Dating apps are commonplace these days. No shame in meeting the love of your life (or love of the week) online.
Part of what makes the process, well, weird, is, some dating apps have a friendship option, in addition to the usual fare. Others adopt the dating model — incorporating friendship quizzes, detailed profiles, and in-app messaging.
So, why are friend-focused apps the subject of skepticism and stigma? It’s arguably way harder to form platonic friendships from scratch after you’ve completed college than it is to meet a potential suitor.
Those looking for new blood for the friend group or a fresh perspective face some challenges,where do you look for new faces? We’ve covered friendship apps in the past, narrowing down our recommendations to the best ones available.
Here, we’ll look at which options work and which ones you might want to skip.
What friendship apps are worth your time?
Meetup is the one app that anyone suggests when someone wants to meet more people. It’s one of the better apps, in that norms are a bit more established than you’ll find with the apps that take the dating model and put a platonic label on it.
Meetup is maybe both the best and the worst app in this category. Why? Well, for a few reasons. The breadth is staggering. There are groups focused on massive impersonal singles events, and others with dedicated regulars — book clubs, hiking groups, people that want to meet for happy hour.
Facebook Groups aren’t usually anyone’s favorite place online — they’re usually forced on you because you signed up for a class or a neighbor invited you to a community page.
But don’t write them off! There are tons of Facebook Groups and many of them center around shared interests like Meetups do. Because there’s usually a purpose behind each group, it’s a less awkward way to find new people than the one-on-one date-style interactions you’ll find on something like Bumble BFF.
MeetMe is an app that allows you to find people nearby that want to meet up on a whim.
It’s unclear if the app is a dating site, a place for friends or both. We’ve found that this app doesn’t have great reviews, it’s one of the only co-ed friending apps on the market — compared to Hey! Vina and Bumble BFF that primarily target women.
Users create a profile that includes a short bio, location, and details like age and sexual orientation and from there, you can chat with other users. We like that MeetMe is less formal than Meetup, which is focused on events—and sometimes there’s a long wait before there’s something to do.
Still, this app doesn’t seem too promising — and may come with awkward interactions where one person isn’t aware they’re on a date.
This app explicitly states that it’s not for dating. Instead, it’s supposed to work like a mini meetup. You meet in groups of three, which mitigates some of the awkwardness involved with things like Bumble BFF or the bygone Tinder Social.
The algorithm looks at over 150 factors that help determine who you get matched with. What we liked about this option is — We3 gets that sprawling mixers are basically worthless for meeting friends. And, one-on-ones can be awkward.
Bumble BFF is an interesting one. If you listen to the founder speak about the Bumble brand, you’ll get the vision — it’s evolved into a one-stop shop for networking, friending, and, of course, dating.
All well and good, except the app still features a lot of users with pictures they put up for their dating profiles. So, as you scroll through the pool of potential besties — you’re presented with this lineup of people — ostensibly judging them based on appearance.
Still, the one-on-one approach is refreshing if you’ve only used larger meetups to expand your circle. We’ve found that a lot of people text back and forth for a long time — and things fizzle fast. With that in mind, it’s worth it to be more proactive about setting up a time to meet and making a point of following up with the people you actually like.
Hey! Vina, which we’ve also looked at in the past, is exclusively built for finding friends. Like apps like OK Cupid, the process involves taking some quizzes, uploading a few picks, and receiving matches based on what the algorithm spits out. You’ll get an automated message from a Vina employee “making an introduction,” but it’s the same thing every time.
The process is basically the same as what you’ll get with Bumble BFF. You’ll message matches and decide to meet up. The app is cute, and we like the idea. However, it can be tricky to get over that initial hurdle of the date-ness of the whole thing.
Friend-dating requires as much time and energy as regular dating. People take that for granted. You might meet friends at work, or through doing a regular hobby — but those seemingly effortless friendships were built on repeat exposure to each other. Did we miss your favorite app for meeting friends? Let us know in the comments below.