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Best dating apps 2021: The popular sites you’ll actually want to use

·6-min read
Whether it’s Bumble, Hinge or another platform, we’ve found the top sites  (iStock)
Whether it’s Bumble, Hinge or another platform, we’ve found the top sites (iStock)

There’s no denying that online dating is a bit of a minefield – even during normal times – so throw in a global pandemic and it’s going to be even more of a challenge.

But, with the lockdown roadmap stipulating that we can drink and dine indoors and stay overnight at someone’s house, it’s time to reignite that spark with dating apps.

Whether you prefer the simple swiping of Tinder or looking at witty profiles on Hinge, there’s plenty of choices out there. And if it’s not a partner you’re after, Bumble also offers the opportunity for you to meet a business buddy or a new BFF.

While there’s no shortage of people using these dating apps, navigating the thriving pool of providers can be confusing.

So, whether you’re looking for a casual fling or your next long-term relationship, we’ve rounded up our picks of the best to download right now. It’s time to find your perfect match (and by that we mean your perfect app, of course).

Read more:

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Bumble

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples

This is the dating app where women have to make the first move, which greatly reduces the number of uninvited messages you’ll receive. Once your profile is set up and you start swiping, the woman or non-binary person has 24 hours to message a match, otherwise, it is deleted. The app is for same-sex couples too, and in that case, anyone can start the conversation.

Bumble has a built-in video calling and voice calling feature that its CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, is encouraging people to use during the pandemic, embracing the idea of a virtual date. You won’t need to share your email address or phone number in order to use the video feature, so your personal information will stay private until you choose to share it.

Download Bumble for iOS

Download Bumble for Android

Hinge

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples. Hinge offers more than 50 gender identity options for users to select within the app

It describes itself as the app that’s “designed to be deleted” and limits free users to liking just 10 profiles a day, although paying to upgrade will allow you unlimited likes. There’s plenty of preferences you can set too, including politics, religion and family plans, should you want to start seriously looking for a partner.

Hinge offers in-app video dating, which is available to all users globally. The app states that two-thirds of users see video chat as a fun, low-pressure opportunity to see if they’re compatible with a match on the app before meeting up in person.

Download Hinge for iOS

Download Hinge for Android

Match

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples

This app was created to help you find a true “match”, and has quite specific preference settings to fill in when you create your profile, including height and body type. It hosts singles events to encourage users to meet up offline too. Match launched a free hotline within the app for anyone struggling to navigate the online dating world.

Download Match for iOS

Download Match for Android

Tinder

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples

The OG dating app is simple if you’re new to it – sign up, complete your profile, set your age and distance limit (although, that’s not so relevant during lockdown) and start swiping. When two people swipe right on each other and match, either one of you can start the conversation. Tinder has also recently added video chat to its service.

Download Tinder for iOS

Download Tinder for Android

Jigsaw

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples

Described as “anti-superficial dating”, this app does things differently from the others on this list. In a bid to prevent people from being judged solely on their looks, users’ faces on Jigsaw start off covered with a jigsaw puzzle – hence the name. If you’re interested in someone, you simply need to send them messages to make the pieces of the puzzle fall away, so you can match the face with the personality you’re getting to know. The app has also recently banned images that had been filtered using Instagram and Snapchat in order to create a more honest space.

Download Jigsaw for iOS

Download Jigsaw for Android

Coffee Meets Bagel

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples

For a serious, more meaningful partnership, Coffee Meets Bagel focuses on quality, not quantity, by allowing you only one match per day, giving you time to get to know each other. Be warned though, if the person you match with isn’t for you, then you have to wait until the following day to be able to start chatting to somebody new. It has recently changed the rule that chats disappear after seven days – instead, they will remain open indefinitely, as long as someone has spoken within the chat in the past three days.

Download Coffee Meets Bagel for iOS

Download Coffee Meets Bagel for Android

The League

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples

Launched in 2015, The League is one of the newer dating apps to download. Designed for working professionals, users are vetted based on their social media accounts before being allowed to become a member. Once you’re signed up as a member, potential matches are known as “prospects” and the number of users you have access to is based on the preferences you set for your area.

On Wednesdays and Sundays at 9pm, there’s a “league live” section that lets you swipe through video feeds of other people on the app near you, and you get a two-minute timer to talk before deciding whether you like them. Think virtual speed dating, but for a modern romance. Plus, if nothing else comes of it, you’ll end up with some fun stories with which to keep your coupled-up friends entertained.

Download The League for iOS

Download The League for Android

Feeld

Who is it for? Couples and singles of all sexual orientations and gender identities

If you’re looking for something less serious, and maybe with more than just one person, Feeld could be the app for you. All you need to do is set your location when you sign up to be connected with people or other couples in your area.

The app is aimed at open-minded people who are potentially looking for polyamorous relationships or may be interested in kink. It doesn’t allow nudes or other explicit content and its full photo guidelines can be found here. If any pictures with nudity are detected, Feeld will not host them.

Download Feeld for iOS

Download Feeld for Android

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