As someone who was on and off dating apps for about six years, I can tell you I know the struggle of knowing the best dating apps for a relationship. I always wanted a relationship and tried many dating apps with a varied experiences. I tried the most popular apps and the ones that were obscure. Then, I spent hours swiping, I video chatted, and I took much-needed breaks.
I even signed up for some paid online dating sites because I thought that would offer me people who were more serious about settling down and finding a partner. All of those experiences clued me into what app was best for me personally and what the rest of them offered for others.
I’m not going to tell you there is one dating app that will ensure you find a relationship because that isn’t true. There also isn’t a dating app that will surely give you bad experiences. Even with all the information I can give you about dating apps and the ones I think are the best for finding a relationship, the people on the apps in your area, matter the most.
Knowing what the best dating apps for a relationship are can help guide you in the right direction and give you a better dating experience, but you need to do the work as well. Even the world’s best dating app cannot guarantee a relationship if you’re going about it in the wrong way.
[Read: The 30 best and worst words to describe yourself online]
What makes a dating app ideal for finding a relationship?
It isn’t just the apps’ interface, preferences, and options that make the difference between casually dating and finding a relationship. It’s about what those apps have to offer in your area. As you know, most dating apps are directed by your location. You can narrow that down to a few miles or much further, but your location is key.
Some apps are more popular in cities, while some thrive in the suburbs. When I was in the midst of trying dating apps, I would see amazing reviews on some but have zero luck in my area. Others would have endless options to swipe through but no one seemed to be looking for what I was.There are going to be liars, ghosters, and cheaters on every app. Whether you pick a free option or not, there is no way to avoid dealing with the negatives of dating. So, just because an app is better than another, it doesn’t mean it will only offer you amazing choices.
[Read: How to know if online dating is right for you and find your match]
Some apps offer you an option to input choices like the height or religion of your matches. Others give you pages of questions to answer so they can match you with people you’d be more compatible with. With both, I had some poor interactions.
I don’t want to scare you away from dating apps. In fact, I met my boyfriend of a year and a half on a dating app and am happier than ever. And I’m still in shock that we met online. With all the bad experiences I had for years, I did have success. So, it is a matter of patience as well as the app you choose. [Read: How NOT to date online – What every online dater MUST know]
You may think that the dating app with the most people on it in your area would be the best dating app for a relationship, but it isn’t always true.
In my experience, Bumble was the most popular dating app in my area. It had what seemed like thousands of people on it. I liked that the girl has to message first because it removed the risk of unwanted inappropriateness. But, with the benefits of the app, I found it to be wildly unsuccessful. Although I could swipe through guys’ photos and profiles for hours, I rarely made a connection. [Read: Bumble vs. Tinder: Which hot dating app best fits your love needs?]I would match someone, message them, and more often than not there would be no response or the conversation would die down. The guys I did meet from Bumble either didn’t want a relationship or wanted to jump into one without knowing each other. That isn’t to say Bumble doesn’t work. Plenty of happy couples have met through Bumble. What I believe made it unsuccessful for me was the sheer amount of people to choose from. [Read: How does Bumble work? And what you can expect from this hot dating app]
Some people get lucky, but even when I was interested in someone, I could keep swiping and keep looking. There were always more options. And for someone looking for a relationship and not to casually date, that made it difficult to focus on building a connection.
Having more options isn’t always better. This sea of potentials dates turned into a lot of brief conversations and rarely any dates. You can get a relationship through a dating app if you can’t even get to the point of meeting. For me, what made a dating app ideal for a relationship was limits. Now, that may not be true for you, but it really slowed me down. It gave me time to really talk to people and encouraged me to take my time. [Read: Casual dating vs serious dating: What’s your dating speed for now?]
Hinge is the app I met my boyfriend through. I can’t chalk it all up to the app because we did click, but the app definitely changed my outlook on dating apps in general. This app’s slogan is “designed to be deleted.” That initially made me feel intrigued. When looking for a relationship, an app that has that goal feels more authentic.
Along with that, it limited your amount of matches per day. You could only swipe through so many options in a day. It encouraged me to focus on a smaller amount of people and actually interact with them.
When you don’t have the option to mindlessly swipe left or right, you take the time to really talk to someone and see if you click. Hinge also had guided questions for your profile which offered a better chance for conversation starters.I found apps that left your profile open were often blank or very limited. Having guided questions like, “who is your weird celebrity crush?” or “what causes are you passionate about?” was a great way to break the ice.
Why does all this matter when looking for the best dating apps for a relationship? Well, I found that people willing to slow down and use an app like Hinge were more interested in making connections than swiping. It doesn’t give you the choice to talk to 20 people at a time. Instead, it sort of forces you to really connect.
