Dating Apps: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Dating apps.

Where do I even begin?

I signed up for my first “app” when I was 22 (I am currently 31). I was a year out of college and I thought there was no better idea than the prospect of a serious relationship (lol, 22 year old self). The gushy stories from love sick puppies in the eHarmony commercials played right into the hollow depths of my black heart. So, I spent my 22 year old money on a membership. Bonus: I wasn’t wasting my time with free apps. This was a paid site! Which meant the guys were that much more serious because you had to pay for the matches, right!? (lol, 22 year old self)

Over the last decade, I’ve been on my fair share of apps that have led to a handful of great dates, some not so great and a few downright terrible encounters. Before diving into your questions, I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past 10 years to hopefully help make this experience a little more enjoyable for you.



Do not treat each first date like it’s the first one with your future first husband.

Yes, I said it. And while it may not be a popular opinion, it really helped me. I would go into these dates after a whif of a conversation on these apps thinking these men were going to change my life only to be met with immature boys. Don’t make it something it’s not. Mentally prepare yourself for a nice evening with another human. If it’s more than that, what a delightful surprise! If not, there’s nothing to be crushed about and you have a little fodder for gals night.


Dating apps are not shameful.

We live in a new world. No one is coming up to you in the produce aisle at Trader Joe’s commenting on the avocados you’re choosing in hopes of getting a date. And if they are, you’re probably so creeped out by it you’d never give the guy a shot. Amiright? It’s also a hell of a lot more fun to swipe through prospects from the comfort of my own home whilst wearing sweatpants and eating Oreos while messaging guys about my dedication to working out and clean eating habits. Living my best life.

I’ve met a lot of people who have met their significant other on a dating app but are too embarrassed to admit it. My boyfriend and I met on Bumble in July of 2017. I messaged him first and I asked him out first and it’s worked so far…

If you’re still uncomfortable with apps, let me share this: I was once set up with a guy through one of my best friends from high school. Now this is what fairytales are made of. I was sure this one was going to work. Why? Because we didn’t meet on an app (lol, self go sit down). Apps were desperate and fake and I was so over it. So, to be set up by a human in real life was electric.

Fun fact: Top 5 most incompatible situations I have ever been a part of.

Apps are not shameful. They are simply a tool. A tool that has been created in keeping with the times. Join them, won’t you?


Just because you meet them on a paid site does not make them more serious about finding a relationship.

If I could tattoo this on my face without really jeopardizing my career, I would. A man who makes the decision to pay for a matchmaking/dating site is not better than a guy who does not. A man who makes the decision to pay for a matchmaking/dating site is also not necessarily more serious about finding a relationship or settling down. Being on a paid site should never be a mark in the positive column. It is what it is. They’re on the site. The end.

But, Meaghan. You’re being a little jaded.

Girl, let me tell you a story.

I was mid-twenties and met a seemingly lovely man on Match – a paid dating site. So lovely, in fact, that a few messages in, he asked for my number to continue the conversation via phone call. What chivalrous romance in the modern age! We spoke for an hour. I was smitten. We went on a handful of dates. This man was at least 10 years my senior – I assumed with age came maturity and wisdom (lol, mid-twenties self). A few weeks into this, I couldn’t help notice a few red flags. So, I gracefully bowed out. 4 months later, I received a call from this man’s wife. Who had just returned from her deployment. And was calling the 20+ women she discovered he had been dating.

Imma let that sink in before I continue.

I submitted a complaint to Match. I shared his username and the approximate timeline he was on the site. I never received a response.

Years later, I returned to Match on a free trial. Maybe things would be different! Think about all the fresh eligible men I’d match with! I updated my profile and took a gander around the site.

A few minutes later, I received a message. From aforementioned married man. It read, “Hey beautiful. Long time no talk.” It was accompanied by a winky face and was sent from the same username he’d previously held.

I’m not saying don’t use paid sites. I’m not even saying not to use Match. I’m saying vet your prospects. I am an incredibly skeptical person by nature. And even through a few red flags in the beginning, I wanted to give this guy a shot, despite my gut. All my friends were getting married and having babies and I wanted to find love. Go find love. But trust your gut.




