Online dating works. According to a recent Pew Research poll, more than 50% of Americans under 30 have used dating apps, and 10% of adults who are currently in committed relationships said they met their partners online.
But before the first person-to-person match can be made, you need to find the right dating site or app. With hundreds of free and paid dating sites out there, the options can be overwhelming.
We've reviewed and compared the best dating websites and apps to help you find your perfect match.
We tried and tested these dating services ourselves. Our team also gathered as much information as possible from various sources, including research reports and customer reviews, to give a comprehensive overview of the best dating sites on the market.
In rating them, we aimed to present a variety of options targeted at different people. We considered the following features:
Zoosk emerged as part of Facebook in 2007, but since then, it's become its own entity (as a website and mobile app) with over 35 million users.
Zoosk's Behavioral Matchmaking™ engine (the best thing about this site) filters profiles according to ones you've previously liked and gets smarter the more you use it. That way, you waste less time sorting through people who aren't your type.
Although there's a free version, a subscription lets you message other users to show you're interested in them. Subscription options range from $29.95 for one month to $119.99 for a 12-month plan (which works out to $10 per month).
“Zoosk enables singles to meet love interests in a fun and social way,” says Julie Spira, award-winning dating coach and founder of Cyber-Dating Expert. The app's scientific matching is “a great way for you to see who you might have romantic chemistry with,” while its virtual gifts will “increase your chances of receiving a response.”
Why we chose Zoosk: It gamifies dating with fun features like watching and commenting on other users' live streams, participating in virtual speed dating, and playing a "carousel" game that lets you classify others as "yeses," "nos," or "maybes." Zoosk also requires users to verify their profiles with their social media accounts, phone numbers, or photos, so it's easier to avoid fake profiles and scams.
Our experience: We liked Zoosk's quick and easy sign-up process—you can join by connecting your Facebook account. We also found the "dating insights reports" very helpful because they gave us a better idea of what we should be looking for. The personal profiles are pretty sparse though, so you probably won't know much about your date until you work up the nerve to talk to them.
eharmony is for daters ready to find love and looking for others who are on the same page. With detailed questionnaires and profiles, compatibility scores, and icebreaker questions, it's easy to match with a potential long-term partner and initiate contact.
On top of that, the site screens users to make sure none of them are on criminal registries—something that'll be reassuring to those concerned about getting pulled into a Tinder Swindler scenario.
eharmony requires you to spend a significant amount of time creating a profile. Its detailed questionnaire stretches out the sign-up process but allows the site to find truly compatible matches and keeps out people who aren't serious about exploring meaningful connections.
Why we chose eharmony: Its patented algorithms consider several factors, from personality traits to daily living habits, making it a fantastic choice to find long-term relationships. It's been around since the year 2000 and has matched over 2 million people, refining its processes along the way.
Our experience: We found it helpful to be able to specify things like your faith and morals so you can find a match on all levels: physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional. When we browsed profiles, both on mobile and desktop, we really felt like we got to know the other members, even before we started talking to them.
If you haven't been able to click with people on most mainstream dating apps, consider a more specialized service like EliteSingles. This site is aimed at intellectuals who value their professional lives and are looking for someone to have deep conversations with.
EliteSingles "is an excellent site for highly educated working professionals," says Dr. Lee Phillips, psychotherapist and certified sex and couples therapist—especially those who "have certain expectations when it comes to dating. Some of these expectations may include having a college education and being a hard-working professional."
Since SilverSingles and EliteSingles are owned by the same company, they have a lot in common. EliteSingles also asks users to take a research-based personality test and shows them three to seven matches a day based on their answers. The quiz allows users to state what qualities are most important to them in a partner.
Like most apps and sites we've evaluated, EliteSingles offers free memberships but requires users to pay in order to message others.
Why we chose EliteSingles: Due to the extensive quizzes members have to take, the sign-up process can become quite lengthy. But we believe this is a good thing because it ensures that the site only attracts users who are serious about finding relationships with like-minded people. Plus, for members' safety, profiles are manually verified, and photos cannot be copied or downloaded from the site, so your personal information stays confidential.
Our experience: We liked using the "Have We Met" feature, which allowed us to browse other profiles on top of our daily matches. We also liked that we could swipe "yes" or "no" to other users. But we were frustrated that there wasn't an instant chat or phone option for support—you'll have to wait up to two days to get a response over email.
