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For every type of dating, there’s an app for that. Check out the ones you should download now

By Laura Rutkowski, Staff Writer

“Romantic love will never die,” Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at the Kinsey Institute in the US, told TIME. She said that our brain views romantic love as a central need, like thirst and hunger. Thirsty has come to mean something very different in modern times, but anyways…


The stats show that she’s right. At the start of this year, Google Trends showed a 12-month high for people searching for “best free dating apps” in the UK. Very much a case of New Year, new boo.


Start swiping, scrolling and scrutinising your way to your next date with our picks of some of the best in the biz.


For: Traditionalists 

1. Tinder

No list would be complete without the OG dating app Tinder, which arguably normalised swiping and the response, “On a dating app” to the question, “So how did you two meet?” You’ve probably downloaded, deleted and re-downloaded it several times and have a story or two to share from dates you’ve arranged through it. It’s largely responsible for the gamification of dating, which sounds bad in theory, but it’s just so darn fun…


Tinder also offers Global Mode, so when you’re browsing the 50 million people worldwide who use the app, you don’t have to stick to singles who live within a five-mile radius. To give yourself a chuckle, select “Work Mode” on the web app.


iOS | Android 

2. Bumble

Just keep smiling, just keep smiling...

Women call the shots here and have 24 hours to make the first move on the guys. If they don’t, they disappear into the ether forever… ever… ever. Use the filters to decide on your deal-breakers. For example, if you want a relationship and want to make sure you’re only shown profiles where they also want a relationship, it ensures you’re on the same page from the off.


iOS | Android 

3. Hinge

This has a social media vibe to it, as you “like” or comment on someone’s prompts, photos or videos. You’ll be shown everyone who has liked you and then you decide whether to match with them or not. Hinge also has the most incredible tag line: “Designed to be deleted.” It boasts that you can “meet people who want to get off dating apps, too.”


You’re also shown who you would be Most Compatible with through some sort of clever algorithm we don’t understand. The only downside? The inability to send gifs. However, it does offer call and video chat features within the app to act as cupid as you get to know your connections.


iOS | Android 

4. OkCupid

Through its algorithm and thousands of questions, OkCupid wants to make your matches matter. It’s also been paving the way since the online site was launched in 2004: it became the first major dating site with an app, and in 2014, it was the first dating app to introduce 22 gender and 13 orientation options.


iOS | Android 

For: Trying something different

5. Once

This “slow dating” app encourages quality over quantity by showing you one match a day at noon. If you like each other, you can begin chatting without any distractions from other potential suitors or in-app notifications. Dating apps often make it feel as though you have loads of options available, but all you really need is just that one special person. 


iOS | Android 

6. Coffee Meets Bagel

“This coffee is great, but where’s my bagel?”

Known as the original “anti-swiping app,” Coffee Meets Bagel sets you up with your best matches every day at noon. Women are shown profiles of men who have “liked” them, but ultimately, it’s up to the women to decide whether they want to interact and start a conversation.


The app was founded by sisters Arum, Dawoon and Soo Kang in 2012 as a way of building meaningful relationships. With around 80% of Coffee Meets Bagel’s users looking for something serious, it’s a great app if you’re ready for the next significant romantic chapter of your life.


iOS | Android 

7. Bristlr

Disclaimer: Burgers not included when matching with bearded men on Bristlr 

Just select whether you’re a beard haver or a beard appreciator and sign up for the app that CNBC called “Tinder for beards.” That makes it sound like there’s just loads of profiles of floating beards ready to be stroked, but we digress. Designed for women who are fans of dudes with beards, Bristlr lets you browse the facial furniture of your future Mr Right.


iOS | Android 

8. Sapio

If you’re looking for intellectual, as well as physical, chemistry, Sapio (as in sapiosexual, or people attracted to intelligence) is the app for you. To match you with people on shared interest, intelligence levels and conversation ability, there are 300 (yes, 300!) open-ended questions for you to answer. The responses will tell you a lot about someone and provide ready-made conversation starters for people who want to dive into the deep stuff.


iOS | Android

For: LGBTQ+ dating


9. HER

Created for lesbian, bisexual and queer people, HER provides a safe space to find your “lobster” and also lets you know about social events taking place in your community. With moderators working 24/7 to make the platform as safe as it can possibly be, you’re free to get cracking with those chat-up lines.


iOS | Android 

10. Lesly

Whether you’re looking for something casual, a relationship or even a friendship, Lesly is a dating app for lesbians, bisexual and queer women who want to click with someone. Swipe and then write to the singles who catch your eye. All users’ photos are verified by Lesly staff to make sure only genuine people are using the app. Also, it’s ad-free – hoorah!


iOS | Android 

11. Grindr

Grindr has been there since the beginning. It was released in 2009 – way before Tinder, which hit the scene in 2012, and even before Instagram’s 2010 launch. Since then, it has grown into the largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people. The location-based technology allows you to meet men who are in your area, but although it’s typically seen as a hook-up app, Grindr’s founder Joel Simkhai has admitted he’s found love on the app several times!


There is also a web app, which is smartly concealed to look like an email interface, so you can flirt in between meetings with your boss (we do not condone this, but we’re just saying it’s an option).


iOS | Android


12. Hornet

Message, follow and “sting” other men with this gay dating app that not only offers up matches, but information too. The “stories” and “places” options let you read Hornet’s features and inform you on LGBTQ+ venues and events in your area. You can upload multiple photos on your profile, unlike Grindr, which allows one. There’s also an option for users to include their HIV status and get reminders of when to get tested.


iOS | Android


For: Shared interests & values 


13. Tastebuds

“What kind of music are you into?” It’s a typical date question and can turn you on or off someone pretty quickly. A shared music taste is an instant win, which is the premise Tastebuds is based on. The app connects with Spotify to identify your frequently played artists and songs and then shows you people nearby who have similar tastes to yours. When concerts are up and running again, you’ll have the perfect person to accompany you. If things progress, you’ll have to decide on “your song”.



14. Lumen

 “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine...” 

Lumen is the first free dating app designed for over 50s. Members have to go through image verification and identification before completing their profile, which means you won’t stumble across any catfish or bots. You receive 72 hours to respond to a message and initial messages are required to be at least 50 characters, which means “Hey,” “Hi” and “Hello” are all out of the question to start the conversation flowing.

iOS | Android 

15. muzmatch

This Muslim dating and marriage app has facilitated more than 60,000 weddings worldwide! Use the religious filters to choose your sect, ethnicity, religiosity, dress and how much you pray. For an added layer of privacy, you can keep your photos hidden and use a nickname to remain anonymous. If you would feel more comfortable with a chaperone (known as a Wali) in your conversation, the app accommodates that too! Try SALT (iOS | Android) if you’re looking for a Christian dating app and Jdate (iOSAndroid) for Jewish matches.


iOS | Android 

16. Muddy Matches

If you live out in the countryside, it can be hard to meet people, and if you love the countryside, you might want a partner who would also opt for taking the scenic route. Muddy Matches has more than 200,000 members from the UK and Ireland looking for like-minded individuals who aren’t afraid to get their hands (or wellies) dirty. Sisters and founders Lucy Reeves and Emma Royall work out of a converted barn on a farmyard in Northamptonshire to provide the ultimate customer service to a user base they relate to and know well.



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