Over the past couple of years, COVID-19 made online dating sites indispensable for the single set. With socializing much more difficult, these sites made getting to know someone easier, through emails, texts and video chat. Virtual dating became a big thing.
Now that the pandemic has eased up somewhat, is it time for singles to break up with online dating sites?
Not at all, says Amy Schoen, a professional life, dating and relationship coach in Rockville, Maryland, and the founder of the website Motivated to Marry. “Post-pandemic, online is still one of the best ways to meet people who are seriously searching for love,” Schoen says.
If you go the online route, deciding what type of online dating website or dating app is right for you is a little like finding the right partner. Every dating site is different, and you might find some that aren’t a good match for you. You might feel, for instance, that one dating website doesn’t offer enough details about a potential suitor, and another website, you may feel, gives you too much information.
Read on for a list of some of the most popular free dating sites. Keep in mind that not all of these are absolutely free — some have free components that are worth your consideration, however.
— Facebook Dating.
— Plenty of Fish.
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for people in a hurry.
Bumble is pretty simple to use and navigate. Bumble enables users to find a match by swiping right if they like the person or left if they don’t. For heterosexual couples, the woman must send a message first, and with same-sex couples, either person can initiate contact.
Bumble is free. You can search profiles, make matches and send messages. Bumble also offers premium upgrades that allow you to do things like screen matches based on certain qualities or criteria, like level of education. Prices vary from $16.99 and $39.99 a month, depending on the perks, or you can pay $229.99 for a lifetime subscription of the premium service.
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for people who like Facebook and want more of it.
Facebook entered the dating scene with Facebook.com/dating, and given that so many people are familiar with how Facebook works, it certainly seems worth trying if you’re hoping to meet someone.
With this free service, you can set up a dating profile, which won’t be shared with anyone outside of the Facebook dating app. In other words, your friends and family on Facebook won’t be able to see that you’re a member of Facebook Dating. As a bonus, you can use your Facebook profile to automatically fill in your Facebook Dating profile. It’s only available on the Facebook app on your phone and not on the Facebook website. Note that you need to have a Facebook account in good standing to use this free service.
Also worth noting — Facebook makes a big effort to make sure that your Facebook friends won’t know you’re on Facebook Dating. But it does have a feature called “Secret Crush.” You can list people from your Facebook friends and Instagram followers as a secret crush (up to nine people). If they ever put up a Facebook Dating profile, they will learn that somebody has a “crush” on them — but they won’t know who. If they add you to their crush list, you’ll both be matched.
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for anyone who likes to compartmentalize their thinking.
It is free to use, but like many services on this list, you can navigate it more easily if you pay for a premium version. Prices vary for the premium version, but it starts at around $29.99 a month, and then the price per month goes down after that if you get a three- or six-month membership. Hinge, so far, is only available on phones and not on desktops or laptops.
So why the reference to compartmentalizing? Hinge has some fun ways to share information and possibly determine if you’re a good match with someone, like having categories labeled as virtues, vitals and vices:
— Virtues include interesting things about you, like your career, where you went to school and your political leanings.
— Vitals include things like whether you have kids and where you live.
— Vices, as you might guess, reveal if you smoke, drink or do drugs or some other type activity that may be a turn-off or turn-on for potential matches.
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for serious relationships.
Match is one of the best known and oldest dating sites. While Match.com’s full services aren’t free, it belongs in this list because it’s a well-known website that offers a free 72-hour trial period.
In other words, it’s a perfectly good dating site, but if you’re looking for free dating apps, you should probably look elsewhere. You can set up a profile and search through profiles for free, but if you want to contact someone, you’ll have to pay for the service unless you’re still in the free three-day trial period.
As with many of these sites, prices vary. Match has premium prices and standard prices. You may, for instance, pay for a three-month standard package ($24.99 a month, which adds up to $74.97). But you can get longer plans that last up to 12 months. You’ll fork over more money at once, but you’ll pay less per month. Of course, with Match and other dating sites where users pay for several months or a year at a time, there is a risk that you could pay for a standard plan that lasts a year and actually meet your match in the first month.
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for people who want to know a lot about their date before meeting them.
This popular dating website and app is free, allowing you to browse profiles and reach out to anyone you want to connect with.
That said, you can pay for premium services, and those premium services can make the site a little easier to navigate. For instance, with the paid version, there are unlimited “likes” and no outside ads. You can also see who likes you before you like them. However, with the free version, you don’t know who has clicked “like” on your profile unless you also “like” them. Prices vary, but if you pay for one month, you’ll pay around $35.
OKCupid offers thousands of questions that people can answer after they’ve put together their profile, and they can add personalized comments to their answers. With many members, you may feel that you know just about everything you can possibly know about them — before you actually send a message.
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for seniors.
As advertised on its many TV commercials, OurTime is for people 50 years old and up. It isn’t the only dating site for seniors, but it’s one of the most well known. Like Match.com, OurTime is a paid service.
While it isn’t free, you can browse profiles for free. As for the prices, they vary, but you can expect to pay $29.96 a month, with the price dropping considerably per week if you sign up for the six-month plan. That said, if you get the six month plan, you’re paying for all of that time in one lump sum, and so there’s really no way to pay for the service and feel like it’s cheap.
Plenty of Fish
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for people who want a lot of choices.
Plenty of Fish reports having more than 3 million members in 20 countries. That is, indeed, a lot of fish.
As its name suggests, the app features a wide selection of dating profiles. It is free, but you’ll probably find it far easier to use if you pay for the premium services.
Prices vary, but you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $12.90 a month for three months or $6.78 a month for 12 months. You’ll pay for those months in one lump sum. You can send and receive messages for free; the premium membership is an ad-free version that allows users to search more easily, using filtering options such as education and income.
[READ: How to Save for a Wedding.]
Who it is best for: Best free dating site for people who don’t need much information about a date before making a decision.
Similar to Bumble, with this popular dating app (also available on desktop), you can swipe through profiles — albeit with scant information on each potential match. As you look at photos, you can select a heart icon or an X; alternatively, you can swipe to the right if you like a profile or swipe to the left if you don’t. If you like somebody who also likes your photo, you’ll be alerted that you have a match, and you’ll be able to message your potential date.
While the app is free, you can pay for Tinder Plus, Tinder Gold or Tinder Platinum. The website is not transparent about its pricing, however. In the past, you’d pay about $9.99 a month if you were under 30 and $19.99 if you were older — and possibly more than that, depending on the tier you were in. But it’s unclear until you set up a profile and whip out your credit card.
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Update 08/15/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.