New Year, New Boo? 16 Best Dating Apps for Finding Love

Plus, tips on forging real connections with strangers.

It may seem like the days of couples meeting by picking up the same grapefruit at the supermarket or by striking up a conversation at the library are long gone, but (though rare) it happens and those love stories still exist. Of course, if you're actively trying to date, fall in love, and/or get hitched, those meet-cutes may feel a little bit harder to come by.

After all, nowadays, the dating world has shifted almost entirely online thanks to dating apps and websites.

"Virtual dating will add another normalized option of finding a partner. A lot of time, people are limited to who they meet because of where they live," explains Maria Sullivan, Dating Expert & VP of "With virtual dating, you can connect with people all over the country and really see who is out there, making finding your other half a little easier."

Dating apps and dating sites are the new norm, with 48 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds, 38 percent of 30 to 49-year-olds, and 16 percent of people 50 and older using a dating site or app, according to Pew ResearchNumbers amongst the LGBTQ+ community are even higher, with 55 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual adults using apps. LGBTQ couples also report higher percentages of committed relationships or marriages found through online dating apps and sites.

"I love dating apps! (said no one ever). They are the future and it makes it so much easier for people to connect where they might not have easily crossed paths," says lifestyle blogger Andrea Loredo Bachalis. "Or even if they did and somehow didn't notice each other. Peter and I noticed that we worked right near each other, also I went to school near where he lived, all around the same time and we never crossed paths!"

So, if you're not sure where to start, maybe try diving into the dating app and dating site world before auditioning for a reality TV series. You with us? Great! Keep reading for the 16 best dating apps for all ages, experiences, races, sexual orientations and more, plus success stories straight from the online couples themselves!

16 Best Online Dating Apps and Sites

Love shouldn't cost a thing, right? If you're new to online dating, make sure to try out free dating sites and free dating apps first before committing to a paid membership. Free dating sites are the best way to get your toes in the water without your new dating habits affecting your bank account!

1. Tinder

Tinder was one of the first location-based apps to popularize the swipe right or swipe left mechanism in online dating. Essentially, you swipe right if you like the person's pictures and profile or swipe left if you're not interested. If you both swipe right on each other, you're matched! (And don't worry—the other person only knows how you swiped if you both swipe right and match.)

If you match, Tinder enables you to in-app message each other. The app is totally free, but it also offers premium memberships. Nowadays, Tinder has garnered a bit of a reputation for being solely a hookup app, but it certainly didn't start that way. In fact, when Andrea Loredo Bachalis, 30, and Peter Bachalis, 34, matched on Tinder in 2017, they knew their connection was something special. Now, they're married!

"I knew something was special on the day of our first date," Andrea tells Parade. "I've been on my fair share of dates, so I started to have little cues to look for and he was passing all my secret tests. Additionally, I could tell how genuine and sweet of a soul Peter had. I could tell from his Big Brothers, Big Sisters volunteering, his musical family, and how he spoke about people close to him. Our initial date lasted for hours and we basically had three dates in one night, so we could tell that we were extremely comfortable with one another from the onset."

Related: 250 Deep Questions to Ask Someone You Want to Get to Know Better

While the rep Tinder has is certainly one of its cons, Andrea believes its easy structure to be one of its pros.

"I actually did not love Tinder, but it was easy to join and easy to use," she explains. "No long questionnaires to fill out... Maybe I'm a bit lazy! I was on Tinder and Bumble at the same time and had a specific strategy for each app. That's a different story for another time!"

After sustaining an injury and becoming someone who uses a wheelchair, Alivia Breann, 28, initially felt intimidated by dating apps, but with the encouragement of her friends, has now used Tinder, Bumble and Hinge—three of the most popular dating apps amongst the millennial generation.

"Entering the dating world was super intimidating for me. I had no experience with dating apps and had no idea how to navigate conversations about my injury/chair with strangers that I would potentially be dating," Alivia tells Parade. "After years of my friends trying to convince me to try them out, I finally did, and my experiences with them have been way better than I expected."

Weighing both the pros and cons of Tinder, Alivia says she likes that Tinder allows more pictures than others.

"You can have up to nine photos—the other Bumble and Hinge are up to six photos—and it has the most people on it," Alivia tells Parade. "But it sort of has a reputation of being the app you go on to find something physical more than a relationship."