Also, the guided questions show that those people are more open to sharing and really talking rather than just hooking up. You’ll notice a lot of people on apps like Tinder or Bumble that give you more free rein have very limited or even empty bios. [Read: The sordid signs you’re just a hookup and nothing more]
These are not scientific facts. They do give some foreshadowing into what you can expect from dating apps when looking for a relationship. Although some relationships do prosper from apps like Tinder and Bumble, I find that they are less likely. I also personally know a lot of people who have met people on those apps only for the relationship to be dysfunctional and heartbreaking. [Read: 15 online dating tips for women to super boost your dating profile]When people are willing to put effort into their profile, chances are, they’re going to take their interactions seriously too. Apps that require more focus and interaction between users are the best dating apps for a relationship. [Read: 15 online dating tips for men to go from overlooked to dating god]
Best dating apps for a relationship
There are a lot of dating apps out there. Some of which I’m sure you’ve heard of, others maybe not, but some are better than others if you want a relationship. I can’t promise that these dating apps will provide you your dream partner because you do need to put in your own effort and be patient. However, these apps do offer you specific benefits for those seeking a relationship.
Almost all of these dating apps, no matter how beneficial, do have their downsides as well. You just need to choose what seems best for you.
[Read: 30 tips to help you win at online dating]
#1 OkCupid. OkCupid offers both free and premium versions, both of which have a fair amount of success. This is an app that seems to cater to those who are more left-leaning politically though, so keep that in mind. This is one of the more inclusive and modern apps I’ve used. It is designed more closely to trending social media apps, has a variety of options for gender identities, sexual orientations, and gender pronouns.
This app really puts a lot of weight on important questions about beliefs, political stances, and current events. It offers an algorithm that matches you based on answers to thoughtful questions about real issues, not surface-level inquiries. It lets you avoid people you’ll certainly argue with.
With all that, it does have a much more popular user base in cities and more populated areas. If you live in a small town, this app tends to be pretty limited. I would recommend this app most for younger millennials and Gen Z. [Read: Weird dating trends millennials will have to explain to their kids]
#2 Coffee Meets Bagel. Coffee Meets Bagel is one of the lowest pressure dating apps. It keeps things calm and relaxed. It lets you input your preferences and does a lot of work for you so you don’t need to spend a ton of time on the app until you want to chat with someone.
This is a slower-moving app with a smaller pool of options so you can take your time. You don’t need 20 matches now, but a few that have a lot of potential. Along with that, this app encourages interactions. After a week, matches disappear. This doesn’t rush you like the 24-hour limit on Bumble but also pushes you out of your comfort zone in a relatively fair time limit.
If you’re someone who hates online dating, this could be the best option for you if you don’t want to waste your time swiping. Now, this app again has a smaller range, so people in more populated areas will have better luck. [Read: Should you try online dating? The guide to decide if it’s something that’ll work for you]
#3 Match. If you’re looking for the best dating apps for a relationship, you should know that this was essentially the beginning of online dating! It still seems to offer the most matches. That could be because it has the most users. It also guarantees you’ll find someone in six months or you get six months free. That is a nice cushion.
Match also works its best via their paid version over their free option. So, if you don’t want to risk your hard-earned money, Match wouldn’t be your favorite. With its paid premium options, Match does allow you to meet a large number of people in both rural and urban areas.
It also allows you to apply preferences and deal breakers like smoking or wanting kids which takes away from some of the mind-numbing scrolling some apps feed off of. [Read: How to write a dating profile that totally sets you apart]
Match has been around for well over 20 years and is trusted. Although I found Match to have a lot of very picky and judgmental people on it. I didn’t use it for more than two weeks due to the high number of notifications. It also isn’t very inclusive nor does it offer options for those who identify as non-binary. [Read: How to have an awesome first date with an online match]
#4 Hinge. I may have a soft spot for Hinge based on my experience, but it really does offer a lot of comfort and assurance to anyone looking for a relationship online. This app pulls some features from Bumble and Tinder but molds them into a more serious and mature format.
It limits your matches and scrolling so you aren’t just swiping on people all day. It also offers unique profiles that help you start conversations and is more inclusive for all pronouns and gender identities than other options.
This app seems to have an atmosphere of no pressure. It is somewhat understood by users that this is an app for more than hookups based on its tagline, “designed to be deleted.” It also doesn’t push you into a relationship. It really encourages connection and keeps up with you by asking if you’ve met and if you’re going on a second date.
Another plus is that Hinge is low cost. The free version is perfectly useful, but for some extra features, you pay less than $10 a month making it one of the most affordable dating apps.
[Read: 17 new dating app terms and their meanings for an easier online dating experience]
Now, as much as I have my preferences, you have yours. When looking for the best dating apps for a relationship, take your time, be patient, and keep an open mind.
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