OkCupid is completely free, meaning you don't have to pay to see more matches or to unlock specific features that may make it easier for you to find someone interesting. At the same time, because it's completely free, the array of potential matches you get can be wild and varied, to say the least. There are entire blogs around the web dedicated to the types of people you'll find on OkCupid, and part of it is because the service is rapidly growing, free, and accessible to everyone. Granted, that also means that if you're looking for the most possible matches, and the service is very proud of its matching algorithm. When you sign up, you fill out a remarkably lengthy profile full of questions that will be used to help other people find you, and to help you match other people. Mobile apps for iOS and Android help you take your search with you on the go, and stay in touch with people you plan to meet.
All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.
GayRomeo / PlanetRomeo Worldwide social network, instant messaging and dating community for gay, bisexual and transgender men. 6,740,000 registered and 1,107,000 active (last 6 weeks) 707,590 Free: communication, profile and picture views, search engine Yes/No: video downloads, higher database limits, deactivation of advertising Yes (exclusively) ? Free
‘Asking your date questions not only shows that you’re interested in what they have to say but it also allows you to get to know them, which is what a first date is all about! Don’t stick to small talk. More intimate questions about your date’s hopes, dreams and passions will help you forge a closer connection – and it’s a lot more interesting than talking about the weather.’
The site has profile verification options to ensure you are matching with real people and not fake profiles. On top of that, the site has a Smart Match system that essentially allows it to learn your preferences the more you use it, and the option to send a “Mega Flirt” that reaches dozens of inboxes every 15 minutes. It's a site you won't easily grow bored of that aims to help you become a better dater.
That being said, services you pay for usually provide some extra user value to justify the price tag. There’s usually more advanced matching algorithms along with other bells and whistles, and because you must pay to use them, they tend to attract people who take online dating a little more seriously. Of course, many free sites have matching systems that work just as well as (if not better, in some cases) their paid competitors, and each dating website or app tends to have its own unique aspect that makes it stand out.
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Why it's awesome: Before there were apps on which one could swipe right and left on a dizzying number of potential connections, there was Match. Yes, Match is the mother of all dating sites. Launched back in 1995, its decades in the business help it bring a ton of insight to the table for singles looking for all kinds of connections. And with its more recent push into mobile come a few new features that have helped make the ancient site more relevant, including its very own version of Stories, popularized by Snapchat and, uh ... adopted by everyone else. Match users can shoot little videos of their day or add voiceovers to photos and post them to their profiles for other users to check out. "Match is the family brand," Spira says. "It's the one where someone could see their grandmother on, and someone could see their grandson on. It has the largest critical mass, and they have done a fabulous job of keeping up with the technology."
This app wants to find you more than just a one-night stand or a cool-for-the-summer situation. That said, you're going to have to work for it. To join, you have to fill out an extensive survey, and you can't see photos of your potential matches unless you pay to subscribe. If you're out to spend more time finding your mate, eharmony is a good (if more costly) option. That is, as long as you're not looking for a same-sex mate: That's not an option here.
Match.com boasts a userbase of 17 million active monthly users, all either looking for love right now or just creepily stalking their exes. Either way, that's a lot of people out there you could potentially connect with. Match is a premium service—you can sign up for free, browse users, send "winks" and get matches for your own profile (once you've filled out the lengthy profile questionnaire), but if you want to actually contact anyone and converse with them, you'll need a premium subscription to the service to do so. On the one hand, it sucks that Match requires you pay up just to communicate with other users, but on the bright side, you could argue that making people pay just to reach out weeds out the people who, well, you really wouldn't want to talk to anyway. iOS and Android mobile apps let you take your search for love on the go.
One thing to note if you don't fall into the cis-hetero dating pool: While most of the apps reviewed here are inclusive, there are those that are friendlier to the LGBTQ community than others. For example, OkCupid goes beyond forcing users to choose between being a male or female, including options like Hijra, genderfluid, and two-spirit. If you're a man seeking a man or a woman seeking a woman, you'll want to steer clear of eharmony: It doesn't even give you the option of a same-sex match.