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Home > Online Dating Articles & Advice for Everyone > Free Hook Up Sites vs. Serious Dating Sites: Examining the Pros & Cons

Free Hook Up Sites vs. Serious Dating Sites: Examining the Pros & Cons

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If you’re considering entering the online dating community, we can probably assume there have been some past experiences that have led you to this decision. Dating is its own respective journey for everyone, yet online dating spaces allow strangers to branch out from the normal people they feel they’re constantly interacting with.

By the time you join a dating app, you’ve likely exhausted the options in your surrounding circles. You’ve explored the singles in your immediate area, you’re tired of being set up by your friends and family, or you just don’t feel connected in the local social scene. There’s a difference between figuring out what you’re looking for in a partner and searching for someone you know is worth dating more seriously. 

This is precisely why dating apps have seized the opportunity to tailor their platforms so that people who share the most in common can find one another. But do they accomplish their goal? There are certainly mixed results taken from the experiences of millions who have moved to online dating platforms, but today we hope to analyze the difference in nature between those that result in casual hookups and others that can offer you serious, long-term relationships. 

What Are Free Hookup Sites

When we think of casual hookup sites, we’re referring to sites focusing on casual encounters that may or may not be intended for physical intimacy. These sorts of free dating apps often have a low barrier of entry, meaning the volume of non-committed or unserious potential matches seeking flings makes up a majority of the users. These may be as casual as dating for human interaction by grabbing drinks or just spending time together, or they could be more experimental when gauging actual chemistry, even if shared values aren’t behind the intent.

Examples of Free Hookup Sites

You may be wondering which dating platforms we’re discussing when referring to them as hookup sites. Potential matchups here are often casual at best, but the possibility of meeting someone worthy of your time is still possible. 

    There’s nothing wrong with using free hookup dating platforms, especially if you’re just getting your feet wet in the world of online dating. However, if prospects, or even you yourself are not taking the relationship seriously, you may need to try out other dating apps. Particularly ones that attract not only like-minded singles but ones who are committed to looking for long-term love and not just a frivolous fling.

    What Are Serious Dating Sites

    If you’re hoping to take the online dating approach more seriously, you’ll be happy to learn there are another slew of sites that pride themselves on being a gathering place for people dedicated to finding the long-term relationship of their dreams. These are often dating platforms that feature more advanced questionnaires around sign-up, require verified identity, and are often further protected by requiring payment, ensuring its participants are more than willing to be there.

    Examples of Serious Dating Sites

    More serious dating sites are often ones you’ll see commercials for on television, or see ads for in other print and digital media. That’s because their payment structure and high rate of success make them profitable, thanks to their revolving door of newly pleased customers. Here are just a few of those options:

      These higher-caliber dating sites aren’t going to instantly solve your matchmaking desires instantaneously either, but they could give you better insight into what you’re looking for out of a serious partner or even just more intuition about yourself. When it comes to taking dating seriously, it’s more comforting knowing your counterpart is taking the relationship as seriously as you are. After all, no one is hoping to waste their time or efforts when looking for their future spouse.

      Pros & Cons of Free vs. Serious Dating Apps

      Of course, when comparing any two choices directly with one another, it can be helpful to weigh out the pros and cons of your options. When it comes to dating apps, there can be some significant differences between the two spectrums. That’s because these platforms are not only assessing your personality and preferences, but also trying to match you with another human in hopes something will spark a connection, and lead to a more fulfilling relationship in the future. 

      Let’s take a look at each of the types of dating sites to determine what both the benefits and downsides are of each style. 

      Pros of Free Hookup Apps

      While the idea of casual encounters may not appeal to everyone, there’s definitely a market for those looking for less serious relationships. Here are some reasons why:

        Essentially, the positives surrounding the conversation on free hookup sites are that the emotional commitment is low to non-existent, while the physical interactions and their benefits may fit the immediate needs of both individuals. This also should take into account the understanding that a joint consensus would be needed if anything more serious developed, and would subsequently need to be discussed internally over time.

