At Top Ten Reviews, we’ve been reviewing online dating services since 2004, watching them evolve and change with the times. We looked at today’s most popular dating websites and apps and rated their matching tools, costs, ease of use, messaging features and other features. We also spoke to several insightful people, including dating experts and typical users, to get a clear view of the modern dating landscape.
For many singles, especially serial-monogamists or divorcees, signing up for a slew of online dating options and websites is an overwhelming and cumbersome process. Because there are hundreds of options readily available in your app store, deciphering which downloads will reap the most benefits requires research, trial-and-error and plenty of failed first dates. However, it doesn’t have to be.
Sharon Kroll and fiancé Lee Wallender are the Seattle-based writers and dating experts behind The Dating Gurus. Kroll said it’s easy to get lost in the sea of possibilities when online dating so it’s important to limit the number of sites you’re on to three and make sure you’re not spending all day checking them. It’s also important to make the first message you send count.
When it comes down to actually putting yourself out there and creating a profile, all apps ask for the basics: name, age, location, a photo, a short blurb about yourself, and (usually) if you can stand a person who smokes. Beyond that, it can be a bit of a crapshoot. Some apps, like Tinder, value photos over personality. Others, like eharmony, make you fill out an endless questionnaire before you can even think about browsing for your match. Still others, like Zoosk, ask so little that you're left to wonder what's being used to actually match you with like-minded singles.
I was on Clover for quite some time, but had since forgotten it existed until I started to compile this list. It strikes me as a less-successful hybrid of OkCupid and Tinder with a relatively small user base, even though I live in an urban area with plenty of people who use a wide variety of dating apps. Clover says it has nearly 6 million users, 85 percent of whom are between the ages of 18 and 30.
On the other hand though, many of you pointed out that a lot of people use Tinder for hookups, and because the service is so simple compared to other, more robust matchmaking sites. One the bright side though, no one can message you (and you can't message anyone) unless you both liked each other's photos, so there's that. Some of you pointed out that the fact that Tinder cuts the BS and the bloat from online dating is what makes it so powerful, and shared your success stories with it. Go in with an open mind and be ready for weird people, and you'll be fine. Read more in the nomination thread here.
No honorable mentions this week because the nominees dropped off pretty quickly after that - but there were plenty more nominees if you're looking for more than these five. Head back to the call for contenders to see them. One thing we'll note though—more than a few people pointed out that with dating services, you do hand over a ton of personal information when you fill out these questionnaires and fill out your profile. That's a lot of information being harvested from you, especially in the case of the free services, that's used for who-knows-what. That said, you are trading that information for a service that the dating site provides—helping you find a match. Just be eyes-open about that transaction before you sign up and fill out all the things. Finally, when you do get into online dating, don't forget toi make time for it to get he best possible results, and of course, be on your best behavior.

Why it's awesome: On OkCupid, users can offer a ton of information about themselves through the site's Match Questions. Examples include: "Would you date someone who keeps a gun in the house?" or "Should the government require children be vaccinated for preventable diseases?" The answers to these questions help OkCupid determine which members might be a good match for one another. Of note: Per OkCupid's own stats, liberal women in particular have luck on the site. And in 2017, the site offered users the chance to answer 50 "current events" questions that illuminate a user's politics."OkCupid has been a favorite of mine for years," Spira says. "I always liked OkCupid because they have a great critical mass and they have the thought-provoking questions that really allow you to think about how you feel about some of these issues, whether it’s politics or gun control, and how do you feel about your date’s answers. People spend a lot of time on site just perusing the questions that other people answer, and I like that."


The League is an "elite dating app" that requires you to apply to get access. Your job title and the college you attended are factors The League considers when you apply, which is why you have to provide your Linkedin account. Big cities tend to have long waiting lists, so you might find yourself twiddling your thumbs as your application goes through the process. (Of course, you can pay to hurry up the review.) The exclusivity can be a draw for some and a turnoff for others. Let me demystify the app for you: I've seen most of the profiles I come across on The League on other dating apps. So at the end of the day, you'll probably see the same faces on Tinder, if you aren't deemed elite enough for The League.
‘If you’ve had a great date, let them know. Trying to act aloof by waiting three days after a date to get in touch doesn’t work in today’s age of instant communication. In fact, only 4% of people think you should purposely wait before replying to a message from a date. If you enjoyed the date, don’t be afraid to send them a quick message and let them know that you’d like to see them again.’

