We’re all about love at Hitched – whether that’s helping you tie the knot with your soulmate or helping you find them.
Half of all singletons now use online dating sites and apps to help them find love (or lust, *cough cough* Tinder), so it’s no longer embarrassing or cringe-worthy to admit to it. Actually, we found nearly 1 in 10 couples who ended up married met on Tinder!
Seriously, online dating is as normal as ordering your groceries on the web. With more than 1,400 dating sites and apps floating around the internet, it has never been easier to find one that suits your wants and needs. Whether you want someone bi, Christian, a farmer, a rock music fan, degree-educated or something completely different, there’s an app for that.
We’ve rounded up 21 of the best online dating sites and apps for you to choose from, plus some tips for staying safe and having your best first online date ever. Your happily ever after begins here.
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The Best Online Dating Sites and Apps
Best for: Casual Dating
Next up is the king of the dating apps. The OG, if you like. It might have a bit of a bad rep for casual sex and no-strings-attached flings, but with two billion views per day, who’s to say you can’t find the love of your life by swiping right?
Tinder is photo heavy and requires users to swipe to arrange dates. You can scroll through users’ photos, “super like” people who really take your fancy and start conversations with those who have liked your profile in return. What’s more, it picks up your location so you can track down potential matches wherever you are in the world.
Tinder’s main stumbling block is that it doesn’t allow you to include quite as much information about yourself as other dating apps do. That makes it harder to judge whether someone would be a good match for you… you’re going off appearances, basically. You can include your name, job, company, education, location and links to your Spotify and Instagram accounts. Since the app is responsible for one million dates per week, it must be doing something right.
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Best for: Marriage Seekers
Costs: £12.95 Per Month
If you’re sick and tired of dates with people you just don’t have anything in common with, it might be time for some serious personality matching. That’s where eHarmony comes in. They’ve been around for over a decade and have a patented eHarmony Compatibility Matching System which took 35 years to create. It’s a very in-depth relationship questionnaire which gives the team the ability to match users with people they’re actually compatible with. Yep – they take this love stuff pretty seriously.
There are over 60 million members on the site from around the world. Five million of these live in Britain, so there are plenty of people to choose from. The team state that someone finds love every 14 minutes on average using eHarmony. Isn’t it worth a shot?
When you sign up, you’ll fill out their trusty questionnaire which pairs singletons according to 18 dimensions of compatibility (it might sound complicated but it’s for your own good – trust us). After that, all you need to do is wait for potential suitors to drop straight to your inbox!
You can scroll through them at leisure, set up dates, and even make the most of their guided communication tool if you’re struggling to know what to say.
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Best for: Very Busy People
Costs: Upwards of £16 Per Month
Are you a busy young professional with a high-flying job and very little spare time? Join LoveStruck, the dating app which is perfect for looking for love in the city.
It allows you to target potential partners according to their location – which can be as specific as a tube station – and it covers many of the world’s major cities. This is ideal if you’re working abroad for a while.
LoveStruck pride themselves on offering a dating experience which is meaningful. You can meet genuine singles who are looking to date with the intention of something serious. You can also add fun date ideas to your profile and match with people according to their date ideas, which we love. It’s time to get your thinking caps on…
If that wasn’t enough, the site hosts regular events which are a fun and relaxed way to meet others. Take that BFF who won’t stop banging on about her wedding planning, we dare you.
4. Plenty of Fish
Best For: Fussy Daters
Costs: Free with Additional Paid-For Features
Plenty of Fish has more than 150 million registered users worldwide and claims to be responsible for creating more relationships and conversations than any other free dating app.
We have to admit – it isn’t the prettiest of websites. It looks more like it’s trying to sell you some sort of computer software more than it is true love. That said, they have a pretty hefty selection of success stories which will persuade you they know exactly what they’re doing.
When you sign up, you’ll be asked to take a chemistry test which allows them to match you with personalities that lead to long lasting, stable relationships. You can even discover your relationship needs and allow the team to tell you what you need in a relationship and how to make your next relationship a success. We can hear wedding bells already.