Price: It's free, but Tinder also offers premium memberships starting at $9.99/mo.

2. Bumble

The location-based Bumble app follows a similar swiping format as Tinder, only once potential couples are matched, the power to reach out via message is solely in the woman's hands. (Of course, only if the settings are on for heterosexual matches; for same-sex matches, either user can send a message once matched.)

Parade spoke with Priti Joshi, Vice President of Strategy at Bumble about the initial goal of Bumble and how it has evolved.

"When Whitney Wolfe Herd founded Bumble in 2014, it was with equality in mind," Priti tells Parade. "Her aim was to flip the outdated gender dynamics of dating by giving women the power to make the first move. As Bumble has grown, so has its mission: to help people of all genders and orientations make empowered connections in all areas of their lives, whether that means seeking romantic relationships through Bumble Date, making new friends through Bumble BFF, or building a professional network through Bumble Bizz. We are the first app of our kind to bring professional networking, friend-finding, and dating to one platform."

The swiping app popular with millennials has come a long way, as it now features the option to video call within the app, verify identities by photo (to reduce and discourage catfishing) and allows voice call in the app as well. Oh, and if you're worried about foul play on the app, Bumble is working every day to improve safety for its users.

"We launched our 'Private Detector' feature, which automatically detects and blurs inappropriate images on the app," Priti explains. "In 2019, the state of Texas—and our home state—took it one step further and officially made it a crime to send an unwanted lewd photo with HB 2789, making it a Class C misdemeanor. We want to encourage the millions of people on our app to make meaningful connections in love, life and work through promoting kindness, respect, and empowerment."

Bumble also has a few unique features to help you get started. According to Priti, Bumble's 'Conversation Starters,' are, "pre-written first moves that our team curated to jumpstart a conversation if you're at a roadblock."

"One of my favorite lines is 'Hey! What’s your favorite thing to do after work?'" Priti says. "The other person’s answer will most likely give you great insight into their personality and what’s important to them.

Now for a real-life Bumble success story, Dee Hall and Dr. Matthew Hall. Even before Dee, 41, met her husband Matthew, 56, on Bumble, she knew she preferred the app to others.

"I liked that the men on Bumble seemed more serious and not just like they were looking for a hookup," Dee tells Parade. "In my experience, the men on Bumble tended to be older, working professionals, which was a better fit for what I was looking for."

Dee adds, "I don't think I ever actually went on a single date with a dude from Tinder."

But what she loves most about Bumble, of course, is that's how she met her partner.

"I think we both had profiles that really allowed our quirky natures to shine through," Dee says. "It was important to me that I found a partner who could read between the lines of my profile about my ideological views and Matt did a great job of that... Not long after our first date, Matt asked me to accompany him on a trip. We traveled well together and since it's something we both love, that would prove to be very important. A couple of years later, we bought a house in Costa Rica together."

Alivia's pro for Bumble is the setting for heterosexual couples that made Bumble popular amongst so many women. "Once you match with someone, the woman has to message first and you only have 24 hours before the messaging capability disappears, which gives you an incentive to actually do it."

But with Bumble, its pros might also be its cons for some. "If you are busy and forget to message someone you matched with, they're gone forever after the 24 hours."

Priti adds that, to date, Bumble has facilitated over a billion first moves. With more than 100 million users in 150+ countries, Bumble helps make 25 million matches per week. You can read more about Bumble's matches on The Buzz.

Price: Free!

Related: 250 Conversation Starters for Any Social SituationEven a First Date

3. Hinge

View the original article to see embedded media.

Hinge's tagline is "designed to be deleted," meaning that the app feels its job is to create such strong connections between couples that they won't need the app anymore. That's pretty promising, isn't it?! Hinge has been around since 2012 and unlike other free dating apps popular amongst millennials, Hinge does not use a "swipe" strategy.

Rhett Terrell, 30, and Hannah Gross, 28, met on Hinge in 2018 and because of the app's unique structure, immediately connected over a common interest in sports and food.

"My profile said something like, 'Waffles over pancakes, Lakers/Dodgers for life,' so Rhett's first message was pretty funny. I thought we both bounced off each other pretty well and he could keep up with the wit," Hannah says. "It was fun chatting with him."

After a few weeks of chatting, Rhett and Hannah quickly realized they had a strong connection.

