Top Dating Sites 2021, Free, Paid Mobile Dating Apps + Dating Websites For Men, Women, Serious Relationships, Older People: Coffee Meets Bagel vs. Hinge vs. Bumble vs. Tinder
Online Dating Advice: Are Paid Dating Sites Better Than Free Dating Sites?
Not necessarily. Paid dating apps give a false sense of security, expectations. Most people can do just fine with free apps if they are patient, know how to screen profiles, know how to read people and have great photos. Paid dating apps typically have fewer users than free apps but also might promise more than they can deliver.
If you know how to create a great profile that stands out, you can do well without paying for upgrades, premium accounts or boosts. Users get better return on investment when they focus on their profile rather than trying to pay for hacks. Below is an overview of the best dating apps and particular demographics that they best cater to. Not all apps are created equal and the best apps for some people are not best for all.
What Is The Best Dating App In 2021? What Is The Number 1 Dating App? Top Dating Apps 2021
There are countless online dating sites and with that obscure, niche sites that claim to specialize in specific demographics and interests:
-Farmers Only (rural America)
-eHarmony (the first marriage focused dating app),
-Lumen (Dating Over 50), J-Date (Jewish Singles),
-Zoosk (not sure who uses this or why),
-The League (“professionals, with acceptance and matches based on LinkedIn and Facebook profiles”)
and so on and so forth. For those that are new to online dating it can be a daunting task to figure out which dating sites and apps to use. It’s not uncommon to gravitate to Tinder as your first stab at online dating but for most people, there are plenty of dating apps better than Tinder.
Are There Any Dating Apps Better Than Tinder?
Yes, of course but every app is different. Different audiences, expectations, lifestyles. Better options exist in bigger, metropolitan cities while options in rural areas are slim. Dating apps are merely introduction tools and so you will only get out what you put in. I
Best Free Dating Apps 2021: Bumble vs Tinder vs Hinge vs CMB (Best Free Online Dating Sites)
10 years ago, OkCupid and Match.com were safe bets with enough market share that you could safely use the sites and not worry about not having enough profiles to explore. Dating apps then were straightforward – create a profile, upload photos, write a bio, browse profiles, message said person and ask them out on a date. These days, users are segmented across more apps than ever before which dilutes the user bases across all apps.
Unfortunately apps and technology companies like UberEats and Amazon have altered the mindset of all consumers thinking they can get exactly what they want with a few swipes and clicks (read this post about the dystopian state of dating in San Francisco). However, dating apps are not like food-ordering or other shopping apps, they are merely introduction apps.
Dating apps should not be expected to screen users, filter out creeps nor weed out hook-up focused individuals – nothing will nor should replace the due diligence and social skills needed to analyze people and profiles, ask questions, be patient and meet in person.
Limited Time Special On Dating Profile Critiques! Includes analysis on recommended apps, how to write your bio and prompts as well as tips on improving first lines & openers.
No dating app is perfect but there are some great dating apps out there if you know how to approach them, know which photos are effective, know how to write a bio and have realistic expectations based on your own looks, education, height, age and location. Below are my favorite mature dating apps right now that I recommend most to clients.
Bumble Dating App Review – Is Bumble A Good Dating Site
Bumble not only has a great female to male ratio of users on the site (making it the best dating site for men), there is a verification process that other apps do not have and that is in the photo verification process of the registration process. Users must take a photo of themselves in the pose that is requested and user profiles are reviewed.
The other reason I like this dating app is that women no longer have to worry about getting messages from unwanted profiles. You decide which profiles you like and only those are allowed to match with you. If you don’t like a profile, they cannot message you.
The trade-off here is that women need to send the first message to matches to engage in conversation – additionally the window to do so before matches expire is 24 hours. Many women I know hate this part of the app but some like the control here.
Bumble Alternative Apps: Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, The League
Recommended Demographics: 27-45, bigger U.S. cities mostly for those seeking something long-term, college educated, graduate degrees.
For tips on photos, prompts, first messages and how to reply to messages, check out my Bumble blog posts.
Hinge Dating App Review
Hinge is perhaps my favorite dating app at the moment given it’s non-swipe focus (requires you to tap vs swipe) but also because of the quality of users. This dating app requires 6 photos which is great at eliminating profiles without enough photos and also provides excellent prompt possibilities facilitating conversations.
