What was life like before dating apps? It’s hard to believe that we regularly endured the terror of in-person, on-the-spot rejection, but we did. Today, asking someone out in person is like voluntary self torture. Ok, so maybe that’s being a little dramatic, but when was the last time you can honestly say that you asked for a stranger’s number face to face? The answer is probably not since 2012, before Tinder made its first cameo.
That means the last time you asked someone out in person, “Call Me Maybe” was America’s official anthem, Kim Kardashian was married to Kris Humphries, and Tim Riggins and Coach Taylor were still serving us jaw-dropping, hot-man-realness on a weekly basis. ‘Twas a simpler time...le sigh.
Alas, here we are in 2019, when it feels like every day there’s a new dating app—Bumble, Hinge, Coffee Meets Bagel, Raya, Happn, The League—the options are endless. So how do you navigate the overwhelming number of eligible singles? How do you know which apps are best for your personal preferences and dating expectations? It’s hard to determine and I think it mostly depends on what you’re looking for. According to dating app users, these are the best dating apps for serious relationships:
The Best Dating Apps for Serious Relationships, According to Daters
“I have actually used quite a few dating apps because I just moved to a new city and saw it as a way to meet people romantically and potentially also to find friendships. Out of all of them that I use (Tinder, Bumble, the League, and Hinge), Hinge is definitely my favorite. You know SO many details about the person before you even meet them and the mandatory three writing prompts and six pictures forces everyone to share more than they normally would! I’ve gone on three dates with Hinge guys over the past few months and they have all been really great because you know what you’re getting yourself into!” - Carolyn, 23 years old, Denver, Colorado
“I enjoyed the aesthetic qualities of Hinge, adding little anecdotes about your life through a series of guided questions, but I only had any actual luck using Bumble.” - Emily, 34 years old, Los Angeles, California
“Maybe Hinge because the format requires one to put in a bit more effort (plus you can tell when people have super basic responses to things). Also people are generally more responsive.” - Ben, 35 years old, New York City, New York
“I like Bumble and Match for different reasons. I like the simplicity of Bumble but I live in an area where men my age aren't as aware of it so there has been no dating for me on it. I use Match because that's what men in my age age group and in my region seem to use. As Bono wrote, ‘and I still haven't found what I'm looking for...’” - Melanie, 62 years old, Portland, Maine
“My favorite of all them is Bumble. I’m very attracted to a woman who knows what she is looking for and have found, even if it’s just a simple ‘hi,’ having her make the initial communication shows more commitment to potentially dating than Tinder or any other app I’ve been on. I feel like I met much more genuine women.” - Cameron, 34 years old, Los Angeles, California
Answers to the best dating apps for serious relationships varies a bit between users and relationship experts. I asked three dating experts—Marisa Cohen, a psychology professor, relationship coach and researcher, Dr. Sophia Reed, a certified counselor, relationship expert, and blogger and Adina Mahalli (MSW), a certified mental health professional—to weigh in on what they thought the best dating apps are for those seeking a serious relationship as well as a few tips on how to make the perfect dating app profile.
The Best Dating Apps for Serious Relationships, According to Experts
“When it comes to the best dating apps for serious relationships, it is impossible to definitively pick the best one, because it really depends on the intentions of the daters. While most people tend to find swipe-based sites as a place where you would find less serious people (because there is so much choice and people may be treating it like a game), this doesn't necessarily apply to everyone. I usually tell people to use a site they pay for, in addition to a free site for two reasons. People on free sites may be causally looking, and thus, why they haven't invested yet. Or, on many sites, when you pay, you are granted access to additional features (which can be helpful).” - Marisa Cohen, a psychology professor, relationship coach and researcher
“The best dating apps for serious relationships tend to make people jump through hoops to join. E-harmony requires a membership. The league is an exclusive app that is selective about the type of people they accept. For Match.com, matches are based on mutual characteristics and interests. All of the apps, and similar apps, are some of the best dating apps for serious relationships. If an app involves a fee, an extensive application process, or a waitlist, then the people on that app are probably more serious about finding a relationship if they are willing to go jump through all of the hoops.” - Dr. Sophia Reed, a certified counselor, relationship expert
“A typical dating app is essentially a numbers game. You get shown hundreds of profiles a day and maybe get a few dates out of them. One of the best dating apps for serious relationships, Coffee Meets Bagel, is different in that it’s not just based on an instant attraction to a picture like other dating apps. Coffee Meets Bagel gives you one match a day that is filtered to be in line with what you’re looking for. Only receiving one match a day allows you to actually make a well-informed decision as to whether you should say yes.” - Adina Mahalli (MSW), a certified mental health professional
Your Dating App Profile Should Represent You
According to Dr. Sophia Reed, “Your profile should represent you. If you are funny then make your profile funny or if you have a strange sense of humor then add that as well. Your profile is a chance to show potential dates what you are about.
Avoid cookie cutter information that everyone else seems to have on their profile. No vague information. For example: “I like to travel,” make it unique and more about why you like to travel. This helps you to stand out and for potential matches to be attracted to you for who you are as a person.
Avoid pictures from 15 years ago. If you are looking for a serious relationship then know that you will actually have to go on a date and you have to look like yourself when you go. As someone who has dated online, a huge complaint that I hear is that they tend to meet a fair amount of people who look nothing like their picture.
Avoid using filters. Your photos should not be excessively altered, filtered, have cat ears, or any other things added to it that heavily alters your natural appearance. Choose a nice picture, where you are in your element, good lighting, not blurry, a clean background, one where you are dressed nicely, and nothing too provocative or sexually suggestive.”
Use Your Profile to Showcase What’s Important to You
Marisa Cohen says, “As far as the profile itself, be sure to select multiple photos which provide an accurate, up-to-date depiction of you. Don't start the relationship on a lie, and present yourself as you are.
Choose somewhere between three to five (basically a moderate amount). If you only put one, you aren't necessarily showcasing your interests (my next point), and if you pick too many, people may spend all of their time scrolling through your photos, rather than reading what you wrote in the body of the profile.
Showcase some of what is important to you (your pet, travel, cooking, etc.). Show off your interests and your personality. Also, avoid group photos—it should be clear who you are in the picture. Fill out the profile in a way that someone can get to know a bit more about you, and that gives them the opportunity to pick up on something you wrote to start a conversation about (just as you would want to do with their profile). And, avoid making general statements that don't say much, such as the always popular, "I like to go out, but I also like to stay in,"explains Cohen.
It’s hard to definitively say what dating apps are best for finding a serious relationship, but in my own experience and the general consensus among the dating app users I interviewed, the top two contenders I hear about most are Bumble and Hinge. After trying a few dating apps, I am not sure that I agree that the more selective and fee-based the dating app the more serious the pool of daters, that has not been my experience.
Raya, which is considered to be “The Soho House” of dating apps, claims to be highly selective and requires a higher membership fee than most, and it was by far the WORST dating app experience I have had. However Hinge, which is free, was definitely my preferred dating app among all that are out there. It requires users to provide a series of answers to interesting prompts, which means more info about your matches and there can occasionally be some degree of mutual friends in common with your match.
Ideally, I would love to meet someone in a more organic circumstance, but that is becoming quite rare and it appears as though dating apps won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. So if you’re seeking a serious relationship, then dating apps like Bumble or Hinge might be a good place to start.