Most dating apps target younger people, but SilverSingles gives the over-50 demographic plenty of opportunities to find companionship.
"Dating after 50 comes with its own complexities, including established careers and income, as well as blended families," says Julie Verhulst, a matchmaker at Selective Search. "SilverSingles provides members with suggested matches based on personality questionnaires and takes into account their long-term goals."
SilverSingles matches members based on a personality test designed by psychologists and relationship experts. This test has over 100 questions and scores your answers on four traits: openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism. These are used to assess your personality type and find matches whose interests and lifestyles are compatible with yours.
The matching process values quality over quantity. After answering the test questions, the site identifies three to seven matches per day. So while taking a test initially may sound like a lot of work, it will save you the trouble of searching for dates later down the line.
Why we chose SilverSingles: This service is available as an app and a website. Both are easy to navigate and use with well-organized tabs and big and bold fonts. Plus, if you're not well-versed in writing dating profiles, you can request someone to help you write yours for an additional fee. This site is the ideal choice for singles over 50 seeking long-term relationships.
Our experience: We felt that SilverSingles' personality test was particularly useful to develop self-knowledge. And while you do have limited control over who you can connect with, we liked that all potential matches are curated specifically for you.
Stir is mainly for single parents and people open to dating someone with kids. With features like "matchPhone", which supports texting and calling, there are plenty of ways to connect on Stir.
The "Stir Time" function helps users coordinate their schedules, so they can meet up when they're away from their kids. Users can also set up video chats with other members to screen them before meeting in person, which helps them protect themselves and their children.
A free plan gives you access to view and like profiles, and potentially get a message after lots of browsing. However, if you'd like to communicate with other members, you'll need a paid membership.
Some users have mentioned that the app's search functions are limited—for instance, you can't search for users based on their religion or politics. However, others said they like the easy-to-use design and, of course, the ability to look at photos of cute people with their equally adorable kids.
Why we chose Stir: This app creates a space where single parents, who are often misunderstood, assumed to be too busy, or judged for the fact that their previous relationships didn't work out, can connect with each other. The app also ensures that single parents don't waste their free time wading through a bunch of profiles of people who consider children to be a dealbreaker.
Our experience: Stir is made by the same company as Match, so its profiles are also very inclusive. But the sign-up process is less intense, which we think is ideal for busy parents. We also liked that the specific profile prompts let us share things that we felt were important, such as our drinking habits.
OurTime is geared toward giving the 50-and-up crowd a chance at love. But you don't have to be in your 50s to sign up; anyone interested in dating people who are 50 and over is welcome to join.
OurTime makes it easy to search for other users by location. With a premium plan, you can send messages, virtual gifts, or even "flirts" to show interest, but you won't have access to any of these features unless you pay for a monthly subscription.
OurTime users say they like the focus on user privacy and security. The site ensures its members stay safe while exploring possible connections by providing safety tips for both online and in-person dating. However, some have complained about technical problems and a lack of racial diversity among its active members.
Why we chose OurTime: Singles over 50 are a large and growing demographic. According to a recent Pew Research survey, about half of American women aged 65 and older are unpartnered. OurTime gives singles a way to date without worrying about being rejected because of their age.
Our experience: We saw many profiles with generic bios on other apps. We liked OurTime's unique prompts that ask users to answer three quirky questions so others can get to know them better. These questions include: "What's your favorite kind of date?", "Which do you prefer - morning or night?" and "Which do you prefer - sweet or savory?" We also appreciated the option to search for various match criteria, including religion and zodiac signs, to find people whose beliefs and interests were compatible with ours.
Match is one of the most popular online dating platforms out there, with millions of users in over 60 countries. This site is a fantastic choice for those seeking serious relationships because profiles include many prompts to learn about users' personalities, lifestyles, and interests. There are also fun ways to get in touch with potential matches, like sending "winks" to express your flirtatious side.
After creating a profile on Match, you'll get access to limited free functionality. However, you need to become a paying member to send messages. Plus, you'll need to devote time to this app by uploading photos, writing a detailed bio, and answering a lot of questions.
Users have complained that the site doesn't always produce compatible matches, because some people use the site to find hookups. But they seem very happy with Match's customer service, particularly the expert dating coaches who are available to all paying members.
Why we chose Match: Match has an inclusive user base, which allows its users to identify as various genders and sexual orientations and connect with a lot of different people. In addition, social media and phone verification keep fake users to a minimum.
