I created this post as a guide to help you find the best online dating site for you. I’ve done online dating extensively in the United States, read a ton of reviews, and listened to the experiences of friends who have tried out the various sites below. As I mention in my online dating e-book, when I started out, I had no clue what I was doing, and my money was going down the drain each month with no results (or girlfriend) to show for it. I realized over time that I was signing up for the wrong sites and, therefore, was not putting myself in the best position to succeed. Live and learn!
Dating is hard work, so we did some of the legwork for you by taking a deep dive into seven of the most popular apps. Check out our brief thoughts on each below, and then click through to read our in-depth reviews. Everyone's needs and wants are different, so not every app will be a great fit for you, but if we can help play a part in uniting you with your forever person or your Friday-night fling, we're here to help.
Hinge positions itself as the "relationship app", claiming that three out of four first dates set up through the app lead to second dates, and that it is the number one mobile-first dating app mentioned in the New York Times Wedding section. And with that bold pitch you should be fairly confident that people you meet on the app will be looking for something serious.
Hinge focuses on common connections that you and a potential partner share on Facebook. Which is great if you trust the judgment of your friends and family. Of course, some of us are trying to meet new people, far removed from our everyday lives. (Hinge may have gotten the hint, since you no longer need Facebook to sign up.) The app also asks questions to help you match with better connections, which can be a plus for serious relationship seekers.
Dating is frustrating, exciting, awkward, and funny as hell. But more than anything, it's a learning experience of what you like, don't like, and are willing to endure—and for that I'm grateful. And when all hope is lost with a date and you find yourself hiding in a bathroom, or completely zoning out, or ghosting, at least you've got a good story to tell.
OkCupid matches you with people in the area who share a similar personality and interests to yours. Rather than a questionnaire, you answer simple ‘yes or no’ questions and input an ‘about me’ paragraph to get started, and the site delivers you potential matches with whom you can strike up a conversation. It’s quick, free and easy. How much is it? Free Lovestruck How it works: Lovestruck is aimed at working professionals who want to date but don’t have a lot of spare time to do so. The site connects you with potential partners who live and/or work in the same area as you, saving you precious time when arranging and meeting up for dates.
One nice feature of BBPeopleMeet is that it is accessible on both desktop and mobile. This means you can access your dating app anywhere in the world, or from the comfort of your home. The large amount of pictures allowed (30) is also nice, as is the careful moderation of the site. Photos and profiles must be approved before they can go active. The only downside to all of this is that–while the site is very generous in sharing information about its users–it is less generous in letting them make contact with each other.
Some of the qualitative research, such as Gibbs, Ellison, and Heino (2006) and Ellison, Heino, and Gibbs (2006), uses theories of gender and sexuality to inform hypotheses about gendered behaviour in online contexts. When users have virtually no limit on the amount of information they can provide in an ad, they can use other methods of signifying gender to supplement what is provided by basic demographic details and also by the inclusion of a photograph. Use of a photo is still highly strategic because of its status as “proof” of claims made in the profile about physical appearance; photos are important because proof of the body is important (Whitty & Carr, 2006). Images are also used to signify aspects of identity (Whitty, 2007a).
Two of the women made references to same-sex desires or fantasies, one of whom (F10-36) seemed to qualify her interest even as she took the trouble to mention it: “I can’t recall because it was too late and I was too stunned … but I’m pretty sure it involved two men. Yes, us women too have this strange fetish!” In the same profile, there were also oblique references to queer sexuality as “other” from the self, in the “best or worst lie I’ve ever told” box: “I might have told a few men I was a Lesbian when trying to avoid harassment at bars where I frequent to do karaoke. Unfortunately that just encouraged them.” This site user has an interesting strategy for constructing attractiveness to the “opposite sex”—by implying that she is so magnetic that men wouldn’t stop approaching her, even when she described herself as a “Lesbian.” Rather than acting as an appropriate repellent, the illusive/elusive shield of (female) queerness seems to lure men even more, so there is a layered, if possibly subconscious, motivation behind the use of this kind of reference.
Does swiping on a tonne of profiles sound like too much work for you? It can get laborious, particularly if you get lots of matches who never both to send a message. Coffee Meets Bagel is all about time-saving and providing matches who are serious about getting in touch. Every day at noon guys and LGBTQ members receive a few matches that are tailored to them based on considerations like social network and interests. Women interested in men are sent profiles of guys who've already expressed an interest – the idea being you don't have to get excited about some guy who never messages.