The biggest con about this dating app is that it is extremely buggy. There is a lot of confusion on whether likes and messages were sent and received as well as profiles appearing too much or if they ever will again if you accidentally mark no.
The other complaint is with profile bans and creating new accounts or using different login methods. If you lose phones, use a phone number you don’t have access to, have different info on Facebook than is actually true, your account might be flagged. Also, if you try to re-create your account too often in an attempt to game the system so your new profile is shown to more people, your profile can be banned or at least penalized and shown to fewer users possibly.
Don’t be creepy, don’t try to game the system, don’t lie about yourself and don’t lose access to your phone, email or Facebook account and you will be ok.
Hinge Alternative Apps: Bumble, OkCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel
Additional Reading: Best Hinge Prompts / Questions – https://eddie-hernandez.com/best-hinge-questions/
Recommended Demographics: 23-45, bigger for U.S. cities, mostly casual and long-term dating.
Coffee Meets Bagel Dating App Review
CMB is a great dating app for relationship focused users. It throttles the number of profiles shown and thus requires more review and time to analyze profiles before you. There are profiles served to you based on your demographics as well as search function as well.
The whole concept of beans and currency is confusing and a bit immature (as you can see in their strong demographics of millennials) but it is popular among 20 and 30 year olds in the U.S.
Recommended Demographics: 23-35, bigger U.S. cities. A strong Asian community of users is on this dating app, perhaps more than any other. App is arguably the best dating app for minorities. Focus is on serious relationships.
For additional tips and insight into CMB: https://eddie-hernandez.com/category/coffee-meets-bagel/
OkCupid Dating App Review – Alternative Lifestyle Dating Site
OkCupid is one of the older kids on the block and sometimes overlooked. It is still a solid app for introverts, quirky folks, gamers, introspective folks, artistic souls, pansexual, kink, bi, polyamorous invididuals, open-relationships, throuples, shy people, people who lead alternative lifestyles, non-monogamous folks, non-mainstream (pop-culture) people and those who are a little more expressive than the character limits allow on sites like Tinder.
Recommended demographics: 22-40, looking for something casual, open-ended.
Okcupid Alternative apps: Feeld (Poly, Non-Monogamous) or Hinge (for LGBTQ)
Additional insight: https://eddie-hernandez.com/okcupid-review/
Match.com Dating App Overview
Match.com despite its current lawsuits and investigations is still popular among late 30s-60s year olds primarily because of its desktop option. A paid subscription is required to read and send messages but at least you can browse all profiles at once and see if it’s worth spending time and money on.
Recommended demographics: 30-60, relationship focused.
For additional tips, advice using Match.com: https://eddie-hernandez.com/category/match-com/
The League Dating App Review
The League is a member-only dating app. Most people work in finance, tech, law, startup, advertising or other similar white collared fields. Many people have advanced degrees and are career-focused. It’s not as superficial or self-absorbed as it used to be or as it appeared to be upon launch as it has greatly expanded beyond SF, LA & NYC into more secondary markets.
Recommended demographics: select cities where available, 27-45 age range.
The League Alternative Apps: Bumble, Hinge
Raya Dating App: What Is Raya? Does Raya Work?
The Tinder for famous (and no so famous) people has gathered quite the buzz in larger cities around the world. The app itself uses Instagram as a decision factor, so that couldn’t be more perfect.
With a focus on exclusivity, this invite-only app has broadened their branding for creative types. As recent as 2018, the app boasted 10,000 members across several cities according to a NYTimes interview. Celebrity sightings on the app make the news rounds every so often with tabloids posting articles about profile sightings, message screenshots and more.
Many people don’t have direct insight into Raya given it’s low acceptance rate (8% as of 2018 according to the NYTimes). The profiles on Raya resemble those trying to get into a Vegas nightclub, those trying to crash movie award shows and C and D-list celebrities but it’s generally a filled with those with physical attributes (career and or looks). The waitlist to get in mirrors those on Sunset and Melrose with 10x as many people waiting on the outside that are inside.
With a focus on privacy, Raya has more stringent rules for bans than do other apps. Common items like screenshots, discussing profiles and sharing messages can result in permanent bans. Anyone can apply by first creating a profile but lack of Instagram followers and vouch from an existing member will render your application incomplete.
