Top dating sites are actually good for finding serious relationships

 Most seasoned singles know that dating culture can be broken up into hookup culture and actually-looking-to-date-long-term relationship culture. Most online dating sites are a mix of both, and after living with online dating as an increasingly ubiquitous option for the past 20 years, the general public (mostly) sees dating sites as a super normal means to find casual dates or a hookup.  But what if you're looking for a serious relationship that lasts? What if you just don't want to be alone on Valentine's Day ever again? What if you're over casual dating and just want someone consistent to come home to? What if you have no idea where to start? Big names like match and eharmony likely come to mind, but they're not interchangeable — nor are they your only options. Can you really fall in love with someone online? The long-term potential of online dating is still met with a cloud of doubt. However, new evidence is proving that relationships that started online might have a stronger foundation than those that started offline.  Hotloves is another new destination for love chats and dating site. 


A 2017 study cited in the MIT Technology Review found that people who meet online are more likely to be compatible and have a higher chance of a healthy marriage if they decide to get hitched. If marriage is your goal, you'll be glad to know that another recent study found that heterosexual couples who met online were quicker to tie the knot than couples who met offline. Either way, online dating seems to be a good recipe for a satisfying, long-term relationship whether it involves marriage or not. No one is saying that online dating is the variable that changes everything, but the research does point to the fact that people who sign up for dating sites that require thoughtful responses are more ready to settle down.  Enter: The pandemic that made inviting strangers over to bang and leave a no-no. 2020's uptick in dating app sign-ups — due to sheer boredom or the forced realization that it'd actually be pretty nice to spoon on a nightly basis — mathematically upped your chances of meeting someone special. As the light at the end of the nose swab tunnel nears, nature is healing: First dates are returning to their natural habitats (a dimly-lit bar with shitty beer) instead of the emergency video date features instated by multiple apps during quarantine. People are replenishing their non-sweatpants wardrobes. Singles have begun planting the seeds for summer romance. 

But Covid changed dating forever, and for reasons past "I'm fully vaccinated" becoming a turn-on. Communication skills were forced to evolve in the year that most human connection was facilitated through a screen. People learned to voice their boundaries and have serious talks (like about social distancing) early on. Coronavirus anxiety became a natural conversation starter and universal way to bond. More single people may now be more comfortable with delving into deeper subjects with someone they met online — a great thing for serious relationship hunters, if true. Tinder thinks the honesty will carry over when things are back to normal, and hopefully the aggressively horny people will continue to weed themselves out. At the very least, isolation may have simply forced more people to realize that they do, in fact, crave more company than a booty call. Tinder says that more daters are open to "seeing where things go" than they were before the pandemic. That means that you could have more luck finding something serious on a dating app that has historically had a reputation for casual relationships and hookups. 

SEE ALSO: FODA (Fear of Dating Again) is a thing now  We should also remember what we learned while dating in the era of social distancing: You're never required to meet up with a match in person immediately. Someone's willingness to date you via texting or FaceTime is a pretty clear sign that they're genuinely interested in learning more about you. Even if and when social distancing isn't as believable of an excuse as it was in 2020, someone who pressures you to hang out before you're ready probably isn't long-term material. Divorcees and single parents have particularly high untapped potential on online dating sites, too. True, being in the over-60 group may mean that more people your age are already off the market — but online dating can prove that the mature dating pool isn't as bleak as you think, even if your local one is. People over 50 actually have an advantage over the younger crowd: Many people in their 20s and 30s just aren't ready to settle down. Developing a crush on someone is more likely to end with an awkward "situation-ship" rather than something serious. Most older folks have been figuring this whole "love" thing out for longer than millennials have been alive. With life experience and possible previous marriages under your belt, you know the red flags and you know what you want. Like one person in the Reddit thread from r/datingoverfifty suggests, if you want commitment, a dating site with a high barrier to entry — like eharmony, match, or Elite Singles — could help to weed out people who aren't about to pay a high monthly price just to mess around.  What makes a dating site better for relationships than others? Do we even need to get into why Tinder is a long shot? Is being introduced to nearly every person in a 10-mile radius worth the clich√© bios quoting The Office or how they're "not looking for commitment?" Sure, Tinder has its fair share of those lucky success stories, but it's also the dating app where ghosting, breadcrumbing, and every other disheartening dating trend flourish. Singles looking for something serious ASAP might get frustrated with sites that only give a limited number of matches per day. But choosing sites that force you to be selective really heightens the focus on what you're truly looking for in a perfect match — and gets you closer to cuffing status. For online daters who want the power to peruse the dating pool, you need to seek out detailed, high-energy profiles that give a well-rounded idea of who you're messaging. Swiping is guided by the compatibility ranking that most sites offer, which predicts how well you'll get along with other daters based on how you both answered questions. Plus, you can tell how much other daters care about the process by how much effort they put into their profile. If a single sentence about being drama free is the extent of someone's bio, you can assume that 1. they're not taking this seriously and 2. they create drama. 

