One of the easiest and most budget-friendly ways to dive into online dating is through the well-known Plenty of Fish, which functions as both a site and an app. Regardless of which device you're using it on, the platform provides a feature-packed online dating experience that doesn't cost you a dime. There's an abundance of members from all different walks of life, most of whom are continually active on the site. Plenty of Fish is designed for finding people for long-term relationships as well as arranging casual, no-strings-attached meetings, although it skews more toward the latter option.
Who it's good for: Hinge is the place for people who want a real relationship but don't want to commit to a full-fledged dating site with extensive questionnaires. Hinge literally labels itself the relationship app, or as I prefer, the "anti Tinder." Instead of seeing one profile at a time, Hinge is set up like Instagram, which creates a way smoother (and less judge-y) feel than swiping.
“Practice safe texts” with Plume, one of the best free flirting apps that finds you the right picture to send for any text conversation. Besides costing $0 and providing an extensive library of striking images to choose from, Plume also has some of the most sophisticated security technology, such as a Virtual Best Friend that will help you not send messages you’ll regret the next day and a panic button that will immediately log you out of the app if someone is looking over your shoulder.
It’s very quick and easy to set up and use. The profile creation is pretty standard. You add photos, age, profession, and interests, and you can also specify what you feel like doing, whether that’s taking a walk in the park, seeing a movie, or having a drink. Happn has some nifty integrations — you can use Facebook to set up your profile, hook up your Instagram account to automatically add photos, and add Spotify to see if your musical tastes align.
It’s not perfect. The quiz show format won’t appeal to everyone, and the slow burn and winner-takes-all aspect mean it’s going to be a lot harder to get a date than in other apps. Also, featured dater spots are currently only open to straight women, so there’s not much here for lesbians or gay men yet, though there are plans to expand to male bachelors and LGBTQ+ episodes. You also need to email the company to apply to be a featured dater, which means it’s not exactly a pick-up-and-go app if you’re wanting to be the featured dater. However, if you’re bored of regular dating apps, or if you’re simply attracted to the fun elements and the prospect of finding love is a bonus, then give Quiz Date Live a go.
It might take some time and genuine effort to make a profile, but that's what you want if you're looking for something real. You'll fill out a questionnaire with your answers as well as what you would like your ideal match to answer. This makes the application-building process a lot more fun than other apps, making it feel like an online quiz. It asks a range of questions, from simple stuff to if you smoke and drink to more intimate things like how many dates you typically wait before sleeping with someone. Pro tip: The app says the the more questions you answer, the better your matches will be. The deeper you go, the more accurate your profile is — and in turn, OkCupid will have a way easier time finding matches for you.
If you want to join Raya, be prepared to do a little legwork. After downloading the app, you need to complete an application and have a referral from a current member. Your application is then assessed by certain algorithmic values before being evaluated by an anonymous committee. The entire process can take anywhere from several weeks from several months, and once you’re approved there’s also a monthly membership fee of $8.
You discover potential matches based on searching instead of getting match suggestions, which gives you more control over your online dating experience. For each match you see, you also see the percentage match rate you have with that individual, giving you not just another conversation starter, but an actual data-driven indication (based on the profile questions you answered) of how well you and someone you find in your search results may match. OKCupid has a fun, laid-back feel to it, and users generally adopt a similar attitude when interacting on the site, making it a legitimate choice both for people looking for casual flings, and those in search of more serious, long-term relationships.