bumble – yes both, judge me!

2. Which dating app(s) have you used in the past that you no longer use?

F: Historically, they may not be considered dating apps but when Friendster & Facebook came out, I met a lot of guys there. The trick is to add people randomly, and if you see that most of the common friends are gay then that’s the sign that they are too. On top of that, I was also using Planet Romeo, then when smart phones came out I used Tinder & Grindr. Both for fun & search for something serious.

D: You name it, I’ve been on it LOL. Bumble, OK Cupid, Scruff, Manhunt, etc.

L, Esq.: Am I supposed to be able to remember? Grindr and Tinder, definitely. I want to say Scruff in some desperate moments circa 2012. Ok Cupid, also not recently. 

3. Why do you continue to use the apps you use?

D: Boredom, mostly, especially given the current state of the world as it relates to dating.  I have zero expectations, but I’m open to possibilities.  I’m really only on Grindr to hook up–which none of us should be doing right now.  Stay the fuck at home.

L, Esq.: Hinge and Bumble seem to be very of the moment – and for me, it’s all about maximizing opportunities and using what others are using.  I also try Tinder here and there.

4. Why did you stop using the apps from the past?

F: This has been an on going battle for me, like I said, I spent 10 years in dating apps on and off. I’ve told myself so many times to stop it yet I keep coming back. I have a couple of reasons:

I’ve learned that I tend to minimize myself into a version of me that’s sexually or romantically acceptable in the apps. So when I started using this when I was at the age of 17 until I was 27 (I turned 28 recently), I realized that the struggles I had personally were caused by the app. I tend to meet guys who were just interested on me sexually or if it’s romantically, it’s what I can offer and not because of what I already have. So none of the relationships truly work. Also, people were so easy to jump in relationships and get out of it (Including myself). And everyone knows everyone, may you come from big or small cities, everyone seems to just rotate around.

People are just odd, this may have something to do with our own struggles as gay people and these apps really reflect the sides of ourselves that we’ve been hiding from everyone. Especially when you’re still in the closet and going through this, since you have so many suppressed emotions that you haven’t truly uncovered then you tend to project that to other people.

D: Mostly the acceptance of my low expectations and being fine with being single.  When I stopped feeling like I needed to find a boyfriend or I would be on the apps until I found someone, I didn’t feel the need to be on them anymore.

L, Esq.: I try to stay off of Grindr because ultimately I hope to find a more serious relationship.  It’s fine for killing time or when you’re not ready for something serious, but it’s also very toxic (see: the two books I wrote about Grindr).  Tinder I sometimes get frustrated with because no one seems to want to hold a conversation – it’s more of a “am I hot?” game.  The other ones just seem played out these days.

5. Have you every met a boyfriend from any of the apps you use? Which apps?

F: They’re not quite a relationship, it was messy & complicated. Friendster – 1 (4 months); Facebook – 2 (4 months & 6 months); and Planet Romeo – 2 (6 months). For more official relationships (I met their family & friends): Grindr – 1 (1 year); Tinder – 1 (2 years).

D: No.

L, Esq.: One from Grindr (a mess – also in my book); two from Tinder. 

6. Which app(s) do you feel are the most toxic and why?

F: Grindr – It’s a representation of all the bad things/traits of gay people.

D: I feel that they’re all equally toxic at the end of the day for two main reasons: the guys that are on there and the marketing behind each of them.  I live in West Hollywood, where it’s all too common for a list of “preference” prerequisites is more communicated then respect for members of ones community.  Being a marketing expert, I also have a keen eye on what campaigns look like from the platforms themselves, and I’m afraid I’m always left…underwhelmed and disappointed by the monotonous approach to diversity and inclusion that other so-called marketing “experts” feel is sufficient.  I’m looking at you, Grindr.

L, Esq.: GRINDR – obviously. People think they can treat others however they want to as a means to their end – getting some dick.

7. Which app(s) do you feel are the most productive and why?

F: Tinder – Only for awhile when it was becoming popular, when I used it 3 years ago people still tend to initiate and have an actual conversation. But when I used it 4 months ago, people are just snobbish and won’t talk to you even if you matched.