OkCupid has a particularly strong red flag game: The site has found that personal politics are a major deciding factor for young people choosing a partner, and profile building revolves around make-or-break stances on things like women's issues or whether they bother to vote. Aside from a compatibility percentage, OkCupid shows what issues the person gives a shit about (or not) so you don't get stuck on a first date with someone who's on the opposite end of the spectrum. Potential matches will analyze your dating profile, so make sure it does you justice On its face, it makes sense to question the legitimacy of a connection with someone who is only showcasing their best self. But how much more information are you really getting from the tipsy person hitting on you at the bar aside from what they look like IRL? The dating sites that let users express themselves with prompts — from favorite movies to where you want to retire — are setting you up for success by avoiding an unnecessary argument six months in. SEE ALSO: 6 ways to make your dating app profile stand out from the crowd  The best way to attract genuine people? Be authentic yourself. That's easier said than done when your biggest worry is that a truthful answer — like the fact that you might not be as good of a communicator as you would like — will deter "the one" from swiping right. But deep down, you know that lying on a compatibility questionnaire probably won't lead to a healthy relationship. It's crucial to remind yourself that people who get freaked out by your honesty aren't ideal potential partners, anyway. We've left out the dating sites that get torn apart in reviews for being ravaged by scammers and fake profiles, but asking to video chat before meeting up IRL is a smart way to confirm that the photos match the person behind them. Until a smarter AI can read minds and simply ban hookup seekers from serious sites, these are the best datings sites for serious relationships: match Your Best Option match Credit: Match Specs Free version: Yes Three months of Premium: $26.99/month Six months of Premium: $23.99/month One year of Premium: $20.99/month Buying Options See Details Long-term relationships are the name of the game at match (no "dot com"). It's OK to admit it: It's kind of comforting that you've been seeing TV commercials about the success of match for the past 20-some years. Launched in 1995, its decades in the business help match bring a comforting level of experience to the table for singles wary about online dating. The OG dating site is so confident in the blueprint it's been perfecting over the years that it guarantees that you'll find someone in six months. If you don't, you get six months for free. match continuously solidifies its spot as a well-rounded choice for all ages because it refuses to get lost in the antiquated, corny trope. Its questionnaire evolves with what modern singles care about — for instance, match prefers to narrow down matches based on shared interests (like volunteering or clubbing), pet preferences, whether you want (or have) kids, and dealbreakers like smoking or drinking. Most of us would like to believe that anyone paying $20 per month is serious, but match has had its fair share of extreme catfishing. But they're working to make this better: match is set to follow Tinder as the second Match Group app to utilize location-based emergency services via Noonlight, as well as photo verification to authenticate faces with real humans. Want to know how match stacks up against eharmony? 