Gay rights groups have complained that certain websites that restrict their dating services to heterosexual couples are discriminating against homosexuals. Homosexual customers of the popular eHarmony dating website have made many attempts to litigate discriminatory practices. eHarmony was sued in 2007 by a lesbian claiming that "[s]uch outright discrimination is hurtful and disappointing for a business open to the public in this day and age." In light of discrimination by sexual orientation by dating websites, some services such as GayDar.net and Chemistry.com cater more to homosexual dating.
Zoosk: While I compare Elite Singles a lot to eHarmony, I would compare Zoosk a lot to Match. A lot of the same features you see in Match you also see in Zoosk. It’s very easy to set up your profile, upload your pictures and answer the questions about who you are and what you’re looking for. The one downside is it only allows you to upload up to six pictures, which seems kind of low. Usually when I’m searching for a match, the more pictures the better.
Keeping the search results wide open: If your goal is to meet someone in the immediate future for a casual drink or get together, the best option would be mobile dating apps like Tinder, JSwipe and many others. These apps allow you to quickly find similarly minded people. On most dating sites, you can use a sort feature to see which members are currently online right now and available to talk.
Hinge may seem like it plays second-fiddle to the likes of Tinder, but it has a pretty elite user base (99 percent of its daters went to college, for example). Hinge’s CEO compared his app to Facebook, versus Tinder’s Myspace—sometimes for interface reasons (Hinge is aimed at the college-educated set) and sometimes for class reasons (much has been written on the ways dating app algorithms may favor white people).
Why it's awesome: Before there were apps on which one could swipe right and left on a dizzying number of potential connections, there was Match. Yes, Match is the mother of all dating sites. Launched back in 1995, its decades in the business help it bring a ton of insight to the table for singles looking for all kinds of connections. And with its more recent push into mobile come a few new features that have helped make the ancient site more relevant, including its very own version of Stories, popularized by Snapchat and, uh ... adopted by everyone else. Match users can shoot little videos of their day or add voiceovers to photos and post them to their profiles for other users to check out. "Match is the family brand," Spira says. "It's the one where someone could see their grandmother on, and someone could see their grandson on. It has the largest critical mass, and they have done a fabulous job of keeping up with the technology."
When you’re ready to sign up for JDate and give it a go, things couldn’t be simpler. You can create a basic profile with just the minimal information: name, age, etc. This is nice if you want to get a fast start, but it’s also not so great when you run into a lot of profiles without more detailed looks at potential matches. If you want more success finding matches, create a fuller profile that details more about your biography.
Free sites generally offer more flexibility for different types of relationships, including casual hookups and same-sex relationships. In fact, they’re not even exclusively for dating, as OkCupid allows you to be married or in a relationship but looking for friends. Free sites may also work better for individuals who are separated, but not yet divorced (or separated with no immediate intention to divorce).
eHarmony is another serious dating site that prefers to connect its users based on personality. With its focus on marriage, it's a solid choice for those in their 20s or early 30s who want to upgrade to a paid dating app. For those dating in their 40s and beyond though, it is worth noting that eHarmony's CEO has pointed out that the average user used to be ''36 to 37 years old," and that "now it's closer to 30."2
Hinge is kind of like Tinder. OK, it’s a lot like Tinder — but with a few key differences that make it better. Interface-wise, it looks like Tinder’s younger sister. But function-wise, it relies more on your Facebook friends to make connections for you. Hinge connects you through friends-of-friends-of-friends and shows you not just the people you have in common, but all the interests you have in common. It does this by having you answer a bunch of questions through a Tinder-like interface. Have you been to Berlin? Swipe right. Don’t play croquet? Swipe left. This makes answering questions far easier and less time-consuming, not to mention more fun. The questions themselves aren’t as asinine as those in some other dating apps, and give you a better sense of someone than 500 characters might.
Why did I run away? It's kinda my thing. I'm a 23-year-old woman living in an age of swipeable romance, but until recently, I'd never used a dating app, or even really casually dated. Being single has always been enough for me, but when the new year struck, I wanted to make sure I wasn't shutting myself off from an experience that could be special. So I had decided to do the unthinkable: I, a dating app virgin, joined all the major dating apps with the goal of going on one date per app to help me get over my dating fears. I agreed to go out with anyone who asked and asked out anyone I was interested in.
MocoSpace has been around since before app stores existed. Since 2005, it has been a leading site for meeting new people. They also have Android and iOS apps that are absolutely free. If you’re afraid they’ll try to sell you to a $30/month membership fee, don’t worry. It doesn’t exist. They also have more features than many other dating apps — with chat, instant messaging, and even some games in addition to highly customizable profile pages. The app experience is different from the competition, and users who return for several sessions are rewarded with a community that keeps them coming back for years.