Online dating as a lesbian, for the most part, still involves having your space invaded by straight people.
The heteronormative weirdness got so alienating that lesbians began turning to TikTok as a means of meeting other single lesbians — turns out, it’s a damn good matchmaker.
But it’s unrealistic to expect a social media app to work like a dating app for everyone. (It’s hard for some of us to comprehend, but not everyone spends every free minute on TikTok.) Lesbians who have exhausted their local romantic options are still going to want to see who else is out there in time for cuffing season.
Dating sites for women looking for women
For much of current history, some people have acted as though lesbians didn’t exist outside of porn and Ellen DeGeneres, while jokes swirled about how girls only turned to dating women if they had a bad experience with a man. (Yikes.)
Even in 2022, these tone-deaf assumptions still find a way to rain on the lesbian online dating experience. If it’s not a man appearing in your feed when you specifically marked that you’re searching for women, it’s matching with a woman just to be hit with the classic “My boyfriend and I are looking for a threesome.”
There’s one big problem: The apps targeted toward the straights are still where most of the queer users are, too. Though women-only apps like HER are gaining traction fast, they can still be a bit of a ghost town… or a scammer’s paradise. You just have to decide whether you’d rather deal with the quirks of Tinder and have more options to swipe through, or be fine with coming across the same profile three times as long as it’s not a man.
A note on what didn’t make the list
A decent number of dating sites and apps specifically for lesbians do exist, but most are plagued with the same issues: Either their sole purpose is to sexualize lesbians and aren’t really meant for genuine connection at all, or their lax security protocols make it way too easy for ill-intentioned men to sign up pretending to be women. (Creeps are drawn to porn-y names like Pink Flirt.) If you’re wondering why we left most of those so-called female-only apps out, that’s why.
- Something for every type of queer woman
- Space for community events
- Might run into fake profiles or couples looking for a third
- Interface isn’t the most user-friendly
Apps like Tinder(opens in a new tab) and Bumble(opens in a new tab) are technically for all orientations, but they’ll be damned if they don’t sneak some male profiles into your feed even if you’ve specified the opposite. Given the existence of Grindr and Scruff, the need for an online dating arena specifically for queer women was clear — thus, HER. Founders of the award-winning app are committed to cultivating a space that’s “so ragingly queer” that frustrated women can delete apps that don’t feel like home.
As its user base of over 4 million grows, HER could widen your dating pool beyond the queer women you already know. In 2019, HER revamped its profiles to let users get more creative in categories like gender, sexuality, pronouns, diet preferences (e.g. veganism), and star signs, as well as a “What does this mean?” field in the sex, gender, and pronoun categories to supply a more well-rounded understanding of identity. The traditional text bio is where you can flex your sense of humor or describe what kind of relationship you’re seeking. Joining niche groups like “newly out” or “travelers” can also connect you with people using the app for similar reasons.
Aside from coupling up, a lot of HER regulars are looking to make friends or scope out the queer community in a new town. Switching over to the community feed opens the door to virtual hangouts with self-curated groups for queer women of color or interests like the new lesbian films that mainstream Twitter will probably ignore. You might even get a heads up about a local LGBTQ event, or gauge interest in an event you’re planning yourself.
For Those Simply Looking For Sex
Best For Lots Of Options
- Huge user base, even in small towns
- You can find pretty much any type of relationship, whether you want a hookup or something long-term
- Tons of App Store reviews talk about users getting banned from Tinder for seemingly no reason
- Straight men might show up in your matches occasionally
Tinder is often bashed for its high number of creepy users/messages — and rightfully so. But given its sheer number of active users (including queer ones), you know we couldn’t leave it off the list.
Not many people can say that they don’t know a single person in a relationship who met on Tinder. Countless success stories are told on Reddit when someone asks about where to meet other lesbians. You know the drill: Add pictures, set an age range, and fill out a bio as seriously and extensively (or not) as you want. While the matching isn’t exactly strategic, it’s definitely the app that’ll help most with scoping out the most lesbians in the doable vicinity. (Which is pretty important, because one of the main lesbian complaints is that, um, there are none around.)