Terrified yet? We’re just getting started. A few days ago, over on Instastories, we got into a whole thing about dating apps: my experience, the best apps to use, how to nail down a first date… you name it. Today, I’m answering everything.

The good, the bad and the ugly.


Why is modern daring a torturous hellscape from whence we shall never recover?

Because why should anything be easy for women? This is why they invented wine.


How do you get from messaging to an actual date on Bumble?

Ah, Bumble, my personal favorite. Mostly because on this app, the woman must initiate first contact. I am not a shy person. Typically, I have to hold myself back from sharing too much. And because I was not using first dates as husband interviews and rather first meetings with humans who were seemingly attractive both mentally and physically, it was easier for me to ask guys out. Coffee, drinks, museums, club openings – if there was something I wanted to do or an event I had to be at, I used it as a first date option. I highly recommend taking a first date out to different events to see how they react. I do not recommend this if the event is work related.

Bottom line? Just do it. You’re both on an app like this to date, right? Why not keep the ball in your court?


How do you find a guy that doesn’t suck?

At the risk of sounding crazy – all guys suck. They’re all annoying and weird and rude, at times. You just have to find the one that matches your wavelength. Every ex boyfriend I have had I knew sucked long before things ended. And that was the issue. I saw it, but I didn’t want to be alone. You know if a guy sucks. His messages to you are off. You have to screenshot your conversations and send them to your girlfriends for interpretation. The feeling you get when you’re with him in person is not what it should be. But maybe you’re being too picky or you’re not giving him enough of a chance or you’re going to miss out on something. You’re not. Trust your gut and move on.


Instead of grabbing coffee with everyone I chat with, how do I tell if people are worth meeting in real life?

Does your conversation with this person spark joy? Or are you just trying to rule out everyone you meet so no stone goes unturned? I’m also going to refer back to this “trust your gut” thing that’s becoming the theme of today’s post. When woman have children they get that ‘mother’s intuition’ that’s so commonly referred to. Child or not, I think all women have the same kind of intuition when it comes to other humans. Whether it’s good energy, a bad vibe, whatever. Trust that. It’s not all in your head. 


Even guys “too old” for the hookup mentality are still using apps as such…ugh, help!

Trick question. No guy is too old for the hookup mentality.


Any tips for changing your attitude? I’ve been on so many bad dates.

You need a mental break. And a break from whatever apps and sites you’re on. You’re not going to miss THE ONE while you’re on your break. That’s not how this works. Yes, I promise. Think about it this way: what if you did meet THE ONE tomorrow on this app you’re on right now. But you’re so drained and jaded right now that there was no way of putting your most authentic self out there. You’d be two ships passing in the night. You need to be the best version of yourself before you can find the person that is going to enhance all of your amazing qualities.

Exhibit A: I’m not sure I’ve ever really had a healthy relationship before the one I’m currently in. I met my current boyfriend on an app after quitting my job, moving out of DC and settling in a foreign place. No, I’m not saying you need to relocate to find love. But I am saying that you need to make sure you’re in a healthy mental space before you can really give this dating thing your all. And sometimes in order to do that you need to spend time on yourself first.


Thoughts on the non monogamous guys who are everywhere in dating apps?

They should be slaughtered. Jk. Sort of.

I get what you’re saying but for the sake of argument, I’m going to break this one down. Just because you’re out there on an app does not mean you’re looking for a monogamous relationship. Even if it’s Christian Mingle. You must not make an assumption that the other party is there for the same reasons you are there. This is the number one mistake I have made in dating.

So how do you know what they want? Ask them. But that will scare them off! Then onto the next. Honestly, if a question like that is going to scare off a potential partner, then you’re better off anyways. You are a grown ass adult who deserves to engage in a grown ass adult conversation about what you’re interested in.


Are the men outside of DC any better?