"I always found that if someone would text you for a significant period of time, they were there to actually connect and not just hook up once, which also is fine but wasn’t what I was looking for at the time," Hannah tells Parade. "I got a job offer moving me [from New York] to Los Angeles around our third date, but chickened out on telling him until our fourth date."

Hannah adds, "The fact that we both still wanted to see each other knowing I would be leaving a couple months later was a pretty big step I think, since we could have just cut our losses right then. We did long-distance for a year and a half, and then Rhett moved. I think we both knew pretty early on that it was special and really easy to be with each other, so we just kept making choices to figure out how to be with each other the most we could."

Alivia notes the pro of Hinge is the more in-depth profiles. "They have a lot of prompts for your profile to answer, which makes it easier to start a conversation with someone."

But the cons? "It feels like there is the least amount of people on Hinge, compared to Tinder and Bumble."

Price: Free!

4. Plenty of Fish

If subscribing and paying for a list of singles is not your MO, but you still are serious about meeting new people and testing out the waters (pun intended!), Plenty of Fish is an often underrated option. To start off, each user takes a POF Relationship Chemistry Predictor test. With questions that measure interests, important values, and personality traits, POF uses the Chemistry Predictor Test to suss out compatibility.

If you're new to online/app dating, POF might be a good starting point, especially because there is no swiping involved. We're not taking a dig at swiping; it's just that everyone is different and if you're new to the game, swiping can get exhausting and intimidating quickly.

Price: Free!

5. Coffee Meets Bagel

Need a little more structure? Swiping into the wee hours of the AM can feel exhausting. It can also make you feel overwhelmed with options. Coffee Meets Bagel curates potential dates for you. Every day at noon, your free Coffee Meets Bagel app will send you potential matches thanks to its algorithm. While messaging in the app, Coffee Meets Bagel also provides prompts based on each other's profiles. These personalized icebreakers are designed to spark deeper, more meaningful conversations than the questions a user might come up with on their own. A great choice for people who maybe need help carrying a conversation or knowing what to say, Coffee Meets Bagel is perhaps one of the more hands-off dating apps. After all, it does most of the work for you.

Katie Sperling, 30, and her husband Lee Steele, 31, met on Coffee Meets Bagel a few years ago.

"I didn't like the design; it just didn't look as nice as Bumble does, for example, except I liked that it seemed that people were more serious about finding a relationship compared to Tinder or Bumble," Katie tells Parade. "Lee asked me for my number and we immediately took [the] conversation off the app, which was nice."

Katie makes a good point—that taking messages off the app can do wonders for setting you apart from the rest. "It [can be] overwhelming being a good-looking woman on a dating app," she explains. "You get lots of messages and it becomes exhausting trying to find someone you connect with."

After a few months of conversation via text, they met in person. Now, they have kids together!

Price: It's free!

Related: 300 Words to Describe Yourself

Best Dating Sites for Seniors

6. is an online dating service that has been around since 1995, basically the start of the Internet! Since it's one of the longest-running dating websites, there really aren't any gimmicks here. Users simply create a profile, then connect with matches. You can send messages to other users, arrange to meet up in person, and even attend events specifically designed for singles. In recent years, has specifically appealed to a more mature demographic, making it the perfect dating site for people ages 40+.

The website also has a few subcategories for a more specific dating experience: match for gay and lesbians, Asians, Christians and more.

Price: It's $17.99 for the standard, six-month plan.

7. eHarmony

While not specifically toted as a dating site for seniors, eHarmony tends to appeal to a more mature crowd, ages 40+. Perhaps because eHarmony has a history of matching life-long couples, it tends to appeal to people who are looking for a long-term partner.

When signing onto eHarmony, users fill out a Relationship Questionnaire. Behind the scenes, eHarmony then matches users based on the compatibility of their questionnaires and really focuses on quality matches rather than a litany of options. For those looking for something more serious, a handful of more serious suitors can really come in handy.

For some people, the in-depth Relationship Questionnaire leads to building more compatible matches. For others though, such an in-depth profile can maybe take the fun out of meeting someone new.

"I was on everything!" Katie Sperling says. "e-Harmony's profiles are so elaborate, which I'm sure helps people find good matches, but it was almost taking the mystery of a new person away."

Price: A 1-month membership costs $59.97; a 3-month membership costs $29.95 a month.

