This article explores the ways in which one facet of our (romantically marketable) selves, gender identity, is both demonstrated and reflexively constructed within the particular textual arena of online dating profiles. Gender identity is a central aspect of the way we present ourselves to others and is particularly important to online dating, given the nature of this as a gendered and mediated activity wherein forms of discourse both address and assume the existence of audiences and their cultural competencies. Given the nature of this communicative context, how is it that users of the Internet and social media are tapping into existing social and cultural resources and putting gender norms to work in their representations of self? How is gendered (promotional) representation tied to consumerism/consumption, and how does this in turn reflect affiliations and identifications of culture, class, place, and age? How does the example of online dating provide insight into this process of self-promotion and self-construction?
If you're strictly looking for a hookup app, it's always best to prioritize your privacy, and Pure does just that. The free app, designed to facilitate casual flings, erases your profile every hour (although you can easily restore it if your heart desires). The app is basically a geo-location-based online personals app that allows you to list yourself to other local singles for 60-minute periods to see who you match up with. If you mutually match, you can strike up a quick chat with the matching user, but be sure to exchange contact information quickly, as you'll lose contact on the app with that user. After one hour, your profile “self-destructs,” erasing your short online personal listing so nothing traces back to you.
The site has profile verification options to ensure you are matching with real people and not fake profiles. On top of that, the site has a Smart Match system that essentially allows it to learn your preferences the more you use it, and the option to send a “Mega Flirt” that reaches dozens of inboxes every 15 minutes. It's a site you won't easily grow bored of that aims to help you become a better dater.
Looking for a match who's a bit more mature? According to Choice 1.1 million Australians are on Zoosk and of those the majority are over 30. Zoosk tries to bring you the best of both the traditional dating site and the swipe-format dating app. You complete an extensive profile and compatibility quiz which will deliver you "smart matches" that Zoosk picks for you. But you can also browse user profiles at random and tap yes, no or maybe, Tinder-style. If you want to contact members on Zoosk you have to pay for a subscription, but on the plus-side that means you'll only hear from people serious enough about this whole online dating thing to front up some cash. A Zoosk subscription starts at $29.95 for one month.
Signing up with BlackPeopleMeet is easy and straight-forward. It will only take you a couple minutes, depending on how thorough you want to be. The site itself only requires your birthday and zip code to get started, but you can do more to create your profile, including filling out a short biography or uploading pictures of yourself. While the streamlined process is appreciated, it may result in sparse profiles that make the site harder to use.
Not a whole lot of people are going to dive into a premium membership at POF since its messaging is free. However, you can upgrade and receive extra features that free users can’t. For example, you can upload up to 16 pictures with a premium membership compared to eight pictures for just the free one. Also, you don’t have to deal with being bombarded with advertisements and can see who has been peeking at your profile. You get read receipts for your messages, can see who is online, have the ability to view new members and can unlock extended profiles.
With its selective admissions process, The League is like a private club in the social media dating world. Becuase the app is LinkedIn-based (but don’t worry, it won't match you with a coworker) rather than Facebook or Instagram, it promises to make you one half of a power couple. (As long as the people behind the app approve of you and let you join, that is.)
OkCupid is another one of the biggest names in the dating biz. After creating a username, you’ll start filling out a very long profile, to which you can link to your Instagram account. You can answer questions, giving both your answer and what you’d like your potential match’s answer to be — this creates a percentile score for users that reflects compatibility. You can also choose to make your answers public and note how important they are to you.
Even within these categories, however, there's room to find your niche. With apps catering for specifics like religious dating and gay dating, it's vital to find the community that is best suited to your needs. And, if you're a busy single professional looking for a long-term relationship, then you might want to try finding your community with the EliteSingles dating app.
OkCupid is full of 20-somethings looking for relationships of all kinds, so it's great for people looking to dive into the dating pool without emptying their pockets. Based on responses to a lengthy questionnaire, OkCupid calculates your compatibility percentage with other users. "Brainiac sites like OkCupid, which tend toward math-based equations to find you romance, are good choices for people who think they fall outside the norm to some degree and want a geek who might get lost in the cracks of a bigger site," Masini says.
As with most dating sites, InterracialCupid will open up more options to you at paid membership levels. There are two paid levels: Gold level, and Platinum level. You can create an account, message premium users, and access many basic functions for free. At the higher levels, though, you will unlock your full dating potential with features like universal messaging, live chat, exclusive groups, and profile highlighting.
What I like about Christian Mingle is it is simple, and I will never argue about a dating site that is straightforward and to the point. I think it takes into account that most of members are in their 30s and early 40s and have a lot of other things to do with their time, so therefore, they made it short and sweet. No silly personality quizzes, no dating assessments, no 100-page questionnaires; rather, just a simple profile to fill out with some questions to answer and elaborate on, and boom, you’re ready to find matches.
Why? I pretty much only use Hinge now. I have tried almost all of them: Tinder at one point in college, Bumble, OKCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel .... I found that Tinder was mainly for hook-ups and while I liked that guys were less grimy on Bumble, I’m pretty shy so I didn’t like that I had to be the one to initiate conversation. (Editor's Note: Women seeking men must message first on Bumble; for women seeking women, that rule goes away.)