D: For me personally, I’d have to say Grindr, as I can usually find what I’m looking for at the time.

L, Esq.: Basically any app that forces people to take the time to write descriptions or answer questions – anything to make it less image-based (which is a necessary evil). Hinge and Bumble seem to do a somewhat good job vs. Tinder’s blank description box. Ok Cupid I always thought was very cool because it really tries to match people who are compatible based on questions, but not enough people use it so it gets old fast. 

8. Have you ever paid for premium features on any of the apps?  Which app, what was your reason for paying, and did you find more success than using the free version?

F: Tinder, so I know who swiped right on me, I can filter on my end. No, I didn’t find more success.

Grindr, so I can get rid of the ads and view more guys in my area or overseas before planned solo trips. No, I didn’t find more success.

D: I’ve paid for Grindr premium, but that’s mostly just because I tend to block people who I won’t be interacting with (parTiers, guys who have a list of toxic prereqs, guys who I’ve messaged that never messaged back, etc).  It’s more efficient for me to be able to clear out profiles I don’t need to see again.

L, Esq.: Tinder, Bumble and Grindr.  I’d say paying for premium on Tinder and Bumble gives you an initial rush of “damn, bitches like me” but it’s most frequently guys you might not like back, so you quickly crash from that initial high.  I’d say it’s not worth the money unless swiping is really too much work for you.  And with Grindr, back in the day, it just gave you access to more guys so I’d say I was in a desperate place and needed more options of guys to talk to. Generally, paying on dating apps is usually associated with some level of obsession or desperation, probably best to take a step back if you feel the urge to pay out of frustration with the dating process. There’s really no shortcuts to dating. It will happen at the right time with the right person, not when you want it to.

9. How often do you check the apps you currently use? Do you find yourself hooked on any of them? 

F: It got to a point where it’s almost 6 – 8 hours that it’s getting in the way of my daily life, then I had to control myself so I removed notifications and scheduled 1 hour daily after work to check on it. It worked for awhile, especially on weekdays, but weekends can be so draining since I tend to use it more.

D: Mostly depends on what I’m looking for at the time; it ebbs and flows, especially if there’s a guy in particular who I’m chatting back and forth with.  I’m not really “hooked” on any of them.

L, Esq.: I check them if I have new messages throughout the day, otherwise once in the morning and once in the evening these days.  But I’ve definitely been obsessed during points in my life.  Perhaps I have grown out of that phase knowing that obsessing and being glued to apps doesn’t get you to love any faster.  I try to keep a healthy distance, but still put in the effort and maintain conversations.

10. Do you feel any shame in telling friends or family you met someone from an app? If so, are you comfortable sharing that you use certain apps over others?

F: Not anymore but I used to. Nowadays, friends know exactly what it means if you meet someone from Grindr/Tinder. So sometimes I choose not to disclose which specific app, or simply lie that it’s from Tinder (If someone’s from Grindr) since the stigma isn’t that bad.

D: I have no problem telling friends I’ve met someone off an app, they’re all very aware of my escapades.  I don’t speak to my family much, let alone about my sex life.

L, Esq.: I would only really feel some level of shame with Grindr and needing to explain that it wasn’t just a hookup situation (if I was trying to date someone from it).  But at the end of the day, if I’m on the app, why would I feel shame or feel like anyone else on the app is beneath me.  Friends and family will just have to get over that or mind their own business.

11. Please list the single best and worst aspect of each app you currently use.

D: Grindr – Best – the way the platform is built to display users by distance; Worst – Lack of spam filtering; Hinge – Best – I like the question prompts; Worst – Kind of boring; Tinder – Best – swiping is great in being able to quickly sort through people; Worst – Guys who don’t respond after matching–like, why?

L, Esq.: Well even though I’m not on it, I’d say the best part of Grindr is the immediacy and rush of knowing how far someone is from you.  Which is also why it’s toxic and addictive.  For the Hinge and Bumble-type apps, the best part is that guys aren’t acting like hoes and it gives me hope that people want things like kids and love and longevity.

12. If you could change any of the apps (in features or types of people, for instance), or even design your own app, what would be different about it?

