best dating apps

Photo via Matthew Pearce/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

The best dating apps for every type of relationship

There's an app out there for everyone


Lauren L'Amie


Posted on Aug 17, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 8:19 pm CDT

It’s 2017, and it’s time we accept it: We swipe right for love and endure hours of uncomfortable outings with strangers to find it. Online dating is hardly a new concept. In fact, it’s one that has helped more and more people find lasting and very real relationships. But even when dating apps seem to be the only way to meet anyone new, it’s hard to know where to start.

Modern relationships are, like all other aspects of our social lives, indelibly linked to the internet. Relationships are hard and confusing by themselves. Add in the pressure of appearing perfect on the internet, and it can get complicated.

But do not fear the right swipe—someday, it’ll be part of the meet-cute story you tell your grandchildren (who will probably be happily dating on the moon). Here’s our master list of all the best dating apps (or here for the best dating sites)out there today, no matter your orientation, sexuality, kink, or relationship preferences.

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The best dating apps of 2017

1. Tinder

We’d be remiss to write a list of the best dating apps without mentioning the mother of the swipe—Tinder. Whether you love it, hate it, or have yet to try the most popular dating app, it’s worth a shot before testing out other options. With 25 million users to date and functions that let you find friend groups as well as romantic partners, it’s clear that Tinder must be doing something right. Creating a Tinder profile is quick and straightforward: You can link your new Tinder account to Facebook and the app will auto-populate your basic personal information and use your most recent Facebook profile pictures. (There are ways to get around linking Tinder to your Facebook account, but it’s tricky.) From there, simply add a bio and update your settings. Tinder functions geographically, so it takes into account your location and maps out eligible matches within a radius you choose. You can swipe right on profiles you like, swipe left on those you don’t, and even “superlike” those you love. From here, sending messages to your matches within the secure platform (read: no dick pics allowed) is easy.—Lauren L’Amie

best dating apps : tinder
Highways Agency/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed

2. OkCupid

OkCupid has mastered using “math in the name of love.” The app sees 1 million downloads each week and ranks as a top dating app based on a review-based study conducted by analytics company Applause in which 97 apps were analyzed from both a woman and a man’s perspective. The app functions like Tinder, but offers a more comprehensive profile that measures compatibility by calculating a percentage based on how you answer a series of questions regarding your dating ideals and personal values (e.g., How important is it for you to make physical contact when showing affection for someone?).—Molly Stier

dating apps : okcupid
Photo via OkCupid

3. Bumble

The Sadie Hawkins of dating apps, Bumble only permits the woman to make the first move in hetero matches. If she doesn’t reach out to him in 24 hours, the connection disappears. As for same-sex matches, each person has the same amount of time to connect before the match goes away. It’s also geared toward helping adults make friends. Bonus features include sharing photos and the ability to undo accidental swipes when you change your mind about a potential match. While Bumble is purportedly for everyone, it can be pretty heteronormative and tends to function like a Tinder copycat for queer people.—M.S.

best dating apps : bumble
Screengrab via Bumble

4. Coffee Meets Bagel

Coffee Meets Bagel is designed to value quality over quantity of matches. You won’t have to worry about being matched with the dude who swipes right in his sleep, because the app sends you just one suggested match every day at noon based on your profile and preferences. The algorithm also takes your Facebook friends into account and has received criticism for matching people who share the same ethnicity. Despite the criticism, the app boasts that it matches 650 couples each week.—M.S.

dating apps : coffee meets bagel
Screengrab via Coffee Meets Bagel/iTunes


5. Happn

Happn is an attempt at bridging our real-life interactions with a digital dating space. Founders Fabien Cohen, Didier Rappaport, and Antony Cohen created a GPS-based app designed to match you with people you have already crossed paths with to meet them in a new context. You get matched with people based on the amount of time you have been near them. If you’re into them, you can secretly “like” them and can begin chatting away once they indicate the feeling is mutual. But if you come across someone you’d much rather never see again, you can cross them out. —M.S.

