No matter who you are, creating a dating profile is an exercise in vulnerability. You must identify yourself, along with what you’re seeking, and rest on the hope that there are people out there who like the same things you do. When dating apps require information such as your gender, the gender you’re seeking, and what your dealbreakers are, they’re collecting valuable data to help you narrow down your choices, but there’s much more to it than male or female, gay or straight. When you are queer, gender nonconforming, or questioning your sexual identity, an insensitive dating app question can leave you feeling rejected long before a date even takes place.
Enter Feeld (think playing the “field” with your “feelings”), a dating app built on the notion that there’s nothing less predictable or less binary than human desire. What started as a safe space to find a threesome has become a safe space for anyone – no matter how you identify – to find whatever it is they’re looking for. So how does it work, exactly?
1. Offering Gender Options
Whether you identify as a he, she, they, X, or soul or are still working on your terminology, Feeld is here to help all human beings find what their hearts want by offering more than 20 gender identities, 20 sexualities, and shared profiles for polyamorous couples. The company also expresses a commitment to adding new gender identities swiftly and welcomes write-ins for more.
As the gender-fluidity conversation grows louder, many of the most popular dating apps have taken a page from the Feeld book. Both Tinder and Hinge now give users the option to create their own gender, Bumble allows people to self-identify using a list of more than 70 genders, and OkCupid offers over 22 gender options, along with 13 sexual orientations. So with seemingly robust options across the popular dating sites, why are people flocking to Feeld?
2. A Conversation Safe Zone
“It’s about creating a safe space,” Cathy Keen, community and events manager at Feeld, told POPSUGAR. The company’s mission is to “normalize conversations around sexuality,” and part of doing so means allowing people to be as forthcoming or as arbitrary as they’d like. Feeld believes that nothing is less predictable or less binary than human desire, and, according to Cathy, “It’s just as safe for someone who is interested in learning new information as it is for someone who’s established in exactly who they are and what they want.”
Whether you’re a couple looking for a third, a single looking for a couple, or someone who is curious about exploring their sexuality, you can dip a toe in and simply have conversations with other open-minded people in a safe space. A profile can be as brief as, “I’m interested in learning more,” and conversations happen from there.
3. The Feeld Community
Feeld also has robust community monitoring efforts, and the safety guidelines go beyond a standard agreement. The company offers gentle but clear reminders on the website like, “As much as we believe in honesty and openness, nudity and explicit content will be removed from your profile when found – society is simply not ready yet!” The guidelines also make it clear that no one owes anyone anything with a healthy breakdown on consent, including, “Being on Feeld doesn’t mean someone will fulfill your wishes, sleep with you, or give you what you want. Everyone can always say no. This applies across the board, from desires to information – if someone doesn’t want to share, it’s their right not to.”
4. A Feeld User’s Experience
These efforts resonate with the active user base, which is growing daily with close to five million downloads, according to Cathy. Further, it’s become the preferred dating app for Rain Dove, a gender nonconforming model and human rights activist who encourages people to use any and all pronouns interchangeably to describe them. “I grew up in an era where there wasn’t a language for my identity, and like many ’90s kids, I took to the internet to find answers,” Rain told POPSUGAR. “I’d go on sites like Plenty of Fish and http://www.datingranking.net/buddhist-dating/ ask people if I might be gay.”
Even now, as an international model with an impressive following and an even more impressive mission, Rain still has healthy hesitations about dating but feels most comfortable on Feeld. “It’s ideal because it’s not just about sex (though there’s nothing wrong with those apps either),” they continued. “But it offers what I was looking for years ago on Plenty of Fish, which is the opportunity to find other people who have these vulnerable and marginalized identities, and become part of a community.” When it comes to success on the app, Rain hasn’t been single long, having parted ways with celebrity and activist Rose McGowan earlier this year. But the opportunity is there to connect with all types of people like never before, and Rain expressed more comfort and ease chatting with people in such an environment.
5. It Works For the Basics, Too
Feeld isn’t in the business of discriminating against anyone, even those who might be looking for something a little more traditional. I joined to see if there was anyone for me, simply stating that I “enjoy dating and am ever-curious about people,” and right away, three matches who were just my type popped up. One match immediately messaged me to politely ask about my interests. The other two messaged me within 24 hours and also wanted to hear about my thoughts and feelings. To a tried-and-true Tinderella who was getting pretty tired of “Hey cutie,” this felt groundbreaking.
So whether you’re a cisgendered hetero like me, gender nonconforming like Rain, someone else altogether, or maybe you’re not sure yet, there’s a place on today’s internet where you can feel free to form connections however you see fit.