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Best for: Nervous Newbies
Costs: £12.99 Per Month
Match is one of the most widely used dating sites in the world. It works in the traditional way: you create a profile, you check out your matches, you start chatting and you arrange a date. It’s a pretty fail-safe way of doing things, and is great for those who are newly single and wanting to put themselves back out there.
Since match.com is so well known, it attracts a wide demographic, upping your chances of finding someone you’ll click with. You can filter matches with their advanced matching feature, and even put yourself into “zen mode”. This means that you’re only contacted by those who meet your criteria.
In addition, Match put on a variety of events for single people near you, giving you that added nudge in the right direction.
It’s free to become a member of match.com, but you can only send and receive messages if you pay their £12.99 per month subscription fee. A small price to pay for finding the love of your life, right?
6. Muddy Matches
Best For: Country Bumpkins
Costs: £94 for 12 Months
See, we told you there was something for everyone. Muddy Matches is a dating website dedicated to matching lovers of the countryside – from farmers to city dwellers who have a bit of a thing for men in tweed jackets. Finding someone who shares your interests and a similar lifestyle is important for long-lasting happiness, so we’re all ears when it comes to this site.
You can check your account from any field you might be wandering at the time (there’s a fab, easy-to-use app), and you can take their quiz to find out just how “muddy” you really are (a kind of weird, albeit fun, touch).
Membership is free but you can only send messages to your potential suitors if you pay the £94 annual subscription free.
Best For: Millennials
Costs: Free with Additional Paid-For Features
Hinge is the new kid on the block when it comes to dating apps and 20-something daters are evangelical about it. The brand’s catch phrase is “Meet people who want to get off dating apps too” – a sentiment we really like.
In our opinion, it has one up on Tinder, because it allows you to put way more information about yourself in your profile. It’s also more fun, because instead of simply uploading photos and a one-line bio, you have to answer questions like “Who was your childhood crush?” Your matches can then like the answers to your questions, allowing you to spark up a conversation. You can link up your Instagram and display lots of fun facts about yourself in one smooth, scroll-able profile page. You only get to send 10 likes per day, meaning the matches created are meaningful.
Another fab feature is their “Date Ideas” page. Every month, Hinge employees go on dates, rate their experiences and share their date ideas. There’s a whole host of ideas uploaded regularly, from zoo visits to afternoons spent in cat cafes.
Hinge is free to download. This gives you unlimited access to profiles, swiping and sending messages. Result. If you want, you can upgrade your membership to a “preferred” one, which allows you to better filter results and make things more specific.
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Best For: Those with a Specific Checklist
Cost: Free with Additional Paid-For Features
When you first sign up to OkCupid, you have to choose what type of relationship you’re looking for – whether that be a hook-up, marriage, or a short-term relationship. You can also choose from 22 different genders (in 2014, the app were the first to introduce 22 genders and 13 sexual orientation options), including non-binaries and agenders. For that, we applaud them.
After this, you’re asked a series of 15 questions which cover everything from politics to religion. They’re all optional, though, and whether you give your own answers or not, you get the chance to say how your ideal partner would respond to them.
It’s all of this ground work which ensures the matches OkCupid sends to you are worthwhile. You can inject a bit of personality into your profile too, by answering questions like “do you make your bed every day?”. Instead of being spammed with messages, you can only message those with whom you have matched.
Best For: Putting Women in the Driving Seat
Bumble made itself famous by addressing the gender imbalance in dating apps. Yep, listen up ladies – this one forces you to start all the conversations you have. And time is of the essence, because you only have 24 hours to initiate a conversation before your match is gone forever. No pressure, then.
Granted, your profile won’t be as detailed as it might be on other apps, but there is a video call ability which allows you to get to know your match before you meet.
Bumble is free to use, but you can upgrade to Bumble Boost, where you can see users who have already “liked” you. This costs £11.16 per month for 6 months or £2.49 for the day.