Though your feed will likely be packed with way more lesbians than other apps, it’ll see more appearances by men, too. Tinder has a tendency to ignore filters here and there, though men obviously can’t talk to anyone who doesn’t swipe right. Who can message you, though, are the girls you swipe right for who, surprise, aren’t on Tinder to meet women romantically. Some are looking for friends, some are recruiting a third for a threesome with their boyfriend — either way, you’ll have to do some weeding.
Best Mainstream Option For Queer Women
- Almost everyone on the app is going to be on the same page politically and socially
- Modern app design is actually fun to use
- User base might not be big in smaller towns
- Most communication is behind a paywall
OkCupid’s slogan is “Dating deserves better,” and they’re damn right — especially for queer and non-binary people. The nearly 20-year-old dating site has shed the heteronormative skin that still somewhat plagues eharmony and Match. It’s hip and well-informed, while maintaining a more serious atmosphere than Tinder.
OkCupid consistently leads the charge of inclusivity in online dating. In 2014 (years before any other dating site even had the thought), OkCupid began offering 22 gender and 13 orientation choices. Fast forward to present day, when all users can choose their pronouns. The dedication to inclusivity and social justice is also clear with the introduction of Black Lives Matter and voter profile badges.
OkCupid’s 2017 redesign goes past enlisting a clearly-millennial graphic designer. For young, left-leaning singles, personal politics aren’t just a “well if we agree, it’s great” thing when looking for a partner. Users can weed out people they’d hate by answering deal-breakers about things like keeping a gun in the house or requiring children to be vaccinated.
OkCupid’s connections are strengthened by an algorithm that picks matches based on how similarly both parties answered questions during sign-up (yes, there are questions about communication and sappy relationship things as well as political views.) A compatibility score plus details on where you disagreed are helpful padding when it comes to evaluating what differences are dealbreakers.
Best If You Hate The Typical Dating App Dynamic
- Specifically for queer, trans, gender non-conforming, two spirit, and non-binary users
- Different from traditional dating apps — lack of photos puts personality at the forefront
- Can be difficult to track who is who because there aren’t traditional profiles
- Limited to six posts per month
We love an app that cuts the bullshit. In this case, the bullshit includes cisgender straight men. Lex (short for Lexicon, formerly known as Personals) is a seriously cool social app for queer, trans, gender non-conforming, two spirit, and non-binary people.
The specific demographic positions Lex to offer a more peaceful experience than “everyone” apps like Tinder and Bumble, but the way it goes about introducing users (as lovers or friends) is what makes it extra special. A nod to ’80s and ’90s lesbian erotica magazines, Lex users meet by posting personal ads about what (or who) they’re looking for, relationship-wise. The ads, called personals, are a chance for users to showcase their wit and be straightforward as hell. Personals can get pretty horny, but it’s all about the language — no photos, including selfies, are permitted. Users can link an Instagram account if they want.
The traditional swipe-and-match process? Lex doesn’t know her. It operates similarly to Craigslist: If you see an ad that appeals to you, answer it. If you’re over the tired dynamic of awkwardly testing the waters with a shy hottie you just matched with, you might appreciate how much backstory Lex supplies before a word is exchanged. If someone’s interested in starting a band or planning a protest rather than having sex, they can — and both of those have happened, founder Kell Rakowski told Allure.
