Dating can be a weird experience. Meeting people is a challenge, sometimes dates you’re excited for turn out to be duds, and every once in a while you meet someone and it’s love at first sight. Not unlike shopping for the perfect furniture for your home—sometimes you have to search the internet for your dream sofa, and other times you walk into a store and it’s right there waiting for you. So, here’s what it would be like if using dating apps was actually furniture shopping—whether you’re on Tinder or Match.com, or scouring the IKEA showroom or heading to an antiques shop, there’s something for everyone.
Match.com paved the way for online dating—if you don’t know any of the others on this list, you definitely still know about Match.com. Its demographic is mostly established adults looking for a serious connection and relationship and to access all the features you’ll need a paid membership, so if you’re going the Match.com route in your furniture shopping, you’re probably heading to Pottery Barn. It’s a safe and comfortable place to find what you want, but you’re going to have to invest a little time to find the right, well… match.
Much like Match.com, eHarmony was one of the early players in the online dating world and is all about finding true love—the site promotes marriage, so it’s for people who know what they want, and, like Match.com, requires a paid membership to get the most out of it. In the furniture world, it’s like going to West Elm—you know you’ll find something you’ll love, but it requires a bit of an investment. While they ultimately serve the same function, the vibe between Match.com and eHarmony is different—much like how Pottery Barn and West Elm are under the same brand umbrella, but feel totally different in what they offer.
Tinder = A Giant Furniture Warehouse
Tinder is probably the most well-known dating app there is. Tinder started the swipe trend that led to so many other dating apps—and that many existing ones adopted. If you’re unfamiliar, users can swipe through (left to pass, right to like) people based only on their first name, a handful of profile pictures, and a short bio. There are so many people on Tinder to swipe through, especially if you live in a big city, that it’s probably entirely possible to get carpal tunnel just from trying to find a date, but most of its users don’t take it very seriously and it’s earned a reputation as a hookup app. Tinder is essentially the furniture warehouse of the dating world—there’s a lot (often too much) to choose from, but you know you’ll find something if you keep searching. It might not be your dream couch, but it’ll work until you figure out what you really want—and hey, you might get lucky and find exactly what you were looking for.
Bumble = Anthropologie
And then there’s Bumble, whose premise is pretty much exactly that of Tinder, except only women can message first. Using it feels the same—you swipe, you match, you chat, you hope they’re not terrible and that it ends in a date. But the experience is radically different—Bumble seems to have higher quality (read: cuter and more serious) matches awaiting you, but just because you’ve found someone you like and match with doesn’t mean they’ll message you back. I’m pretty sure that makes Bumble the Anthropologie of dating apps—just because you find your dream vanity doesn’t mean you’ll actually get to take it home with you because you can’t justify paying $1,300 for a mirror right now. Both will teach you what you want, though—in furniture, and in a partner.
Hinge is also kind of like Tinder, except it started out with one major difference: you’d only see people who were a friend of a friend (AKA if you had Facebook friends in common). Hinge also recently rebranded, reasserting itself as a relationship app, not a hookup app. If you’re joining Hinge, you’re looking for something more serious, but you’re also getting something that’s somewhat familiar and comfortable. It’s like the IKEA of dating apps—you know that if you put in the effort to go through the showroom you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for. Plus, you’ve probably seen that same bookshelf at your friend’s house, but you didn’t realize how much you liked it until just now.
Coffee Meets Bagel is an interesting app because rather than endlessly browse or swipe through users, it provides you (you’re the Coffee) with a few people (Bagels) to either like or pass on, and the app gives you one match a day and a limited window in which to talk to them. It’s not unlike going to an antiques shop—there’s probably a limited selection of the things you’re looking for, you have to hope you can find one great piece of furniture for the right price, and if you don’t, you’ll just have to come back another day and see if there’s anything new.
OkCupid is one of the most popular online dating sites (and apps) around, but unlike the Tinder-like swipe apps, anyone can message you on it, even if you haven’t swiped right and gotten a match. That means two things: One, you have to sort through a ton of people before you can find a few you might want to go on a date with, and two, you get a lot of weird messages to sift through. In the furniture world, it can only be compared to hunting for the perfect—but still inexpensive—sofa on Craigslist. You have to go through a ton of listings and sometimes you encounter more creepiness than you bargained for, but every once in a while you find a gem.
Raya = Priceless Family Heirlooms
Raya is the most exclusive dating app there is—it’s populated by A-list celebrities and invite-only members (and considering I am not famous nor important enough to get invited, I still don’t fully know how it works). Just picture inheriting a one-of-a-kind antique bedroom set that’s been passed on from generation to generation in your family as an heirloom—that’s what Raya is like. You don’t even need to furniture shop, you just have to be lucky and “important” enough to get the truly special pieces.
Meeting IRL = The Perfect Curb Find
Meeting someone in real life—say at a bar or a party—is totally one of those “right place at the right time” situations. You meet a lot of people when you’re out living your life, but most of them aren’t the one. But every once in a while, you luck out and meet someone cute who seems totally awesome where you least expect it—not unlike finding the perfect chair on the side of the road. Like all relationships, that street furniture requires a little TLC and some work, but sometimes it’s worth it.