As I met my current boyfriend under just one month after leaving DC, I’m tempted to say yes. And not all of that is a lie. But to be honest, I don’t know. I went to college in the midwest and guys I dated were dogs. I spent the next 10 years in DC where guys I dated were dogs. But I also grew up in that area with many male friends who have grown into delightful, trustworthy, and loyal men in healthy, committed relationships and marriages. While I don’t think it helps that DC is such a transient city with people settling there for short periods of time, mostly for work, I think there are good prospects everywhere, you just have to dig a little deeper in a city.


Any date ideas that aren’t just “grabbing a drink?”

Assuming this question is coming from a DC area resident, literally anything. Coffee, parks, museums, aquariums, zoos, monuments, those places where grown ups play board games, jazz clubs, walking around a new-to-you neighborhood. My date spot was always a bench on the Tidal Basin across from the Jefferson Memorial. Or the island over by Lincoln. What’s on your list of things you want to do in your city? Would it be fun experiencing that with someone else? Make it a date.

One of my favorite things to do was take first dates to blog events. Whether it was the opening of a new restaurant or a party at an embassy, it was a really fun and quick way to see their personality without testing them out on my friends.


How do I get actual dates? Everyone wants a hookup.

Like people are just asking you to hook up in the app? You might be on the wrong app. I really liked Bumble. I’ve also heard decent things about Coffee meets Bagel.

While we’re on the subject, please leave any dating app/site recommendations in the comments below!


Building rapport? All I seem to find are guys who want to be pen pals and never ask me out!

Ask them out. I loathed the back and forth messaging. I gave it two days. If a guy hadn’t asked me out on the third day and I was really feeling it, I’d ask him out.


Why does it feel like a part time job?

Because it is. Dating can be really, really stressful. It’s not just you. And if you’re feeling like this, the best thing to do is take a break. Not from logging in but from the app itself. Delete it. Focus on other things for a few weeks and then come back to it.


Which lesser known apps are best?

LADIES, I need your help with this. I know Tinder, Match, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, Hinge, Coffee meets Bagel, Bumble… and that’s where my knowledge stops. Of those, I’d recommend only Bumble. So please leave your recommendations in the comments below!


How to combat the rut of matching and no one talks? Send me hope!

You have to kick things off. If you have nothing to say, so be it. There will be other matches. If you find yourself uninterested and uninspired you may need to take a break. I can’t tell you how many times I took breaks from dating apps. Over the course of three years, I probably deleted my Bumble account over 10 times for different reasons.

But if you’re into a guy or think you could be into a guy, start the conversation! The first thing I messaged my current boyfriend had something to do with the choice of beer that was present in his profile picture. The possibilities are endless. Trump and Kanye were became starting points for me, that were two fold; they’re hot topics that are sure to start a conversation and once you introduce them you’ll know where the guy stands. Coincidentally, these topics are both deal breakers for me. Insert smiley face here.


Alternatives to dating apps?

Seemingly, this is an easy question to answer. Grocery store! Metro! Work! But have you ever considered actually speaking to another human person in real life out in the open? It’s borderline terrifying. Sometimes I do it. Even today. And after I always feel like such a fool. Last week, I struck up a conversation with an unwitting stranger at the grocery store. I stopped myself mid-sentence, asked myself OUT LOUD what I was saying, smiled, and walked away. And now I’m supposed to tell you to do the same thing + it’s someone that you’re interested in!? Get real.

My best and only answer to this question is the dog park. Because I have no other experience anywhere else. Other than bars. Don’t have a dog? Befriend someone who does. I’d spend around 2 hours each weekend day at the dog park in Shirlington when I was still in DC. Ladies, it’s a hot bed.


What was your approach? How did you stay with it?

Sometimes, I didn’t. If it started feeling like a chore I deleted the app. Yes, even if I was in the middle of conversations with guys. Because if we were chatting and it still felt like a chore then it probably wasn’t meant to be. I don’t think the best approach to dating is to try to stay with it. If you’re not feeling it, take a break. It’s ok to walk away. It’s still going to be there when you get back.


The verdict: I absolutely recommend giving dating apps a try. If nothing else, it’s an interesting experience and a different way to meet people.

That’s it. That’s everything. That’s all I’ve got! Want more? Leave your questions in the comments below and we might do another round of this in two weeks. Have other suggestions? Leave those here too!

Be you and stay safe.