The internet is home to almost 8,000 dating sites – 40 million users around the globe. That’s a lot of options. On the other hand, if the question ‘what’s the best lesbian dating app?’ sits somewhere in your browsing history, you’ve probably noticed that although the list is considerably shorter, the choice can still feel quite intimidating. What should you consider? Do five star reviews really mean anything? How do you know if you can trust your match? Dating shouldn’t be a hassle, and we’re here to guide you through the experience.

Let’s assume you’ve downloaded an app or two in the past, gave it a go, and a few taps or swipes later decided that, actually, it doesn’t feel right. ‘What’s the deal with online dating, anyway?’ you may have thought. True, it can be problematic. Stories of catfishing and scams plague the internet, warning us against liars and cheats. Around 20 percent of people lie about their age, weight, and career in hopes of making a better impression, but that figure generally applies to apps aimed at cis-het users. And, let’s be honest, their priorities are going to be wildly different from those of queer women. Love is love, but everyone goes about it differently, and that’s okay. That’s what makes it exciting.

Online dating can open a whole new world of opportunities to the LGBTQ+ community; although the law no longer stops us from being ourselves, not everyone can be expected to become instantly open about their sexuality. Online dating is a compromise for those wanting to put themselves out there but remain in a situation where they’re the ones in control of boundaries.

Consider your Priorities

So, how can you find the lesbian dating app that’s right for you? Firstly, consider your priorities. Dating apps come with different goals, from making it easy to find hook-ups in the area to working complex algorithms in order to match individuals based on their personalities in hopes of sparking a long-term romance. Ask yourself what it is you’re looking for, exactly, and look into the agendas behind the apps that grab your attention. After all, you’re much less likely to meet the love of your life on a platform tailored to women looking for something casual. And it’s totally okay if you’re not sure what you want – trial and error is sometimes the most fool proof way of finding out, and experimenting is more than welcome.

How do you want to get to know your match?

Step two is deciding on how you want to get to know your match. Perhaps you’d prefer to build a personal connection, meet her on a deeper level before a face reveal. Or perhaps you have a type, and, in all honesty, looks are important to you. Research shows that 64 percent of dating app users are looking for someone who shares their interests, while 49 percent say that their matches are based on physical characteristics they are attracted to. There is no right or wrong answer – it’s your game, and the way you play it is completely up to you. Features and tools will differ between apps, and a little research can reveal a lot about the app and the ways in which the match-making system works.

Is Privacy your concern?

It’s important to keep in mind, of course, that the system works both ways. If you want to see what your potential sweetheart looks like, she’ll have access to your pictures, too. Privacy is a disputed topic in the world of online dating. On one hand, with the rise of the internet, every selfie we’ve ever posted and every comment we’ve ever made is out there for anyone to see. So why are we, all of a sudden bothered with privacy? On the other hand, sharing your love life with the rest of the world can feel like a big deal. The privilege of choosing when (and if at all) to tell somebody about the new girl you’ve been seeing should remain in your control, and dating apps respect that. Privacy policies vary from app to app, so look into ways in which the creators ensure confidentiality – for example, does the app allow disabling precise location tracking? Does it allow you to retain ownership rights to the images you upload? Is there an option to mute your profile and become ‘invisible’ for a period of time?

How much are you willing to pay?

Other factors to keep in mind include cost. How much are you willing to spend, if anything at all, on a dating app? For some, time and attention are enough of an investment, whereas others are more than happy to pay a weekly membership if it boosts their chances to find love.

Focussed vs Generic

Last but not least, of course, in your journey of finding the perfect lesbian dating app, is its reputation. After all, who would be a better source of opinion than the women actively involved in it? Generally, apps created specifically with LGBTQ+ individuals in mind are a better shout than those aimed at cis-het individuals with an ‘inclusive’ extension. There’s nothing worse having your expectations crushed by an algorithm suggesting possible male matches when your preferences are clearly set to women-only, countless threesome callouts, or your feed being overwhelmed by fake profiles. Online dating takes time and patience as it is, but when the creators of an app understand the potential struggles and setbacks that come with being LGBTQ+, the experience becomes much smoother. It might all feel intimidating at first, but don’t be afraid to try, and remember: you’re not alone.