With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, you might be feeling a bit discouraged about your lackluster dating life. This Valentine’s Day is a little different, as we’re also approaching the one-year mark since COVID shutdowns in the states. For many people, dating has taken a backseat as they’ve been forced to adjust to a new normal of working from home, caring for family members, or simply the crushing loneliness of isolation.
Life has been on hold long enough, and if you’re ready to start dating again, there are plenty of ways to do so safely. Dating apps have always been extremely popular in the modern dating era, but with people craving connection after a year of quarantine, there’s never been more fish in the sea to choose from. If you put in a little time and effort into updating your dating profile, at the very least you’ll end up having a few interesting conversations and maybe even a great story to tell your friends. At best, you could end up meeting the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. I don’t know about you, but I certainly like those odds.
Below, we’ve compiled a list of the nine best dating apps to try today to spark whatever kind of connection you’re looking for this year.
Tinder invented the “swipe” function we now associate nearly all dating apps with. The app’s simplistic approach to dating had led to its rise as one of the most popular matchmaking apps in the world. Although it has a reputation as an app that’s strictly for hookups, many happy couples have met off the app and made real connections that lead to long-term relationships, or even marriage. It’s free to use, but you can also pay for premium versions that include extras like undoing a left swipe, sending “Super Likes,” and seeing users who like you.
Created by ex-Tinder employees, Bumble is the dating app where the woman has to make the first move. This idea turns gender stereotypes on their head, letting the men sit back and wait for women to come to them. Matches expire after 24 hours, so ladies don’t have long to decide if they want to reach out to a potential date. It’s free to use, but if you want to upgrade to the paid version, you get a few extra features including rematching an expired match.
Hinge wants to be more than a hookup app. It replaces swiping with scrolling, like Instagram, and asks users to provide answers to deeper questions about their future plans, religion, and vices in order to hopefully spark a deeper connection. You only get seven matches a day, which might feel restrictive at first, but it’s meant to reduce the swiping fatigue that happens on other dating apps. Hinge is all about creating real, genuine connections, which, yes, takes a little more work. But if you’re looking for something more than a one-time hookup, Hinge is a great place to start.
Referred to as “the Harvard of dating apps,” The League is a highly selective members-only app that is geared towards the professional elite who are looking to date people of similar educational and professional status. The app uses an applicant’s LinkedIn profile to determine if they’re a fit to be invited on the app, but like a place of social privilege, there’s a waitlist. If you can manage to get off the waitlist (the app boasts an “acceptance rate” of 20-30% and on the app, you’ll be thrown in the pool with other “high-achieving, diverse, and influential members who are trailblazers in their communities.” The app is free, but if you want to expedite your application, read receipts on your messages, and more daily prospects, you can upgrade to “Member” ($29/month) or “Owner” ($83/month).
OkCupid started out as one of the original dating sites in 2004 and evolved into a dating app in recent years, which makes its target demographic older, likely more established, and as such, looking for more of a genuine connection. Its data-driven approach asks users to provide robust answers to all sorts of questions and build a meaty profile that hopefully says more about you than your first name, age, and your favorite TV show. Users can also weed out people they would never match with by providing their dealbreakers in regards to topics such as vaccines, gun control, and women’s rights. OkCupid’s algorithm provides a compatibility score based on all these factors and matches you with users it thinks you’d vibe with.
Match is another OG dating site that boasts over 35 million unique monthly visitors, so you know you’ll have a lot of options as soon as you log on. It’s definitely not a hookup app, but it’s not only for people who are ready to settle down. Match has decades of data to back up their algorithms, which helps them get better every day at predicting who you’ll get along with. They recently launched a video chatting feature called Vibe Check that aims to give new matches a safe, socially distanced alternative to a first date.
Grindr is for men seeking men (as well as trans and queer people) use Grindr to cut to the chase and connect with those in their immediate vicinity. There’s no swiping left or right here; instead, you’re presented with an infinite collage of people who are close location-wise. Some users just want to hook up and will say so right off the bat, but if you’re looking for a special connection, you’ll be relieved to know that plenty of men have found their life partners on the app. For gay and bi men looking for lust and love, Grindr presents a sea of options to help you find what you’re looking for.
While other dating sites appeal to the masses and whatever kind of connection they’re looking for at that time, eharmony is clear about the kind of commitment it’s there to facilitate: Marriage. In fact, a rep for eharmony proudly stated that it accounts for 4% of all marriages in the United States. If you’re ready to settle down, eharmony is filled with other singles who are looking for the same thing. Their proven success comes at a cost of $60 per month, but with any luck, you won’t need to pay the membership fee for long.
Coffee Meets Bagel
Coffee Meets Bagel brings the low-pressure experience of grabbing coffee with a potential date to the app world. It’s a more curated dating app with limited swipes to foster more genuine connections with fewer people. You can receive anywhere from 5-21 matches per day, depending on if you’re a free or premium member, based on your preferences. Per the site’s own survey, 86% of users are looking for a serious relationship, so there’s a good chance that everyone you match with is also looking for the same thing.
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