With the advancement and ubiquity of technology, it’s transformed the way we date, like many other aspects of our lives. Rather than approaching someone at a bar or asking out a fellow coworker in person, more and more people who are looking for a relationship are resorting to digital tools. According to a 2019 research study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, dating apps are the most common way that couples meet, surpassing all other traditional means, such as through mutual friends or at school or church. Based on a 2023 Pew Research Center study, one in 10 people meet their partner through online dating.

These virtual tools have become a wildly popular way to connect single people due to a variety of reasons. For one, they give you the autonomy to set your own parameters, like whether you’re looking for a serious relationship or a casual fling, which you won’t be able to tell by talking to someone at a bar, according to dating coach Grace Lee. Plus, you aren’t solely limited to your social circle: Dating apps expand your reach, giving you access to thousands of people you would have otherwise never crossed paths with. And since your first encounter with a potential romantic partner is taking place online, you don’t have to work up the courage to talk to someone that caught your eye at a party and possibly face rejection, which makes many people feel more comfortable with taking the initiative. Not to mention, dating apps make the search for a relationship more efficient by providing a gist of a person’s likes, interests, and personality, so you can choose whether or not you’re compatible with them.

Meet the Expert

  • Grace Lee is a dating coach and the founder of A Good First Date, which offers professional services to help single people find love.
  • Dr. Jess Carbino is a relationship and online dating expert and a former sociologist for Tinder and Bumble.

If you’re new to the dating world or you’re looking to get back out there after a breakup, consider downloading a dating app or two. Since there are a lot of different options, you might be wondering which one to try. Whether you’re looking for a committed relationship or a short-term one or you’re interested in dating someone based on your religion or sexual orientation, there’s a service out there for you. To help you figure out the right app for your wants and needs, we’ve rounded up our top picks for meeting your future match, which we’ve selected based on interviews with dating experts, online reviews, and our own personal experiences.

Ahead, the best dating apps of 2024.

The Final Verdict

Downloading a dating app can seem like a big commitment and feel a little bit overwhelming if you’re not sure which to try. Hinge is the best option if you’re looking to get more serious about dating on the apps since it gives you more information about potential dates’ background and identity and encourages more meaningful conversations. Raya is ideal if you’re hoping to spot a celebrity or if you want to network with other like-minded creatives, but it can be difficult to get an invitation. Bumble is a wonderful option if you’re a woman who wants to take matters into your own hand and if you’re looking for an easy way to swipe endlessly and start chatting, but the app doesn’t tell you much about who people are. For queer individuals on the hunt for an inclusive place to find romantic matches, HER is your best bet. And if you want to keep it casual, Tinder will probably be your go-to.

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How to Make a Profile

Once you’ve figured out the right dating app (or apps) for you, the next step is downloading the tool and creating a profile. Although each online platform has its own method and format, Lee explains that generally, you’ll upload six different photos and videos and share information about yourself in about 300 characters or less, either through free-writing or answering prompts.

The Photos

For the visual portion of your profile, you’ll want to choose your best photos, of course, but also ones that look most like you. “Your date should be able to recognize you when they see you,” Lee says. She explains that the first two pictures should be a clear shot of your face, with one showing your full body. If you want to include a group photo, she suggests placing it near the bottom of your profile, so those viewing it will be able to spot which person you are.

The Written Portion

If you’re wondering what to write in such a limited amount of space, Lee advises valuing authenticity over popularity and likability, so you attract the right person, not a large number of suitors. “Ten thousand likes will not get you any closer to finding ‘the one’–it actually makes it harder,” she points out. 

She also suggests viewing yourself from a potential romantic partner’s point of view, capturing what makes you unique, special, and lovable. Instead of surface-level details, like enjoying yoga or trying new restaurants, she encourages you to dig deeper and formulate a specific, interesting response that reflects your values and passions, such as working in the pharmaceutical industry due to your family’s history with heart disease or regularly playing ping-pong with your son in your downtime, Lee cites as examples. And don’t be afraid to use a sense of humor or poke fun at your quirks if that feels natural to you.

How to Increase Your Chances of Finding Love

Once you’ve made your profile and started exploring what’s out there, you might be wondering how to maximize these tools and increase your chances of matching with a romantic partner. Here are expert-approved tips for finding love.

Gauge Compatibility

When you’re looking at a person’s profile, Carbino advises assessing whether or not you have common interests and values, which will increase your chances of a connection. First, take a note of your non-negotiables, whether it’s educational background, religion, lifestyle, and/or physical attraction, and determine whether their photos and responses align with your priorities. Although you won’t really know for sure until you meet them offline, ask yourself if they’re worth going on a date for an hour or so.

Message Them Quickly

After you match with someone, don’t wait to message them; strike while the iron is hot. Carbino recommends sending a message within 24 hours of matching with them, especially if the app you’re using has time restrictions. If you’re wondering what to say, she suggests referring to something on their profile. “[They’ll] know that you’re not simply messaging everyone the same thing because it signals investment,” she states.

Get Off the Apps

Once you’ve expressed interest, make sure to get their phone number. Since not everyone checks their dating app profile as frequently as their text messages, it’s important to take the conversation off of the app. While you can certainly exchange a few texts, save heartfelt discussions for the first date, and instead, use the opportunity to ask them out. “Just say, ‘I’m not great at keeping up with text. Would you be up for meeting in person sometime soon?'” Lee suggests.

FAQ

  • Some apps require both parties to swipe right if they’re interested and then allow you to connect. Others let one person send a message, and then the recipient can decide whether or not they want to respond. A few of the apps give extensive information, including your college, height, and even whether or not you want kids, while others simply show you nearby potential partners without a lot of information about them.

  • Most dating apps are free, or at least, they have a free option and a premium, paid option. The free option usually gives people the opportunity to swipe, while paying allows people to be more particular, setting filters that show only a certain height, religion, or political affiliation, for example. For most apps, it’s extremely easy to download them and use the free version unless you’re looking for something super specific. Some apps, like Raya, do require all users to pay a small monthly fee. Usually, the fee is less if you pay for a few months or longer.

  • Dating apps range from no cost to about $100 if you get a premium version and invest in a few months of it. The least expensive options will give you a range of premium offerings that upgrade your profile, either putting you in the spotlight for potential matches or giving you the option to message someone without matching first.