Best Dating Sites for Special Interests

8. Christian Mingle

Christian Mingle is a dating site for Christian singles who desire a relationship centered on a mutual love for God. The app is free and allows users to find Christian singles near them who have similar interests as well as similar beliefs. If you see someone on the app that catches your eye, simply send them a "smile." "Smiles" open up the floodgates to messaging and are the easiest way to find out if the other person feels the same spark.

Price: It's free to use but Christian Mingle also offers a premium membership that starts at $49.99.

9. Filipino Cupid

Filipino Cupid is a special interest dating site with the goal of connecting people from the Philippines and other Western backgrounds with their perfect, romantic match. Unlike many other popular dating apps or websites, Filipino Cupid does not use location as its main basis for connecting potential matches. Instead, users on Filipino Cupid understand that their soul mate may not exactly live around the block; in fact, they might live on the other side of the world!

Price: It's free to peruse Filipino Cupid but to message back and forth, you have to subscribe to a membership. Memberships start at $25/mo for one month.

10. Jdate

Jdate is an online dating service for Jewish singles looking to connect with one another. The special-interest dating site has been around since 1997 and has been connecting Jewish singles for years. In fact, the app—which allows users to specify their Jewish affiliation on their profile, from Conservadox, Conservative, Hasidic, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and Reform to "culturally Jewish"—has had some pretty famous Jewish users: American politicians Steve Rothman and Brad Sherman and singer Jesse McCartney.

The app also allows users to select "Willing to convert," as their Jewish affiliation; though most popular in the U.S. and Israel, Jdate translates to English, German, Spanish, French and Hebrew.

Jdate users can also specify their sexuality on the app as well—marking either men seeking men or women seeking women for same-sex couple options.

Price: Memberships start at $36/mo.

11. DesiKiss

For the past 15 years, DesiKiss has been connecting Indian singles. The site allows you to either search Indian singles near you or to expand your search to World+™, which provides unique access to members of all the World Singles websites. When logging onto DesiKiss, the site asks a variety of personal questions during the creation of your profile. From your favorite movies or media to asking if you smoke, these questions are designed to suss out compatibility so that the most successful matches are made.

Price: DesiKiss is free to join, but their additional membership plans start at $19.99 for one month.

12. Black People Meet

According to Black People Meet, it is the largest dating site for Black singles in the U.S. and it's been around, connecting Black singles since 2002. At Black People Meet, users can look for love, find friendships and set up dates.

On the location-based app, you can send and receive messages and "flirts," view other users' profiles and photos, as well as see who has been checking your profile.

Price: It's free, but to enable certain features, you would have to upgrade to a membership, which starts at $16.75 for one month.

13. The Lox Club

The Lox Club is a private, membership-based dating app for Jews with "ridiculously high standards," as app creator Austin Kevitch self-proclaims. A direct result of the coronavirus, The Lox Club was founded in late 2020 and gives users the chance to speak with real-life matchmakers at any point in their app experience. With a strong emphasis on storytelling and mystery, The Lox Club offers a "secret speakeasy" vibe and hosts both virtual and in-person events like Happy Hours. With a strong emphasis on storytelling and mystery, The Lox Club offers a "secret speakeasy" vibe and takes applications from people who are Jewish and those who aren't as well.

Price: Starts at $36

Best Dating Apps for LGBTQ+

14. Scruff

In case you couldn't guess, Scruff is a GBTQ+ dating app for men who either have scruff or like scruff on their guy. It's also the first queer app to offer an option for the transgender community, making it an inclusive dating app option for all kinds of sexual orientations, preferences and gender identities. The free version of the app is great for connecting with someone, but if you're looking for more in-depth access, $15 a month will buy you advanced service, user videos, and messaging history.

Price: Scruff is free but for $15/mo, you can access premium features like user videos, message histories, and more.

15. Grindr

As its site boasts, it's the "world's largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people." Their mission is to "connect queer people with one another and the world."

Price: The app is free, but you can upgrade to Grindr Unlimited for premium features.

16. Hornet

Hornet is one of the world's largest dating apps for gay and bisexual men. With 25 million registered users, Hornet sees 4 million daily active users using its news feed and groups features. Designed to be both a dating app and social networking platform, to be on Hornet is to engage in an online gay community. The opportunity to find love (or a relationship or a hook-up) is there on Hornet, but you can also find platonic relationships, connections, and friends on Hornet as well thanks to its news feed structure and ability to join groups.