We got you. eharmony Best For Those Dating To Marry eharmony Credit: Eharmony Specs Free version: Yes Six months of Premium: $40 to $60/month One year of Premium: $30 to $40/month Two years of Premium: $20 to $30/month Buying Options See Details Ever see a commercial for eharmony and wonder if a dating site that corny actually works? Weirdly enough, it does. A spokesperson for the site says it's been used by 54 million people, and is apparently responsible for 4 percent of U.S. marriages. That doesn't mean you're going to walk down the aisle within the first year, but it at least narrows your options to singles who are open to being exclusive, meeting the family, or moving in together. What was once a doozy of a sign-up process is now short, sweet, and free of the corny, religious questions that held it back from being a top choice for the younger crowd. The comprehensive questionnaire now covers 32 dimensions (up from 29) of what makes a happy relationship. Instead of blatantly asking if you get mad easily or if you're emotionally stable, eharmony may ask how you handle apologizing after a fight or if a certain action would piss you off. These hypotheticals draw more natural responses, and a few other fun ones are thrown in to cover surface-level basics like hobbies, too. It should be noted that eharmony hasn't always been a welcoming place to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Following a 2010 lawsuit, their gay and lesbian spin-off site Compatibility Partners has been folded into eharmony's overall site, but users on Reddit as recently as 2019 say that it still seems geared more toward straight people.  OkCupid Best For Liberals And Leftists OkCupid Credit: Okcupid Specs Free version: Yes One month of OkCupid Basic: $44.99 Three months of OkCupid Basic: $29.99/month Six months of OkCupid Basic: $22.49/month One month of OkCupid Premium: $54.99 Three months of OkCupid Premium: $36.66/month Six months of OkCupid Premium: $27.49/month Buying Options See Details For young, progressive singles, politics aren't just a "well if we agree, it's great" thing when looking for a partner — it's the make or break for a solid romantic foundation. OkCupid's 2017 redesign is more than just millennial aesthetics: It's geared toward ensuring that you don't end up on a date with someone who doesn't pay attention. Twelve gender identities, 20 sexual orientations, and the option to choose your pronouns make it an ideal space for non-binary and queer individuals to find love while using the pronouns they love. Users can weed out people they'd fight with on Facebook by answering inquiries like "Would you date someone who keeps a gun in the house?" or "Should the government require children be vaccinated for preventable diseases?" 

In June 2020, the site introduced a Black Lives Matter badge for your profile. You'll even get to see the percentage of how much you have in common with other daters based on the questions you both answer.  AdultFriendFinder Best For Getting Serious About Getting Down AdultFriendFinder Credit: Adultfriendfinder Buying Options See Details Read our full review of AdultFriendFinder. Pros: You can definitely find a way to get off, even if you don't meet up with someone IRL LBGTQ and poly friendly Cons: Super outdated site that looks like a giant porn ad Don't be surprised if you interact with scam profiles AdultFriendFinder is like a Pornhub that you can interact with. It takes someone in a very specific mood with a very specific type of connection in mind — but if the potential hookups you're finding on Tinder aren't as mature (or kinky) as you'd prefer, AFF will be satisfying. Is it the best for finding a serious relationship? No. But hear us out. For anyone who's been out of the dating game for a while, doing some sexy flirting in an environment where you aren't looking for something serious can definitely take the pressure off and help you get comfortable again. Just use good judgment and be careful when interacting with people on AFF. Regardless of whether you're looking for an in-person hookup or to blow off some steam over the screen, AFF has everything that your dirty mind can whip up. With 20-something million monthly users as well as live video options, chat rooms, groups for ultra-specific kinks, and more, you can assume how wild things can get. Another bonus is that AdultFriendFinder is like the dating site version of New York City — it never sleeps. You'll find people who work the regular 9 to 5, people who work the night shift, and people in other time zones, so it's nearly impossible to log on and not have people to talk to.  Privacy policy: AFF discloses your personal information to services providers like credit card processing companies, but it does not sell your data to third parties for marketing purposes without your permission. In 2016, AdultFriendFinder had a huge data breach with more than 412 million accounts affected. Read the full privacy policy here. Hinge Best Serious App For Millennials Hinge Credit: Hinge Specs Free version: Yes One month of Hinge Preferred: $29.99 Three months of Hinge Preferred: $19.99/month Six months of Hinge Preferred: $14.99/month Buying Options See Details Young people looking to at least go on a few dates with the same person before staying the night was a major blind spot for dating sites — until Hinge blew up. The general appeal might be in the same realm as Tinder and Bumble, but Hinge's unique profile criteria and algorithms based on that criteria set the scene for long-term potential. By covering so many bases before the first message, Hinge lowers the chance of meeting someone you'd hate. Despite the fact that we're actively seeking out new dating apps and feel a rush every time a cute contender swipes right back, no one wants to be on these — because deleting such apps probably means you've found someone. That's Hinge's whole thing. Hinge's real-world statistics speak for themselves: The "We met" feature asks users how the first date went. Some 90 percent said the first date was great and 72 percent said they'd be down for a second date. Instead of droning questionnaires and emails about the 50 winks you were sent, Hinge uses witty personal prompts and lets you send up to 10 likes per day. EliteSingles Best For Career-oriented People EliteSingles Credit: Elite Singles Specs Free version: Yes Three months of Premium: $57.95/month Six months of Premium: $44.95/month One year of Premium: $31.95/month Buying Options See Details It only takes dating one person with completely different professional goals to make you realize that a relationship can't stay afloat on romance alone. For those unwilling to budge when it comes to their partner's educational values and passion for success, EliteSingles attempts to offer a more established pool. The site's claim to fame is that 82 percent of members are college grads (most being between the age of 33 and 50). This is the place for folks who have hit a comfortable stride professionally and are now pursuing a partner who's at the same point in their life. The site's questionnaire decodes 29 personality traits to suggest matches who not only have an income compatible with yours, but with whom you'd mesh based on communication styles, ideal first dates, and whether you're one to make the first move.  

