NOW that Covid restrictions have been lifted, online dating sites and apps have been busier than ever.
Lockdown-related isolation has left many people longing for a new partner, but choosing the best dating site or app can be tricky, especially as there are so many to choose from now.
The good thing about online dating is that it makes it easy to access a diverse pool of potential partners as millions of people in the UK have profiles. It's also easy to narrow your pool based on preferences such as age, occupation, location, and gender.
That means it's just a matter of getting involved to search for that person who can bring a smile to your face. Read on for our selection of the best dating sites and apps for 2022.
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- Match.com – sign up here
We love Match because of its huge user base, which is unsurprising seeing as it's one of the UK's biggest dating sites.
The website is easy to navigate and daters are given plenty of information on their potential matches, so you can make a more informed decision before 'skipping' someone, rather than judging on looks alone.
Match also has a free membership, but it's rather limited. You'll get out a lot more by signing up for their one, three or six-month subscription which allows you to send unlimited messages to other members, browse matches without ads and get tickets to exclusive Match events.
Best for: Long-term love Membership cost: From £9.99/month for an annual subscription
- Ourtime – sign up here
Ourtime is a really good dating site for over-50s. It's owned by the Match group and the free membership is being taken advantage of by over 150,000 active members.
We think it's great for people who want to meet up with their dates as soon as possible rather than continuously swiping or staying online.
What sets Ourtime apart is that it allows members to meet through dedicated activities. You'll have a fun, relaxing environment to meet new singles ready to mingle.
If you're not sure about meeting in person, don't worry – their video chat feature means you can date virtually and connect with dates no matter where you are in the world.
The dating site also hosts regular singles events and offers dating advice.
Best for: Over 50s Membership cost: From £24.99/month for a 3-month subscription
- eHarmony – sign up here
More than 2 million couples have met through eHarmony since it launched in 2000, and the site has claimed that it creates more than 15 million matches per day.
So, we think eHarmony is the one to opt for if you're looking for long-term potential from your new love interests. It's popular for its Compatibility Matching System that gives you a compatibility score based on 32 separate criteria.
You can find your new date in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, or anywhere else in the UK. The dating site also offers users free dating advice.
Join from £44.95 for a month – or you can nab a lower price if you sign up for a longer subscription.
Best for: Compatibility matching Membership cost: From £9.95/month for a year subscription
- OkCupid – sign up here
One of the best-known dating sites, OkCupid, is a free, easy-to-use dating site that allows you to see all potential matches, interact with other members and send unlimited messages without paying a dime.
It's definitely good for fussy daters or those fed-up of constantly swiping left on other apps. If you've got a dating checklist, this is the site for you.
OkCupid lets you choose everything from the type of relationship you're looking for (even if it's just a hookup!) to a wide range of specific lifestyle questions, and filters out potentials who don't align with what you're looking for.
It also has paid options for anyone who wants a more powerful dating experience on their site, including profile boosts, read receipts and unlimited likes.
Best for: Fussy daters Membership cost: From £19.49/month for a year subscription
- Original Dating – sign up here
For those that feel comfortable meeting new dates in person, check out Original Dating.
Rather than staying online, be it on a dating site or app, Original Dating is the UK's leader in speed dating and parties for singles which means you can meet your match in real-life.
The site is great for people who prefer getting to know someone face-to-face and it even offers a speed dating guarantee. Original Dating is so confident you'll meet someone you like the first time that, if you don't, your next event is free. What's not to like?
There are a number of speed dating locations and venues across the UK with varying prices, but users can see the age range and what the atmosphere is like in each venue (including how many daters will be in attendance) before booking.
Best for: Speed dating Membership cost: Pay ticket prices for individual dating events
- Zoosk – sign up here
Zoosk is used by 27 million members in the UK, meaning there are potentially lots of matches for those looking for love or simply a new date on the weekend.
The site's algorithm is seriously clever in how it learns what and who you might like and its SmartPick function works to gather up the daters who you're most likely going to be attracted to. That's why Zoosk has become global – it's available in 80 countries and translated into 25 languages.
It costs £29.99 for a month but you can get it cheaper at £20 a month for three months or £15 a month for six months.