More Serious Candidates Than Tinder
- More genuine connections than Tinder without the pressure of a serious dating site
- Prompts provide conversation starters, so you aren’t flooded with “hey” messages
- People on Tinder and Bumble tend to be more upfront about what they’re looking for, where on Hinge you might have to suss it out by having That Talk
- Can’t send photos, which sucks for sharing memes, but rocks for not getting unsolicited explicit pics (especially if any straight men sneak through your filters)
Young people looking to at least go on a few dates with the same person instead of beelining for a friends with benefits situation was a blind spot for swiping apps — until Hinge blew up. The premise and user base might be in the Tinder and Bumble realm, but these three aren’t interchangeable. Hinge’s unique profile criteria and algorithm based on that criteria set matches up for real-life potential. Some 90 percent say the first date was great and 72 percent are down for a second date.
Despite the fact that we’re actively seeking out new dating apps and feel a rush every time a cute contender swipes right back, no one looking for something serious wants to be on these. That idea fueled Hinge’s 2019 rebrand to “the dating app designed to be deleted.”
Instead of cheesy questionnaires and spam emails about the 50 winks you’ve received, Hinge uses prompts as ice breakers to find you connections. Instead of swiping, matches are made by liking or commenting on another person’s prompt answers. You can like up to 8 people per day on the free version of Hinge. Prompts range from “Two truths and a lie” to “Does hiking on a Sunday morning seem viable to you too?” Conversations are hidden after 14 days of inactivity to keep the focus on matches who are taking meeting up seriously. Paying for Hinge Preferred also lets you filter by political views.
Unlike Tinder and Bumble, which seem to have broken gaydars, Hinge sees far fewer reports of men popping up in your feed uninvited. Hinge users also experience more genuine queer people (and less unicorn hunting) on the app compared to the other big players.
- Users are open-minded and upfront about what they want
- Specifically designed for threesomes (or more-somes) so you don’t have to troll Tinder looking for a third
- You’ll probably run into some bots or sex workers trying to promote themselves on the app
- Have to use Facebook to sign up
Lesbians aren’t against using a dating app to find a threesome — they’d just prefer that the search doesn’t involve pesky straight people. Feeld, the brainchild of a couple that knows non-hetero non-monogamy through personal experience, is a dating app for couples and singles to find threesomes, foursomes, or however many people you want. (This isn’t the first dating site to focus on non-monogamous sex, but it is the first to do it in a way that doesn’t look like a pop-up ad.).
Sex positivity is the name of the game here, but not in the hyper-fetishizing way. You can get specific about boundaries, find people with the same kinks, and advertise what or who you’re looking for in your bio without issue. People on Feeld are generally chill, respectful, and can talk about sex without frothing at the mouth. Because more-than-two sex is the entire point of the app, people are typically honest about their intentions right out of the gate.
LGBTQ folks appreciate Feeld because it appreciates them. The app offers more than 20 sexual and gender identities and there’s a comforting understanding between users about what those identities mean. According to the company’s own stats, 35 percent of users are on the app with a partner and 45 percent identify as something other than heterosexual. The New York Times describes it as “a dating app with options that put the Kinsey scale to shame.”
Best For Leaving Your Comfort Zone
- Can send GIFs, photos, and voice messages in the app
- Large user base even in smaller towns
- 24-hour time limit might be too much pressure (though it can weed out dead matches)
- Location automatically changes while using the app, so if you travel, you might get flooded with likes from people who don’t live in the same city as you
In an attempt to correct one of the common complaints of dating apps — that women get spammed with tons of creepy messages — women are required to message first with Bumble. That method obviously doesn’t apply to woman-woman matches, but that hasn’t hampered the queer user base much.
Someone literally has to message within 24 hours, or the match goes away. This punchy (albeit a bit jarring) approach could be refreshing for people who are tired of staring at a list of Tinder matches from six months ago. If nothing else, it’s a comfort zone pusher — and a confidence booster when those first messages start coming in. Bumble also allows you to “backtrack” and bring back an accidental left swipe up to three times per day.
You’ll see pictures and short bios of potential matches in your area and can swipe depending on whether you’re interested. It’s a pretty close mock of Tinder, except for the fact that Bumble relieves the anxiety of accidentally swiping left on a hottie by letting you backtrack. Bumble also offers a BFF feature (great for making local, queer friends) and a Linkedin-ish networking feature called Bizz in attempts to remind everyone that it’s not just a hookup app.