Past users report a feed full of people who live way farther away than they indicated in their preferences, and, unfortunately, it's hard for any dating website to catch everyone who's lying about their job or income. HER Best For Queer Women HER Credit: Her Specs Free version: Yes One month of HER Premium: Starting at $14.99 Six months of HER Premium: Starting at $9.99/month One year of HER Premium: Starting at $7.49/month Buying Options See Details Apps like Tinder and Bumble are technically for *everyone*, but they'll be damned if they don't sneak some male profiles into feeds belonging to people who requested otherwise. Given the existence of Grindr and Scruff, the need for an online dating arena specifically for queer women was clear — thus, HER. Founders of the award-winning app are committed to cultivating a space that’s “so ragingly queer" that frustrated women can delete apps that don't feel like home. As the user base of over 4 million grows, HER could widen your dating pool beyond the queer women you already know. Users can get creative in profile building with categories like diet preferences (like veganism), and star signs, as well as a "What does this mean?" field in the sex, gender, and pronoun categories to supply a more well-rounded understanding of identity. The traditional text bio is where you can flex your sense of humor or describe what kind of relationship you're seeking. Joining niche groups like "newly out" or "travelers" can introduce you to people using the app for similar reasons. Bumble Best For Outgoing Women And Shy Men Bumble Credit: Bumble Specs Free version: Yes One week of Boost: $8.99 One month of Boost: $24.99 Three months of Boost: $16.66/month Six months of Boost: $13.33/month Lifetime Boost: $119.99 Buying Options See Details In an attempt to correct one of the common dating app gripes — women getting spammed with creepy messages — women are required to message first on Bumble. It pushes some women out of their comfort zone and takes the pressure off of men who hate breaking the ice every time. (With same-sex matches, either party can kick things off.) If no one speaks up within 24 hours, the match is tossed. The photos and short bios are pretty close mock of Tinder, except for the fact that Bumble Boost relieves the anxiety of accidentally swiping left on a hottie by letting you backtrack. With a whole decade of being the number one gay dating app under its belt, Grindr is likely the first gay dating app that a lot of men download. But if you're looking for a relationship, it's probably not the last. That's where Bumble comes in: parent company Magic Labs noticed that there was a spot to be filled for gay men who wanted something more than that intimidating, dick pic-drenched space. Bumble could be a serious option for queer men who need a tamer energy than Grinder. SilverSingles Best For People 50 And Over SilverSingles Credit: Silver Singles Buying Options See Details Pros: Large pool of people 50 or older In-depth personality test at sign-up helps the algorithm find actually compatible matches Cons: Only three to seven matches per day Setting a location limit is basically pointless because you'll still get matches outside of your radius Dating over 50 means that, more than likely, this is your second or third attempt at love. When match or eharmony's user bases still pose too much of a never married, no kids crowd, SilverSingles is here to let you know that putting yourself back out there during your golden years doesn't have to be scary.  A sister site to EliteSingles, SilverSingles uses the same intense compatibility system that EliteSingles does, bringing in the popular big five personality traits to assess five levels of your being: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Rather than sitting around sifting through a never-ending pool, you'll receive five handpicked matches per day. Reddit user LSMJIMMY, who found the "right one" on SilverSingles in 2020, gave this advice on Reddit: "I put up 18 pictures and changed the primary picture every few days to keep it fresh. I also edited or changed the responses to the questions about once per week. I spelled out what I DID NOT want...I am not a couch potato and love to travel fish, boat, ride motorcycles, hotrods, etc, etc. That cleans out the "sit and knit" crowd and I mentioned that I am "actively romantic" which cleans out the ladies that have lost the Zest for Life, if you know what I mean. I don't have time to drag this dating thing out, so I think it helped by getting what Who I am and want I am looking for on the table early." Privacy policy: SilverSingles uses SSL encryption and fraud detection systems to keep your information secure. It uses your information for site functionality purposes and for targeted ads through its website, email, social media channels, or third-party sites. Read the full privacy policy here. 