Age-based niches: These sites are for people of a specific age. Baby boomers are overwhelmingly turning to the web to find a mate. Sites like Match.com and POF.com offer members a chance to search specifically for the age group that interests you, but SeniorPeopleMeet.com and OurTime.com are the two largest sites designed specifically for the baby boomer market.
Zoosk recommends showing your natural smile, citing a 2015 study that found people are drawn to a genuine show of pearly whites. That same study found people prefer a photo if the subject is tilting their head slightly, and if you're a woman seeking a man, make sure to incorporate the color red somewhere in your photo. If you really can't decide which photo to choose, don't be afraid to ask for a little outside help. A 2017 study found people tend to pick out less favorable photos of themselves when compared to letting others choose, so go ahead and ask your friends to help you!
Very good dating sites find it important to inform members of their expensive matching algorithms which are used to create profile matches for members who are compatible. This is a fact that is one of the best features of dating online. If you are searching for a serious relationship, you need to be honest when you complete your questionnaire, to ensure that you receive only the best matches that are possible for you.
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The dating industry online, is a very serious and competitive business, so to distinguish themselves from others, several sites have created features which are specially designed to help their members. Some of these sites provide counselling for relationships, while others focus on live events offline for their dating members, and others offer the opportunity for their members to buy gifts for others! While these features are excellent, it is good to remember that an active, large database of members, is the most promising feature.
Dating giant eharmony is the site to go to when you're really serious about finding a connection. Unlike some of the other websites which cater to both serious and casual daters, eHarmony focuses on people seeking long-term relationships. In 2013, eharmony ranked first in creating more marriages than any other dating site and according to a spokesperson, the site is responsible for 4% of U.S. marriages. eHarmony makes a guarantee that if you're not satisfied in 3 months, you'll get 3 months free. 
When my best friend joined her first dating site, like most people, she went with one of the largest ones that was completely free. She assumed she was making the right choice, but within the first day, she regretted her decision. The site had too many people for her to sort through and didn’t have the resources to help her to do so. Plus, she had already received 40 or so messages that she needed to read. Online dating become more work than fun.
JSwipe is a Jewish dating app. You upload photos of yourself and scroll through other user profiles in the hopes of matching. This app is unique in that your matches expire in 18 days, so you've got to start chatting and schedule a date quickly. Everything is free to use but you can pay extra for "super swipes" to show a person you're extremely interested in them. This is a location-based app, so it's likely to work best in large cities.
The downside to this app is it's built-in elitism. It's meant to feel exclusive, and the language used in the marketing materials isn't exactly warm and fuzzy. For example, one of the website's taglines is, "We do the scouting and the vetting, you do the matching and the petting." Still, if an exclusive and upscale dating app experience is what you’re looking for, The League could be for you.

SeekingArrangement is skewed toward young women seeking older men, though there are other websites and apps to use. While the name of WhatsYourPrice might seem a little too on the nose, it has options available for both men and women to bid on potential dates. Happy Matches has a plethora of options for women seeking to financially support someone, as does Sugar Elite. However, it does cost money to use many of these services.

When you compare Spark.com to services such as Match.com you might ask 'What makes us different?' or 'Why should I join this dating site?' The answers are numerous. Lower prices: Buying from Match will likely cost you at least $40 while Spark is significantly less. Plus, we offer more features, it's free to respond to emails, we have the Color Code Personality Test, more members with photos, and more!