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Best For: Queer, Bisexual & Lesbian Women
Hoorah! A dating app which is exclusively for queer, bisexual and lesbian women has finally landed on the dating scene. With four million users worldwide, HER is dead easy to use and really seems to be making waves in the world of love.
Not only are there moderators working 24/7 to ensure the platform is safe to use, but it allows you to upload four photographs and as much information about yourself as you please. You’ll be able to see when other women have liked your profile, and it tells you their sexual orientation and how far away from you they are.
In addition to their super sleek app, HER also put on events in your area so you can meet other like-minded people.
Best For: Young Professionals
Happn is the app of the moment for busy people – particularly busy people who are too awkward to start a conversation. As much as we’d like to think we’d chat away to a stranger after catching eyes on the train, we’re all probably too awkward and British to do so.
Luckily, Happn works by tracking your approximate location (not your exact one, don’t worry), and displaying users you’ve crossed paths with at the top of the page. If you like what you see, you can send a heart. If they send a heart back then you can start a conversation.
Remember that gorgeous guy you bumped into on the way out of the station this morning? He just might be at the top of your home page.
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Best For: Music Lovers
Costs: £8 Per Month
If you’re adamant that your future husband or wife has got to have the same taste in music as you, Tastebuds is the site you should head towards. Similar music taste can be a great indicator of compatibility, after all.
This fab dating website gets you to pick three artists or bands that you like and the gender you’re looking to date. That’s it. You can chat to new people who like the same music as you, find concert buddies and discover new music liked by other users based on your tastes.
One thing’s for sure, you’ll never be stuck for an icebreaker if this is the dating website you choose to use – a shared taste in music is the best conversation starter of them all!
Best for: Shy People
Costs: £13 Per Month
MySingleFriend.com is the dating website which banishes all the *cringe* around having to blow your own trumpet when you make a dating profile. It works on the premise that most people actually don’t want to do that, and the best people to big them up are their friends.
Each member on this dating website is put forward and described – or embarrassed – by a friend, and the result is a chatty and friendly space where people can talk, meet and fall in love. Here’s hoping.
Best For: Single Indians Looking for Love
Shaadi.com positions itself as the “No. 1 Indian matrimonial service in the United Kingdom” which has enabled upwards of six million people to find love on the site.
It’s exclusively for people looking for marriage – illustrated by the fact that you have to set your preference to “bride” or “groom” when you sign up.
You can filter results based on age, height, religion, mother tongue, location, marital status and whether you have children. You can even change your membership level to unlock further benefits. With a personalised membership, you’ll get a relationship advisor who sets up dates on your behalf! Things could not be easier.
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15. Christian Connection
Best For: Christians Looking for Something Long-Term
Costs: Free with Some Paid-For Features
Christian Connection is one of the best religious dating sites and apps out there. It matches (yep, you guessed it) Christians with other Christians looking for long-term love. They recognise that outside of church and work, it’s often difficult to meet single, like-minded people.
When you sign up, you’ll be asked to create a detailed profile outlining your job, political views, religious standpoints, dream holiday destinations and more. Don’t be put off by the tonne of questions – they’ll help you in the long run!
From there, things couldn’t be simpler. If you see someone you like, simply “wave” at them and get chatting. They also have loads of help and advice covering everything from dating, relationships and faith by top Christian writers on their blog, plus regular dating events and free member-run meet-ups! What a better way to meet people like you?
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Best For: Slightly Older Gay, Bi and Trans Men
Scruff was originally created exclusively for men who like men with beards, but recent years have seen their database expand to men on all ends of the facial hair spectrum.
It works a little like Tinder and has you swiping left and right on potential partners – right for those you like. You can also click the “woof” button to show someone them you find them attractive.
Scruff has an older intake than Grindr, but it’s playful, easy to use and perfect for gay, bi and trans men.
17. Elite Singles
Best For: Well-Educated Singles
Costs: Free with Paid-For Features
If you’re apprehensive about using a dating site which requires you to judge solely on appearance, you may prefer EliteSingles. It matches partners using a comprehensive personality test and only sends between three and seven matches per day – all of which are manually verified.