Coffee Meets Bagel Best For Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone Coffee Meets Bagel Credit: Coffee Meets Bagel Specs Free version: Yes One month of Premium: $34.99 Three months of Premium: $24.99/month Six months of Premium: $19.99/month One year of Premium: $14.99/month Buying Options See Details Grabbing coffee is the low-pressure date idea that lets you skip trying to choose a dressy-but-not-too-extra outfit for a concert or a restaurant. Coffee Meets Bagel is like the "grabbing coffee" version of dating apps, aiming to bring an easy-going atmosphere to folks who might just be a little rusty. (It's actually one of the few dating apps that doesn't get completely roasted on Reddit, and threads about the app are full of promising success stories about how that Redditor or someone they know met their person on CMB.) Millions upon millions of active users is usually a plus. It is nice to know that your options are virtually limitless, but it's a bit jarring to have 20 new messages to read every time you sign on. This happens on eharmony and Tinder alike — people want connection, and they want it now. The slow and steady approach is great for singles who are rusty, introverted, or who simply don't feel like scrolling every free minute. Every day, CMB offers seven of its best matches (bagels) for you, chosen by your answers to prompts, how you swiped on yesterday's batch, and who has already expressed interest in you, too. You're encouraged to get the ball rolling with matches disappearing in seven days. It's less pressure than Bumble's 24-hour time limit but still eliminates a list full of people who don't care enough to respond or plan a meet-up.  Tinder Best For Finding A Friend With Benefits Tinder Credit: Tinder Specs Free version: Yes One month of Tinder Plus: $14.99/month Six months of Tinder Plus: $10/month One year of Tinder Plus: $6.67/month One month of Tinder Gold: $29.99 Six months of Tinder Gold: $18.83/month One year of Tinder Gold: $12.50/month Buying Options See Details Let's just get this one out of the way. If you're thinking of dating apps, you're thinking of Tinder. They pioneered the now-ubiquitous swiping function, revolutionizing the world of online dating and boasting 1.6 billion swipes per day. What started out as a niche hookup app has turned into a wingman that most of us have used at least once in our life. As you're served a series of photos, swipe right if you like what you see and left if you don't. When you both indicate interest, it's a match. Tinder may not want to advertise as such, but we all know what it's mostly used for. You're quite literally deciding if you want to interact with someone based on nothing but profile pictures and a quote from The Office — but hey, we all know those couples who met on Tinder and have been together for years. It's fast, easy, and if there's one app that even the shyest, most skeptical people will be on, it's Tinder. Tinder is famously free, but fewer people know about the paid upgrades: Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold. These include extras like undoing a left swipe (bless), send "Super Likes" to people you're really into, and in the case of Tinder Gold, see which users have liked your profile.  Pure Best For Attachment-free Sex Pure Credit: Pure Specs Free version: Yes Buying Options See Details If you got this far and still haven't found the app for you, perhaps you're interested in hookup apps instead? Here is one. 

Let's scrap the dreaded "What are we?" talk, shall we? PURE is the place to find a hookup who won't text you earlier than midnight. App rules urge you to "pretend like you're strangers afterwards," making no-strings-attached the only name of the game here. This minimalistic and hella millennial app is no-nonsense, sex-positive, and even features some art — the blueprint of what a hookup app should be.  Your uploaded selfies, personal info, and conversations with others self-destruct every 60 minutes, promoting spur-of-the-moment and borderline anonymous connections. The app will ask for your phone number and credit card info, but that's just to make sure you're a real person. The app uses your geolocation and sends out the sex version of an Uber request, rather than trying to pair you with someone who lives in another state. We like that Pure gives all the feels of a hookup-only site without the obnoxious spam and nudes everywhere. The surge of blatant sex positivity is a breath of fresh air when compared to other dating apps that try to convince you that you'll find your soulmate.

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