Whether you love or loathe, there is no denying it has changed online dating forever.
As a result there is now no end of apps with the same aim of helping you fall in love and live happily ever after, or at the least find someone to hang out with next weekend.
Whether it’s matching you on your favourite interests or finding someone who you share mutual friends with. Here, we take the biggest alternatives to Tinder and give them a spin to find out what (if anything) they do differently and what sets them apart.
The USP: Match.com is Old Internet – it launched in 1995! Before Google! Before you even had a computer! – so we understand any scepticism you might have. What are we going to suggest next, an AOL chat room? Habbo Hotel? The dating world is about gimmicks and ever-advancing AI. Why would you look backwards when you could just download the trendy new app?
But Match.com has survived this long for a reason. It’s moved with the times from an algorithmic standpoint but remains extremely stripped-back and basic. The filters are extensive, and while the ‘like’ system is very similar to Tinder, the discover page allows a more curated window-shopping experience. The MatchPhone feature also provides you with a custom, totally anonymous phone line that allows you to chat without monitoring (you can block the caller if need be).
Pros: The phone app is simple, and the service has a wide database of users.
Cons: A one-month subscription is £29.99, which is pretty crazy. Three months works out at £19.99/m and six boils down to £9.99/m.
Verdict: VINTAGE FUN with a NEW AGE FEEL.
The USP: It’s safe to say that Facebook Dating has arrived about a decade too late. People are probably far less keen to involved Zuckerberg and co in their love lives following the Cambridge Analytica privacy fall-out of 2018, and the site’s popularity amongst young people is dropping off. Still, it was always perfectly suited to hosting a dating app and now it’s here, completely free, simple to set up and integrated with the rest of site’s myriad social features.
Pros: It’s easy to find others with similar interests through the group function, and there’s a ‘Secret Crush’ feature that allows you to select Facebook friends who you’re interested in (they won’t see if they don’t choose you too.)
Cons: It’s Facebook.
Verdict: Free and easy to use
The USP: Match with your pal’s pals (on Facebook).
Pros: The brashness. If you actively pursue a date on Hinge, discretion mustn’t be an issue – your friends are bound to find out. This means having a handy mutual connection to discuss / slag off when you meet up for drinks.
Cons: It’s all a little too close to home: what’s to stop her feeding your dating tekkers back to your pal? It could make future beers with your mates a little awkward.
Verdict: This app allows you to eliminate the middleman. If you lack inhibition, Hinge could throw the door wide open.
The USP: With more than 400 million members, Badoo is one of the world’s most popular dating apps and part of the same umbrella company as Bumble. On it users upload a picture of a celebrity or famous figure they fancy and the app serves up members who look similar.
Pros: It’s a non-swiping app and allows you a smaller pool of potential dates tailored to your taste.
Cons: Just because someone looks like Tom Hardy or Jessica Alba doesn’t mean they will behave like them.
Verdict: If you’ve got very specific tastes Badoo might work for you but fancying someone because they look like a celebrity is so rarely how attraction works.
The USP: As one of the longest standing dating sites on the internet, The Guardian’s Soulmates service doesn’t need to prove its credentials. Perhaps that’s why it’s one of the only apps that requires a paid subscription to fully utilise (and at £35/month, it doesn’t come cheap.)
So what are you getting for that money? None of the bells and whistles that we’ve come to expect from modern dating apps, that’s for sure. This is a back-to-basics service that relies on its like-minded and loyal user base (more than 80 per cent of members read the Guardian, and unlike many dating apps men only slightly outnumber women). It also offers regular singles events for users, a regularly updated Soulmates blog and a highly refined search function.
Pros: A strong reputation and compatible crowd
Cons: Not as innovative or packed with features as newer dating apps.
Verdict: Worth the money if sitting in the pub on a Sunday quietly reading The Observer is one of your kinks.
Coffee Meets Bagel
The USP: Their mantra and methodology is explained thus: “Each day at noon, guys will receive up to 21 quality matches – known as ‘Bagels’. They are given the option to either LIKE or PASS. Then, Coffee Meets Bagel will curate the best potential matches for women among the men who expressed interest.”
Pros: A more curated selection than just endlessly swiping through everyone.
Cons: The app requires you to give over control over to someone else to decide for you.
Verdict: CMB only lets you see people who have liked you, so no torturing yourself about ‘the one that got away’. Think of it as a time-effective dating app.
The USP: Gives you the chance to tell your friends (rather than strangers) that you want to sleep with them.
Pros: There is a strange thrill in being able to ‘swipe’ that acquaintance you’ve always fancied, asking them for a date (up) or telling them you want to sleep with them (down). Until you realise how pathetic it is.
Cons: It pulls in every single woman who happens to be your friend on Facebook, even if they haven’t joined Down yet (your cowardly come on will be waiting for them if they ever do), making it rather pointless.
Verdict: The more you think about it, the less sense Down makes. Isn’t the whole point of internet dating that you can meet someone new? This hook-up app for friends (and friends of friends) is the equivalent of passing ‘I Like You’ notes in class.
The USP: Hook up with the people you walk past on the street.
