In a world where dating horror stories are almost a rite of passage, I can take consolation in a few things. One, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Two, most of those fish are dating from their phones, making it easier to connect than ever.
Still, with so many fish to reel in (and, let's be real, your fair share of bottom feeders to avoid), online dating can be overwhelming. These days, singletons are flooded with options, says Dr. Shawntres Parks, PhD, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist, relationship coach, the co-founder of Parks & Powers Psychotherapy, and a member of the Women's Health advisory board. "Dating has become as competitive as the job market," she says.
So, how do you sift through thousands upon thousands of profiles to find a lasting match? Start with a little free therapy homework from the pro: Take a few weeks to write down the essential characteristics you want in a partner, and what your non-negotiables are. Want someone who eats vegan and is going to run 5Ks on Thanksgiving morning? Good to know! Looking for more of a laid-back hookup who enjoys ordering a large pepperoni pizza at midnight? Also fine, but you may need to look for love in a different place, er, app.
Once you're clear about who exactly you're looking for, you can join a dating app that fits your interests, identity, and desired relationship status. Ahead, check out these 20 best dating sites that are worth swiping right in 2022:
Why wait for the weekend to meet up with your online crush when you can see them on a Thursday instead? The name of the app speaks for itself and is "perfect for people who are tired of spending countless hours communicating on dating apps only to never have a date happen," says Parks.
The gist of this new dating platform: Thursday is only available for use on—you guessed it—Thursdays. Within those 24 hours, daters can decide if they want to take their conversation from online to an IRL meetup that day. Plus, "Thursday offers a fun opportunity to liven up a formerly uneventful day of the week," Parks adds.
Dating as a single parent can feel intimidating, but there's plenty of ways to go about the dating scene, including seeking out someone in a similar situation. Stir is designed specifically for single parents on the hunt for love. However, you don't need to have kids of your own to join the app—you can still join the app to meet someone who already does.
"This app offers a chance to be free of the 'when do I share that I have kids' dilemma," says Parks. "Daters who previously might have had trouble working around their busy parenting-filled days, will instantly have something in common with the community on this app."
Chances are you’ve already waded in the dating swamp known as Tinder. It’s the app that skyrocketed app-based dating into the mainstream with its infamous swipe left or swipe right model. Left=no, right=yes in case you’ve been boo-ed up during the Tinder era.
This app may get a bad rap for being more sex-focused, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You get the advantage of talking to the most people possible, but also the disadvantage of a larger than life dating pool, says Dr. Parks. “You’ve got to make sure you use this app with intention, and you’re not just sitting on your couch swiping with the TV on in the background.”
Like many dating apps created to connect people of similar cultural backgrounds, BLK hopes to do the same for Black daters. The focus on connecting people with shared interests creates a more intentional space for anyone looking for love. It essentially works just like Tinder and Hinge in that you can swipe right or left to show interest (or lack thereof). And if you match up, you can start talking immediately.
Our source may be a little bit biased on this one because Parks met her husband on this app, proving that yes it IS possible to find love in a hopeless place (the internet).
eHarmony requires a financial investment of about $500 per year depending on which plan you choose. With that barrier, it leads to a more serious base of daters, says Parks. There is an assessment that takes about an hour to complete, and that’s not including the regular old "What picture do I look hottest in?" "What bio would be the funniest?" "How can I adequately describe just how fabulous I am with a character limit?" dance that goes with dating on the web.
“You are exposing a lot, and being really vulnerable upfront,” says Parks. “And that can have a big pay off. It’s a very commitment-focused space.” If finding “The One” is at the top of your to-do list, eHarmony may be the choice for you!
Chispa is an app developed exclusively for Latinx daters. The app is in Spanish and English, making it a great option for those who want to add a shared language to this list of similarities. The app also allows you to select up to two ethnicities, so you can rep your heritage. "For many daters, finding someone who can understand and maybe even share your ethnic identity is a huge benefit," says Parks.
Plus, you can truly customize your profile by sharing even more details about yourself, including your zodiac sign, political affiliation, languages, and what you're looking for.
Bumble is another heavy hitter in the dating scene. On this app, women make the first move. The company’s CEO Whitney Wolf Herd designed it this way as a response to her own abusive relationships. In fact, she told Time she “engineered an ecosystem of healthy male relationships.”
It certainly offers a nice break from receiving a "DTF?" DM. Now, how you start the conversation is in your hands. Thing is, you only have 24 hours to send that first message after matching. This is great for men who are shy or sick of having to make the first move as they often do on most apps, says Parks.
Her, which calls itself the best lesbian dating app, says leave the apps built for straight people and join millions of lesbians, bisexuals, and other queer women on an app designed by and for queer women.
Other apps should take cues from Her, which has virtual community-building opportunities for users like virtual movie nights, webinars, and other activities to bring people together outside of the ‘I NEED TO FIND A DATE RIGHT NOW OR I’LL BE ALONE FOREVER’ headspace we’re all guilty of from time to time.
