What is Grindr? Everything you need to know

Grindr has transformed the dating scene for queer men since it launched in 2009, and has become the most popular gay dating app in the world.

Grindr enables men to meet other men and boasts a relatively straightforward premise. If you’ve never used the app before, here’s everything you need to know.

Rather than the culture of dating and swiping promoted by Tinder, Grindr is traditionally more suited to sexual encounters and hook ups.

To say that is all Grindr is for, especially nine years in, is an oversimplification. In fact, Grindr’s own top boss says he found love on the dating app, so it is fair to say the app’s use is increasingly more diverse.

But for first-timers, here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Grindr.

Related: Grindr starts sending HIV test reminders to users

Downloading and using it

Grindr is a geo-located hook-up app for men to meet men, based on who’s closest to them.

When you’ve created an account, you can add one photo and a small bio about yourself – though this is typically saved for sexual preferences rather than information on your hobbies or your interests.

When looking at the app’s interface, you’ll see guys listed in order of proximity – you can turn off your location, but most guys leave theirs on.

It means it isn’t unusual for someone to be logged on within 100 metres of you, and often there’ll be tens of guys using the app within a few hundred metres.

The app entirely destigmatises the casual hook up. Almost all guys will cut to the chase, asking you what you’re into sexually straight away, rather than: “How was your weekend?”

Then users can share images and arrange to meet, should they both feel comfortable – it’s really important to meet in a public space first, to check the other guy presents in person the same way he presents online.

Added features

Grindr Xtra buys you more benefits. For one, it allows you to see six times the amount of guys in your local area, and interact with them too.

Xtra also has a feature which allows you to search for guys all over the world, and make connections, rather than just talking to those closeby.

So if you’re planning a trip, Grindr also – in a general sense – allows you to link up and potentially make plans with people all over the world.

Xtra costs £21.99 for three months, £35.99 for six months and £53.99 for a year, and there’s a free seven day trial available to users at any point.


Of course, any app which promotes sexual activity rather than lasting emotional connections isn’t going to be for everyone.

Since its launch Grindr has come under fire by some users and critics for arguably making its users unhappy, and polarising men rather than bringing them together.

Research has suggested that some men using Grindr are actually unhappy, rather than self-fulfilled and seek authentic connections which go beyond carnal desire.

Related: Do Grindr and other dating apps affect mental health?

(Tom Holmes)

Others say Grindr has caused a downturn in the amount of men going to gay clubs, and therefore a thinning of club culture in key cities around the world. This is something the Grindr boss has denied.

Of course, plenty also think this is ridiculous and that now we have technology, inevitably there will be a shift towards men using the internet to meet rather than *having* to go out clubbing to meet one another.

Body image is also a key point of contention.

The app promotes a highly sexualised and therefore highly image-conscious idea of attraction – the shots of the toned torsos of other users can make those less in shape struggle with their own body.

Users without toned and muscular physiques (or the physique that, broadly speaking, they’re attempting to have) can be left feeling like an outsider, or at worst body shamed for not being perfectly in shape.

(Or out of shape, depending on your sexual desires and personal wants).

All of these body insecurity and loneliness issues have been linked by some to a downturn in the mental health of gay app users, and the increased likelihood of depression.

That’s why our advice will always be to get in and get out: ask guys on a date, or for a hook up quickly, and minimise the amount of time spent on gay dating apps so you can secure what you’re after and spend minimal time staring at your phone.

Plus, being confident is very attractive – so go ahead and ask guys to meet before the conversation drags on!

Grindr has also presented as a serious threat to some gay men.

There have been serious legal issues to do with consent and Grindr use.

There is a rape case passing through the courts at the moment, and cases like these illustrate why it’s essential you meet potential partners in a public place before hooking up.

And the app are currently facing a probe over suspected data protection law breaches involving sharing users’ information.

Related Why are so many gay millennials alone?


In terms of casual sex, no one app has managed to even come close to the omnipresent Grindr.

The app has become embedded firmly within gay cultures around the world, sitting as an antidote to Tinder for men seeking sex rather than emotional bonds.

That said, there are a number of other apps which offer a similar kind of service for queer men.

Chappy, founded by Made In Chelsea star Ollie Locke, attempts to be a catch-all solution for modern gay men.


Its categories of men – Mr Right, Mr Right Now and Mr Who Knows – allow users to search depending on what they’re specifically looking for.

It means the conversation style works much like Tinder, where users are more willing to have fully fleshed-out chats with other users about their general lives, rather than just plan to meet for a hook up.

Jack’d is the ‘fastest growing gay social app in the world’ and has a diverse audience, for those looking for hook ups and relationships.

It is particularly popular for People of Colour, and has Tinder-like qualities including the ability for users to choose which men they like and don’t like.

Users can check ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ boxes as they browse different profiles.

Related: Gay dating apps: This is what you need to say to secure a hook up or a bae

Hornet really pitches in on Grindr’s territory, and is probably the closest app to Grindr also on the market.

Users say that although it is ultimately very similar, the app has a cleaner interface and less intrusive ads, making the whole user experience much better and less clunky.

Scruff is geared towards hairier, beardier and sometimes older men. Guys are typically muscular, so again the app conforms to promoting one type of body image, and may not feel inclusive for everyone.

It’s particularly suited for guys who are into ‘masculine’ guys, and is hook up oriented in the same way Grindr is.

Tinder is the only crossover dating app that has managed to succeed for hetero and queer audiences. It’s traditionally used for dating, and has its famous swipe-right swipe-left matching option.

If a swipe goes well, you may end up on an infamous ‘Tinder date.’