The Key To A “Straight Grindr” Can Be Found In This Community

After the incredible success of Grindr (the gay men’s location-based hookup app), everyone has been asking: Why can’t we figure out how to make a successful Grindr for straight people? Plenty of ideas have been thrown around but it seems that one of the prevailing theories is that straight women just aren’t interested in no-strings-attached (NSA) sex.

You know, because we’re all ring-hungry Bridezillas-to-be.

grindrWell, I’m officially calling bullshit. Plenty of women are interested in NSA hookups, but if we keep acting like every 20-something and 30-something (and, for that matter, 40, 50, and 60-something) woman in America never even thought about a penis until her wedding night, we’re going to keep missing the mark on the straight hookup app time and time again.

Here’s my Valentine’s Day present to you, startup entrepreneur: the market for a straight Grindr is huge, if it’s done properly, and no one has done it properly yet. Is that someone going to be you? Then listen up: rather than examine why Blendr doesn’t work or how Grindr could be adapted to fit the straight market, let’s learn some lessons from a casual sex scene where women thrive: swinging.

Yeah, it didn’t just happen in the ’60s.

Swinging is alive and well in America, although the term definitely does seem to be permanently married to images of women with long straight hair and men with hairy chests and bell-bottoms. Rather than focusing on “free love,” the swinger culture today tends to be about making sexual and friend connections with people other than your primary partner, in a controlled and safe setting. It can happen in parties or in private, but there’s one main key to its success:

The women are in control.

The people who run swinger parties are well aware that they need the women to want to come back if the parties are going to keep happening. With that in mind, there are clear rules about what kind of behavior is acceptable. If a woman is approached by someone and says clearly that she’s not interested, the interested party is expected to walk away gracefully. No admonishments, no nasty faces, no mean names.

No bullshit.

How could this translate into app form? One option is setting up the app so that women can approach men, but not the other way around. This puts the power of initiation fully in the woman’s hands, leaving the men to decide if they want to continue the conversation or not. Let’s call this the anti creepy guy in the bar feature, shall we?

Make everyone responsible to the community.

The other is to create a community that creates a feedback loop. Did someone try to slut shame you? Force himself on you? Try to have sex without a condom? Post it publicly on his feedback!

This may sound extreme, but a form of this already happens in swinger and fetish communities. Sex is risky and communities that engage in higher risk sex do everything they can to minimize the danger. If people know that the whole community is watching them and that their behavior will determine whether or not they’re going to get laid again in the near future, you can bet they behave much, much more respectfully.

Give ’em the boot!

imagerymajestic1On that same note, a certain amount of bad behavior on the app should result in a permanent exile. If women are going to be comfortable existing in this virtual space and the subsequent physical space, it has to be known as a safe space where creepos are not welcome. Most women wouldn’t go into a bar that’s known to be frequented by the kind of guys who grope you as you walk by; why would they want to be in a virtual space with those same assholes?

So, startup entrepreneur with dreams of random hookups for all, listen up: if you want it to work, you have to start thinking about the ladies. No more trying to adapt what works for the gays, no more thinking of all women as vestal virgins.

Build it, and they will come.


Photos by… Victor Habbick, Grindr,  joiseyshowaa, imagerymajestic,, fromcolettewithlove via Flickr


  • Reply January 24, 2014


    Good call. I noticed that you didnt mention the lesbos… Thoughts if an app could work for us with NSA sex? It’s a topic we could all mock till the cows come home… But I’d LOVE if something like that existed…

    • Reply January 24, 2014

      Emma McGowan

      Do you have any ideas, Tessa? Or anyone else? I’d love to hear them!
      (And yeah, I could definitely write a hilarious satirical post all on my own. 🙂 )

      • Reply January 24, 2014


        I am stumped. Too many variables. The profile would take forever to fill out.

  • Reply January 24, 2014


    Tinder seems to be doing the trick and Lulu is attempting to post “reviews”??

    • Reply January 24, 2014

      Emma McGowan

      Tinder has definitely picked up a huge portion of the market and is something I’ll be covering in a later post. Lulu is just… Yeah, jury is still out on that one. Seems gimmicky to me.

    • Reply January 24, 2014

      Emma McGowan

      Tinder definitely seems to be picking up a lot of the market, although I wouldn’t say it’s quite on the level of Grindr yet. Lulu is just… Yeah, jury is still out on that one. Honestly, it seems kind of gimmicky to me.

  • Reply March 31, 2014

    Pure Hookup App

    […] week I wrote about how a Grindr for straight folks would have to take some lessons from the swinging community if it was going to be successful and […]

  • Reply August 21, 2014


    why not make a grindr-like app for lesbian women?

  • Reply March 22, 2017


    First approach only by women?
    Honestly, guys like me wouldn’t stand a chance. I don’t spend hours at the gym because my job keeps me in shape. I consider elegance and wits far more attractive than abs and pecs. And I have a good sense of humor… No pick-up lines either, thank you. Spontaneity, class are always a winner. If the woman doesn’t want to talk to me, fine. Same thing the other way around, always be respectful.
    But if I can’t reach the women I’m interested in, I won’t lower my expectations 😉

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