Over the past couple of years, COVID-19 made online dating sites indispensable for the single set. With socializing much more difficult, these sites made getting to know someone easier, through emails, texts and video chat.
Now that the pandemic has eased up somewhat, is it time for singles to break up with online dating sites?
Not at all, says Amy Schoen, a professional life, dating and relationship coach in Rockville, Maryland, and the founder of the website Motivated to Marry. “Post-pandemic, online is still one of the best ways to meet people who are seriously searching for love,” Schoen says.
That said, Schoen also suggests in-person meetups, speed dating and social groups that organize online. Schoen says some clients have had success meeting partners in hiking groups, and in the winter months, ski groups. “It’s always best to start with what’s most important to you and who would be a good partner based upon your life vision and goals,” she says.
If you go the online route, deciding what type of online dating website or dating app is right for you is a little like finding the right partner. Read on for a list of some of the most popular free dating sites. Keep in mind that not all of these are absolutely free – some have free components that are worth your consideration, however.
- Facebook Dating.
- Plenty of Fish.
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Bumble enables users to find a match by swiping right if they like the person or left if they don’t. For heterosexual couples, the woman must send a message first, and with same-sex couples, either person can initiate contact. Bumble is free. You can search profiles, make matches and send messages. That said, Bumble also offers premium upgrades that allow you to do things like screen matches based on certain qualities or criteria, like level of education. Prices vary from $16.99 and $39.99 a month, depending on the perks, or you can pay $229.99 for a lifetime subscription of the premium service.
Facebook entered the dating scene with Facebook.com/dating. With this free service, you can set up a dating profile, which won’t be shared with anyone outside of the Facebook dating app. In other words, your friends and family on Facebook won’t be able to see that you’re a member of Facebook Dating. As a bonus, you can use your Facebook profile to automatically fill in your Facebook Dating profile. It’s only available on the Facebook app on your phone and not on the Facebook website. Note that you need to have a Facebook account in good standing to use this free service.
Hinge is only available on phones and not on desktops or laptops. It is free to use, but like many services on this list, you can navigate it more easily if you pay for a premium version. Prices vary for the premium version, but it starts at around $29.99 a month, and then the price per month goes down after that if you get a three- or six-month membership. Hinge has some fun ways to share information and possibly determine if you’re a good match with someone, like having categories labeled as virtues, vitals and vices. Virtues include interesting things about you, like your career, where you went to school and your political leanings. Vitals include things like whether you have kids and where you live. Vices, as you might guess, reveal if you smoke, drink or do drugs or some other type of activity that may be a turn-off, or turn-on, for potential matches.
While Match.com’s full services aren’t free, it belongs in this list because it’s a well-known website that offers a free 72-hour trial period. You can set up a profile and search through profiles for free, but if you want to contact someone, you’ll have to pay for the service unless you’re still in the free three-day trial period. As with many of these sites, prices vary. Match has premium prices and standard prices. You may, for instance, pay for a three-month package ($26.77 a month, or $80.31). But you can get longer plans that last up to 12 months. You’ll fork over more money at once, but you’ll pay less per month. Of course, with Match (and other dating sites where users pay for several months at one time) there is a risk that you could pay something like $183.60 for a standard plan that lasts a year, and you meet your match in the first month.
This popular dating website and app is free, allowing you to browse profiles and reach out to anyone you want to connect with. That said, you can pay for premium services, and those premium services can make the site a little easier to navigate. For instance, with the paid version, there are unlimited “likes” and no outside ads. You can also see who likes you before you like them. However, with the free version, you don’t know who has clicked “like” on your profile unless you also “like” them. Prices vary, but if you pay for one month, you’ll probably pay $35.
As advertised on its many TV commercials, OurTime is for people 50 years old and up. Like Match.com, OurTime is a paid service. While it isn’t free, you can browse profiles for free, and that is worth something in the online dating world. The last thing you want is to pay for a dating site, put up a profile and then find out that the nearest potential person you might be interested in is 300 miles away. As for the prices, they vary, but you can expect to pay about $35 a month, with the price dropping considerably if you sign up for the six-month plan. That said, you’re paying for the six months in one lump sum, and so there’s really no way to pay for the service and feel like it’s cheap.
Plenty of Fish
Plenty of Fish, as its name suggests, features a wide selection of dating profiles. It is free, but you’ll probably find it far easier to use if you pay for the premium services. Prices vary, but you can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $12.90 a month for three months or $6.78 a month for 12 months (you’ll pay for those months in one lump sum). You can send and receive messages for free; the premium membership is an ad-free version that allows users to search more easily, using filtering options such as education and income.
With this popular dating app (also available on desktop), you can simply swipe through profiles – albeit with scant information on each potential match. As you look at photos, you can select a heart icon or an X; alternatively, you can swipe to the right if you like a profile or swipe to the left if you don’t. If you like someone who also likes your photo, you’ll be alerted that you have a match, and you’ll be able to message your potential date. While the app is free, you can pay for Tinder Plus, Tinder Gold or Tinder Platinum. The website is not transparent about its pricing, however. In the past, you’d pay about $9.99 a month if you were under 30 and $19.99 if you were older – and possibly more than that, depending on the tier you were in. But it’s unclear until you set up a profile and whip out your credit card.