85% of users to the site have a degree and are between 30 and 55 years old, so this particular dating website is perfect for educated singles in their 40s. If this sounds like you – what are you waiting for?
18. Dating Direct
Best For: Bagging an Easy Date
Costs: £12.99 Per Month for a 6 Month Membership
Say hello to DatingDirect.com, the site which is perfect for beginners because it’s so easy to use. There are no frills with this one.
When you sign up, you can start looking at potential matches for free. Then, when you find someone you might be interested in, you have to pay the subscription fee to be able to strike up a conversation.
There’s an instant messaging service, and for daters who get easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of people out there (around 20 million on Dating Direct, to be exact), you’ll get a daily email with six potential matches. It saves you sifting through masses of potentials but still gives you enough variation to find a compatible date. Bingo.
Best For: Mature Dating
Costs: Free with Paid-For Features
Lumen often gets described as Tinder for the over 50s, despite an absence of the swiping feature which Tinder became famous for. It’s an app with mature dating at its heart, where you can chat to potential suitors and arrange to meet.
We love their “icebreaker” feature – this is the term they have coined for the first message you send to someone. Your “icebreaker” message has a strict requirement of at least 50 characters (nope, sadly you can’t just put ‘hi’) which is a great way to get a proper conversation going. Your messages will disappear from your inbox after 72 hours if you fail to reply, and your matches are based primarily on location.
Lumen has strict security procedures, meaning it’s a totally safe place to meet a potential partner. All profiles get checked and verified, and live accounts can be suspended for rude or inappropriate behaviour. You also can’t send a message unless you have a profile picture, which reassures your dates that you’ve been verified.
20. Telegraph Dating
Best For: Mature Daters with an Interest in Politics and Current Affairs
Costs: £12 a Month to Subscribe
If you feel like the odd one out for seeking love in later life, don’t fear. Telegraph Dating is here to help, and it’s particularly great if you’re on the hunt for a soul with similar opinions on politics and current affairs. What better place than a newspaper dating website to find the love of your life?
On Telegraph Dating, you can filter profiles by region, making it easy to find a partner who lives close to you. As you set up a free profile, you’ll be prompted to describe the type of person you’re searching for. You can then browse the site, view others’ profiles and send your ideal match a message.
This free membership allows you to read messages from your matches and reply with a one-liner. To start conversations and write personal, customised messages, you’ll need to pay £12 per month for 12 months.
21. Single With Kids
Best For: Single Parents Looking for Love
Costs: Free Sign-Up
Single With Kids is a dating website dedicated to single parents seeking love. They know that dating with children can be a total minefield. You’re likely to be short on money and you’re certain to be short on time – so how can you squeeze it all in? SWK makes things easy. Sign up for free, specify the type of person you’re looking for and filter your results by area.
If that wasn’t enough, the site gives advanced tips for dating with children, as well as writing your profile, staying safe and a single parents forum. They’ve got your back.
How to Have a Good First Date
Admittedly, most of it does just come down to whether you have that initial attraction or not, but even if they are your type on paper, nerves could get the better of you. If you’re feeling a little apprehensive about your first online date, follow these fail-safe tips for avoiding any awkward silences…
1. Stay Calm Beforehand
The best way to prepare for a first date is to stay calm beforehand. Think about questions you might ask if the conversation dries up (without sounding like you’re interviewing them), and practise positive affirmations in the mirror. Tell yourself you absolutely can do this and you’re worthy of going on a date with them.
2. Choose an Active Date Idea
If you’re feeling a little nervous, there’s nothing more daunting than the thought of sitting in front of one another bearing your souls all night.
Suggest a date idea which includes an activity, like bowling or mini-golf. It’ll give you something to chat about if the conversation dries up and will help you settle those nerves.
3. Ask Lots of Questions
Asking your date lots of questions is the best way to show you’re interested. Don’t stick to small talk and try not to ask too much about their job – think about asking about their family, their hopes and dreams and what they want out of life. This will determine whether you have the things that matter in common.
