10 Free Dating Apps for Seeking Casual or Serious Relationships

dating apps
  • DatingforLove
  • Feb 21, 2024

Dating has become hard because of what's going on around the world. There's no denying it.

The good news is that there are tons of dating apps available these days to help you date online. However, while some of them are very good, others are distinctly average – and a total waste of your time and money.

To ensure you sign up for the app that befits your current needs and wants, I’m going to walk you through the best dating apps. I’ve personally tried all the dating apps, and I’m going to take a look at who they’re for, how they work, and what their costs, pros, and cons are. While many of the apps on our list include features to help users stay safe, it’s important to exercise caution when talking to and potentially meeting with strangers.

1. AdultFriendFinder

Adult Friend Finder is the world’s largest dating and social network for adults. Today, it’s common to see people of all ages use online dating platforms. With dating apps such as Tinder that have a mixed age group of people, it can take longer to find a match. Adult Friend Finder is exclusively for adults and is one of the few dating sites that offers X-rated content. Since its launch, Adult Friend Finder has managed to foster more than 3 million connections.

You can browse for free via the search function, and you can also send smiles and hearts. However, you need to upgrade your account to send messages and use the chatroom. Each time someone is interested in you, you’ll get an email letting you know. This way, it’s really easy to connect with someone else (unlike Tinder, where you could be swiping forever).

I landed a few matches and had a few conversations, but I found the best way to succeed on AdultFriendFinder is to fill out your profile with a story (this is a cool feature that will get you noticed by more people). You should also take the time to fill in a variety of categories so that people can see who you’re interested in.

2. AshleyMadison

Ashley Madison is a breath of fresh air for single or attached folks experiencing a sex slump. This exciting dating site and app offer tons of opportunities to mingle, match, flirt, and hook up discreetly. Over 80 million profiles await you on Ashley Madison, and it’s free to create an anonymous account.

Ashley Madison revolves around the idea that consenting adults should have the liberty to do as they please in private. Even though the world is evolving and people are becoming more accepting of relationships, judgment still lurks when people act on their sexual desires. Members use Ashley Madison for various reasons, and it is a judgment-free zone that supports them every step of the way.

Anyone can make a free account on Ashley Madison and receive access to basic functions to scout out the dating scene. But what’s great about Ashley Madison is that women never have to worry about paying anything while on the app. Even with an upgraded membership, women can use premium features, including chatting, for free.

3. Bumble

Bumble is a dating app like Tinder aimed at pairing up guys and girls who are either looking for either casual or serious relationships. However, there’s a catch: Girls have to message first if a guy and girl match (anyone can message first if it’s a same-sex connection). Also, Bumble has two features – one is for dating, and the other is for friends (BFF feature).

Bumble requires your age, location, height, weight, hair color, and so on to set up the profile. Then, you just need to add a few pics and a bumble bio and start swiping. If you like someone who’s liked you back, the two of you are a connection and can start chatting. Because Bumble is based on an algorithm, you need to put effort to write a good dating profile. The more popular it is (ergo, the more “likes” you have), the higher up the queue you will be. Thus, you’ll be more visible.

It's fairly easy to succeed on Bumble because there are just two simple keys to success: Good pics (pics with your dog or a kitten always work well) and a brief but witty bio. Once you connect and start chatting with someone, just make sure to be cool, normal, and – if possible – funny. Banter always works.

4. Tinder

Tinder is the most popular dating app for dating and hookups. It’s a free dating app that’s got more users than most other dating apps. There are paid features such as Tinder boost & Tinder gold, but many people find that they’re able to enjoy moderate success without upgrading their account.

The premise of Tinder was pretty original when it was first launched. Users just need to make a quick account that consists of at least one photo and their location and gender, and – if they like – they can add a couple of lines in their Tinder bio. Then, they’re free to “swipe.” If they like the look of someone, they swipe right. If they don’t, they swipe left. If two like each other, they’re a match and can get chatting.

It's very easy to get results on Tinder. The matches flooded in when I first joined but eventually tailed off as the algorithm made things harder. However, I made sure to add my best pics and a killer one-liner to my Tinder bio, and then I “boosted” myself a few times and upgraded to Tinder Gold so that I could see who liked me. I then got a few more matches and made sure to deliver witty opening messages.

5. Hinge

Hinge is a free dating app to use and works similar to Tinder with a few differences. Hinge is the only dating app that's “designed to be deleted.” It’s aimed at singles who are looking for something serious. To that end, there are very few fake profiles and millions of serious, active users.

The signup process is refreshingly easy, and you’re not required to fill out any questionnaires or tests. Instead, Hinge wants the bare minimum from you at this point – your basic info and 6 photos (these are all mandatory). No bio, Instead, there are a series of questions – such as “where do you want to travel to?” – that you can pick from. Your answers then show up on your account, and other users can choose to interact with them if they wish.

My top tip is to be creative with your Hinge answers. Since another Hinge member has nothing but your photos and answers to judge your personality off, there’s no point giving one-word answers to the questions.

6. OkCupid

OkCupid is one of the oldest yet most modern dating apps. It’s been revamped a few times over the years. It’s ideal for anyone who considers themselves LGBT, and it’s especially aimed at more open-minded, non-judgemental people who are looking for just about anything, whether that be friends, an OkCupid hookup, or a polygamous relationship. Start by giving the usual info, but there’s a questionnaire that you’ll need to complete, too.

Once you’re up and running, there are two ways to look for members: You can either use the search function or you can use a feature called Double Take, which works like Tinder’s “swipe” function. If you come across someone you like the look of, you can give them a message without waiting for them to connect with you. However, OkCupid then sends them an email to tell them that “someone” has sent them a message, and it’s only when they happen to “like” you back that they can see your message.