Best for: Behavioural matchmaking Membership cost: From £15/month (for 6 months)
- Parship – sign up here
Parship is a dating site designed for serious relationships that are "lasting, honest and sincere." It's great for meeting like-minded people, with similar professions, hobbies and education levels. Their user base is aged between 28 and 55 years old.
The UK and Europe online dating site says it believes in facts, not coincidences, even when it comes to love. It uses a scientific test to analyse your personality traits when you first sign up to help find a compatible match.
Another selling point of Parship is discretion and security. You can control who sees your profile and can secretly check other people's profiles.
Prices start from £14.90 a month.
Best for: Discretion and security Membership cost: From £14.90/month (for 6 months)
- Tinder – sign up here
With 55 billion matches to date and over 50 million users worldwide, Tinder is undoubtedly one of the busiest dating apps out there. It came up with the infamous 'Swipe Right' feature, now implemented in most dating apps as a "yes" or "no" answer to potential matches.
It's free to create an account on Tinder. The paid subscriptions including the Tinder Gold and Tinder Plus give you additional features such as Tinder passport, meaning you can swipe on anyone anywhere in the world, no ads, and unlimited likes. You can even see who likes you before swiping on them, meaning you get to be more selective and don't have to guess.
Tinder is often seen as an app for casual dating, but nothing stops you from using it to find a relationship. With a massive user base, it can give you plenty of options. Who knows what might happen?
Best for: Casual dating Membership cost: From £3.99/month
- Bumble – sign up here
Known as the 'feminist' dating app, Bumble is the only dating app that requires women to make the first move. How does it work? After matching, the man can't contact the woman. The woman has to send the first message or else the match will expire.
We think Bumble is great if you're looking for a relationship and want to try a new dating dynamics. When you want to take a break from dating, you can jump on Bumble BFF to find a new friend or Bumble Bizz to find a new business partner, using the same 'Swipe Right' feature.
Bumble is free with a few optional enhancement features including Bumble Boost, Bumble Premium, SuperSwipe, and Spotlight.
Best for: New dating dynamics Membership cost: From £14.99/month
- Hinge – sign up here
'Designed to be deleted' is the slogan of Hinge, a mobile-first dating app for people who want to find a relationship and stop dating forever.
Hinge stands out with features that tackle the superficiality of the dating app market. For example, users have to answer thoughtful prompts besides filling out their basic information.
And recently, the dating app has rolled out the voice recording function that makes your interactions with your matches more intimate.
Like most dating apps, Hinge is free, but you can pay for extra features as part of their 'Preferred Membership.'
Best for: Finding a serious relationship Membership cost: From £19.66/month (for 3 months)
- CoffeeMeetsBagels – sign up here
CoffeeMeetsBagels leans more on the side of serious relationships than casual dating. It was created by three founders in the States but it has since expanded worldwide.
What sets this dating app apart is the proprietary algorithm that takes into account different personal factors of a user to send them one single match a day. That means you have to take a closer look at your potential partner and decide whether you want to move forward with them within 24 hours.
The app is free, but you can pay to access premium features that let you see read receipts and your match's activity stats.
Best for: Busy singles Membership cost: From £18.50/month (for 6 months)
- Badoo – sign up here
Badoo has over 532 million users worldwide and around 7 million users in the UK, so you'll never run out of profiles to browse through. It markets itself as a social media network instead of a dating app but its focus is mainly on dating.
When you sign up for the site, you can state what you're looking for and dive into its rather young and hip user base. You can choose to swipe or look for people nearby based on gender, what they're looking for, age, location, or distance away from you.
You don't need to pay to send messages to other members. However, if you haven't matched with someone, you can only send them up to two messages.
Best for: Younger singles Membership cost: From £17.99/month
- Muzmatch – sign up here
If you're a single Muslim looking to find your person and get married, Muzmatch is the app for you. Launched in 2015 in the UK, it has grown quickly to over 4 million verified members.
According to the Muzmatch website, app has made 100,000 marriages happen, so it must be doing something right.
The app is free to use, but if you really like someone and want to talk to them before they like you, you have to sign up for the paid version.