Our experience: We enjoyed taking advantage of the features that make Match stand out from other dating apps and sites, such as read receipts on messages, the "Missed Connections" feature that shows users who might have crossed paths with you, and unlimited video chatting.
BlackPeopleMeet has been around since 2002 and, as the name suggests, is catered primarily toward members of the black community. But it's also designed for people of other races who are interested in finding a black partner. In fact, it's suitable for anyone looking for a serious relationship, travel partner, or friendship.
BlackPeopleMeet makes it easy for users to locate others whose desires match theirs with a wide variety of search features. The most unique is the keyword search option, which locates profiles that contain specific words or phrases. But there aren't any questionnaires so you won't get match scores as you might with other apps.
The free version has all the standard functions you'd expect and all members can view profiles, match, send messages to "Top Picks" and rate daily matches. A premium membership is required to access the messaging feature, but the cost is relatively low at just $2.99 per week if you purchase a six-month plan, compared to other apps.
Why we chose BlackPeopleMeet: Given the racism some people experience on general-interest dating apps, it's invaluable to have a space where African American singles can meet one another—and others who are open to exploring interracial relationships.
Our experience: We thought the "Message Ideas" feature, which provides conversation-starter suggestions for tongue-tied users, was super helpful. We also liked how the site prompts users to write what kind of relationship they're interested in on their profile, with options including "travel partner" or "pen pal." But we thought it was sketchy that there were many profiles without photos.
Jdate specializes in finding matches for Jewish singles and boasts over 750,000 online daters. Users can "heart" or "x" each other to indicate interest or lack thereof, and those who express mutual interest are matched up.
Paid members can send messages, while premium members get Messaging+, which enables them to message anyone on the site (including free members). Chats are in an instant-message format and include read receipts and the ability to block users.
If you're looking for excellent customer support—and Jewish singles, of course—then Jdate is a perfect choice. Most users rave about Jdate's customer care team and its blog, JLife, which offers advice intended to help singles navigate dating in the Jewish community. However, some users have mentioned that the app isn't very user-friendly and can be buggy at times.
Why we chose Jdate: Jdate has a variety of filters, ranging from religious practices to ideal relationship type, and each day, it shows you new people based on your preferences. We think this feature is especially useful for someone with a solid religious identity who wants to date people with similar convictions. In addition, most of Jdate's users pursue serious relationships, making it a must-have for someone who's ready to settle down.
Our experience: We found Jdate's search function to be the most specific of the bunch, allowing you to specify whether you care if someone goes to synagogue or eats kosher. We also liked that you can search based on other factors, such as location and match percentage. This feature allowed us to hone in on who we really wanted and gave us plenty of options.
There's nothing wrong with wanting a relationship that only lasts a short time. And being upfront about it can help you find people who are looking for the same thing. BeNaughty helps users find local hookups and casual dates without judgment or restrictions. And with over 40,000 new members weekly, it has no shortage of people available for these kinds of connections.
Like most swipe-based dating platforms, BeNaughty lets you swipe "yes" or "no" to profiles and only allows you to contact someone when there's mutual interest. The site also provides icebreaker questions and chat rooms to help users connect.
Men can engage in up to five free chats, while women get all premium functionality for free including unlimited messaging. Members can also pay extra for added visibility and security, which includes private browsing, encryption, and history clearing.
BeNaughty is only available as a website, not as a mobile app. So it's not ideal if you prefer to do your matching and messaging on a mobile device. Obviously, you'll also want to steer clear of this site if you're seeking something serious or long-term.
Why we chose BeNaughty: With many mainstream dating apps, it can be difficult to make your intentions clear, which can lead to miscommunication and hurt feelings down the line. BeNaughty's users are transparent about what they're looking for, so you can cut right to the chase. Plus, sign-up is quick and easy—no questionnaires, just a simple two-step registration process.
Our experience: We liked that the site has many different and fun ways to interact with other users, including chat rooms, forums, and virtual gifts. We think this site is a breath of fresh air, especially for being upfront about your sexuality and preferences.
The chart below provides a guide to different factors you should consider when comparing dating sites. These include cost, messaging options, user base, ease of use, matching methods, niche interests, and more.
When comparing different dating services, it's a good idea to first determine which factors are most important to you and zero in on apps matching your priorities. If you want to meet people of a specific cultural group or age, for instance, pay special attention to the app's demographics and recommended age range.
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As low as $29.99
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$19.99 per month for a 6-month subscription
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