Choosing a dating website is a lot like shopping for a new pair of shoes. You have to pick something for the occasion, decide on a price point, figure out what you’re going for, and then after taking all the variables into account with some questionable math, you go with your gut on the best one(s). With so many sites out there and more popping up each day, the selection process can be overwhelming.
So to help you pick the right one for you, let’s just take it one step at a time.
1. Figure out what type of relationship you’re looking for.
Whether you’re looking for marriage, a hookup, or anything in between, there’s an app for that. The first step to picking the right app is figuring out what you’re looking for. The faster swiping apps like Tinder and specialty apps like AdultFriendFinder are the best for hookups, although Tinder is no longer is specifically for hookups.
If you’re looking for something more serious, you might want to give paid apps like Match.com and Zoosk great options. Both have been around for a long time and the paywall increases the likelihood that other daters you’ll come across will be a bit more serious.
Not sure what you’re looking for? Apps like Bumble and OkCupid both have profile options you can include to indicate that you’re not sure what you’re looking for.
2. Choose who you’re looking for.
If you’re looking to connect with a certain type of person, there’s an app for that. If you’re looking for someone with a shared ethnic background, there are many specialty sites like JDate and Black People Meet. For gay men, there’s Grindr, which is one of the most popular apps on the market. For 50+ singles, there’s OurTime. Then there’s Bristlr, an app for bearded singles and singles looking to date bearded singles. We’re in the golden age of online dating. Rest assured, whatever you’re looking for there’s a way to find it.
3. Decide on a budget to spend for your online dating.
While these days most dating websites offer some free components, many don’t and the ones that do offer premium services to smooth out your online dating experience. Subscriptions begin at as low as a few dollars to months up to hundreds depending on the service but usually land somewhere in the $20 to $30 range. Before you settle on a dating site you’ll want to decide on an online dating budget.
PlentyOfFish and OkCupid are the most popular totally free dating sites. Otherwise, Hinge and Tinder both offer a limited amount of likes per day without subscribing. If money isn’t a big factor, Zoosk, Match.com, and eHarmony are all very popular paywall apps for meeting high quality singles.
4. Pick a popular site.
The popularity of online dating is a double-edged sword. On one hand, everyone dates online now; on the other, there are more apps out there than you can count, but not all of them have enough people using to be worth your time. Some of these apps even have great concepts like Vibes, the video chatting app that lets daters connect through talking, or Tastebuds, the app that lets singles connect over music, but on both you quickly run out of people to talk to. Make sure you do your research before you sink money into one of these.
5. Explore multiple sites or apps.
Who said you only had to use one dating site anyway? Dating is a journey and like any journey it goes through different phrases and has its ups and downs. What you want from a dating app may change week to week or even moment to moment. There are tons of services out there and even more people. There’s no need to limit yourself to a dating site.
Whether you’re a dating website veteran or a newcomer, young or old, there’s something out there for you. Keep looking and figure out what you value and the right app will manifest for you. Below we’ve made a list of some of the most popular apps and sites out there and what they’re about.
Full disclosure: The Date Mix is owned by Zoosk. That said, Zoosk is one of the oldest players in online dating and has one of the largest pools of online daters. It offers smart pick options and advanced search filters to help you the exact people you’re looking for.
This is the one that started it all. Match is a bit outdated, although there are still a ton of people on this one. It’s good for people who are looking for something more serious.
Another one of the older players, eHarmony uses its questionnaire to match you with people it thinks you’re most compatible with. eHarmony is also best for those looking for something serious.
BlackPeopleMeet is a popular dating site for black people to meet other black people.
OurTime is designed for older single people to meet others in the same age bracket. This might be your ticket if you’re 50+.
Tinder is one of the most popular apps out there and popularized the swipe left-swipe right format. While Tinder has a reputation for hookups, there are people of all stripes on this one, because everyone’s on it.
Bumble copied Tinder’s swiping format to similar success. This app favors a lady’s first approach for different sex matches.
Hinge has become the flavor of the month dating app for quick millennial targeted online dating. It bills itself as the relationship app and abandoned swiping, but you’ll find people on here seeking all sorts of relationship arrangements.
OkCupid is another one of the older sites and it’s totally free. It offers many different ways to find other folks around from searches, to swiping, to answering questions about your worldview. This is another one that’s best for people who don’t know what they’re looking for.
POF has been around for a long time, and its primary draw is that it’s free. If you’re dead set on not spending money. This might be your bet.
Contrary to its name, EliteSingles is pretty commonly known for being an everyman’s dating app. It’s mostly good because there are many people on it.
The League requires a link up from both Facebook and LinkedIn. The idea is to match you with the elite out there.
This one is for the bearded and those that adore them.
Hater generates a match percentage between you and other singles based on topics you hate.
Badoo is one of the most popular dating apps in the world, with an especially large population in Europe. Badoo might be for you if you live in Europe or you find yourself traveling a lot.
Happn is trying to axe missed connections. It shows you people you’ve crossed paths with in real life. It’s good for people who live in cities and live active lifestyles.
Grindr is the most popular dating app for gay men. It’s predominantly a hookup app, but recently has been known to match people for longer term relationships.
JDate and it’s faster paced counterpart JSwipe are dating sites that help singles Jews and people looking to date Jews meet each other.