Best for: Single Muslims Membership cost: From £19.99/month
- HER – sign up here
A dating app designed exclusively for queer women and gender diverse people, HER has over 8 million users worldwide and a vibrant community. The app also throws local events to help daters connect and find the love of their life IRL.
Using HER is simple. The dating section works like other dating apps – you can view people's profiles, send likes and chat with them. The networking section is the fun bit, showing you local queer events to attend.
What's special about HER is that it's inclusive and it encourages you to be open and true to yourself, regardless of your identity and relationship orientation.
Best for: Gender diversity Membership cost: From £13.99/month
- Inner Circle – sign up here
Inner Circle doesn't want you to swipe endlessly. Launched in 2012, the app wants you to meet like-minded people who are on the same page as you, and that's why it has a selective application process for new members to join — members are screened based on safety, effort and mindset.
Its selling point is the exclusive monthly events it throws for single people who are mostly young professionals to meet and have fun.
Best for: Young professionals Membership cost: $39.99/month
- EliteSingles – sign up here
As the name suggests, EliteSingles is not for everyone. It's geared towards "affluent, educated" singles who are looking for serious commitment and can afford its subscription fee.
It's free to create an account on EliteSingles, but you have to pay to send messages. As a user, you'll be delivered 3-7 potential matches a day based on your personality test answers.
It's designed for all different types of dating and groups of people.
Best for: Affluent singles Membership cost: From £24.95/month (for annual subscription)
How to do online dating successfully
When it comes to using a dating site, it helps to feel that you're ready to date and have some idea of what you're looking for.
As a general rule, don't overthink things and keep the conversation light and chatty. It helps if you can arrange a safe meet-up or a virtual date early on in the dating process, that way you can figure out quickly if there's real potential and avoid any time-wasters who aren't serious when it comes to meeting up.
Remember, stay safe on the sites. Look for verified profiles (where offered) and if you have very particular criteria it may help to choose one of the dating websites where specifying that is a feature (you can see which ones offer this in the round-up above.)
Is online dating safe?
Online dating is safe when you're careful – but it pays to be alert. Remember the 'Tinder Swindler'?
Don't overshare with anyone you don't know in real life and keep personal contact details private until you are ready.
Don't communicate with anyone who tries to force you into sharing personal data – most dating sites let you report people who do this without them being made aware, so don't be afraid of doing it.
When it comes to getting to know your matches, take your time and check if their profile is linked to a main social media profile so you know they are who they say they are.
Trust your gut. If you find yourself questioning the validity of their display pictures, it's always worth doing a reverse Google image search to make sure the photos haven't been stolen from someone else.
Don't feel pressured into meeting before you're ready and always meet up in a public place. This helps to keep you both safe.
First dates are all about gauging if you have chemistry so don't feel pressure to be out for hours. Most importantly, if you don't feel comfortable for any reason, make your excuses and leave.
Remember to report any strange behaviour or profiles to the dating site because this gives them the heads up to investigate the user and make the whole platform safer and more enjoyable for everyone.
What do you talk about on a first date?
When it comes to meeting up for that all important first date, it's your chance to share your real personality and not just your dating site profile.
Try not to overthink things and be yourself. You'll already have covered some ground whilst chatting on the app, so just think of this as a continuation of that.
Make sure you don't exhaust all topics of conversation online before you meet in person so you have new things to talk about on your date.
Use what you've chatted about online as a springboard for further chat. Keep things light, listen and ask your date questions. No one wants to be talked at.
Great topics to cover are pets, favourite movies and TV shows, ambitions, hobbies and passions, where you grew up, where you would like to travel, books and favourite foods and drinks.
Steer clear of in-depth conversations about exes or past relationships. It's only the first date, more personal topics will come up later down the line if things progress.
If you notice any red flags, pay attention to them, even if you really fancy your date. If they're red flags now, they'll be red flags later.
Get to know the person in the flesh, rather than their dating profile because that's who you'll be dating if things go well, not the person they are online.
And remember – dating is supposed to be fun!
What is the best dating site?
This really depends on what you're looking for – for example, whether you want to go on some casual dates or find a long-term relationship.
You should also consider how you like to date and features of a dating app that are most convenient for you.
However,Match is widely considered one of the best dating sites due to its longjevity and sheer volume of successful matches over the past 25 years.
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