By restricting the way we send and receive messages on OkCupid, they sure made life harder for us. They say they changed their policy to help protect users from abusive, repetitive messages from other users they’re not interested in. That said, whilst starting a conversation with someone you like is harder than ever, it’s still possible to do well on OkCupid. My advice is to only message people you’re genuinely interested in and to keep your messages fun, light, and a tad flirty.

7. POF

One of the oldest online dating apps, Plenty of Fish (POF) is an old favorite for singles who want a free dating app. It costs nothing to send and receive messages, and its simple concept is very appealing to people who want a hassle-free dating experience. As simple as POF’s concept is, the sign-up process is rather lengthy because you need to answer numerous questions. Your answers go into POF’s algorithm and will help you get better potential matches.

Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, you need to write a few lines about yourself (a few lines are compulsory), add a few pics, and add a catchy headline. Because of the way POF’s search function works, a strong main image and an eye-catching POF headline are important. If you like the look of someone’s main pic and headline, you can visit their profile and send them a message.

There are a few things I like about POF. One is how easy it is to tweak your search according to location, age, etc. And two, I like how varied the users are. Some are looking for a bit of fun, others are looking for something long-term, but so many are open for at least a chat. If your pics are good and your profile is positive, fun, and friendly, there’s no reason you can’t succeed here.

8. CoffeeMeetsBagel

One of the least known dating apps, CoffeeMeetsBagel, has fairly low traffic. However, while it has its limitations, it’s a cute alternative to the more “brash” dating apps and can work as a side dating app to help you find a few more dates. CoffeeMeetsBagel is different from most other dating sites and dating apps in the sense that it has no search function. Instead, it puts a limited number of curated matches in front of you each day. Then, you get 24 hours to decide if you want to swipe left or right. If you swipe right and the other person does the same, you can start messaging.

CoffeeMeetsBagel shouldn’t be your number 1 dating app. It’s a better idea to pop in and out of it every now and then. This is because its users are quite low, and the dating app only aims to pair you up with compatible people who are nearby.

As such, I didn’t get too many matches. However, due to the way it works, it also means you won’t spend your whole day endlessly swiping. Instead, you’re given several curated matches each day. Once you’ve run through them all, it’s time to either send messages or switch to another app.

9. Happn

Happn is a geo-location-based dating app with 50 million active users around the world. It works a bit like Tinder but with a twist: It tries to meet you with somebody you’ve already met. The sign-up process is a breeze and can be done by linking your Facebook account. You need to hand over a couple of personal details, such as your date of birth, but you don’t need to spend time creating a bio.

You’re free to swipe left or right on other members. You’ll notice that the information you can see on a person’s profile is limited until you upgrade your account. You’ll also notice that each person who is put in front of you lives fairly close by. This is because the happn dating app shows you matches according to proximity, as well as the preferences you’ve set.

I found Happn a really useful dating app that made it easy to set up dates with singles who lived nearby. Because it’s geo-location based and attempts to pair you up with somebody who you’ve maybe met before (perhaps you went to the same gig one time), it’s a lot easier to strike up an initial conversation. Moreover, because your matches are close by, it’s a lot easier to match, chat, and meet up all on the same night.

10. HER

HER is aimed at lesbians, bisexuals, and queer women. It’s free to send messages, and users have to link at least one of their social media accounts. It’s a fun, open, and tolerant lesbian dating app that continues to attract more users.

The sign-up process takes a few seconds, but you need to link either your Facebook or Instagram account. You can add a few photos and ‘text items’ (not so much a bio, and your location adjusts whenever you move). Like a lot of dating apps these days, HER doesn’t have a search function. Instead, the app works like Tinder, and you can only send messages to your matches or be added as a friend. However, there is a Feed feature that lets you comment on posts that you haven’t yet matched with.

As a guy, I wasn’t able to use HER. However, I’ve checked the app out and spoken to a few buddies who have used it. The general consensus is that HER is useful for “checking throughout the day” and that it’s fairly easy to “get a few matches.” Their users tend to prefer to exchange a few brief messages before meeting up as soon as possible.

Is Bumble Better Than Tinder?

Bumble and Tinder have been bitter rivals since Bumble Founder Whitney Wolfe Herd left Tinder and sued her fellow co-founders (one of whom was an ex-boyfriend). In terms of numbers, Tinder has the edge — 530 million downloads versus only 100 million for Bumble.

However, Bumble’s women-first messaging policy has earned it a reputation as a more quality-driven space with greater care taken toward online dating safety and fostering mutual respect.

Escape Swipe Life on a Quality Dating Platform

Complaints about burnout come from the swiping feature Tinder invented. It’s the status quo for many dating sites today, but it’s not the only matchmaking feature you can find out there.

Plenty of apps and sites have unique tools to foster meaningful connections, so if Tinder isn’t your jam, take heart!

Do Dating Apps & Sites Really Work?

Yes! Although there is still some lingering stigma around meeting people on dating apps and sites, the statistics speak for themselves. From niche dating sites to more mainstream platforms, dating sites continue to rack up a large proportion of success stories every year.

Studies indicate that marriages that begin with online dating tend to be stronger because online dating gives singles a solid foundation to begin a new relationship. Compatibility-based matching plays a big role in this, but a more significant factor is probably that you can meet people on apps and sites that you might never cross paths with any other way.

Unlike the traditional methods of meeting a partner at a local bar, through friends and family, or through your social circle and the places you go, online dating makes it easy to identify a lot of people who share the same interests as you. Those people might be in your city or might be in the next town. They might even be on the other side of the world.