        Cons of Free Hookup Apps

        But like with anything free, you can only imagine how unsatisfactory the experience will become over time, even if you are able to make meaningful relationships along the way. Here are just some of the ways free hookup sites can come back to bite you.

          Ultimately, it will be up to an individual to determine if they feel comfortable on a free dating app because they will be responsible for having to weed out the individuals they aren’t interested in, with hopes that those they do choose are drawn to whatever they have on their profile. But with a wide range of unserious free dating platforms, it makes perfect sense why more relationship-focused individuals are flocking to dating apps that are taking matchmaking seriously. 

          Pros of Serious Dating Apps

          Long-term relationships are formed when two committed singles come together over shared interests, and while that’s quite a step up from what many of the free hookup apps offer, it’s still not enough. Future ambitions and goals, lifestyle, cultural background, and a lot of the more independent qualities we possess are the focus of these more serious dating apps, with a foundation built around organic compatibility. These are some examples:

            Serious dating apps offer a lot of more “professional” services, but they do require time and effort from each individual to ensure the most accurate matchmaking. Although they often do charge monthly for their services, they can certainly fastrack you in finding the available singles nearby who share your common lifestyle or values.

            Cons of Serious Dating Apps

            While serious dating apps seem like a simple way to avoid the chaos of unregulated online dating, you’ll also like to learn that there are often downsides, mostly surrounding the idea that digital introductions can still be unfulfilling and not necessarily translate into reality. Here are a few reasons why:

              And while there are the obvious cons of serious dating apps, there’s still the important aspect that the user base is dedicated to their purpose, which is finding a real long-term relationship that can translate off the dating app later. If that seems intimidating, perhaps free dating sites are a good place to start until you decide which ultimate preferences best suit your lifestyle.

              Factors to Consider When Choosing a Platform

              There are so many online dating platforms out there that it can be hard to decide which is the best fit without trying a handful first-hand. There are a ton of details and features that distinguish each of these services from each other, but when considering the broader factors when it comes to dating, one thing is clear — quality is always better than quantity. And many of these dating apps have targeted focuses in order to appeal to a specific type of customer.

              User Base

              Perhaps the biggest factor when selecting a dating app is what type of people are using it. Are you a foodie who wants to connect over cuisine? There’s a dating app for that. Are you a senior looking for love in the late stages of life, or a spiritual individual looking to connect with someone with shared faith? Particular dating platforms have been developed for you, too. 

              Essentially, dissecting which type of service caters to your lifestyle, then determining if the user base fits your ideal mold for a partner is a good place to start. Not everyone wants to sift through hundreds of people a day in hopes of just getting to know what they’re all about. Instead, be proactive and choose a dating site that fits your targeted preferences.  

              Personal Intentions

              One thing you always must remember is that it can be difficult to gauge another stranger’s ultimate intentions when navigating through a dating app. Sure, there will be people who are genuinely trying to flirt and get to know you, but others with ulterior motives only pursue physical interaction for instant gratification, or enjoy “the game” of speed dating a bit too much.

              If you’re serious about your intentions to find love on a dating platform, you need to not only state your perspective clearly on your individual profile, but it’s also best practice to find an app that features like-minded individuals on the same page as you. This will make things much easier when it comes to breaking the ice and determining compatibility.

              Location Preferences

              A huge part of online dating is the ability to reach people in your local community and beyond who you otherwise may never have met in real life. Because you can usually determine how near or far you’d like to expand your availability zone, you can tailor potential matches to be right in your hometown or extend into the suburbs on the other side of the city.

              This type of diverse location browsing can allow you to constantly shift which pool of potential singles you interact with, along with giving you new areas and date ideas to check out along the way. It’s also a way to avoid those you don’t want to come into contact with if instead, you’re looking to meet someone totally new.

