The Best Dating Apps for Casual Connections

If you enjoy the spontaneity and light-heartedness of casual connections, dating apps are an excellent option. They are designed to help you easily connect with people who share your romantic interests. With these apps, you can clearly define the type of relationships and connections you’re interested in and find potential partners across the country and even the world who are looking for the same thing.

Whether you’re looking for someone to go on coffee dates with or have an exciting night out, there’s a dating app with pretty precise features that can help you do just that. Research suggests about half of American adults who are under 30 have used dating apps.  

This article will review some of the best dating apps for finding your next casual relationship and explain why more people are turning to these apps to find romantic connections. Whether you’re new to casual dating or looking for better prospects, these apps can help you find dating fun and flirty again.

At a Glance

In order to find a casual romantic connection on an app, avoid ones meant for hookups, and instead use ones centered around long-term relationships. Some of your best options are:

  • Tinder
  • Grindr
  • Adult Friend Finder
  • Her
  • Raw
  • Plenty of Fish
  • Ashley Madison

Once you’re on the app, be genuine, friendly, and ensure you’re being honest about what you’re looking for. Also, always exercise caution and be sure to pick a public location for your first meeting.

Why Use Dating Apps for Casual Relationships?

For many people looking for casual connections, dating apps have become a go-to. While a meet-cute in a bookstore that mirrors a movie scene is an adorable way to meet someone new, dating apps make casual dating much less complex. 

When looking for a casual connection, dating apps allow you to be clear about what you want and find others looking for the same thing. With a dating app, you can often avoid the awkwardness of mismatched expectations. You can be as transparent as you want and find common ground with someone you like before even going on a first date.

Convenience is one of the biggest reasons people use dating apps. Life can get busy, and while meeting people the old-fashioned way is charming, dating apps allow you to find potential connections from wherever you are, letting you work your dating life around your schedule and not the other way around.

You also get to take charge of your boundaries, get to know people at your own pace, and share certain parts of your life only when trust has been established and you feel comfortable. It allows you to gauge whether you’re on the same page and want to take things further.

Diversity is another perk. Dating apps expose you to a broader range of people than you might meet in your everyday life, significantly increasing your chances of finding someone who clicks with you. Lastly, there’s no pressure to make things serious. If you’re clear about wanting casual connections, you’ll find others who respect and share this desire, allowing you to enjoy dating without looming commitment expectations.

Tinder

Tinder is the go-to destination for those looking to keep it casual. It’s one of the oldest and most recognizable dating apps where you’re just a swipe away from your next potential romantic interest. Tinder is ideal for anyone looking to mingle without getting caught up in a committed relationship.

According to Spencer Abel, a dating copywriter, Tinder is by far the most popular dating app in the US. It was originally used as a hookup app and is still used by a younger crowd that is more interested in short-term flings rather than serious relationships. I’d say most of its users are either not looking for any form of in-person relationship or want something transient and casual. Most users are in their early 20s and aren’t ready to settle down for various reasons.

Features

Tinder revolutionized online dating with its simple yet addictive swipe-right-for-yes and swipe-left-for-no features, making finding potential matches on a dating app fun and easy. With Tinder, you can sift through potential matches quickly. If the feeling’s mutual and you both swipe right, it’s a match, and you can start chatting. 

It’s all about first impressions here, with users posting photos of their Sunday best and crafting short, witty bios to attract potential matches. However, features like Super Like, which lets you show you’re really interested, and Boost, which pushes your profile to the top of people’s lists, allow you to stand out and increase your chances of making a connection.

Pros and Cons

On the upside, Tinder is incredibly popular, which means you get a vast pool of potential matches, increasing your odds of finding someone looking for a casual connection like you. It’s fun, fast-paced, and straightforward to use.

On the downside, the app forces you to make decisions that are mainly based on a person’s physical appearance on the fly, which can be a drawback for anyone looking for deeper connections, even in casual dating. While the basic app is free, getting the most out of Tinder, especially if you live in a densely populated city, often means investing in its premium model.

Grindr

Most people in the LGBTQIA+ community may already be familiar with Grindr. It’s direct, fast, and clear about who and what it’s meant for, which is to connect mostly gay, bi, trans, and queer men quickly and efficiently. 