Those of you who nominated Match shared some of your success stories meeting your significant other there, but also all noted that Match felt the most mature of all of the dating sites you tried—the most elegant, or at least grown up. Where a lot of the services are either aimed at younger people or more casual encounters, many of you said Match felt like a service you were using to go on dates and find real long-term partners. It wasn't unanimous though—many of you bemoaned the cost associated with Match, and said your experience yielded a bunch of dead accounts and unresponsive people, which sucks when you're spending money to communicate with them. Read the good and the bad in the nomination thread here, or this thread here.
Dating online presents a rapid, easy way to meet people, make friends, find dates, and locate primary dating sites, and more. This forum makes is a convenient manner to extend social connections and make friends with strangers, which would not be possible otherwise. Dating online is such an efficient way to meet others, that it has connected so many singles, and created couples, in the process. People simply need to register to create their online account, and then develop their profiles, which other users will be able to view. Members will then be able to search for potential matches, and users will also search your profile. As soon as you discover an interesting match, you can decide whether you want to start communicating with that person, or with another.
Those of you who nominated Match shared some of your success stories meeting your significant other there, but also all noted that Match felt the most mature of all of the dating sites you tried—the most elegant, or at least grown up. Where a lot of the services are either aimed at younger people or more casual encounters, many of you said Match felt like a service you were using to go on dates and find real long-term partners. It wasn't unanimous though—many of you bemoaned the cost associated with Match, and said your experience yielded a bunch of dead accounts and unresponsive people, which sucks when you're spending money to communicate with them. Read the good and the bad in the nomination thread here, or this thread here.
Tinder is a bit less of a comprehensive matching site the way you might think of one. It's a little more...to the point, as it were. It's a mobile app only (iOS and Android). You're presented with images for each of your potential matches, and with a swipe or a tap, you can either dismiss them entirely or add them to your "like" list, full of people you may want to contact for a date. You have to log in via Facebook—Tinder uses Facebook to do its heavy lifting, and uses your likes, shares, and other profile information to help match you up with other users. Once you do though, you're off to the races liking and dismissing people. If someone you liked likes you, then you can communicate. If not, keep trying. It's probably the simplest approach to online match-making ever, kind of a blend between an online matchmaking site and speed dating.
OkCupid.com creates a unique online dating site environment by putting heavy emphasis on member participation. Matches are identified by your profile and your responses to a series of questions generated by other users. Each match question is made up of four parts: the question, the answers you’re willing to accept from your matches, a rating of how important the answer is to you, and an optional explanation of your response. The more questions you answer, the smarter OkCupid gets at recommending matches for you. It is free to use; paid options are available that include additional site features. While OkCupid is a free online dating site, users can pay (starting at $4.95 a month) to filter out people who are unattractive or overweight. An unusual, possibly controversial feature.
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How does it work? Let’s face it, meeting up with a complete stranger for a first date can be awkward and hideously cringeworthy. But it’s less so when the date itself is a total riot. This is where Doingsomething.co.uk comes in. The site is all about the actual dating experience and let’s you pick a match based on the date idea they’ve suggested. And the more fun and unique the date the better. So, rather than nervously meeting someone for a luke warm coffee in a crowded chain, you could be trying out your culinary skills at a sushi-making masterclass or bonding over super-strong cocktails at a hipster speakeasy. It’s basically about finding someone who wants to do the same things as you at the end of the day, isn’t it?

Signing up took us about 20 minutes during testing, which is more than twice as long as most of the websites we tested. You answer questions about not only about your appearance, but also about your religious beliefs and career. You then fill out a comprehensive survey regarding what you want in a partner. The questions even go as far to ask whether you want to have kids, which is an important thing to agree on if you're looking for a long-term commitment. You have to pay for a subscription to access most of the features on eharmony, and even though we couldn't read them with a free account, we got nine emails in 24 hours, which was a pretty decent response rate. There is also an eharmony app that's easy to use, making this a great service to try if you want a thorough experience.
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.
Match.com has a free version, but the general consensus is that you'll need a paid subscription to have any luck. That's a hangover from the early days of online dating, when paying for membership to a site meant you were serious about settling down. But my friends and I have long since come to the conclusion that you might be a little too eager to find a significant other if you're paying to get dates, particularly given the abundance of free dating apps. There are definitely paid features on some dating apps that are worth the price, but I've yet to be able to justify shelling out cash for love. 
What it'll cost you:  A basic account is always free. But there are some paid extras you can enjoy if you want a more premium experience. If you pay for the A-List membership, you can cut out the ads, you get more search options like body type and attractiveness, you can see everyone who likes you, and you can see who reads your messages, among other useful things. 
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