Pros: Once you get over the slight stalker complex Happn instils on you by showing women who walked past your front door an hour ago, matching with users within a 250-metre radius is actually quite handy. Chances are you live or work in the same area, so arranging a date becomes a lot simpler.
Cons: If the date goes horribly, there are no assurances you won’t bump into her when you’re buying milk a few days later. Also, spend too much time on it and you start getting paranoid you’re seeing ‘someone you liked on Happn’ every time you sit in your local cafe.
Verdict: One of the most effective – and convenient – dating apps out there. Until it isn’t.
The USP: Endless personality quiz questions that give you a match percentage with would-be partners.
Pros: You can weed out people with traits or points of view you find simply unacceptable. Racists, bigots and Mumford & Sons fans, then.
Cons: Too many basic functions are restricted to paid membership.
Verdict: Worth a shot, if only to kill time answering bizarre questions about yourself.
Plenty Of Fish
The USP: It’s a huge ocean, with more members than any of the others (around 70 million).
Pros: Unlike most of the other apps, doing the basics on PoF – looking at profiles, sending and reading messages – is absolutely free.
Cons: A high number of sexually frustrated virgin-trolls means a lot of women find using it a harrowing experience, which understandably makes them cagey when you, a normal man, comes along. It’s disheartening how many women have to resort to ‘please no sex pests’ appendices on their profile information.
Verdict: Easy to navigate, simple and free to use, void of distracting gimmicks. And unlike Tinder, users tend to write a bit about themselves, meaning you have more to go on (and sell yourself with) than just your five least-worst selfies.
The USP: It really works. If you happen to be gay, bisexual or curious.
Pros: Easy and efficient to use, you can find a hook-up within minutes.
Cons: It is notoriously ‘glitchy’, with messages disappearing and some functions not working properly.
Verdict: The app that started it all, Grindr has been helping men who like men improve their sex lives since 2009. Whether they are honest about it or not, every heterosexual internet dating app out there aspires to be the ‘Grindr for straight people’. Has is happened yet? Not even close.
The USP: Dating for over-50s.
Pros: Most (if not all) dating apps provide age boundaries, but Lumen is the first dedicated service for people over the age of 50, with a verification system that keeps bots and scammers at bay.
Cons: Not a lot of search filter options. All opening messages must feature more than 50 characters, which means you can’t rely on the tried-and-tested “Wazzzuuuppp?!?!”
Verdict: A simple interface, strong security focus and growing community means that Lumen’s future is bright for this mature dating app.
The USP: Members are vetted, and they also run IRL singles events.
Pros: The screening process ensures out-and-out perverts are banished, which means everyone wins (except the perverts). The fun and well-organised events means membership feels a bit more like a club, and less like pin-balling around a vast galaxy of random singletons.
Cons: After sending someone a message, you’re notified when they’re checking your profile, which means you can actually see yourself being rejected in real time. But hey, that’s life.
Verdict: Pulling together the best elements of other older dating apps, Inner Circle is the best all-rounder out there with the highest quantity of people you’d actually like to meet. £5 a week for the advanced user options is just too much, though.
The USP: Like Tinder, except once you match, only the ladies can make the first move and say hello.
Pros: It means women have an extra barrier against the ‘hey hun wanna fuk??’ brigade, which is good for all concerned. It also means if she’s got in touch with you, you definitely weren’t an ‘accidental swipe’, meaning you’ll be leaving less of those unanswered hellos that slowly chip away at your soul.
Cons: None, really. Though one minor gripe is that Bumble’s algorithm clearly pulls ten of the highest rated profiles to the top of your feed every time you log in. Parading the hottest – and least obtainable – women in front of your face every time you log in feels a little bit manipulative.
Verdict: A dating app where women need not fear to tread, and where the sting of rejection is largely removed for you. Win-win.
The USP: Connect with verified millionaires.
Pros: The site boasts a large portfolio of high earners and offers 24/7 customer service for their members.
Cons: Sadly, you also need to be a millionaire. People tend to upload shots of their huge houses.
Verdict: Aside the obviously Dickensian classism all over the site, it also has an understandably odd mixture of trust fund brats and retired divorcees. Luxy does however offer high security to protect your privacy and weeds out people looking for a sugar daddy or mumma.
The USP: It’s a dating service for countryside lovers, rather than people who don’t bathe.
Pros: You don’t actually have to live in the countryside. You just need to be into the rural scene. Rambling, jodhpurs, chortling, wax gilets, shovelling poo. All that good stuff.
Cons: Full membership (which allows you to send messages) comes in at £94/year.
Verdict: No other app can guarantee you a weekly polo tutorial. For that, it’s worth the yearly fee.
The USP: Fall in love with someone who shares your music taste.
Pros: A nice way to connect with people on something you’re passionate about, or it can be used to find friends to visit gigs with.
Cons: Just because you both like Kings of Leon doesn’t really mean you’re made for each other.
Verdict: A nice concept and considering music is a personal passion that connect a lot of people, Tastebuds actually has more of a USP than most niche interest apps. However the same warnings apply – you may be looking for your dream girl who loves Ok Computer, but you’re going to end up with a page of middle-aged Radiohead loving blokes like yourself.
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