Best For People Who Care About Astrology
NUiT crosses two major complaints off the list: It nixes the need for the notorious “What time were you born?” question, and it won’t force queer people to see (or be seen by) straight people.
Remember when Bumble announced it would let users filter matches by their zodiac sign? NUiT is the better version of that. The creators at NUiT know that, for many, birth charts can be a wildly helpful tool in maneuvering the dating world by predicting how well you’d mesh with someone in aspects like argument stye or the importance of sex. NUiT also accounts for the nuances in different combinations of placements outside of sun signs. It encourages daters to use astrological compatibility as insight to understand why a match might act the way they do, but does so while avoiding overly-simplistic “What fried food you are based on your zodiac sign” energy. People who study astrology will be the first to tell you that astrology is a cosmic guide to behaviors, but it isn’t tell-all as to how good of a partner or friend someone will be.
Creators also recognized another thing that turns queer users off from heteronormative dating apps: They don’t want to see or be seen by straight people. Sure, Tinder and OkCupid have their share of well-meaning allies — but the lack of shared experience as a queer person can make or break a relationship’s dynamic. Such a feature has been a long time coming as dating apps increase focus on inclusivity, and people on Twitter are pretty psyched about it.
Best For Hooking Up (anonymously)
- Sexting and dirty video chats are encouraged
- Photos are deleted after being seen and you are notified if someone takes a screenshot, giving you peace of mind that your nudes aren’t staying with a virtual stranger
- Small user base might limit your options of close hook-ups
- Might run into sex workers just trying to promote themselves
Women freely expressing their sexuality online is a beautiful thing — one that can be soiled quickly by male entitlement. Whether you’re not comfortable with putting “sex only” in your Tinder bio for the locals to see or if you’re simply a practicer of non-attachment with the people you bang, Pure is a safer, hip solution.
App rules urge you to “pretend like you’re strangers afterwards,” making no-strings-attached the only name of the game here. This hella millennial app is a sex-positive, 18+ safe space that features some pretty cool art — the blueprint of the truly modern hookup app.
Your selfies, bio, conversations, matches, and likes self-destruct every 24 hours, promoting spur-of-the-moment, borderline anonymous hookups. No nudity is allowed and any photos sent in messages can’t be saved. (As the dry-humored comics on their website state, “Don’t talk about your problems. Problems are for therapists. Pure is for fun.”) The app will ask for your phone number, but that’s just to make sure you’re a real person. The app uses your geolocation and sends out the sex version of an Uber request, though the sparse user base might have your searches suggesting the same few people.
PURE(opens in a new tab) gives all the feels of a sex-based site without the obnoxious naked parts and porn ads everywhere. (Cough *AdultFriendFinder(opens in a new tab)* cough) Running into bots and people trying to make money is likely, but the spammy stuff isn’t nearly as rampant as traditional hookup sites.
Best For Avoiding Superficial Interactions
- Free version: Yes
- One week of Premium: $6.99
- One month of Premium: $12.99
- Three months of Premium: $29.99
People have taken to Twitter to complain about a common dynamic on lesbian dating apps: no dynamic at all, because no one will message first. S’more encourages someone to say “Hi,” but not in the way Bumble does for straight people.
Profile pictures begin blurred, and the only way to un-blur them is to interact with icons on a person’s profile that you resonate with. These 100% customizable icons could signify anything from seeking a serious relationship, to pronouns, to your dream celebrity date. The more you find out about them, the more of their picture you’ll see. Not only does it alleviate some stress by offering crumbs for a cute ice breaker, but the lack of emphasis on selfies feels less judge-y.
Each user has the opportunity to rank anyone they match with — not based on dating potential, but on how shitty or not shitty they were. If someone’s spewing hate, S’more doesn’t want them in its user pool.