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.
You can only add photos of yourself from Facebook or Instagram, though, which is kind of limiting if you’re not very active on either. Also, while the friends-of-friends concept has a lot of benefits, it’s also restricting. It’s possible to run out of matches after 10 minutes of browsing, which is a letdown if you’re actually enjoying the app or are serious about finding a date.
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.
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Why it's awesome: Founded in 2000 by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, eharmony is the site for serious daters. A spokesperson for the site says it's been used by 54 million people, and is apparently responsible for 4 percent of U.S. marriages. Users answer a lengthy questionnaire that helps eharmony determine what it calls a "a select group of compatible matches with whom you can build a quality relationship." Spira says she's always seen eharmony as a "matrimonial dating site.""That doesn’t mean you’re going to walk down the aisle, but it certainly means that you’re looking for a very serious relationship that may or may not lead to marriage. It may lead to living together or at least being in an exclusive, committed relationship."
Signing up for a dating app is simple. With no e-mail confirmations involved, users are able to jump right into the action. Profiles are quick and easy to build, if they’re not just uploaded from your Facebook account. Setting up a dating app is so quick that you could, in theory, go from downloading the app to being face-to-face with a new match in less than 10 minutes -- if you really wanted to. On the flip side, most mainstream dating sites offer equally inclusive apps, so if you’re interested in the longer questionnaires that come along with algorithmic matchmaking, you’re in luck.
Matches are location-based so you only see people near the city you set in your profile. If you travel and want to see if there are any matches in your area, you need to change where you are in your profile. The app also has a "We Met" section where you can leave feedback after any Hinge date. It's almost like leaving a Yelp review for a person. Users can also specify whether they have kids, want kids, have any strong religious beliefs or vices. This gives you a little more of an in-depth look at a potential mate than some dating apps. Hinge is only available as an app and it's free, but you can pay for a membership if you want extra perks like being able to use additional filters, see likes you've received and access Hinge experts to help you along the way.
Tinder has been nothing less than a cultural phenomenon, adding "swiping" to our dating lexicon. The casual dating app is incredibly straightforward and easy to use. In fact, it's so simple that, at least for the standard free version, there are really only a few things you can do on it, including updating your profile, swiping left (to pass) or right (to like), and chatting with matches.
Tinder shows you a photo, name, and age. You can tap on the photo to see additional information regarding the person and Facebook friends you share (if you’re logged in through your Facebook account). You can also choose to swipe right (to like them), left (to pass), or up if you want to use one of your precious “super likes” to show them you really really like them. If you and another person have both swiped right on one another, a screen will appear showing that you’ve matched and inviting you to send them a message. The free option comes with limited swipes, and you’ll have to pay per month for unlimited swipes.
This app wants to find you more than just a one-night stand or a cool-for-the-summer situation. That said, you're going to have to work for it. To join, you have to fill out an extensive survey, and you can't see photos of your potential matches unless you pay to subscribe. If you're out to spend more time finding your mate, eharmony is a good (if more costly) option. That is, as long as you're not looking for a same-sex mate: That's not an option here.
Hinge started out by showing you Facebook friends of friends, but their algorithm is so smart that it has now surpassed friends of friends as a predictor of compatibility (AKA you won't be matched with someone all wrong for you just because you have a mutual friend). Rather, Hinge helps you get to know the other person more deeply than any new app has attempted, revealing answers to juicy, detailed questions about things like future plans, religion, and vices. Seems like a good recipe for a connection past physical stuff, right? According to Hinge, 75% of their first dates lead to second dates, so it's clearly working.
If you haven't yet jumped on board the dating app train, there's no better time than now to get started. But first: which dating app should you choose? There's a dizzying range, so how do you know which is best for your needs? Wonder no more - we here at EliteSingles have prepared an overview of the best dating apps for every style of dating. Just click a category to read more:
How often are you put off by being spotted by the man in IT or adding facts like your surname, job or 4 filtered (it's okay, we all do it) photos for everyone to see? With Pickable women reveal themselves to men they're interested in. For the men? They get a fun dashboard to gamify the experience and give them better feedback in future. This could be a game changer.
