The stigma of online dating has long disappeared, but now we have more dating apps and sites than we can handle. Sign up to a crummy one and you’ll waste some good dating time! That’s why we’ve rounded up seven of the best dating apps and websites for 2017. We’ve chosen them because each offers a unique approach to online dating, or a nifty function to help you get closer to your ideal date, whether you’re looking for a casual hook-up or a future spouse. Profile pics at the ready...
Perfect for: anyone looking for a serious relationship
The original and still one of the best. Match is a big step-up from casual dating sites, using an in-depth questionnaire to find you the ideal partner. The site has a deep pool of active users and an impressive success rate – it’s helped create over 92,000 marriages. Basic profiles are free, but you’ll need a membership to get the full Match experience – £9.99 a month when signing up for six months. There’s tons of features to help you find a beau, including a Mutual Match function that alerts you when someone’s a reciprocal match, and an Around Me feature that finds compatible singletons nearby.
Perfect for: women who want to make the first move
Created by Whitney Wolfe, co-founder of Tinder, Bumble is here to help ladies take control of the online dating process. How? Private messaging is only enabled once the woman (the honey) makes the first move. For same-sex connections, either honey can make a move. Create an account direct or sign in via Facebook to meet dates or make new buddies (there’s a BFF function, too) in your area; you get 24 hours to make a move before that connection disappears. In-app purchases include Bumble Boost (from £9.99 a month), which enables you to immediately match with users who have swiped right on your profile, to reconnect with expired matches and more.
Perfect for: finding dates at your favourite haunts
Love your local library and wish you could find a fellow bookworm to cosy up with? Happn can help, linking you into a network of people who have hung out in the same places as you. Each time you cross paths with another Happn user in real life their dating profile appears on your timeline – you both need to have ‘checked in’ (via the app) for this to work. You’ll see how many times you’ve been in the same place/s as them, and how often you’ve been near them without knowing. Don’t worry, your real-time location remains hidden! Like someone’s profile privately, or send them a Charm (€1.99 for 10) if you want them to know you’re keen. Mutual likes create a Crush, then it’s time to start messaging.
Perfect for: folks searching for true love
Also known as ‘The brains behind the butterflies’, eHarmony is one of the UK’s biggest relationship sites. The service uses a mix of science and psychology (scientifically adapted for the UK in collaboration with the Oxford Internet Institute) to empower singletons looking for meaningful connections. There’s nothing slapdash about the process - you can't rush love, ok? - but that doesn’t mean it’s taxing. Upon signing up you’ll be asked about the kind of person you’re hoping to meet, plus other in-depth questions to help eHarmony curate matches. Basic membership costs £12.95 a month when signing up for 12 months, but you can join and review matches for free to begin with, and receive a Personality Profile for nowt.
Perfect for: an easier way into online dating
Tinder has made it’s way into the social consciousness like no other dating app has. Popular with xennials and millennials, this ‘swipe right’ for love (and, ahem, fun) app couldn’t be easier to use: create a profile by uploading some selfies, writing a bio and setting your age and distance preferences, then away you go, swiping left (no thanks) or right (well, hey there!) on potential dates. Tinder’s active monthly user-pool is big, increasing your chances of meeting someone cool. Premium features include Tinder Passport (swipe through matches located elsewhere in the world – hello, holiday romances!) and Rewind, for when you’ve swiped left then regretted it. Tsk! Tinder Online is launching soon, giving you a desktop version of this ultra-popular dating experience.
Perfect for: dating a celebrity look-alike
Part social network, part dating app, Badoo has a similar functionality to Tinder and boasts over 60 million monthly active users, with a whopping 345 million registered users worldwide looking for love and friendship. The app is currently setting tongues wagging because of an incoming new feature: the ability to search for dates based on which celebrity or normie they most resemble. Yep, thanks to facial recognition tech you can soon search for, and try to land a date with, someone who looks like Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian West or your ex (too weird? Yeah). When you sign up to Badoo you’ll be asked to list all the usual stuff - demographics, interests, why you rock - then you can view other profiles to see who’s a close match in your area and to join in the doppelgänger dating fun.
Perfect for: letting your fetishes run free
OkCupid is just as popular with vanilla daters as with those harbouring specific fetishes – beard-lovers and cat fanciers, this one’s for you! Earlier this year OkCupid introduced a new app feature called DoubleTake, designed to help you get a deeper, more informed first look at a potential date; mini photos and a brief overview of their interests and hobbies sit neatly on your smartphone’s screen. On the website and in the app you’ll find messaging tools, personality quizzes and questions, Instagram integration (app) and other functions to help you get closer to finding your ideal date. OkCupid is free, but you can pony up for a premium subscription to access refined search and connection tools.