4. Use Open Body Language
The key to good communication is actually not your words – it’s your body language. No matter how many dazzling and deep-delving questions you ask, if you’ve got your arms folded and your legs crossed, you aren’t going to get very far.
Make lots of eye contact and keep your body language open. You’ll reap the benefits.
5. Be Positive
If you go into your date with a positive attitude, you’re much more likely to have a good time – and your date will, too!
Tell yourself it’s going to go well, act like it is from the beginning and smile lots. Although not too much… you don’t want to look creepy.
6. Split the Bill
Who should pay for the bill on a first date is one of the most widely debated aspects of first date etiquette. Should the person who initiated the date pick up the bill? Should you be all traditional and allow the man to pay? What if you’re on a same-sex date? Gah! So many questions.
These days, it’s most common to split the bill equally. That way, you won’t feel like you owe them a second date if you didn’t enjoy it. That said, if your date really does insist on paying, it’s much more polite to graciously accept than to argue and make things awkward.
7. Text Them Afterwards
Apparently, only 4% of people think you should purposely wait before replying to a message from a date, so if you’ve enjoyed your time then let them know. Trying to act cool by waiting three days help no-one, particularly in today’s age of instant communication.
Equally, if the date wasn’t all you’d hoped for, don’t be afraid to send them a quick message to let them know you don’t think they’re the right person for you. Be kind, but remember honesty is the best policy.
8. Be Prepared for Rejection
Sadly, it happens, and there’s no better way to soften the blow than prepare for it. If someone decides they don’t want a second or third date, try not to see it as a loss. Instead, it’s an opportunity to move on and find the person who really does want to be with you! Onwards and upwards, as they say.
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How to Stay Safe When Online Dating
Dating online can be a little daunting, and it’s important to remember that a (very) small minority of people might not be who they say they are.
With that in mind, it’s crucial that you stay safe when you head off on your first online dates. Follow our top tips to ensure you’re doing everything properly.
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1. Be Cautious
As the age-old saying goes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re feeling suspicious of someone’s profile, report it to the dating website and don’t arrange to meet them.
You should also be cautious when it comes to your personal information – be wary of anyone who asks for a lot of information early on. Don’t share your address, date of birth or financial information (that should be obvious, but just to be sure).
It might be a good idea to set up a new email address to use for online dating, and maybe even a cheap pay-as-you-go phone for making phone calls and sending texts.
2. Try Doing Some Detective Work
Don’t pretend you wouldn’t have done this anyway. Try doing your own detective work and ask your date for their full name before meeting them. That way, you can track them down on social media and check they look like they’re who they say they are.
3. Arrange to Meet in a Public Place
Never invite your date to your home or agree to visit theirs on a first date. Arrange to meet your match in a restaurant or coffee shop – somewhere that you’re going to be surrounded by lots of people.
4. Tell a Friend What Your Plans Are
If you’re heading out on a first date with someone you’ve never met before, be sure to tell a close friend or family member where you are, what time you’re meeting and who you’re meeting.
We’d always recommend sharing your location with them on WhatsApp or your iPhone – and you should be sure to check in with them at regular intervals throughout the date. Without being that person who’s glued to their phone, obvs.
5. Make Your Own Travel Arrangements
Make your own way to your date and don’t accept the offer of a lift – no matter how snazzy they say their car is.
You should also make sure you have your own route back planned. This way, you remain in control and you aren’t relying on another person if you want to leave early. This leads us onto our final point…
6. Don’t Be Scared to Leave
If you aren’t enjoying your date as much as you should be, or if you feel uncomfortable at any point, you are well within your rights to leave. This person is a stranger, and if they make you feel uneasy, you don’t owe it to them to stay.
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So there we have it, our complete guide to internet dating and the best dating sites and apps of the moment. Once you’ve got your first date out of the way, take a look at our round-up of the best unique date ideas to mix things up on numbers two and three.