20 years ago, the idea of online dating came to fruition when Match.com launched its first website. Fast forward to the present day and online dating is one of the most popular ways of meeting new people, with millions of people using dating apps and websites every day.
In fact, half of all single people now use dating apps and sites, and one in five relationships begin online. It’s no surprise, then, that there are now hundreds of dating sites to choose from, and that’s not even considering the wealth of apps that have appeared since Tinder rose to popularity.
To help you pick one that’s best for you, read on for some of the best dating sites and apps to get you started.
We’ve already mentioned Match.com – it was the first and is now the most popular online dating site in the world. It comes with a free-to-download app for iOS or Android in addition to the browser-based website, and subscriptions start from £12.99/$20.99 per month.
You’ll just need to create a profile, and Match will do the hard work for you to find you the perfect match. There are also singles events by Match.com that mean you can meet other users face-to-face in a safe and secure environment.
You’ll also be able to find matches that are nearby using the Around Me feature, which lets you know whether there are any fellow Match.com members in your current location. You can also find matches based on your interests, qualities and even imperfections.
Tinder is responsible for the boom in dating apps, and while it was originally best know for hook-ups, these days just as many people use it to find lasting relationships.
Tinder matches couples based on their physical attraction to one another, so there are none of those aforementioned relationship questionnaires and there’s no deep understanding of your personality.
Instead, you’ll see other Tinder users who fall within a specified age range and gender, and are within a certain distance of your location. It also lets you know whether you have any mutual friends or shared interests on Facebook.
If you like the look of someone, you simply swipe right. If they swiped right too, you’re a match! You can then chat via the messaging system.
Tinder is free to download and use, though there are some paid add-ons including the Tinder Plus subscription. It’s only available for iPhone or Android (there’s no browser version available).
Another popular online dating service is eHarmony, which also has a free-to-download app. You’ll start by taking a relationship questionnaire that helps the matching system get to know you (and is supposedly designed to help you get to know yourself, too, which should help you create a better profile).
According to eHarmony, there are more than 600,000 married couples that met through the site, which means an average of 438 people get married every day as a result of an eHarmony match.
Costs start from £12.95/$26.95 per month, and is ideal for anyone looking for a committed relationship that lasts.
Bumble is a lot like Tinder in that it’s an app-only dating service that’s based first and foremost on looks, but it does have some key differences that set it apart and might make it more appealing to you.
Unlike Tinder, Bumble lets the women make the first move. It still has the swipe-to-like system but only female users can initiate conversations. If that doesn’t happen within 24 hours of a match, the chat option will disappear.
Like Tinder, Bumble is free to use.
LoveStruck is a bit more pricey than the other options here, but it’s designed for city-based professionals that struggle to find time for dating.
It matches you with other members who work nearby for breakfast or lunch break dates, and there are regular events to help you meet lots of single people in one go.
A free online dating option you might be interested in is OK Cupid, which is along the lines of Match.com and eHarmony but keeps things a bit more basic. That does mean that matches might not be quite so perfect, but it won’t cost you a penny to start using it.
You can choose to sign up for the paid-for subscription to get more insight into who likes you, browse invisibly, use advanced search options and see if your match has read your messages.
Tastebuds is one for music lovers. It matches based on music preferences – you simply pick three bands or artists you like to get started and can post and answer questions about your tastes, favourite gigs, and more.
Even if you don’t end up dating the matches you make, you might simply make a new friend to go to concerts with.
Tastebuds is free to join but most features (including actually messaging people) are held back for paid subscribers.
We like the thinking behind Happn, a dating app that matches you with other users you’ve crossed paths with, whether it’s on the way to work on in your favourite café.
If you find that you’ve crossed paths with someone, whether that be once or multiple times, you can look at their profile and use the heart button to say you’re interested. They’ll only find out if they press the heart button too, which opens up the chat feature.
It’s a free app but it does have in-app purchases so you’ll want to watch out for those.
These days most dating sites and apps offer some same-sex options, but understandably plenty of LGBT people still prefer apps designed directly with them in mind.
Of those, Grindr is still by a long way the biggest – and most infamous. Designed for guys who want to meet other guys, it’s an app for iOS and Android that helps match you with other guys nearby.
It’s free to use, though there’s a paid option with a few extra features. The focus tends to be firmly on hook-ups, but finding something more serious isn’t out of the question.
If you find dating a bit awkward to begin with (don’t we all?) you might enjoy Doing Something.
It’s £10 per month and takes a fun approach to dating, letting you pick matches based on the date idea they’ve come up with, which could be anything from ping pong at Bounce or a Boris Bike through Hyde Park followed by craft beer tasting.
Most dating apps and sites match people by what they like, using shared interests to suggest compatible partners. Hater does the opposite.
You go through the app picking out things you hate – Trump, slow walkers, paying extra for guacamole – and are paired with people who share your hates, so you’ll immediately have something to talk about.
It’s iOS-only for now, but you can sign up to find out when the Android version arrives.