              Additional Features 

              There are so many dating apps, that it can be overwhelming to even consider how many different features there are out there to help you narrow down your perfect soulmate. Whether it be security measures and tailored matchmaking, video calls, or live streaming sessions, there’s a lot to factor in, especially before you pay money to sign up for the dating service.

              Consider what matters most to you before selecting a dating app, because you will learn that if the feature is not something you use, it may not be worth being on the platform. Many of these online dating sites promise particular quirks to their matchmaking method, but not all of them will make any difference. Try and recognize a gimmick when you see one. 

              Niche Services

              Of course, with the expansive popularity of online dating in general, it was only a matter of time before niche dating apps became just as popular as the original pioneers. Now, we have dating apps by religious background, sexuality, age, status level, and purpose, among others. These highly targeted dating platforms focused in solely on a specific group of individuals who were happy to say, “I’d prefer my relationship revolve around this.”

              If you’re looking for someone to share a particular value, cultural belief, niche interest, or just overall life passion, these services may be right for you. However, many of these will often charge for usage to ensure their customer base is committed, however, you know you’ll instantly share a core belief in common.

              Payment Structure

              As we’ve mentioned a few times previously in this article, certain dating apps will charge a monthly service fee that is intended to uphold the platform’s validity. But don’t be turned away by the idea of paying just yet. Many who do so, do for good reason, which is usually backed up by testimonials and reviews that showcase satisfied customers who found true love.

              However, not even all paid dating apps charge right away. Many offer trials to see what their platform is all about, or even will allow you to see the singles around you before trying your hand at interaction. Oftentimes, payment is a barrier to entry to keep unserious individuals off the platform, but even free hookup apps may offer add-ons to enhance the user’s experience.

              Customer Reviews

              Customer reviews may not be everyone’s favorite thing to write, and in most cases, people will never write them about anything, ever. However, people will be elated to write about their improbable love story where they found the man or woman of their dreams online. People still seem to be shocked by this phenomenon, even though it is the most popular form of dating today!

              Be sure to read through reviews of any dating platform before you use it, as its own user base will likely be honest. There’s no reason why someone would take the time to recount their experience if it wasn’t worthwhile information to other prospective customers.


              Online dating sites almost always feature testimonials from happy couples who used their service. If you read through these stories, you can see first-hand accounts of how the entire matchmaking process went, and how the dating translated into an actual physical relationship, then on into true love. These couples are proud to share their success, in hoping that more like-minded people will come together using this service.

              Customer success stories can be a great selling point for companies, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the service is right for you, or that your experience using the dating platform will end up the same. It’s probably wise that you take these choice experiences they choose to display with a grain of salt.

              Safety and Security

              If there’s one thing each dating site will tell you, it’s that safety and security are at the top of their priority. That’s because interacting with strangers can lead to uncomfortable experiences, and sometimes worse, which means you must always be on your guard and follow your instincts.

              You are encouraged to not jump into any personal relationship too fast, and to never share private information, financial assistance, or status in any way.

              If you ever have a situation that deems reporting, you’re urged to reach out to the customer response teams on the respective app to not only document the occurrence but also raise awareness about a problematic individual.

              Follow Your Instincts

              Never shy away from your gut feeling. In dating, you must be honest with yourself, just like you’d be in an evaluation of your prospective partner. If the relationship doesn’t get off to a good start, offer a second chance, but don’t linger on with unsatisfactory matches if you know your heart’s not in it. This is a good time to consider if you’re even on the right dating app, then also which settings or preferences you can change to tailor your matches more to what you’re looking for.

              Online dating can be a serious or fun activity depending on who you are and what you’re looking for in a relationship, so in order to get results in your mingling, you’ll want to join the right dating apps for the best result. Take time to evaluate their features, users, promises, and purpose to achieve a wholesome relationship that checks all your boxes and is meaningful to you.

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