Features

Grindr is well known for its geolocation feature, which makes spontaneous casual connections a lot easier and quicker than with other dating apps. It shows you who’s nearby and available to meet with just a few taps.

The app is straightforward. When you open it, you get a grid of potential matches, you can tap on a profile to view more, and if you’re interested, you simply start a conversation. It’s that easy. The app also has various filters to narrow your search and help you find exactly what you’re looking for, whether it’s someone with specific interests or someone within a certain distance.

Pros and Cons

Grindr’s biggest perk is its efficiency and simplicity. For those looking for casual connections, it lets you find people who are interested without any fluff. It’s a favorite for anyone who loves on-the-fly meetups.

However, its focus on proximity and quick connections can sometimes mean you’re only able to make fleeting connections, which can be a drawback for anyone looking for even a hint of emotional depth. 

Additionally, while Grindr is free, accessing premium features for an improved experience requires a subscription.

Adult Friend Finder

Adult Friend Finder (AFF) is a little different from your typical dating app. It’s designed for people looking for adult fun and casual flings. AFF is known to have a pretty open-minded community of people and couples looking to explore their desires without judgment.

Features

If you’re adventurous, AFF has various features you’ll enjoy. It has chat rooms, forums, live webcams, and more, providing multiple ways for its members to interact and connect.

The platform encourages its users to be upfront about their intentions and desires, creating an environment where you can find matches that share your specific interests and preference for casual dating.

People who use AFF like to keep things light and breezy. Members are there to enjoy themselves and explore within a community of people who know what they want and aren’t shy about it.

Pros and Cons

AFF has a wide and diverse user base, allowing you to meet like-minded people or couples looking for casual fun. The range of features surpasses many other platforms and will enable you to engage in different connection levels with potential matches.

However, if you’d prefer a more wholesome experience, AFF might not be for you. Users can often get graphic, and there’s a clear emphasis on casual and erotic meetings. Also, while free, the most valuable features require a paid membership.

Ashley Madison

On Ashley Madison, discretion is the name of the game. If you’re looking for a confident and casual relationship outside your usual social circles, this app is for you. The app’s slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair,” and it is designed specifically for people looking to step outside their existing relationships or those seeking no-strings-attached fun with like-minded people.

Features

The app offers features that prioritize user privacy and anonymity, like the ability to blur or mask your profile photos and discreet billing options. Users can explore and connect with others based on their preferences and desires, with features that help maintain privacy and confidentiality.

Ashley Madison also provides a travel feature to help people find connections in different cities, making it ideal for people who travel and seek out casual dates in new cities.

Pros and Cons

One of Ashley Madison’s most significant advantages is its commitment to user privacy, which makes it a safe space for people to explore their desires discreetly. The user base is large and diverse, catering to a wide range of interests and needs in casual dating.

On the downside, the platform is primarily geared toward extramarital relationships, which might not align with everyone’s values. Additionally, men have to purchase credits to initiate conversations, which can add up in terms of cost.

Pure

If Pure were a food service, it’d be a drive-through restaurant. It’s quick, to the point, and has no frills. It’s designed for people who want to cut to the chase and have a spontaneous and casual hookup. It does have a unique twist: Everything disappears after 24 hours.

Features

Pure simplifies the dating process. You post a request when you’re in the mood to meet someone, and it only stays visible for one hour. If someone’s interested, they’ll connect with you, and you both get to chat. But watch the clock – when time’s up, the chat and all its contents vanish, ensuring your privacy and encouraging you to live in the moment.

Pros and Cons

The great thing about Pure is its simplicity and focus on privacy. It’s perfect for those spur-of-the-moment days when you’re looking for quick and casual fun. You won’t find long winding profiles or slow-burn connections on Pure. It’s all about living in the moment, but its transient nature means you have to act fast, which can be a buzzkill if you’re not always on standby. And while it’s free for women, men need to subscribe.

Plenty of Fish (POF)

Ever heard the phrase; there is plenty of fish in the sea? These are words POF lives by. On the app, there are a whole lot of choices and potential connections. It’s one of the older dating platforms out there and has a wide user base and laid-back vibe. While it’s geared towards a range of more serious dating preferences, it has plenty of options for those interested in casual relationships.

