Dating is hard. Finding someone that you’re attracted to and compatible with can be a tall order. Throw the coronavirus into the mix, and things get complicated.
You might be hesitant to strike up a conversation with the hottie standing six feet away because your face mask clashes with your outfit. But fortunately, you might have a better chance of finding love with an online dating app.
Here’s a breakdown of the best dating apps on the market. We dove headfirst into Reddit and other review forums and compiled stats about each app to give you a thorough overview of your options.
Ready to swipe? Compare the best online dating apps
|Bumble||Women who don’t mind initiating contact. Either person can get the ball rolling for same-sex matches.|
- You’ll know that someone has swiped right on you before you reach out.
- Takes the pressure off men to make the first move.
- Time limit keeps your match list up-to-date — no more “dead” matches.
- 24-hour deadline.
- Dating profile is limited to 6 pictures and a few pieces of info.
|OKCupid||Users who focus on compatibility, including similar political views.|
- View in-depth user profiles.
- Compatibility rating.
- Choose your preferred pronoun.
- Sophisticated algorithm that helps pair daters with similar fundamental values, such as gun control and child vaccination.
- History of data leaks.
- Users can’t see your message unless you match with them first.
|Plenty of Fish||Singles who prefer a free dating app.|
- Boasts 4 million active users.
- Claims to have the most conversations compared to any other dating site — totaling 1 billion per month.
- Generous features on its free plan.
- Users report POF is overrun with bots.
- Law enforcement warns of POF scams and assaults.
|Tinder||Users looking to hook up.|
- Fast setup.
- Easy to use.
- Wildly popular.
- Tinder Social lets you go on group dates.
- Reputation for casual relationships over meaningful matches.
- Short bios make sending messages more challenging.
|Hinge||Singles looking for a serious relationship.|
- Display dealbreakers, including your political views and interest in having children someday.
- Fast-expanding user base, especially in major cities including New York City, Chicago and Atlanta.
- 90% of users report great first dates, and 72% were open for a second, according to Hinge’s real-world statistics.
- Limited number of matches on its free plan.
- Not available in all major cities or rural areas.
|Match||Someone willing to shell out cash for love.|
- Free signup.
- Decades of matchmaking experience.
- Multiple ways of showing interest, including winking, liking and favoriting profiles.
- Must pay to read or send messages.
- No subscriber badge, so you might send messages to someone who can’t reply.
|Her||Queer, lesbian and bisexual women.|
- Designated place in bio to list your sexuality and pronouns.
- Rapidly growing user base.
- Fewer profiles in smaller towns.
- Users report a few bugs and glitches.
|Grindr||Gay and bisexual men looking for casual encounters.|
- Users are generally upfront about what they are looking for.
- A plethora of users that are practically online 24/7.
- Data breaches.
- History of bots and scammers.
- Boasts that it’s helped over 2 million people find love.
- In-depth compatibility analysis.
- If you’re not satisfied with your matches after 3 months, it’ll give you an extra 3 months free.
- You’ll need to pay to access most features, including unblurring photos of your potential matches.
- Questionnaire is thorough and more time-consuming than other online dating apps.
Read our full review of eHarmony
|SilverSingles||Singles over 50 looking to meet people their age.|
- Easy to use — especially for those with limited tech know-how.
- Eliminates the repetitive age filters on other online dating apps.
- Features on the free membership are extremely limited.
- Pricey membership fees.
|Happn||People looking to meet others in a more organic way.|
- Both users must have “liked” each other before sending messages, helping to minimize spam and harassment.
- Your specific location isn’t visible.
- Free for women.
- Best in densely populated areas — not exactly ideal when social distancing.
- You need to leave your home to cross paths with someone.
- Men must buy charms to nudge someone to “like” you back.
|Coffee Meets Bagel||Singles looking for low-pressure dating.|
- Limits your feed to your best matches — no endless swiping.
- Offers personalized icebreakers.
- Only get messages from people you’ve liked.
- Women outnumber men 60 to 40.
- Learning curve to learn the app’s lingo. For example, “liking” a “bagel” in the Discover section is considered a “take,” which requires spending “beans.”
|The League||Singles with high standards.|
- Users on The League are heavily vetted.
- Filters out Facebook friends and Linkedin coworkers — after all, we’re all about meeting new people.
- Members are active and respond to matches — or they’ll get kicked out.
- Limited matches per day.
- Membership is highly selective and generally takes a couple of weeks to vet your application, which may just get you on the waitlist.
How to choose the best online dating app for you
There’s no rule to how many dating apps you can download. But when you want to be selective, consider the following factors when searching for “the one:”
- Membership fees. Most dating apps use a subscription model to sign up for the service or to unlock extra features.
- How extensive your profile is. Each dating app displays different bios for potential connections to swipe left or right.
- Number of filters to narrow down options. Hone in on better matches using filters.
- Offers verified accounts. Use an online dating site that helps weed out fake profiles.
- Relationship goals. Match up with other singles who are looking for the same type of relationship.
- Matching process. Read up on the service’s algorithm and how they bring couples together.
- Membership base and demographics. Check if the online dating app has enough users near you.
How do online dating apps work?
Online dating apps are the modern version of the newspaper classified ads with a hint of speed dating. When you sign up for an online dating app, you make a profile about yourself and advertise what you’re looking for. Other users generally swipe left or right to show if they’re interested.
The app also lets you filter through profiles and message people you want to build a connection with.
What’s the matching process like on different dating apps?