Tinder Dating App Review: Tinder vs Hinge vs Bumble
Tinder is mostly known for casual connections, tour guides, pen-pals, flirting, IG followers, sharing memes, witty banter, immature conversations and hookups but it is definitely quite possible to meet a quality person for serious relationships on Tinder. In some remote areas or those that don’t embrace technology as much as SF or NYC, Tinder is the only app with traction among users. It’s also the most widely used app out there (based on accounts not necessarily on actual users).
Some people who are new to dating apps will find Tinder at the top of search results and won’t think twice. Yes, it can be inefficient and frustrating but you can definitely find diamonds in the rough that are bombarded by creeps and welcome a breath of fresh air. More info on Tinder here: https://eddie-hernandez.com/tinder-dating-app-review/
Tinder App Alternatives: Match, OkCupid, Hinge
Other Dating Apps To Consider: Best Dating Apps For Serious Relationships
In addition to these apps listed above, there are several other apps worth considering. The League which requires a review process claims to have 25% of Jewish users on its platform. This is a great alternative to J-Date and J-Swipe.
–>The best Jewish dating apps: https://eddie-hernandez.com/the-best-dating-apps-for-jewish-singles/
Lumen is the latest dating app marketed at the 50+ crowds. It has gotten rave reviews but still a niche site and many users in their early 50s still use the other apps above but worth checking out. Farmers Only claims to have a 70% female demographic base on the site – you have to like that if you are a guy (most dating apps are made up of only 25-45% female users).
Best Dating Apps For Dog Lovers, Animal Lovers
I get asked this quite a bit actually and the simple answer is, why does there need to be an app for this? Just look at the person’s profile, photos or just ask them. No need to build a separate app for this. It’s like is there an app for political angle? No, just look at their photos, profile and political affiliation field.
Best Interracial Dating Apps
As I have mentioned countless times, niche apps are generally sketchy, gross, fetish-filled or scammers. With any app, you can see someone’s photo and swipe accordingly. No need to try an unproven app. Use the main ones and filter accordingly.
Top LGBT, Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Open Relationship, Non-Monogamous Dating Apps
My focus is on relationship focused individuals and those that are open about their intentions. With that said, apps like Grindr are geared toward hookups. Apps like Hinge are popular with Gay and Lesbian folks ever since Pete Buttiegieg found his husband on the app.
Sites like OkCupid are popular among folks seeking open relationships, non-monogamous relationships, individuals who are bi-sesxual as well as more traditional exclusive relationships. For more information on best dating apps for gay, queer, LGBTQ folks, check out my post on things to consider across each of the apps.
Which Dating Site, App Is Best For Serious Relationships?
There is no one best answer rather it is more dependent on you to analyze profiles, present yourself in a manner which reduces chances of unwanted attention and filter out people based on their photos, profiles, wardrobe, facial expressions, friends in photos, communication skills, date ideas. With that said, Tinder is used for more casual relationships, hookups, tour guides, entertainment, banter etc. but that doesn’t mean you cannot find a significant other or spouse on the app.
Read this guide on how to identify red flags in dating profiles.
Which Dating App Has The Most Success? Highest Success Rate?
The apps I recommend most to clients are Hinge, Bumble, CMB, Match, OkC, The League and sometimes Tinder. There is no correct answer. It’s up to you to know what the demographics are for each app, have realistic expectations, and know how to read people and screen profiles. Dating apps are merely introductory tools – you don’t date online. You meet, talk, flirt and then date offline.
What Are The Best Free Dating Sites? Best Dating Sites For Men, Women
Most dating sites are free but require a subscription or fee to send messages, use additional filters or view more profiles. You can have a good experience for free on apps like Hinge, Tinder, and Bumble without paying for extra bells and whistles.
Coffee Meets Bagel is free but you will run out of free options sooner than later. You will have a better ROI if you invest in yourself, your photos, app choice, bio, communication skills, wardrobe, lifestyle, education, personality than any additional fee from any dating app.
Best Vegan Dating App?
There is no need to have a separate app for this. Just list your dietary lifestyle on any of the major apps in your bio – simple.
Virtual Dating Apps, Video Dates, FaceTime Dates & More
All apps are essentially virtual dating apps but more of the courting and getting to know you process is being done online.
Most Popular, Most Downloaded Dating App 2021
Tinder, Badoo then Bumble according to Apptoopia.
For United States only, it’s Tinder then Bumble, then POF then Hinge.
Sketchy Dating Apps & Website To Be Cautious Of
Any site or app that seems a little too specific should be approached with caution. Sites like AdultFriendFinder, ChristianMingle, MillionaireMatch, FarmersOnly, EliteSingles, SeekingArrangements are often associated with creepy and suspicious behavior.
