Online dating isn't easy—and it hasn't gotten any easier with the prevalence of apps that are more suited to finding flings than long-term romance. But they aren't the only options out there.

Tinder, the dating application that lets you swipe right or left to “heart” or “X” profiles of people around you, is quickly becoming the hookup app of choice. And of course the unabashedly sex-driven app Down—yes, the one formerly known as Bang With Friends—uses your social network to set you up with people your friends know.

But there are plenty of reasons to think you’re not likely to meet the love of your life by swiping him or her into the “yes” category, though it can be a fun way to kill time while at a bar or a party. If you’re sick of swiping and still holding out for your soul mate, you might want to check out a few apps that aim to take dating back to its more traditional roots. 

Matches Based On Visual Interests

Remember when dating was exclusively about personality? No, me neither. But the mobile application Twine Canvas puts interests before looks to match people based on what they have in common. 

Twine Canvas takes the best feature of the Visual Web—a photo collage canvas—to build a beautiful and intriguing profile made up of interests. Users can browse different personality collages, and if they mutually like one another’s collections, the application reveals their profile pictures. Each person can then accept or ignore the invite.

“We built Twine Canvas as an anti-hookup app; our aim is to help people express themselves and make interesting connections,” Elliotte Bowerman told me. She's the spokesperson for SourceBits, the developer of Twine Canvas. “We do recognize physical attraction is important in dating, but people are looking for beauty and brains. We decided to focus on personality because we wanted to help people express who they are first, before sharing what they look like.”

If both accept the match, they can start chatting. Twine Canvas helps jumpstart the conversation with a variety of icebreakers, suggesting topics based on individual profiles. Questions like “How much time do you spend procrastinating on Reddit?” take the awkwardness out of first contact.

Twine Canvas is only available for iOS, but the company plans to launch on Android as well.  

A Focus On Mutual Suggestions

Sometimes dating applications can turn into epicenters of egocentricity as potential matches text to impress one another.

The application HowAboutWe focuses more on we than me. When you sign up, you’re encouraged to post your favorite date ideas in the form of “How about we ____?” After filling up your own profile, you can browse others on the site and reach out if anyone suggests something you might enjoy, such as “How about we go to the new wine bar that just opened in my neighborhood.” 

Beyond that, HowAboutWe acts as your own personal dating assistant by providing suggestions for upcoming dates, advice on how to improve your dating life, and information about events in your area.

If you happen to meet that special someone (or already met your match), HowAboutWe has a couples dating service, too. Simply login and set your interests, and HowAboutWe will offer date ideas in your area that might be of interest. Your account is for both you and your partner so you can team up to plan special nights out. 

There are free and paid tiers on HowAboutWe—some of the dating deals are only available for members who pay a nominal subscription per month. 

HowAboutWe is available for both iOS and Android

Blind Group Dates Don’t Have To Be Awkward

Have you ever wanted to go on a blind date, but felt uncomfortable on your own? Grouper aims to change all that. The “social club” sets up drinks between two groups of friends—three guys and three girls; three guys and three guys, etc.—and sets you up with a free drink at a predetermined location.

The application uses Facebook login to appropriately match the two groups using age, educational background, profession, interests and lifestyle. Grouper doesn’t disclose the names or information of the people you’re meeting up with, so you’ll have a nice surprise when you get to the venue.

At $20 per person, Grouper takes care of the reservation and first round of drinks. Also, it’s not reserved for singles; sometimes it’s nice to just meet new friends.

Grouper started out as a Web-based application, but is also available on iOS

Say Yes Or No, Just Once A Day

Feeling overwhelmed with the number of matches you get each day? Coffee Meets Bagel simplifies that. 

Once a day at noon, the application sends you one potential match (or “bagel”), and you have 24 hours to say yes or no. If it’s a mutual “like,” then you’re connected via a text message or a phone call.

Coffee Meets Bagel also uses Facebook to connect you with potential matches that have mutual friends. According to the company, having mutual friends between matches result in 40% more connections. Coffee Meets Bagel also sells “coffee beans” or tokens that let users unlock features like getting a second chance with a “bagel” you missed. 

Coffee Meets Bagel is available for iOS with an Android app coming soon. 

Lead image by Flickr user Instantvantage