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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

My Experience Using Dating Apps As A Woman Of Color

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Online dating isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s been around since 1995. Starting with Match.com — which has since laid the groundwork for over 1,500 dating apps and websites  — online dating has only grown in popularity with the Gen Z big three:  Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. While I’m waiting patiently (okay, maybe not so patiently) for my Hallmark meet-cute moment in my local coffee shop, I recognize that if I want to actively be dating, I’m going to have to suck it up and get on the apps

So I did just that; I downloaded Hinge, enlisted my bestie to become a photographer for the day, came up with some clever prompts, and tried to build up the courage to actually meet a stranger in real life. I braced myself for the impending storm of misogyny my friends, who were more seasoned dating app users, warned me about, but I truly believed I might connect with my soulmate from the comfort of my couch, in my onesie, stuffing my face with a bowl of extra buttered popcorn. Unfortunately, I realized pretty fast that as an Afro-Latina woman, these apps seemed to not only foster an environment of blatant disrespect towards women, but also the possibility of fetishization. 

The first time I had gotten a match request where a comment had to do with my skin, I didn’t think much of it. I thought this dude rocking Adam Sandler-esque basketball shorts and holding a fish in his first picture was perhaps a little ill-mannered from his “ngl your skin is [raising hands emoji]” message, but quickly ex’d him out and looked through my other match requests. However, within the first two weeks on the app, I received a handful of comments that made me realize that I was in for more than the usual flavor of misogyny that my non-POC friends had experienced.

“Damn girl, good thing I like chocolate, because I wanna lick you all up.”

A real message from some guy on Hinge.

Mixed-race folks (like myself) have a long, lonely, and complicated history — mainly due to centuries of laws that forbid people of different races to get married and start a family. Being mixed is beautiful yet also seen as taboo and exotic and can be sexually alluring to some. The idea that someone would have heart-eyes for the color of my skin, but not all of me, was the turning point for when I started to feel more like a book being judged by its cover than a human. 

I knew the hard truth was that, to find my perfect match, I was going to have to face my fair share of flops. For my other mixed-race, POC folks out there, here are some tips I’ve utilized during my time navigating dating apps as a woman of color. We deserve a happily ever after.


If they make a joke about how their family might be racist towards you, but not to worry because “they’re so progressive,” don’t walk — run in the opposite direction. If they put other races down to compliment you like, “white girls are so basic” kindly unadd. If every single one of their compliments and the conversation comes back to your skin color it’s time to say “so long, farewell.”


So, you would think that as a woman of color, you would be bypassed or overlooked on the apps. But what you may not be entirely prepared for is the exact opposite — and for all the wrong reasons. In my experience, I’ve had to learn to spot the difference between fetishization and people who are unaware of the implications of complimenting a woman of color’s skin right out of the gate. If someone compliments my eyes, I don’t think anything of it.

“Let’s do society a favor and have some babies because they would have the best skin color!”

A real message from some guy on Hinge.

However, if someone compliments my skin, my spidey senses go off. I used to think that if anyone complimented my skin they were demeaning me or fetishizing me until I realized that while there are better ways to compliment someone’s skin tone than a couple of emojis, there wasn’t always malintent motivating the comments —  someone might actually just find my skin beautiful. You have to trust your gut and decide if their comment is a red flag or if they just need a 101 crash course on how to compliment a POC woman.

Try to stay positive.

While this is your one-stop shop on how to survive online dating as a woman of color, serendipitous things can happen. I have met some wonderful people on the apps, one of which, Yale Boy, I’m still very close with today. Unfortunately, when summer came to an end there was no made-for-movie story of a mad dash through the airport and tearful confessions of love on how 541 miles apart is better than not being together at all, Yale Boy and I still share our weekly highlights and lowlights and I am thankful this silly little app brought us together. 


Dating on a good day can be exhausting, let alone dealing with uninvited and unwanted comments — so be gentle with yourself.  I deleted and redownloaded Hinge a total of five times since joining in June 2022; That’s pretty much an average of one delete a month. I had to do a lot of self-reflection on how I let these comments affect me in order to stop questioning my self-worth. Take the break if you need to — dating burnout is real, and there is no award for how many first dates you go on. Slow and steady might, in fact, hep you win this race. 

Bryanna is a Her Campus National Writer, she composes articles for the wellness section weekly covering all things health, and sex & relationships. She also occasionally dips her toes into the culture section for more timely breaking news as needed. Bryanna is a current senior at Baldwin Wallace University where she is majoring in music theatre, but much like the famous line from Hamilton "why do you write like you're running out of time" Bryanna's life would be incomplete without working on articles for Her Campus and various other online publications. She is currently working on her debut poetry book "Love Letters I Never Delivered". When not writing or on stage you can find Bryanna making a perfectly curated Spotify playlist, teeing off at the local mini golf course, or curling up with a totally predictable romance novel. To Keep up with her: @bryannacuthill or https://bryannacuthill.com 💌 🪩🥂