Adult Friend Finder, Christian Mingle, Seeking Arrangement, Sugar Daddy, Elite Singles, Millionaire Match, Elite Singles, Seeking Arrangements, Farmers Only, Badoo, MeetMe may have decent or good ratings on app stores but those ratings can be bought easily.
Similarly apps like Clover that claim dates are as easy as ordering a pizza are super cringey. Do you want to order a date like a DoorDash meal?
Amazon Dating Review: It’s a fake site, parody.
eHarmony Dating Review, eHarmony Free Trial: It’s not worth it but if you are curious, eHarmony usually has a free trial weekend communication to try out. Typically around Labor Day Weekend. Follow their blog for past weekends and updates on upcoming weekends (you’ll need to fill out a profile first to get the most out of it since it takes time to fill out and get approved).
Green Singles automatically fixes radius searches to 300 miles. That is a red flag off the bat.
Adult Friend Finder data breach: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-37974266
Elite Singles Reviews: https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/elitesingles.com
EliteSingles Review: https://eddie-hernandez.com/elitesingles-review/
OurTime Reviews: https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/ourtime.com
SingleSingles Reviews: https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/silversingles.com
Megapersonal Dating App: Don’t Use It.
FeToo Dating App: Dont’ Use It
CitySweeties Dating App: Don’t Use It
Upward Dating App: Dating app for super religious Christians. For those that want to meet men like Mike Pence.
Best Dating Apps For Men, Best Dating Sites For Men. What Dating App Should I Use
If you have great photos and are 27-50, Bumble is great. Bumble is a bit superficial and caters towards more professional crowds (tech, finance, law, doctors etc.) Otherwise, Hinge is the way to go. If you are an Asian/Indian male, try Coffee Meets Bagel as those have more people of color and easier to match with.
Best Dating Apps For Women, Top Dating Sites For Women
Bumble is an obvious choice for some but it really depends on your lifestyle, location, age, what you seek and your comfort with making first moves. It could also be Match.com, OkCupid, Hinge or The League.
The Most Trusted Dating Apps, Safest Dating Sites
Mostly Bumble, The League, Coffee Meets Bagel are at the top but there are a lot of time-wasters, people looking for hookups as well if you don’t know how to ID red flags.
Dating Apps For Older People, Dating Sites For Over 50
It will depend on your location but Match.com is generally the preferred one but some people have found success on OkCupid or Tinder. Even though dating app usage for 50+ folks is skyrocketing, number of users tend to thin out 60+ and in rural areas. Our Time Dating Site can be rather hit or miss.
What Dating Apps Actually Work – Best Dating Sites For Serious Relationships
Although these are my favorite dating apps with a focus on dating and relationships, these apps do not screen folks and some people are not always truthful about what they seek. It’s up to you to ask questions, be patient, evaluate dates, possess self-awareness, have realistic expectations and use good judgment.
Do not overly invest yourself in strangers before you meet in person and have a chance to get to know them. Don’t assume the amount of time you text and talk is a good indicator for compatibility, trust. Do not put your entire self-worth in dating apps. You need to have enough going on in your life to do well with dating apps – you can’t expect things to magically turn around by meeting a stranger online. That is too much pressure to put on one person.
Avoid using dating apps if you are lonely, depressed, have never dated or are seeking validation. Be wary of people falling head over heels for you right off the bat – ‘love bombing’ is a psychological tactic used to disarm vulnerable people (lonely, divorced, single parents etc.). You need to be able to have communications skills to have a shot with dating apps. Dating apps are merely introduction tools, you date offline.
For additional dating tips, check out this post on how to stay safe when online dating.
What Is The Best Dating Apps To Use? What Is The Best Dating App For Me? Reviews Of Online Dating
Dating Coach Services
First date ideas, wardrobe styling, places to meet singles, where to sit at bars and restaurants, body language, vocal intonation, eye contact, conversation skills, how to flirt over text, how to be more approachable and get people to start conversations with you, mock dates and more.
Additional Reading Related To Top Dating Sites, Popular Dating Apps & Best Sites To Meet People
Online Dating Resource Guide – Studies, Research & More
Online Dating Red Flags – How To ID Red Flags In Profiles, Photos & Communications
About Eddie Hernandez
Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle.
In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally.
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