The Best Dating Apps for Divorced Men
The newly single guy's guide to online dating after a marriage-long hiatus
Full disclosure: I am not now nor have I ever been a divorced man. This is largely because — despite emotionally identifying as a 44-year-old divorcée — I am an unmarried woman in my 20s. But while I may not know much about being a divorced man, I happen to know a thing or two about dating one. As someone who has dated my share of divorcés, I’m familiar with the anxieties and reservations you may have upon reentering the dating space — the online dating space in particular.
As a newly divorced man in the year 2021, dating apps might naturally be one of the first places you turn when it comes time to start dating again. Depending on your age and how long you’ve been out of the game, however, a post-divorce foray into online dating may well mark your first ever experience with dating apps. Even if you’re not a dating app virgin — yes, Tinder and its ilk have been around long enough that millennial marriages that began with a swipe in the early 2010s are now crumbling — you may find the ever-evolving dating-app landscape has changed significantly since your last right swipe. Quick update: Tinder is (practically) for teens now, and new dating apps catering to Gen Z are attempting to model themselves after TikTok. Naturally, a virtual TikTok-inspired Gen Z playground is probably not exactly the kind of environment in which you want to start the next chapter of your adult dating life as a grown-ass man, especially one who has recently gone through a divorce.
“After a divorce, it can be difficult to find someone who shares life goals, core values and who is also in the same ‘life season’ as you,” says Jade Bianca, dating coach, matchmaker and founder of Dating After Divorce. Fortunately, the right dating apps — used the right way — can help mitigate those difficulties and assuage any anxieties you may have about reentering the dating market after a marriage-length hiatus. Below, Bianca shares her top picks for the best post-divorce dating apps, as well as expert tips for getting back into the online dating game (or entering it for the first time) as a divorced guy.
For the uninitiated, Bumble is one of the earliest and most successful Tinder successors, and differentiates itself from the myriad other swipe-based dating apps that quickly flooded the market with its signature ladies-first model. On Bumble, women have to make the first move, and must message their matches within 24 hours, or the match expires.
While the female-founded app was presumably designed with women’s best interests in mind — namely, sparing them an endless deluge of messages from the many creepy dudes that walk the internet — this model presents some significant benefits for male users as well. While sitting around waiting for a woman to message you may not seem ideal, especially for an old-school guy who likes to make the first move, it could actually save you a lot of time and wasted energy. Frankly, the odds are stacked against men on dating apps, and it’s not uncommon on other apps for frustrated men to resort to rapid-fire right swiping and throwing countless unreturned messages into the void. On Bumble, men can sit back (and/or go about their regularly scheduled lives) while the ladies come to them, thus saving them the time that might have been wasted messaging women who simply aren’t interested. So if you’re an adult man with a busy life who doesn’t relish the idea of spending countless hours of that life swiping and messaging into oblivion, Bumble might be worth a shot.
Owned by the same parent company as Tinder, Hinge has gained popularity in recent years as a more mature platform for slightly more serious daters. Billed as “the app designed to be deleted,” Hinge has attempted to escape Tinder’s “hookup app” image by selling itself as an overtly relationship-forward platform. In my own non-expert opinion, however, Hinge has become more popular as a mainstream, catch-all dating app for people who generally kind of have their shit together (at least compared to Tinder users) but aren’t necessarily looking for anything specific. Are some, even many, Hinge users looking for relationships? Absolutely. But if you’re a recently divorced man who, like many recently divorced men, isn’t ready to leap into another serious relationship, there are plenty of people on Hinge seeking more casual situations, alternative dating styles or at least looking to take it slow. Hinge is pretty much the mainstream “it” app of the moment, so whatever you’re looking for, you can probably find it there.
One tip though? Whatever it is you’re looking for, just be honest about it. Lingering stigma surrounding divorce being what it is, divorced men may worry about how their marital status will affect their performance on dating apps, while first-time app-daters may feel pressured to conform to whatever they think other people on the app are looking for. “My advice is to be honest and transparent when dating,” says Bianca. “If you don’t know what you’re looking for exactly or you’re looking for something casual — just say it!” The onus is not on you to be what other people want. You’re here to find what you want.
Coffee Meets Bagel
Coffee Meets Bagel considers itself “the original anti-swipe app,” and was one of the first Tinder successors to differentiate itself from the competition by ditching the swipe. In a post-Tinder age of increasing swipe-fatigue, this model has become more popular, especially among older, busier users who simply don’t have the time and energy to waste on endless swiping. In place of the swipe, Coffee Meets Bagel sends you a limited number of algorithm-curated matches every day at noon. You either like them or you don’t, and then you go back to your regularly scheduled life instead of getting sucked into an afternoon’s worth of swiping.
The downside? You’ll probably end up with a lot fewer matches than you would on traditional swipe-based dating apps. But take it from me, a hardened dating app veteran, the novelty and validation of accumulating an army of virtually anonymous matches with whom you have little to no intention of ever interacting wears off pretty quickly. On a platform like Coffee Meets Bagel, you’ll at least have the satisfaction of knowing that any matches you forge are with people who probably at least took the time to read your profile.
Of course, you could find someone on pretty much any dating app — yes, even among the scammers and TikTok teens of Tinder, though Bianca strongly advises against it: “I do not recommend Tinder. Tinder is the most widely used dating app in the world, but there are so many fake profiles and people who are looking to scam individuals on the app.” Sticking to these more mature picks — even if you happen to be a relatively young divorcé — will probably save you a lot of time, energy and frustration, which seems ideal for someone who has recently gone through a presumably time-consuming, energy-depleting, frustrating divorce. After all, dating is supposed to be fun, which is ultimately the most important thing to keep in mind as a newly single guy getting back in the game.
“Dating apps can feel like a second job,” says Bianca. “Instead of looking at dating as something that you have to do, look at it as a chance to meet new people that you would have never otherwise met. Changing your perspective on dating can transform it from an experience that feels like an interview to a fun time,” which is exactly what you should be looking for.
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