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.
The site operates based on search, rather than any fancy, undisclosed matching algorithm. This means you can search the entire member database, and the number of members you can see in a week, day, or hour is never limited. Profiles have various areas to express your personality, and can be made as detailed (or brief) as you want. There are also useful questionnaires that give you insight into your own personality traits and compatibility skills, meant to help your online dating game regardless of the site you end up using the most. The site incorporates seven ways to discover other people, the most useful of which is with standard or advanced searches (done by who's online, by city, by new users, by contacts, and by favorites).
To set up an account, link your Facebook account or phone number, upload your photos, and start answering some questions. In addition to the questions that help you find out how compatible you are with other people, the OkCupid profile gives you around 20short-answer prompts to choose from that you can fill out to give other singles a peek into your personality. It’s recommended to fill out as many out as possible.
As you might have guessed from the name, coffee beans are the currency of Coffee Meets Bagel, and you earn them through daily logins and other activities. The site is very reward-driven, giving you a limited number of matches each day, based first on the mutual friends you share on Facebook, with the number of matches increasing each consecutive day you log on. With the extra beans you accumulate, you can show interest in another group of potential matches who aren't necessarily your handpicked matches of the day, but with whom you may share common interests. The concept of matching people based on mutual friends isn't new, but because of how the dating platform is designed, it simply works well — as in, without being creepy or overly forward.
"People didn’t have mobile phones and laptops, and the process was people would go home, log on slowly, see who had written to them and write back," she says. "The courtship process was a lot slower, so it took quite a while to get from the first interaction to actually going on a date. Plus in those days, there was a stigma associated with online dating. You did not tell people you met your spouse, or partner, or even a date online."
Owned by the same company as Bumble, you’re likely to find a date among Badoo’s more than 400 million users. It is a little different than the dating apps we reviewed. Instead of uploading your own information, you select a photo of a celebrity or famous person. The app then shows you other users who look similar. Your pool of potential dates will probably be smaller because of this, but you'll definitely find them attractive. You then scroll through those user profiles and decide whether to "like" them or pass. You can see each user's age, interests and several photos. If a user you've liked likes you back, you can then message each other and decide whether you want to meet up. More than 350 million messages are sent via the app every day, and there are 300,000 new daily signups, making it incredibly popular.
If the thought of signing up for an online dating service without any help is scary, you can hire a ghostwriter to help you out. You might have even encountered some of these ghostwriters yourself and not have known it. Essentially, writers are paid to build your profile in a way that’s pleasing and more likely to get you dates. Thrillist even profiled an online dating ghostwriter who took details submitted by would-be daters and turned them into dating bios and even conversation starters. If this sounds like something you would benefit from, there are numerous services you can sign up for.
There's even a specialized app for creative people looking to meet other artists and creators. Raya is free to download but then becomes membership-based. First, you fill out an application, which is then reviewed by a committee of people and an algorithm. You may be put on a waitlist for a short time while your application is reviewed. Once you're accepted, you need to sign up for a one-, three- or six-month auto-renewing membership plan. As a member, you also have to agree to a code of conduct in an effort to keep interactions respectful and cordial. As the website puts it, it believes using technology to meet someone should feel safe and exciting. Because of its exclusivity, the app has become well-known for its famous users. We weren't able to get a membership, but several blogs and reviews circulating online claim the app has been used by the likes of Cara Delevingne, Ruby Rose and Demi Lovato.
Matches are location-based so you only see people near the city you set in your profile. If you travel and want to see if there are any matches in your area, you need to change where you are in your profile. The app also has a "We Met" section where you can leave feedback after any Hinge date. It's almost like leaving a Yelp review for a person. Users can also specify whether they have kids, want kids, have any strong religious beliefs or vices. This gives you a little more of an in-depth look at a potential mate than some dating apps. Hinge is only available as an app and it's free, but you can pay for a membership if you want extra perks like being able to use additional filters, see likes you've received and access Hinge experts to help you along the way.
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.