~ In 2021, there’s no stigma when it comes to online dating and dating apps like there was 15 years ago. In fact, a 2019 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that couples are more likely to meet a romantic partner online than through friends, family, work, or anywhere else. Roughly 40% of couples in the study reported meeting their partner online; that number was only 22% in 2009.
The key to finding a romantic or sexual partner through a dating app is using the correct app specifically for your needs. As they say, you gotta use the right tool for the right job. There are currently over 1,500 datings and hookup apps. (The market is extremely oversaturated.) While there are similarities between them, each app caters to a different audience, however slightly. That’s why you need to know which app you should use and that all depends on what (or who) you’re looking for.
Have no fear if you feel overwhelmed by the number of dating apps. Here we not only provide the best ones, but we also break them down by category to increase your chances of finding that special somebody. (Oh, and here are some tips for creating a dating app bio along with some profile picture tips. After all, you’re not going to find someone with a blank profile.)
The tried and true:
Bumble: Bumble adds some pressure so people actually make conversation with each other instead of just racking up matches for the sake of it, as matches expire after 24 hours if no message is sent. And for heterosexual couples, only ladies get to message first, so it’s good to know that someone is actually into you when you see a notification in your inbox.
Grindr: Grindr is geared toward gay, bi, trans, and queer men. It was actually the first mobile dating app that utilized geo-location. On the app, you see a grid of men sorted by distance (how far they are from you). While the app is catered towards more quick liaisons, men have and continue to find their hubbies on it.
OkCupid: OkCupid was the first free online dating site, and the app makes matches by asking their users a set of questions to figure out what they’re into and the issues that they care about. OkCupid is also super-inclusive, and they were the first app to introduce 22 gender and 13 orientation options in 2014.
Tinder: Chances are, you’re probably already on Tinder, alternatively loving and hating its barebones system—swipe left for no, swipe right for yes. And while Tinder definitely has a reputation as a hookup app, there are tons of people who have found love at first swipe, so there’s something on there for everyone.
Coffee Meets Bagel: This app sends you curated suggestions each day at noon, and you can “like” or pass on the person. If they like you too, you’ll match. An interesting facet of CMB is that chats expire after 7 days because the app believes that “the most meaningful connections happen face-to-face,” so it’s up to you to exchange contact information within a week of matching.
Happn: Tired of matching with people that are too far away? With Happn, every time you cross paths with someone who is also on Happn, their profile will show up on your timeline, and you can even see the number of times you guys have crossed paths. You can then like them, and if they like you too, it’ll become a “crush” and you can start chatting with each other.
Hinge: Hinge focuses on finding you matches that are already in your social network by matching you with people that you share Facebook friends with, but you can also match with people you aren’t already connected with. Hinge profiles also let you add a lot of information, from photos and videos to details about your beliefs and values. Hinge also has an interest in how your dates go, and if you exchange phone numbers with a match, Hinge will follow up and ask if you guys met up. It’s an optional feature of the app, but the app uses that info to recommend new people for you.
The very, very specific:
Feeld: Feeld specifically caters to ethically non-monogamous folks, regardless of sexual orientation. So if you’re someone who’s polyamorous and looking for another partner (or to date casually), Feeld is a great option. If you’re looking to join the 18% of men that have had a threesome, Feeld just might be for you. Whether you’re in a couple or flying solo, the app will help you match with other people looking for a party of three. The app also has a “hide” setting so you won’t match with your Facebook friends.
Scruff: If you’re a guy that’s into hairy dudes, say hello to Scuff. The app functions similar to Grindr, but some guys report liking it more because they find the men on Scruff kinder and less judgmental than the men on Grindr.
Sweatt: Fitness routines are very important, and you just might want to meet someone who also goes for runs at 5 a.m. Sweatt lets you add your workout habits to your profile, from how many times a week you workout to what workouts you most enjoy.
The kinky apps:
FetLife: If you’re someone who has very particular kinks and fetishes, and it’s necessary that your partner shares these niche kinks, then you should try FetLife. FetLife has been around for over a decade, and it’s well known among kinksters and fetishists. It started as a kinky social networking website (think Facebook, but for kinky fuckers), but has since evolved into an app you can use to find that special someone.
Download FetLife on Google Play.
Recon: Recon is like FetLife, but specifically for gay and bisexual men. (That said, FetLife also has plenty of gay/bi men on it too!) Recon started as a website back in 1999 but then became an app in 2010. If you’re into leather, feet, bondage, jockstraps, and so much more, then Recon is the app for you.
Download Recon on Google Play.
The paid apps:
Match: Match.com was launched way back in 1995, and it hasn’t slowed since then. With Match, you’re not limited to people you match with, and you can view pretty much everyone’s profile, but you can also set filters if you want. Match can also recommend people for you, and the “Missed Connections” feature will let you know if you’ve been geographically near someone else who’s on Match.
eHarmony: While eHarmony allows you to create a free profile, you have to pay for pretty much everything else, including messaging. The site uses a 150-question long survey to find your compatible matches, so you know everyone on there is pretty serious. eHarmony’s sister site Compatible Partners is geared towards members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Download Compatible Partners on iOS.
Elite Single: If you feel ~elite~ and need someone to match your BEE (Big Elite Energy), check out Elite Singles. You fill out a questionnaire and the app will present you with potential matches. The app also lets you know who’s been looking at your profile.
The up and coming:
#Open: A new dating app that launched in early 2019, #Open specifically caters to people in (or looking to be in) ethically non-monogamous relationships. You can sign up as a single or a couple. It’s an incredibly inclusive app where you can choose from 24 different gender identities and 23 sexual orientations. The demographics on the app are pretty mixed but skew towards bisexual folks. Roughly 40% of people on the app identify as straight, and the rest are attracted to more than one gender.
Pickable: Women are completely anonymous on Pickable, and they’re the only ones allowed to browse through potential matches. Men create profiles with their photos and basic info, and they’ll be notified when a woman wants to chat with them. Once a woman’s chat request is accepted, either person can send the first message. Unfortunately, Pickable can only work if you are attracted to the opposite sex, but the app says they’re working on an LGTBQ+ only app.
Chappy: Chappy is the Bumble-backed dating app for gay/bisexual men. Similar to Bumble, you swipe through matches, and if you both swipe right on one another, you’re given the opportunity to chat! Chappy differs from other gay dating apps by having a more elaborate “What you’re looking for.” You can pick to search men by dating, casual, commitment, friends, or all.
Ship: Match Group and Betches Media partnered up to create this app, which lets you swipe for matches with your friends. Users on Ship get their own “Crew,” and members of your Crew can like people for you if they meet your search settings. If that person likes you back, it’s a match.
Download the app on iOS.
Quiz Date Live: Ever wanted to be on a dating show? On Quiz Date Live, players compete for a featured dater by answering a series of questions. The final three then get to impress the dater through live video—think telling jokes or performing your best dance moves. The winner and the featured dater will then go on a date paid for by Quiz Date Live. The only catch about the app is that only straight women can be featured daters right now, and you have to email the company to apply to be said dater. However, there are reportedly plans to allow male and LGBTQ+ contestants to be the featured dater.
Download the app on iOS.