Features

POF’s standout features are its detailed profiles and personality assessments, which are more in-depth than those of other dating apps on the market. It offers a mix of traditional dating app features with unique twists, like the “Ultra Match” feature, which shows you the top 50 most compatible members. The “Meet Me” option allows you to quickly browse through profiles and express interest, making finding a match simpler.

Pros and Cons

The benefit of using POF is its large and diverse user pool, giving you a wide net to cast for casual hookups or dates. The platform’s detailed profiles can help you gauge compatibility at a glance, making it easier to find someone who’s looking for the same thing you want. On the downside, the site’s free-to-use model means you might have to navigate through more profiles than the average dating app to find quality matches. And while it’s packed with features, the interface can feel cluttered compared to more modern, minimalist apps.

Her

Her is tailored for LGBTQ+ women and non-binary folks. It’s not just a dating app; it’s a community space that provides everything from romantic matches to friendship and social networking, all with a strong focus on a positive and welcoming LGBTQ+ experience.

Features

Her stands out by giving users more than just dating prospects; it includes LGBTQ+ news, events, and discussions that create a sense of community for its members. The app encourages deeper engagement right from the start. Users can like and comment on each other’s photos or responses, creating a more interactive and engaging experience.

Pros and Cons

One of Her’s most significant advantages is its dedication to creating a space that feels both inclusive and supportive for LGBTQ+ members. It provides a safe space for users to express themselves and connect with others with similar experiences and interests. It’s great for finding casual dates or even just new friends who understand the queer experience. On the downside, since it’s tailored to a specific audience, it might not offer the same breadth of options as more mainstream apps. Additionally, while the app is free, accessing some premium features requires a subscription.

Raw

Raw is perfect for those who dislike beating around the bush. With Raw, what you see is what you get, which is excellent for those looking for uncomplicated casual relationships. 

Features

Raw’s main draw is its no-nonsense model, which lets users get down to business quickly. The app is focused on helping you arrange meetups without long conversations or complicated matchmaking algorithms. The interface is user-friendly and allows for quick browsing and matching, getting you from an online interaction to a real-life encounter faster than some of its counterparts.

Pros and Cons

The advantage of using Raw is its efficiency and clarity. Raw delivers just that if you’re looking for casual fun without the bells and whistles. It’s great for those who prefer to be direct and don’t want to engage in small talk or browse through too many profiles. However, the straightforward nature of the app might not suit everyone. Some users might find it too blunt or miss other apps’ deeper engagement. Plus, depending on your location, the user base might be more limited than popular apps.

Our Final Review

Each dating app detailed above offers something different for those interested in casual connections. Tinder is widely recognized for its large user base and quick matching system, making it a go-to for people looking for casual dates or hookups. It’s straightforward and user-friendly, and it has a broad audience. Hinge pays a little more attention to detail, allowing users to showcase their personalities, making it a good choice for anyone who prefers a bit more depth or background on a person they are meeting up with. It’s also easy to use.

Grindr is specifically tailored to the LGBTQ+ community, focusing on immediate, location-based connections. It’s very effective for quick meetups, and its users appreciate its efficiency and directness. Adult Friend Finder is upfront about its focus on adult dating and casual experiences. It provides a platform where users can explore their desires openly and without judgment. It’s known for its more explicit approach to casual dating.

Her caters to LGBTQ+ women and non-binary individuals, offering not just dating options but also a community feel with its inclusive approach. It’s great for those who want a space that understands and respects their identity. And finally, Raw is all about immediacy and clarity, with a no-frills approach to arranging casual encounters. It’s the app for users who want to cut through the chatter and get straight to the point.

Keep in Mind

There’s no blueprint to follow when it comes to casual dating. You have to choose the app that best caters to what you value, which could be deep conversations, community, or directness. Each app has its strengths, so the best one for you depends on your personal preferences and what kind of casual relationship you’re pursuing.

Casual dating means something different to everyone, says Abel. To some, it means hooking up; to some, it means friendship; and to others, it means grabbing dinner once a month. Understand what this person is looking for before investing in them. If your dating goals don’t align, it might be best to find your lovin’ elsewhere. Also, be sure to check in with the person you’re casually dating to understand if their feelings or desires have changed throughout the course of dating. Many a casual relationship has turned into something different. Be mindful that feelings may change and that you’ll have to adapt or move on.