dating apps : happn
Photo via iTunes/Happn

Best apps for hooking up

1. Tinder

Among the first and most widely used dating apps on the market, Tinder is quite adamant about its goal of fostering genuine human connections versus one-night stands. But, I mean, c’mon. Everyone knows Tinder is very, very casual in its approach to dating, even Vanity Fair. What’s more, everybody’s on it. Tinder gives you a huge range of local options, which means choices are endless if you live in a larger city. Also, there is no “rejection,” because you only know if somebody matches with you. Though you’re going to have more options with a higher number of total users, it’s difficult to avoid the embarrassment of running into (or swiping) somebody you know. Also, the purpose of Tinder is up to interpretation. Some might think of it as more of a long-term dating app, which is good if you’re down to get drinks first, but not so much if you’re in a hurry. Just make sure you’re upfront about your end goal.—K.H.

Tinder lesbian dating app
Photo via Tinder/Instagram

2. Down

Down is what most hormone-driven millennials use Tinder to do: get down. But unlike Tinder, you can skip the guessing game and clearly indicate whether you’re looking for a date or are DTF. Down promises that your “Down” and “Date” preferences remain totally discreet until both people are interested.  Previously known as Bang With Friends, the app has come a long way from its beginnings as a glitchy app that didn’t offer the discretion users preferred to being included in top dating app rankings.—K.H.

best dating apps : down
Screengrab via Down App/iTunes


Pure takes away the tedious texting and courtship rituals often required on other dating apps. The service erases the user’s info every hour, and prides itself on anonymity much like Ashley Madison. You no longer have to worry about photos lingering on the internet, and everyone on the app is looking for an instant hookup. The app offers privacy—and assurance that matches are looking for the same thing—which is always a pro. However, for women especially, safety can be an issue. With total anonymity, there isn’t much time to vet potential candidates before meeting up IRL. Err on the side of caution.

dating apps 2017 : PURE
Screengrab via Google Play

4. Grindr 

Launched in 2009, Grindr quickly became the most successful app in the world for men seeking connection with other men—and like Tinder, everyone is on it. With more than 10 million users worldwide, Grindr revolutionized the way gay men meet, interact, and communicate both online and IRL. Out of all the hookup apps, Grindr just may be the most unapologetic when it comes to cutting to the chase. Unlike its more heteronormative counterparts that involve swiping and lengthy profiles, Grindr doesn’t put up a facade of courtship possibilities. For instance, Grindr’s meaty menu of men are more likely to welcome quick initial messages asking things like “Looking?” Grindr users can also be sorted into “tribes” in the stats section of their profile: Twink, Otter, Daddy, Trans, Leather, and Bear, to name a few. Don’t let the obvious thirst of Grindr scare you off, though. The app also sets up an STD safety net and expects users to fill in their HIV/AIDS status along with whether or not they’re on PrEP and the date of their last test.—Cooper Irons

best dating apps : grindr
Photo via Grindr


5. Blendr

Joel Simkhai, founder of Grindr, aimed to create a straight version of his gay hookup app, which lets men find other men at the drop of a GPS arrow. So voila, Blendr was created via requests from horny women clamoring for the same thing. However, it ended up serving more as a dating app rather than for hookups. Allows for status updates (i.e, “eating a burrito, or heading to a concert”) and location updates. The amount of female-to-male interaction seems to be lower than on apps like Grindr, Tinder, and OkCupid, and contrary to being a “Grindr for straight people,” it operates (unsurprisingly) more like traditional dating platforms.—K.H.

best dating apps 2017 : blendr
Screengrab via Google Play

6. Scruff

There isn’t any specific criteria for joining Scruff, of course, but by the app’s name alone you can probably guess what you’re in for: beards, fur, and of course, scruff. Yes, the men on Scruff tend to lean more toward otters and bears. In addition to the iconic “woof” feature that lets users cruise, the app also lets you search for men all around the world. So, whether you’re looking to meet someone in your own neighborhood or chat with guys on the other side of the globe, Scruff provides a seemingly endless array of fun.—C.I.

