Finding your soulmate is worth every penny, but do you really need to use a paid site to find a real relationship? Does a monthly fee really weed out people who aren’t taking the process seriously?
This wasn’t really an issue before 2012, but the Tinder-led surge of 30-second profiles and instant access to all single folks within 10 miles gave sites with tedious personality analyses and upscale subscriptions a run for their money — literally.
Vox said what we’re all really thinking: “At what point in the completely nightmarish process of online dating does one decide that it’s worth spending money on making that experience slightly less terrible?”
Do you really need to pay for a dating site?
According to Reddit and Consumer Reports, not really. This Consumer Reports survey found that free sites actually scored better than paid sites on this when it came to overall satisfaction because they’re “better value.” Unless you’re absolutely lost without those heavy-duty matchmaking algorithms, many free sites still offer the questionnaires, detailed bios, and compatibility ratings that indicate red flags and users you wouldn’t get along with.
There’s no one dating site that everyone is particularly pumped about. Swiping exhaustion and creepily persistent users are an omnipresent part of all online dating. Sorry, but a paid subscription isn’t a metal detector that pulls all of the upstanding, faithful singles up out of the crowd. When there are sites that can offer millions of users for free and success stories to prove they work, why not try them before spending £20 per month elsewhere?
A hefty price point doesn’t guarantee the absence of fakes or catfishes, either. Many free sites are just as big on privacy and safety, requiring users to verify themselves through Facebook to increase transparency about age and first names. No paid sites have the safety features that Tinder does, which is the first of the Match Group apps to offer 911 assistance and location services to make meeting a stranger safer.
The aesthetic experience certainly isn’t what your money is going toward, either. Many of the older, subscription-based sites have been slow to modernise their UX designs, still relying on the very 2000s style of bombarding you with notifications for every wink, message, and whatever else.
Can you fall in love with someone online?
We’ve all accepted that online dating is great for finding a friend with benefits, but telling family members that it’s getting serious with that person you met online still takes convincing. However, recent studies show that meeting online can foster a pretty reliable romantic foundation.
A 2017 study cited in the MIT Technology Review found that people who meet online are more likely to be compatible and have a better chance at a healthy marriage if they decide to get hitched. Another study found that heterosexual couples who met online were quicker to tie the knot. These stats don’t take anything from correlation to causation, but they do make the case that people who sign up for dating sites that require thoughtful responses are in a better spot to settle down.
There’s an unspoken assumption that people on free dating sites are young, horny people with no disposable income and that people on paid dating sites are mature, employed individuals who are ready to settle down. But eharmony, Match, Tinder, and OkCupid have rather similar age demographics, all with surprisingly close splits between people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
Which dating sites are actually free?
Waters get muddied when basically every dating site has some sort of paid and free version. True free apps let users do all of this as a baseline, and then offer paid perks such as the ability to see everyone who has swiped right on you or boosting your profile for a certain amount of time. Free-but-not-really apps are the ones that are technically free to use, but you have to pay to do just about anything including read or respond to messages.
Premium memberships of free apps are an affordable way to give more control over your pool of potential partners, but they probably don’t do much to expedite the grueling swiping process. When Tinder released Tinder Gold, it beat Candy Crush as the Apple Store’s top-grossing app. People were that willing to pay to see who swiped right on them. That might be handy knowledge if you’re looking to get laid, but it’s hard to tell if it would help find someone that you like enough to share your life with. No one I know has kept a paid version of a free app for more than a month.
At any rate, there’s a certain serendipitous feeling that comes with the possibility that, out of the millions of users Hinge could have shown you that day, your soulmate popped up in the crowd of 10 likes you can give out per day (compared to the unlimited likes that come with Hinge Preferred).
What are the best free dating sites
To help you find the perfect free dating site for a serious relationship, we have lined up a selection of the best dating sites and apps for you to consider. There is something for everyone in this list, including seriously popular sites like Hinge and OkCupid.
We recommend talking some time to seriously check out everything in this roundup, and consider which site fits your preferences most closely. Once you have made that decision, all you need to do is actually go online and find love. Easy, right?
These are the best free dating sites for finding a serious relationship in 2021.