Online dating used to be considered a rare and strange way to meet a partner, but that’s far from the case nowadays. Now, it’s among the most common ways to meet a romantic interest. In fact, there are now hundreds of dating apps to choose from, potentially leaving singles overwhelmed with choice.
This is an important decision though! Your choice of dating app can make or break your success in online dating. Thankfully, in the guide below, you’ll discover 6 steps to choosing the best dating app for your needs. So, let’s dive in.
1. Free or Paid?
Some dating apps are completely free to use. Others charge for features that make it easier to find your perfect match. Then, there are some that only grant access to new members after they’re set up a paid subscription.
Which of these sounds better for you?
A free dating app might sound like the obvious choice, but there are flaws that most free dating apps tend to have in common. You’re far more likely to come across people who aren’t taking online dating seriously when you’re on a free app. Ladies, this means you’re likely to receive a lot of low-effort messages from guys who just want to make fun of you or find out if you’re “DTF”.
You can expect to come across more bots and scammers on free dating websites. Also, if you’re using a free dating app that has paid upgrades, please know that the algorithm will nearly always prioritize paying users and limit the visibility of those who don’t upgrade.
A paid-only app might have fewer users overall, but you can be more sure that most people using it will be taking their pursuit of a partner more seriously. However, paid dating apps come in a huge range of prices, so it’s important to get to know each app to see if they’re worth paying for.
How can you tell if a dating app is worth your money? You’ll need to…
2. Make Use of Expert Reviews
It’s no use relying on the app’s website or its Apple Store/Google Play page as this has been designed to make the app look as enticing as possible. User reviews on Apple or Google aren’t always the most intelligent sources either. But, thankfully, there are a few websites out there dedicated to writing extensive reviews of dating apps.
You can find high-quality reviews for just about any time of dating site these days. A great example of what to look for is Beyond Ages’ rankings and review of the best cougar dating sites. This company has tried out and tested over a hundred different dating sites and apps to find out what really works.
Make sure to look for reviews from a reputable website. Ideally, the reviewer will have spent some time testing the website for themselves rather than writing a review based on hearsay or other things he’s heard about the app online.
3. Mainstream vs Niche
Mainstream dating apps are the ones you’ve probably heard of like eHarmony, Tinder, Match.com, OKCupid, Badoo or Plenty Of Fish.
These apps spend a lot of money on marketing and aim to appeal to as many people as possible. Indeed, these are among the apps that have the biggest user bases.
It’s good to choose an app with a big user base because online dating is a numbers game. The more people that see your profile, the more likely it is you’ll be exposed to your ideal partner.
But what if you’re super-picky about who this ideal partner should be? Perhaps you’d only consider dating someone who was Christian, a dog lover, or someone who was obsessed with video games.
In this case, you might be better off using a niche dating app. These are the apps that make it clear that they’re only for one type of person to find someone of that similar type. There are niche dating apps for dog lovers, gamers and people of all religions. There are hundreds more niches too.
In general, these apps will have fewer users than mainstream apps, but at least you can be sure that most of them are likely to be suitable for your tastes.
4. Matching vs. Free-For-All
There are two main structures that dating apps use to connect you with potential lovers.
There’s the ‘matching’ system where the algorithm shows you one person at a time or a few people a day and asks you to decide ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, as far as whether you’d like to message them. With this structure, you can only message the people who also register their interest in you. This is called a ‘match’.
The ‘free-for-all’ system allows you to search for your ideal partner by entering your desires into a search algorithm. Typically, you’ll be asked to select which gender, age and location you’re looking for. However, some websites will allow you to search based on someone’s lifestyle, hobbies and interests too. With the free-for-all system, you can usually send a message to anyone regardless of whether they’ve ‘matched’ with you.
Your experience will differ massively depending on what structure you’re using, so it’s worth considering which sounds more favorable when choosing the best dating app for your needs.
- The matching system requires a little more patience – and it can be frustrating when you don’t match with someone you really wanted to message.
- The free-for-all system requires some more effort on your behalf – and as a woman, it can be frustrating being overwhelmed with messages from unsuitable candidates.
5. What Are You Looking For?
Some dating apps are marketed exclusively to people looking for casual relationships. Others are designed to help you find true love. Then, there are some that don’t pick a side, where you’ll find users hunting for both of these extremes.
Anyway, it’ll be easier to find what you’re looking for, if you sign up for a website that is offering that.
If you’re not ready to deal with the worst type of male online daters, I’d highly recommend staying away from hookup apps and focusing on the ones that mention loving relationships in their marketing instead.
6. How Popular Is the App?
I’ve already touched on this, but it’s important enough to give it its own section.
The number of other people actively using a dating app will be pivotal to your success. It could be the most innovative app with the most intelligent algorithm, but if barely anyone is using it, it’s going to be tough to land a date.
So, it’s worth searching online to find out what the most popular dating apps are in your country – and to choose from those.
Once you’ve decided which app you want to try, make sure to check out our guide on making the best of your online dating experience.