Looking for a serious relationship? Or are you more into “Netflix and chill” or a hookup? Here’s our guide to dating apps and getting the most out of them.

When it comes to dating, we need to face the fact that it’s gone digital. Gone are the days of hearing that awkward silence after the words, “we met online.” Instead, we ask, “what dating app did you use?” But where can you start? The sheer volume of dating apps out there is intimidating.

Are you looking for a free dating app, or is a paid service better for you? Is your goal a relationship, or just the tension relief? Are you a single parent looking for someone who understands you have responsibilities? Do you live in a very rural, or metropolitan area? Are you hoping to find someone with the same kinks that you have? No matter what your needs and preferences are, there’s an app for that.

The First Step for Finding The Best Dating App? You Have to Know What You Want

So how do you pick the best dating app for you? First, you have to know what you want. What you want from them really determines which will work best for you. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of apps out there, you’re in the right place. First, we’ll look at the best overall dating apps. Then we’ll look at others that are best for specific needs.

The 3 Best Overall Dating Apps

Just want to get started with a general app? If you aren’t into the leather scene or looking for your very own farm boy only, these apps will suit your needs perfectly.

1. OkCupid, this popular app rides the top three of pretty much every top ten list we researched. You are going to spend some time setting this up, it isn’t just a pic and a tagline. OkCupid uses comprehensive profiles to match you up with other daters. Giving you a percentage of how closely you match with potential dinner dates or prospective partners. Once you get all that in there, the app works a lot like Tindr, letting you swipe yes or no to people who are near you.

“It’s right there in the name. It’s not ‘GreatCupid’ or even ‘GoodCupid.’ It’s OkCupid,”
— Helen Hong, Comedian

2. Bumble, ranging from free to $1.99-$24.99, whatever suits your needs, was named best dating app for android as well as being high on most top ten lists. The twist here is that women initiate contact in non-same sex connections. When Bumble presents women with possible beaus, they can either respond, wait, or just ignore them. Leave the suggested “mate” alone, and they will go away in 24 hours. Or, if you’re on the fence, you can extend the time window to another 24 hours.

Guys can also use the 24-hour extension, if they really want a woman to consider them fully. But, this is one site you can be pretty sure you won’t be getting pushy, shallow pick-up lines one after the other. While this may weed out the creepers, remember, lying is a thing, and people on the interwebs do it more comfortably than people face to face, it seems.

“I Wish There Was an Online Dating Website for People Who Hate Online Dating.”
— Anonymous

3. Zoosk, one of the first free apps on the scene it hit the number one spot when DatingAdvice.com rated the best apps out there. Zoosk’s tight integration with Facebook and Google opens up the dating pool. You can choose between Facebook-specific apps, iPhone, and Android, so this app covers all the bases, making it workable for just about anyone.

Top 3 Free Dating Apps: The Dollars And “Sense” Of Dating

Your financial status doesn’t have to be “rollin’ in the dough” to find that dude or dudette you are seeking. Some of the best apps on the top ten lists we searched were completely free. If you are looking at both the dollars, and “sense” of dating – check these apps out.

  1. Happn, is like the “Craigslist of missed connections.” That hot guy you saw, locked eyes with, and really want to hook up with? Find him on Happn, for free. Happn is also listed among the top dating apps for iPhones.
  2. Coffee Meets Bagel, AskMen.Com says that this app can be addictive, though it is highly underrated. The site is reward-driven, allowing you to earn “coffee beans” that you can spend. You earn the beans through daily log-ins and other activities. Though the app only gives you a few options a day, it has an impressive feedback collection system. This app actually tells you why people passed, such as your pics not being of a high enough quality, and then gives you advice on how to increase your chances of success.
  3. Plenty of Fish, not just a saying, POF is an app. Tired of fishing in shallow office and bar scene pools for your perfect companion? Why not try out this free app? This dating app does not connect to nor require a Facebook membership, unlike many others so it may be a great place to start. POF is one of the few entirely free apps that uses comprehensive profiles and has a fully-fleshed out app even though you aren’t going to be charged monthly for the privilege.

The 3 Best Dating Apps For Seeking Relationships

Seeking someone to build something really long lasting can be harder than finding people looking for a limited fling. If you find what lies between the ears more attractive that than what you see on the outside, or if you just don’t want to deal with people who aren’t looking for the opus to a lifetime, whether a casual friend or spouse, these apps are for you.

  1. Sapio, according to Tom’s Guide, Sapio is the opposite of those sites that ask you to rate people’s physical self, skipping right to what really makes them tick. All that “bewbs and butts” stuff fades when it comes to what really matters, and that’s the gray matter!
  2. Match.com – the staple of “want to meet my soulmate,” Match has the history and the questionnaire that kind of set the bar for a site to find a spouse with. It is still one of the best ways to do that, too.
  3. Hinge, with a tagline that reads, “if you are real, find something real,” this app is all about actually finding a human that you want to see casually, date, or eventually enter into a relationship with. According to Bustle, Hinge keeps users on the up and up, “in part by virtue of the fact that you log in with Facebook and you’re matched with friends of friends, so you could potentially tattle on a total jerk to a mutual friend.” You are able to set the level of relationship you are looking for, so this app is pretty much perfect for the person seeking either an “engagement” or engaging conversation over coffee.

The 3 Best Dating Apps For Hookups

While we assume most people are trying to get into a permanent relationship, many are not shopping for a spouse. About  21% of Americans have been in a non-monogamous relationship. Another 50% say “society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children,” and yet another 12% are only looking for casual hookups. If you are one of them, these apps are for you!

  1. Tinder, you know it because it was one of the first, and yes, you can find a relationship on this app. However, many people use the friendly “swipe yes or no,” interface to find the perfect solution to a lonely Friday night – with no Saturday “why, why did I hook up with someone from my office!”
  2. CasualX, meet the app that wants to unseat Tindr as the best hook-up app out there. According to Mashable.com, this app is “Tinder Minus Marriage-Minded Daters,” and that means you aren’t going into what you think is a fun one-n-done kind of evening to find out that they thought they were embarking on a journey to wedded bliss. When it comes to simply “scratching the itch,” this app is what it says it is.
  3. BeNaughty, DatingAdvice.com says that this app will never allow you to run out of options with its 13.3 million users. It is free to create a profile, chat and browse your options. When it comes to dating, being in the same place as others looking for the same thing is really important. Especially if that thing is “no strings.”

Top 3 Dating Apps for Single Parents

These are sites, not apps

  1. Single Parents Match:  Dubbed “the world’s first and best dating site for single mothers and fathers,” the site has appealing features. These include date ideas, news, chat and forums for hanging out online, and even parenting tips.
  2. Single Parents Mingle: Think Tinder, but for single parents. A basic membership’s free, premium costs $9.99.
  3. OurTime: This site’s especially for singles — many of whom are parents — aged 50 and older. You can try it for free, pay $17.99 a month, or join for six months at just $11.99 a month.

Dating in the Digital Age is Rough

Online dating can be rough. We don’t have time to seek out that special someone, and can you really find someone decent at a bar? Chances are our lives are already full from the time we wake to the time we go to bed. With that all said, there’s a lot more to being a healthy human than Yoga or book club. Most of us need human companionship, not to mention the occasional athletic romp in the sheets.

Luckily, whether you are searching for anything from a good friend to have a decent adult conversation with, to a friend with benefits, to a one night stand, there is an app for that.

Watch: People share their weirdest dating app stories (plus how to spot a catfish).

Featured image: CC0 Public Domain Geralt via Pixabay (with floating hearts added).

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