Back in 2017 I reviewed a couple of swinger/hookup apps, one of which was Feeld. At the time, it was a little clunky with some issues and eventually I deleted it. A friend re-recommended it to me this year, and at first I was resistant but decided to give it a go, and it is very much transformed. So transformed, in fact, that I felt it was worthy of a new review.
Do we need another dating app?
The problem with apps has always been that there is something of a divide between the vanilla dating apps like Tinder and the more hard-core hook up and sex apps. Although you find largely the same people everywhere (albeit with very different profiles) there has been a lack of middle ground. On the hook up apps, you find disembodied genitalia as profile shots, descriptions of girth and kinks, and a superabundance of men blanket messaging every woman the moment she signs up, to the point that the app becomes tedious to try to use.
Conversely, on the vanilla apps any half-way libertine has a bit of an identity crisis. Does one present oneself in the dateable, take home to mother mode? Risking some very unsuitable matches with those who are boring in bed, or, more often than not, intimidated? Unable to maintain decorum at the glimmer of possible sexual relations with someone emancipated from the drudgery of amatonormative restrictions? Or do you fly your flag for the world to see as a sex positive, enlightened individual and lose most possible dating and relationship options through the acid test of watching your matches foam at the mouth and convert to beast mode, in testosterone-fuelled misogynistic lust and disgust?
What does Feeld offer?
What many people, and especially women on the sex positive scene, want is somewhere they can meet like-minded people. People who are sex positive and interested in something more than vanilla, open to adventures and not tangled up in guilt and shame about it. Someone to date, without it being strictly a one off, but not necessarily expecting it to end with a white picket fence. Somewhere they can be their most awesome selves, free of the stigma that they are slapped with on both vanilla and hook up apps if they try to indicate they are seeking an enlightened sexual equal. Somewhere you can flirt candidly without judgement, yet opening messages don’t involve close ups of your pride and joy held next to a sky remote or can of Stella as a makeshift ruler.
Do I sound a little jaded? It’s been 9 years. The division is irritating. It makes us create separate profiles – even seperate identities- in different places. The joy of Feeld, in its most recent incarnation, is that it is for like-minded souls.
What’s the user experience?
The new operation is Tinder-like with a swipe left or right, a heart or a cross. You scroll down some photos (and nudes are banned) which are largely blessed with faces and normal photos, although often on the more sensual or revealing side. There is a profile section, where you can add a little joke or witty quote and a section for interests and for desires. The sexual and the mundane mix in naturally- it’s a wonder they were ever so forceably separated.
Feeld replaces Tinder’s super-like with a ‘ping’ which is much the same thing- it enables you to draw attention of a person you’ve found that you really quite like the look of, for them to accept or decline. Once you match, you can start a chat with someone. So far (and fingers crossed it continues) everyone has a had a very normal conversation with me, starting with some polite small talk, despite me branding myself a notorious hedonist on it.
What’s the crowd like on Feeld?
There appears to be a good range of ages, including plenty of people in their 20’s on it (you can set your age range), gives a plethora of sexual identity categories to label yourself and search for, and also allows couples to have a profile or link their profiles together – a useful addition. In terms of ratios, there seem to be plenty of men and women as well as couples. Though some are strictly after the unicorn and say so, others talk casually about their play styles and dating styles, whether they date together or alone, and their views on polyamory and what they are looking for. Not the somewhat questionable bedraggled crowd that seem to dominate many other sex apps.
I gave the heart to a number of men, women and couples. So far, I’ve only matched with men. But it’s only been 2 days. There were plenty of people of every category in the swipe pile. Perhaps I’m losing my pansexual touch and unicorn appeal?
How do I sign up to Feeld?
As for how easy it is to get started, the format is pretty simple. Download the app and it takes you through. You can validate yourself with either your phone number or facebook account, and it pings you a code. Click an icon to say you are over 18, and agree to abide by the rules. You upload some photos and a brief profile, set your vital statistics for yourself, and away you go. You can then adjust some of your search parameters.