Price: It's free, but Hornet also offers VIP service (without ads) that ranges from $4.97 to $10/mo depending on length of subscription.

How To Forge Successful Dating App Connections

Are you nervous about using a dating app or dating site? Check out some advice from real people who have been in your shoes.

"I would just try not to take it too seriously and have fun with it. The more pressure you put on yourself to find a spouse or something like that, the weirder and more intense you’ll come off to someone else," Hannah tells Parade. "I would also say, you CANNOT avoid bad app dates, you’re going to at least have a couple so try to see the humor in it. Be kind if they’re awkward, and if they’re rude or terrible you can always text someone to call with you an 'emergency.'"

Knowing what you want is also a meaningful starting point, Andrea says.

"As far as 'success,' I think that depends on how you define success. Whether you want to find a quick hook-up, a long-lasting relationship, or maybe just meet a new friend, I think you need to be clear on what your goal is and come with some sort of game plan," Andrea explains. "If you don't, then you will be taken along someone else's journey and their goals."

But beyond that, Andrea believes you should also just go for it!

"Do it!!!!!! Definitely don't overthink," Andrea says. "Start with one [app or site] not to overwhelm yourself and again, don't overthink which one you join. You can always join another one later! Know what your goal is going in, have some sort of a plan, know very clearly what your must-haves and must-not-haves are, and just have fun!"

Authenticity is perhaps one of the most crucial tips for forging meaningful connections online and in person.

"I think for most people in my situation, the concern is that the chair will make people shy away," Alivia says. "I made sure to upload photos where my chair is clearly visible so that I didn't blindside anybody. I immediately started matching with people and having great conversations. I've yet to have a bad date with anyone I've met from any app and I got a relationship out of it."

Alivia continues, "Most people tend to ask questions about my injury pretty early on, before even meeting, which I prefer. And so far, to my knowledge, it hasn't hindered dating for me... I wasn't sure if I was going to get anything out of these apps, but I'm so happy my friends convinced me to go for it."

According to Priti of Bumble, the topics you choose to discuss do hold weight.

"I also suggest that you never talk about what you don’t want, talk about what you’re looking for," Priti says. "On Bumble, we have filters and badges so that you can be intentional about the type of relationship you’d like to be in—whether that’s something serious or a bit more casual. Whether you’re looking for a new job in media, a new mom friend, or a date with a Sagittarius who loves live music, filters enable you to tailor your experience in a way that ultimately gives you more control of the kinds of relationships you’re looking to build. Assigning badges in your profile increases your chance of matching by 55 percent!"

It's also important to photo-verify your profile, Priti says. On Bumble, photo verification is an extra step that shows your potential matches that you are who you say you are.

"You want your potential match to feel confident that you are who you say you are. If you see the blue check mark on someone’s profile you know they’ve gone through Bumble’s photo verification process," Priti explains. "In an effort to continuously keep fake accounts at bay, we also launched a feature that allows you to request that your match photo verify their profile, too."

And if you're looking for some real, professional advice on how to find the one, Maria Sullivan has a few actionable tips for connecting with someone.

"Keep an open mind," Maria recommends. "People tend to stick to their specific 'type' of preferred looks or style when it comes to dating. By opening up your mind and grabbing dinner or engaging in a conversation with someone who you might not often gravitate to, there is a chance that you find you connect with that person or are attracted to what their personality has to offer."

Looking forward to the future, rather than thinking about your past partners, is also key.

"Don't dwell on the past," Maria says. "It is hard to put yourself out there and open up to finding a new partner when you have been hurt in the past, but there are so many new opportunities and connections waiting for you in the future that you have to look forward to."

Lastly? Sullivan's best piece of advice is to show who you really are.

"Be yourself. I know this is a common saying, but it is so important," Maria explains. "Don't try to hide who you are or be embarrassed about the things you like. Showing who you really are to potential partners will give you a better idea on if a relationship can grow."

Even if a connection from a dating app or website doesn't grow into something romantic, sometimes you end up with something even better.

"Some of my absolute favorite members that I'll cherish forever are with people that I wouldn't have met otherwise if it weren't for these apps," Alivia adds. "I'd say it's been pretty successful so far."

Now that you've scored a match, need some inspiration for that first date? Check out this list of questions to ask a guy.