Every dating site and app has a slightly different game plan for matching singles. For example, Tinder has a straightforward swiping system. Swipe left if you’re not interested or swipe right if your interest is piqued. Once both people have swiped right, you’re matched and you can start a conversation.
Hinge, on the other hand, is swipe-free. You’ll view a few users per day and “heart” something in their profile. If that person likes something in your bio, the two of you will form a match and can start chatting.
How to sign up for an online dating app
Some dating services require that you answer an in-depth questionnaire, while others simply need your location, a few profile pictures and a witty tagline. Although the onboarding process varies from app to app, you’ll generally need to:
- Download the app from your phone’s app store.
- Create a profile.
- Select who you’re interested in.
- Input your age.
- Enter your ZIP code.
- Answer a few personality questions.
- Start browsing singles near you.
What dating apps are free?
A handful of dating apps have a free version that you can test-drive:
- Plenty of Fish
What dating apps let women message first?
Women don’t need to take a backseat and wait for the guy to make the first move. These dating apps have the option — although Bumble makes it a requirement — for women to initiate the conversation.
What dating apps show who’s liked you already?
Hinge is currently the only app that allows users to see who has liked you without upgrading to a premium version. Most dating apps make you pay before revealing this data.
Tinder and Bumble have a similar feature that shows you who has “super liked’ your profile by putting a symbol on the person’s bio when it appears in your feed.
What should I include in my online dating profile?
Your dating profile simultaneously markets yourself and describes your special someone. You might want to include the following details in your bio:
- Dealbreakers. Weed out matches that don’t fit the bill by being up front with what you’re looking for.
- Passions. Share what motivates you and fuels your drive.
- Interests and quirks. Be real and up front about who you are, what you like and what makes you, you. For example, do you prefer to stay in and watch Netflix or hit the clubs? Or are you a devout Catholic? You might want to check out CatholicMatch.
- Spotify playlist. Feel free to link your Spotify account and let your indie music tastes speak for you. You might just find another kindred spirit.
- A joke. Break the ice with something funny and let your personality show.
Is it safe to use an online dating app?
Online dating apps are generally safe to use because they usually have built-in security that protects users from foul language and sexual or explicit content. Many platforms also have policies that protect users from harassment, stalking and bullying. If you encounter an unpleasant situation, you can report the offender and the app may limit or delete the account in question.
Most apps also give you the power to block a match from contacting you any further. And your exact location should never be disclosed on the platform.
6 safety tips for online dating
While online dating apps offer a measure of protection, follow these tips for extra precautions:
- Reveal as little personal information as you can. While some dating apps require an email address and your real name, always opt to keep your last name and location hidden whenever possible.
- Research your match. Do your own version of a background check. Take a look at their social media accounts, including their LinkedIn profile. And you can’t go wrong with the tried-and-true method of simply Googling their name.
- Use secure communication systems to chat with your matches. Always opt to use the online dating app’s secure messaging system. Avoid giving out your phone number or personal email.
- Go with your gut. If you feel uncomfortable at any point, don’t be afraid to call things off.
- Meet in a public place. If you want to meet someone in real life, always meet in a public place. And it’s a good idea not to get picked up from your home or work.
- Group outings. Bring a friend to hang out together. And it never hurts to have an extra pair of eyes to help pick up on any suspicious behavior — especially if you’re wearing love-goggles.
3 tips for dating during the coronavirus pandemic
The coronavirus has likely turned your life upside down — including your love life. Here are three tips for dating during the pandemic:
- Be more selective. With social distancing, going out is much more complicated. Choose dates with people that you really want to get to know — and who you think you’d like to be quarantined with.
- Meet remotely. While it’s not how you may be used to dating, video chatting can help show you if you’re really compatible.
- Establish in-person rules. If you decide to meet up in real life, set some ground rules about how you’ll interact, including a safe meeting place with ventilation, how to maintain social distancing throughout your date and to ensure that you’re symptom-free before meeting.
How to avoid getting catfished
No one wants to meet the person of their dreams online, only to be sorely disappointed that their profile was highly exaggerated or even a straight-up lie. Here are three tips on how to find out if your match is who they say they are:
- Do a reverse image search. Use your search engine’s reverse image search to see if your match’s photo comes up somewhere else online, such as a stock photo library.
- Video chat. A live video chat is always a great way to see if your match looks like their photos.
- Social media presence. Peruse their social media accounts. A few red flags include a low friend count, pictures with no tags, or little social media activity.
Is online dating right for me?
Online dating was created to connect people who may not have a chance to meet in real life. It might be a good option for you if:
- You’re busy. If your schedule doesn’t give you a lot of time to go out and meet people, online dating can match you to the right people without cramping your routine.
- You’re an introvert. Some people who grapple with introducing themselves might fare better with an online dating app. Matches give singles more opportunities to strike up conversations, and you get more time responding to written messages than chatting in person.
- You struggle to meet people. If you’ve exhausted all other options, including setups and meeting strangers at bars and clubs, you might consider online dating to expand your dating pool.
Frequently asked questions about online dating
Get more answers to your most burning questions about online dating here.
Which online dating app has the highest success rate?
It’s difficult to know which app is the best because of the lack of comparative data. But each provider makes some substantial claims. For example, eHarmony claims its users find love every 14 minutes, while Hinge boasts that about three-quarters of its users would love a second date.
How do paid online dating apps work?
While many services have a free plan with in-app purchases or upgrades, other apps require a membership fee to get started.
What extra features are available for purchase?
You may be able to eliminate ads, go back on a swipe, rematch an expired connection or get unlimited matches and messaging.