Yes, there’s a free version of Match, but you can’t message or reply to anyone except Premium subscribers, so it’s probably only worth it if you pay. The idea that paying members are more serious about dating isn’t necessarily true anymore, given all the great free dating apps out there these days. As Dineen says, “You might be paying just to hook up with someone.” Still, the service has more than 25 years in the online dating game, so success stories abound (including a wedding in which this writer was a bridesmaid, for what it’s worth).
Best for: Music fans who want a partner to go to shows with
If you’re a person who swoons over a neatly curated playlist, this might be one of the best dating apps for you. With music lovers in mind, Tastebuds lets you meet people based on their musical interests and swap songs with them. Bonding around your mutual love of K-pop or metal gigs just might be the spark that ignites a lifelong connection.
Best for: People who dream of DM with Charlie Puth
Known as “Tinder for famous people”, Raya is a members-only app with a pretty intense waitlist and application process. The app has no free features. if you are accepted, it costs about $20 per month. No one knows whether or not you’ll find love, but there’s a chance you’ll spot someone semi-famous if you swipe long enough.
Best for: Those looking for a compatible taste in everything
A mainstay of online dating since 2003 (!), OkCupid has evolved quite a bit since its acquisition by Match Group. There’s now a swipeable app, and users can only see messages sent by people they’ve actually corresponded with. OkCupid has established itself on its data-driven matching formula, which means you can answer many granular questions about your interests, beliefs, and life goals, all on the free version. The company also shares fascinating insights into human nature from the questionnaire data on its blog.
Best for: Those looking for in-depth dating profiles
This application is designed to create “meaningful connections” between users. So instead of unlimited swiping, the app releases a batch of “fresh bagels” every day at noon. In theory, the limited number of options encourages more discernment than a traditional app, and user-created ice-breaking conversation prompts: “If you could get one hour of your life back, which one would you choose?” or “Describe your personality in three emojis” – are meant to push you beyond “Hey, how are you?”
Best for: LGBTQ singles looking for a Grindr alternative
Hornet is an app that focuses on queer people looking to date other queer people. The interface is pretty intuitive, letting you navigate and match easily, and, as a bonus, you can send profiles to friends (whether they’re on the app or not), allowing you to play matchmaker and discuss profiles with your group chat before you match.
Best for: People who want their friends to play matchmaker