In Body Image
Screengrab via Scruff/iTunes


The best LGBTQ dating apps

1. Her

Her is an award-winning app specifically created for queer, bisexual, and lesbian women that combines dating with an event feature so you can find love and a queer beach party. Though Her uses the same swiping feature we’ve all come to love and hate, profiles on the app offer much more room for users to talk about themselves. You can add photos, multiple text boxes, your gender identity, sexual orientation, relationship status, and more. Her also lets users “heart” each other or add each other as friends, and once two people match, the app will send you both a question in a chat box to get the conversation going. Ice breakers include things like “Would you rather date Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?” “What song are you playing on repeat right now?” and “High heels or sneakers?” Though the app isn’t always intuitive, it’s still one of the best out there it if you’re seriously looking to find some girl-on-girl love or spaces.

lesbian dating apps

2. Grindr

Sure, many dismiss Grindr as a “sex app.” But it can also work as a great dating app. There’s no song and dance of matching and/or woofing. The app has recently introduced “tapping,” a feature that lets you send cute (or suggestive) emojis like fire and devilish grins, to let someone know you’re interested and get to that first date faster. Speaking from personal experience, Grindr is a great and speedy way to set up a date as much as it is to find a casual hookup. Still, always remember to be truthful when stating whether you’re a top, bottom, or vers, along with any other specific preferences or relationship aspirations you may have. It’s always better to avoid a disappointing surprise if you move things to the bedroom.—C.I.

dating apps : grinder
Photo via Grindr

3. Fem

While Fem has a lot of the same features as your average dating app, it also has something uniquely useful called “rooms,” which allows users to browse a variety of chat rooms to meet people, send selfies, or just have a late-night conversation. Some current chat rooms include “Meet Locals (W4W),” “Makeup Talk,” and “Naughty or Nice,” which is completely NSFW. The app is geared toward “lesbian and bi-curious people,” according to its app store description, and claims to weed out “fake singles.”

Fem lesbian dating app


The best dating apps for open relationships

1. Feeld

It’s not so much for finding new relationships as it is for finding group sex. But hey, that’s certainly part of the non-monogamous lifestyle for some (but not all)! According to Steve Dean, a dating consultant who specializes in non-monogamous date coaching, Feeld is great for single women and couples, but not so great for single men. As far as straight couples go, finding a third generally sways toward looking for another woman instead of another man for about a bazillion reasons we can’t totally get into here. But just know there’s a stigma against single men in this scene. Dean’s advice for single guys on Feeld? “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”—Cynthia McKelvey

dating apps : Feeld
Screengrab via Google Play

2. OkCupid

OkCupid also offers a number of features for poly couples, such as the ability to link to their profiles. Additionally, as of this year, the majority of OKCupid’s user base is non-monogamous, according to the Atlantic.

“I like to dig into people’s profiles. I like to read people’s questions, and I find them really fascinating,” a 29-year-old designer told me, showing that non-monogamous dating isn’t all the sexy stuff. He said he’s been practicing non-monogamy for about a year, which initially started when opened up a previously monogamous relationship. He uses several dating apps, but OKC is his favorite. Interestingly, he told me that he doesn’t actually list himself as non-monogamous on the website, but finds most women he matches with are nonetheless open to the idea.—C.M.

best dating apps : okcupid
Screengrab via OkCupid/iTunes

3. Tinder

While OkCupid might leave you with a little too much profile information to mull over, Tinder is much more to the point. Some people will just come right out and say that they’re poly. Occasionally, you might even come across a couple’s profile. But there are other, more coded signals. Terms like “GGG,” which stands for “good, giving, game.” Again, this refers more to how someone approaches the bedroom, but it’s also a term coined by Dan Savage, the writer of the “Savage Love” column, who frequently espouses the virtues of non-monogamy.

My primary partner also used to list that he was in an open relationship in his profile, and included a selfie of the two of us. But he found his matches went way, way, down. Now his strategy is to not mention it at all—sometimes even waiting until during or after the first date to reveal his relationship status. So far, it’s been working. Like-minded people tend to be drawn to one another, so he’s probably not going to attract anyone who is staunchly monogamous.—C.M.

dating apps : tinder
Screengrab via Tinder/YouTube

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.

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*First Published: Aug 17, 2017, 6:30 am CDT