A Guide to Dating Apps in Madison

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by Molly O’Brien, Lifestyle Editorial Assistant

Let me start by saying I have not seriously dated someone since high school. Let me continue by saying I am busy, happy and completely obsessed with every aspect of my life as it stands. But, that does not mean there isn’t a little excitement in dating apps, and I would be lying if I said I haven’t downloaded (and deleted, and re-downloaded, and re-deleted) Tinder and Bumble and who knows what else just like any other single college student. We all know it is “just for fun” — until that really cute person from your English class swipes right — and no one under the age of 24 is on there for anything serious, right? So now that all the disclaimers are out of the way, here is a small guide to using dating apps on campus: the good, the bad and the “this person must be looking for marriage.”


The most well-known dating app by far is Tinder. The only requirement to create a profile is to have a Facebook and to enable location services. Then, simply let your fingers do the work; Tinder is the premiere mindless swipe spot. Users tend to skew younger and a little raunchier than other platforms. You are also definitely more likely to get a poorly executed pickup line or a bathroom mirror pic. One user told me he was “fixin [his] truck and trying to drink some beer at the same time.” So, you get the idea. In general, Tinder is pretty wide open and, in my opinion, losing ground as other sites become more personalized to the user. Best for: funny conversations and hookups.


Two words: Epic Systems. Some are convinced that creating a profile is part of the Madison-based company’s hiring process with how many employees you see, but I can’t complain. If interested in a slightly older, intelligent individual, look no further. Bumble is more personalized than Tinder, as it links your profile to your Spotify. Other features include setting an age range of interest and a mile radius of matches. The most alluring part of Bumble, though, is that women have to start the conversation first. This is both empowering for the girl and exciting for the guy, especially because the girl must do it within 24 hours of matching or the match disappears. In Madison, the pool available on Bumble is generally more mature and put-together, and I can honestly say I have a few friends who obsess over the prospects. Best for: a date here and there; still playful.

Coffee Meets Bagel

This is where things start turning from “no, really, I’m just playing around” to “okay, someone sign me up for match.com.” Coffee Meets Bagel uses a ton of personal information, such as interests, preferences in a partner, three interesting facts about yourself and so on. It then takes this information and uses it to give you five personalized matches a day — rather than letting you swipe endlessly. In theory, this sounds great because it takes the stress of making sure you are compatible away from the conversation. However, I found it leaves you with options you may not be crazy about and people who are really serious about dating apps paying off in the long run. It felt like I had registered for an actual subscription-based website rather than a low-stakes app. Best for: finding the one.

There are countless other apps for dating, though these appear to be the most well-known in the Madison community. Some others include OkCupid, Match and Happn (which is definitely the creepiest of all, as it literally generates the pages of people you have encountered or passed by during the day). Regardless of the app you decide to use, there is sure to be a mix of what you are into and far from it. And while this article focuses on prospects for heterosexual individuals, all the above apps are customizable to your sexual preferences. Whether it is for fun or something more lasting, our phones have become an integral part of day-to-day life, so it only makes sense for devices to take the next step in managing our social circles. So, shamelessly swipe away.

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