I am only on the free version, and it pops up on the regular asking me to pay for more comprehensive functionality, the ability to see who has liked me and perhaps more advanced options. The rates aren’t crazy, but I never pay for apps. As a single bisexual, and reasonably bone-able woman, I am rather of the opinion that I’m probably just who they want on there as bait. They should therefore be paying me, if anything. But maybe my many years on the swing scene has spoiled me a little- and as I’ve always said, the price you pay for free entry and all the attention is that you are no longer the customer – you are the bowl of peanuts. Perhaps a little paradigm shift is in order. Perhaps this might be the place to do it?
Feeld fake level?
How about the reality? Well, as we are still in lockdown, I’ve not been able to verify the accuracy of accounts (or indeed existence of the people) in the flesh. Sending a code to your phone is a lot less arduous (and reliable) than the systems used by many other apps to check you are who you say you are. No verifying photos holding up a piece of paper with a code written on it, no passport submission, no verifications of other members, nothing. As such, is it full of frauds, catfish, escorts and cam girls? Possibly. There’s nothing wrong with escorts and cam girls, though if I’m coming to an app to make a real (and free) connection it’s a waste of everyone’s time. There is, however, a problem with frauds and catfish.
The catfish conundrum
I will define the difference between the two thusly: A fraud is someone who has substantially misrepresented themself, be it relationship status, appearance, or other such matters. Beyond a joyful optimism and showing oneself to good advantage, there is clearly a line which some cross and thus disappoint their dates. A catfish, however, is a deliberate fabrication. They use stolen photos, a fictional identity, and is someone who will certainly never actually meet. I’d love to interview a catfish one day to find out what’s in it for them, but they are slippery devils and wriggle off the hook as soon as I try. As far as I can tell people make catfish profiles to do one of the following:
– Catch out a partner/ex
-Have lusty conversations they feel they are not attractive enough to merit on their own
-Explore an identity, see how other people experience life (or apps at least) and use it as a game
-Use it to explore because they are under age
-To get a buzz out of being deceitful, to hope to obtain nudes or conversations without risk of exposure
-To run a scam
Is Feeld safe?
Now, before I joined, the very friend who initially recommended the app fell victim to someone. Someone who turned out to be an international blackmailer. I warn and remind you, lovely libertines, you don’t know who people online really are. Wait until you’ve met them before sharing anything you wouldn’t want your mother or boss to see. Although the revenge porn laws make exposing someone in this way an actual sex crime, it wont save you. That cute girl just down the road who’s getting you all excited with her flirtation and pictures? Who moved you onto Whatsapp? She may well be a 60 year old man in Kentucky, who does this all day to make money. Or a 10 year old kid with an evil sense of capitalism.
The fact that people will still try to do this, to those who are doing nothing illegal and not harming anyone, is a sad indictment of how far society still has to come. It relies on the crushing, contorted, conventional view that sex is shameful. That what we do in the (supposedly) private parts of our lives hangs over us like a sword, unless we restrict ourselves to the most mind-numbingly mundane.
Feeld is not set up in such a way that anyone can be truly validated without meeting them yourself. They look real. Most of the profiles seem pretty legit. But then it doesn’t take a genius to find some matching photos and write a cute paragraph. This is not a problem unique to Feeld, and indeed most apps have some level of non-legitimate infiltration. Just be careful.
Is it worth joining Feeld?
This really depends what you are looking for. For the hard core ONS all-about-the-measurements meets with a level of grit and anonymity, it might not be quite your thing. Also, if you are a bit of a prude you probably won’t find your soulmate there. The beauty of Feeld lies in the in-between. It offers a tempting promise of an option to meet, with early sex on the cards, and the potential to progress that further if you both feel the right vibe. From nine years on the swing scene, that seems to be largely what women have been looking for all along. Does it really work that way? I don’t know yet. But if there’s a sex positive, cultured and well mannered match (or several) out there, Feeld sure seems a darn good place to start looking for them.
Did you enjoy this blog post on Feeld? You might also like these full chapters from Unicorns and How to Hunt Them, free:
Greater London Swingers