Coffee Meets Bagel does require logging in through your Facebook in order to create a profile. Once you’ve set up your profile and input your preferences, it will send you a few “bagels” a day — the profile of a potential match. You then have 24 hours to decide whether you want to “like” or “pass” on your bagel. If you like your bagel and they have also liked you, you’ll connect, meaning that you’ll be able to message one another in a private chat. That chat room expires after eight days, regardless of whether you’ve talked with your bagel or not. You can also earn “beans” that allow for extra app functions, either by purchasing them outright, recommending the app to your friends, or logging in on consecutive days.
As a result, when considering what's available these days in free online dating terms, the message is pretty clear: Finding people online to go on dates with doesn't cost you much money — or any money, for that matter — so you can save your hard-earned cash for the dates you actually go on. If online dating is something you're thinking about, you really have nothing to lose by trying out a free dating site.
OkCupid has as many downsides as Tinder, and fewer positive ones, with the exception of learning a lot more about your potential dating partners. The interface is extremely clunky and the photos are a little small. You also have to tap on a user’s small image to see a larger version and the person’s profile, which is simply too large for an app. It works on a website, but it’s overkill on an app, and the amount of scrolling required makes it annoying to access. When you exit back to the list, there’s no guarantee that it’ll be in the same order or that it will return you to the spot you scrolled down to, making it extremely hard to keep track of what you’ve already viewed.
How does it work? Mysinglefriend.com is the brainchild of TV presenter Sarah Beeny and it works by each member on the site being put forward and described by a friend. The site aims to get rid of the ‘cringe factor’ associated with having to big yourself up through your online profile and makes it more of a fun community, where like-minded people can chat, meet and potentially fall in lurve.
OkCupid is another one of the biggest names in the dating biz. After creating a username, you’ll start filling out a very long profile, to which you can link to your Instagram account. You can answer questions, giving both your answer and what you’d like your potential match’s answer to be — this creates a percentile score for users that reflects compatibility. You can also choose to make your answers public and note how important they are to you.
When considering your options, it helps to identify what your intentions are for using an online dating site. If you're not looking to meet your future spouse, you're probably better suited for the adult dating site FriendFinder-X, a place where you can live out your sexual desires and find others looking for the same level of casual commitment. FF-X is a strictly hookup- and casual sex-oriented site that boasts millions of users around the world, so if you're looking to get lucky, your odds are high here.
Feeld is an app for people who know what they want. It describes itself as a place to “meet open-minded couples and singles near you,” making it the premiere app for unicorns and those who want a more openly kink-friendly app experience. While that may sound pretty niche, Veronica*, 35, who lives in Queens, says Feeld became her favorite dating app. At the time of download, she was single and recovering from a bad breakup. She used Tinder and Bumble for regular dating, but hated the experience. “None of the men seemed cute enough, and a lot of them were exactly as gross and Air-Drop-a-dick-pic-slimy as the stereotypes go,” she explains.
Within the first three hours of signing up, Happn welcomed me with 68 users it said I had crossed paths with, even though I hadn't left my apartment all day. It might be helpful if you're looking to date your immediate neighbors (or Uber drivers), but I struggle to see why this is much of a draw when competitors like Tinder already show the distance between you and other users. Frankly, if I saw a cute guy in a coffee shop, I'd rather just approach him than check if he's on Happn. The app seems designed for people who don't want to use online dating but who also don't want to approach people in real life. Pick a lane.
Chen, for example, still uses dating apps, but does so begrudgingly. She and her girlfriends regularly send each other outrageous texts they receive from men and laugh about them. Others, such as Anna Heissler, a 26-year-old executive assistant also living in Toronto, describe the apps as a “necessary evil.” And others still are looking to slower forms of finding a mate online or throwing in the towel entirely, preferring instead to revert back to the old-fashioned ways of meeting someone: introductions from family and friends, chance meetings at a gym, or at singles events.