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.
The first thing you need to decide is how committed you are. As in, how much do you want to pay to make your heart go pitter-patter? Some apps, like Plenty of Fish, let you view profiles and send messages for free. Most of the others let you view your potential matches without charging, but make you pony up and subscribe if you want to actually reach out to them. While the monthly charges for the apps we review here range in price from $10 to more than $40, most offer a discount if you commit to a long-term subscription such as six months or a year. (You're not afraid of commitment, are you?) Then, there are all of the add-ons. Options—letting you pay to boost your ranking in search results, letting someone know that you are really, really interested in him or her or them, or undoing a dreaded left-swipe that was supposed to be a right-swipe—will cost you extra. While some apps may advertise themselves as free, all of them will try to get a buck from you in the end.
They say you can’t put a price on love, but when you’re on a budget it’s good to have options. OKCupid offers free online dating and you can search and view complete profiles and chat with other members without paying a penny. It also has an impressive compatibility feature that generates quizzes to help in your quest for love. The questions are quirky and touch on both the fun stuff and the deep stuff to help you get better matches.
What dating sites like Relationship.com provide is the perfect platform for that search. By creating a profile, listing your likes and dislikes and briefly describing your personal circumstances, interests, hopes and dreams, you give other single people a small window into the kind of person you are. If they like what they see, then they have all the tools they need to get in touch with you and make a connection.
No matter what you’re looking for—casual hookups, marriage, polyamory, relationships with men, relationships with women, a little bit of everything—OkCupid can accommodate. Two factors really set OkCupid apart from the competition: It produces the best profiles, and it uses the best matching algorithm that pops the most promising profiles to the top that are more likely to be robust, human, and charming.
Specify Relationship Type. You’re not limited to looking for a long-term relationship. In fact, you can search for friends, penpals, people to casually date, to date short-term, or to just hook up with. You can search within a specific age range, and you can even use the site if you’re married. However, you can also specify that you’re only interested in members who are single.
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.
If you want to know more about someone, you can always just ask the friend you have in common, which is a human touch that’s absent from most apps. Moreover, people can message you only if you’ve matched, so there are no unsolicited “greetings”. You can see what sort of relationship people are looking for, and while that doesn’t sound that revolutionary, it reflects the fact that Hinge carries more of a dating expectation than a just-hooking-up expectation à la Tinder. Furthermore, because of the friends-of-friends connection, you’re less likely to run across inappropriate photos. That’s a plus in our book.