We spent five days trying out 10 different online dating services to figure out which one is the most effective and affordable. That meant monitoring three fake profiles for 24 hours, collecting match data and using the features of every website and app. We looked at which websites give free access to other users’ profile photos and messaging, and whether you have to pay to access extra features. For on-the-go dating, we also used apps and evaluated them based on how user-friendly they are.
Tinder has been nothing less than a cultural phenomenon, adding "swiping" to our dating lexicon. The casual dating app is incredibly straightforward and easy to use. In fact, it's so simple that, at least for the standard free version, there are really only a few things you can do on it, including updating your profile, swiping left (to pass) or right (to like), and chatting with matches.
SilverSingles is tailored to "mature, well-rounded men and women" above the age of 50. It debuted in 2001 as PrimeSingles.net, changed its name to Single Seniors Meet in 2009 and has been SilverSingles since 2011. SilverSingles is tailored towards long-term committed relationships for their members' golden years. The site is very clear and easy to navigate, making it a approachable for older adults who might not get online as much.
Instead of the user searching for potential matches using their own criteria, eHarmony presents their suggestions on the lengthy and comprehensive personality quiz members take when signing up. eHarmony caters to people of a variety of age, demographics, and backgrounds, and also has options for local dating. One thing's for sure: people on eHarmony aren't looking for a hook-up. Success stories for eHarmony are shared on the site.
If you’re new to online dating, you aren’t alone. Around 49 million singles have tried online dating at some point in their lives. With an estimated 7,500 online dating sites in existence, it can be hard to determine which site is the best for helping you find love. Think about what you’re looking for in a relationship, whether you just want to meet some fun people or you’re looking to settle down, to narrow down your choices and pick a dating site that can help you with your goals. Spend some time on your dating profile to make sure you’re getting accurate matches. If you want a more personal approach to finding matches than online dating provides, consider enlisting the help of a professional matchmaker.
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.