“Not only is this app inclusive, but it also looks like a lot of fun,” says Parks.
Match.com has been that b*tch. This website was around in the 1990s when your online dating was done by dial-up and was heavily stigmatized. (They even have a whole Instagram now! With memes! And that my friends, is a little something called growth.)
When you go for Match.com, you know you’re dealing with a company that has been in the dating game for a while, which they use to their advantage. It's got a good combination of elements of the most popular apps—a thorough quiz and a web-based version of the software, with all the swiping you want on the app itself. “It’s commitment geared, but also with a focus on initial physical chemistry,” Parks says.
Why swipe solely on interest when you can swipe based on location? With Happn, you'll be receiving matches based on people who have recently been near your location. In other words, there's a higher chance you'll match with the cutie at your local coffee shop or grocery store.
"Sharing a city makes dating very convenient," says Parks. "But a potential drawback [of using this app] could be the possibility of running into this person in your community if things go south."
It’s the dating app designed to be deleted! You know her, you love her, it’s Hinge. The brand has undeniably good marketing, notes Parks. “It seems to appeal to people who are more relationship-minded, but don’t want to sign up for something as serious as eHarmony.”
And when it comes to the app's newest feature: voice memos, Parks points out hearing someone’s voice is a great way to connect.
You can think of this app as eHarmony light, says Parks. It’s definitely more for the relationship seekers but somehow doesn’t feel as serious as eHarmony. There is a similar, though less thorough, screening process that will help the app serve you humans you should be compatible with.
Plus, you don’t have to pay for the basic plan. If you want more bells and whistles, you can upgrade your account to include deal breakers in your profile, send unlimited likes, browse in incognito mode, and all sorts of other features. “It’s a good compromise—you still have the benefit of the questions, without the price tag,” says Parks.
For many online daters, matching with someone with the same religious beliefs is a big must. But it can be challenging to find someone who checks all your boxes on top of that shared prayer practice.
Salams specifically makes this process easier for those who identify as Muslim. This app is super helpful for those that make religious beliefs a central determining factor in their choice of partner, says Parks.
This is an app for Jewish singles. Having that specificity is extremely helpful if your faith is a big part of your dating selection process, says Parks. “It is a great vetting tool, if you want to date someone who aligns with your faith.”
This is another great niche app for, you guessed it, Christians! Parks said she has heard of positive and negative stories from community members and patients who have been on Christian mingle. In the best case scenario, you sign on, find someone who is in alignment with your faith and it leads to a beautiful relationship.
Worst case scenario, and Parks says she’s witnessed this numerous times, you get stuck dating someone specifically seeking a Christian thinking that makes them a good person. Sounds weird, but such is the wild world of online dating.
This app is appealing for many reasons, including its cute AF name. Your matches here will all be connected to you in some way on social media (maybe your high school bestie or an old coworker is friends with them on Facebook) so the internet sends their profile across your screen.
It is kind of like being set up without having to go through the awkwardness of involving other people. “If you’ve been scarred by experiences where the person you met was a little creepy, it may be nice to meet someone vetted by someone you know.”
This app is similar to JDate and Christian Mingle in its spiritually-based appeal. It pitches itself as the place where “mindful living meets online dating,” for people who approach dating with intention.
Parks warns that people living in less populated places may not have the most success on more niche apps. (Let’s face it, more people are probably interested in Meet Mindful in Los Angeles than Topeka, Kansas). She says not to let that stop you though, you can always work with multiple apps!
This one is for my kinky and non-monogamous peeps! This is another niche app but is useful if you are looking for people who are open to the same sort of sex and connections you are.
This is a great way to try ethical non-monogamy, says Parks. “Newcomers might find a person or two to hook up with or indulge in a friendship with.” Then they can learn about their proclivities with someone perhaps a bit more experienced and nonjudgemental. “It can be a bit of a support group,” says Parks.
This another app that has been around for a minute—since 2003 to be exact. POF says it helps people find their “forever blanket thief, Ikea sherpa, personal spider hunter.” And if that is not truly adorable marketing, I don't know what is.
This is another app that takes information from its users and matches them using their own algorithm. So, if looks-based searches aren’t for you, this could be a great option!
This app (abbreviated for ‘something more’) was launched in 2020 and claims to be anti-superficial dating. Users can only see a blurred version of each other’s profile pictures until they start chatting. The longer the messaging, or video chatting, lasts, the clearer the profile pictures become.
In theory, the more you connect with someone emotionally on the app, the more you will be able to see physically. This all sounds good and well, but Parks has concerns. “What if you build a strong connection with someone and then aesthetically, they are not what you are looking for? How do you manage that in a compassionate way? And how would you handle that?” These are all important factors to consider before hopping on S’more!