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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.
On the upside, the profiles are brief, which allows you to make decisions quickly. The downside is that short profiles make it harder to figure out what people are looking for. Knowing very little about a person can also make initial messaging more challenging. You'll need to wade through a sea of profiles, which makes it easy to pass over people you might have given a chance under different circumstances.
Why it's awesome: What initially began as a Facebook app developed in 2007 has grown into a company with 35 million users in more than 80 countries. Rather than asking its users for dating questions, Zoosk picks dates for its users based on a user's on-site activity. If you shoot a message to Jake Doe, for example, Zoosk says it'll use that action to determine which types of profiles to show you going forward."Zoosk is fun and flirty," Spira says. "It does cater to a younger crowd – more of a millennial crowd."
Of all the dating sites and apps out there, OKCupid has become one that singles flock to for their first online dating trial run. People also tend to return throughout their online dating journey unless they've settled down for good. The site hasn't changed much in years, but rather banks on what it does have to offer singles, which seems to continually attract and re-attract members. The site features an easy-to-navigate interface, insightful but not obnoxiously long profiles, and a handful of question you can answer to help the site match you better and find you a meaningful relationship.
Bumble is a happy bubble of dating zen. Built to be safe and respectful of everyone, the app feels far more up to date than its competition, with modern language. For example, it asks you how you identify instead of just making you check a "male" or "female" box. It also puts all the power in the woman's hands—a man can't contact a woman unless she has shown interest in him first. Not looking for love? Bumble also offers a way to find new friends, and even a mini-LinkedIn-like section for professional connections.
Today, app-first options — and mobile-friendly sites with their own custom apps — from AdultFriendFinder to Zoosk have changed the game thanks to massive databases of loyal, active date-seekers providing plenty of fish in the sea to choose from. That means if you're looking for like-minded people, you won't have to swim very hard or very far. Now, you just need to find the right dating site or app to sign up for.
Once you've installed these apps and signed up for the services, get ready for a barrage of notifications and email. Some, like daily match suggestions, are helpful, while others, like alerts that tell you every new "like" you get, can just be annoying. The good thing is you can easily tweak these alerts by drilling down into the settings menus in each of the apps.
The experts say: For those nervous about dating, this site puts the control in your fingertips allowing you access to thousands of profiles and the ability to chat to potential dates at the rate which works for you. It is well known and therefore attracts a wide demographic, allowing you to widen your dating pool or limit it with their advanced matching facility.
When Tinder popularized swiping on dating apps, many clones followed suit. Without a doubt, Bumble was the most successful to copy the formula. Bumble is almost identical to Tinder in its layout and interface, with the main difference being that in a straight couple match women have to message the men first (for same-sex couples there are no messaging restrictions).
Who it's for: Picky people looking for something super specific in a partner. And guys, this is not the place for the younger millennials: EliteSingles loves to brag that 82% of their members are college grads, and with most of its members being 33-50 years old, we can pretty surely say that the main target is mature, working professionals rather than the the Tinder-using generation. Sorry college kids.
How does requiring members to have photos improve your dating experience? Ask any of the singles who have used other online dating sites and they'll tell you the site was filled with blank profiles, and even half of those with any information are without a photo. Studies have shown that singles with a photo on their dating profile get at least 10 times more profile views. People want to see the smiling face behind the bio and personality test.
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.