F: I think it has gotten to a point where the problem isn’t the apps, no matter what app it is, it’s the attitude of gay people towards it. For some it may still work, but with everything I learned all these past 10 years and is that I was better off without it and if I could turn back time, I wished I never used it.

D: The apps aren’t the problem; it’s the people on there.  People need to be reminded how to respect each other.

L, Esq.: One of my biggest peeves is being able to filter by things like race.  Not cool and perpetuates a lot of deeper issues within the community.

13. If a good gay friend had never used any dating app before and asked you which one you suggested (overall), which one would you recommend today?

F: I would advise not to use any app at all. Yes, you may meet people easily but the shit you have to get through and people you have to deal it isn’t worth it. I would advise for that person to keep an open eye on the people around them, the ones who truly see you for who you are without having to put yourself in a box sexually and romantically so that one can find you desirable. Take the time to get to know yourself, free yourself, love yourself, and naturally, when the time is right, someone will come and it’ll all make sense and worth it.

D: For someone starting out, I’d say Tinder for dating.  It’s simple and since you’re given one platform at a time, it’s not overwhelming.

L, Esq.: Probably Hinge or Bumble if they’re looking for something more serious.  Tinder if they are a bit more unsure or want to dip their toe into the water.  I would hope they could avoid Grindr at all costs.

14. What’s the best experience that you remember from an interaction on any of these apps (for instance a good date, a new friend, etc. and please say which app it was from).

F: I would say that I’ve had great acquaintances but not as friends where I can truly rely on when I’m at my lowest point. On Grindr, I met this French guy over coffee in a Sunday afternoon, it was meant to be just that but it carried through 5PM where we eventually started drinking beer. We also didn’t discuss whatever we were trying to get to. This went on for 6 months, we became good friends and kept each other’s company, our ritual was to have Sunday afternoon drinks. I eventually met his friends then my link of acquaintances grew a little bit. We still stay in touch up to this day. Unfortunately, he had to leave Singapore and move back to France.

D: I gained a very close friend from Grindr.

L, Esq.: Oh man, I’d have to again shout out my books and encourage you to read them!  So many stories.  But I guess my favorites would have to be my two non-Grindr exes.

15. What’s the worst experience that you remember from an interaction on any of these apps (for instance a good date, a new friend, etc. and please say which app it was from).

D: Was on vacation on opened up Grindr; went over to this person’s hotel and it ended up being a wrong place at the wrong time situation that involved the cops; luckily I had the chats to prove I had no clue what was going to be going on when I got there (stay safe kids).

L, Esq.: See my book – particularly the chapter on the guy who was stalking and trying to kill me.

16. Have you never used a specific app before, and do you have a reason for not using it? (I.e. “Grindr because it is mostly for hookups”)

F: I’ve used most of them but other apps like Scruff and all these other specific apps for certain tribes have really bad UI that I gave up on it easily. Also, since Grindr & Tinder are the most popular, you can’t help but feel that you’re missing out on something.

L, Esq.: I feel like I’ve used the major ones – I don’t think I’m missing out by not using niche apps. Ultimately, the same guys are on all of them.

17. Is there an app you wish you could never use again? Which one and why?

F: Overall, I do regret that I’ve relied heavily online to find someone. It has numbed me of all the things that matter to me personally especially at such an important time in our lives where we become adults. A big part of me regret it, but also a small part of me is thankful that I see things clearly now. If I hadn’t done that, I may have always consciously feel that I’m missing out on something. All of my exes were guys I met online, and just like where it started, it’s also where it ends. It’s a cycle where you meet someone online – get into a relationship – break up – then see each other online again. A cycle so draining and toxic yet I always succumbed into.

D: I wouldn’t say that I would “wish I could never use it again,” but I felt least welcome on Scruff.  I’m not exactly the kind of guy that fits in on there.

L, Esq.: Grindr – it’s just not productive for my goals at this time and I hope to find a forever guy so I won’t really need it again.  But I also have nothing against it – it provides a service that you sometimes need to stay sane. 

18. Any other thoughts, comments, advice, tips, regrets?  

D: Be respectful, always.  Even a “no thank you” can be delivered in a kind and respectful way.

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