10 best free dating websites for love, friendship, and casual encounter

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When someone mentions dating websites, the main options to come to mind are inevitably Match and eHarmony. Serious commitments, paid subscriptions, lengthy questionnaires, and potential marriage interests - could it be all there is to love-finding platforms

Take a look at our list of free meetup dating websites that make romantic rendez-vous feel more fun and games - and less like an SAT with hundreds of questions. That said, it doesn’t mean that these top 10 dating sites can’t lend you a serious relationship; it's just taking a more relaxed approach to matching-finding.

OkCupid

Registration process 

This is our first item on the top 10 best dating sites. Want to know more about routine habits? See answers to questions like ‘Do you smoke?’ or ‘What’s your favorite food?’. Worry about interest compatibility? Take a look at the section with favorite TV shows, movies, and music. 

Interface

The interface is clean and edgy. The entire website gives an aesthetical vibe, making online dating glamorous and very fashionable. 

Overall, the site matches millennial standards, although, for older users, it may seem too playful. 

Matching algorithms

You can filter potential matches by interests, age, search for a particular name, or see people from your location. Some can find the available information lacking for a serious relationship - after all, OkCupid is mostly about keeping things casual. 

Disadvantages

- OkCupid is not suited for one-time hookups;

- People with conservative political views are a minority - so, not a fit for right-wing users.

Summary

OKcupid is a millennial-oriented dating website with costly gender choice and colorful interface. Great for left-wing users, bad for conservatives. Limited messaging features - communication is available for matches only.

Pure.dating

A fun, prejudice-free website for adventurous spirits to find love, friendship or casual encounters. If Tinder, while also being one of the best totally free hookup sites, only implies sexual relationships as a priority, PURE.dating is open about the intentions of its users. 

Registration process

All you need to do is enter essential information (age, body characteristics), and start browsing. Full profile content is available only to your matches. The service prioritizes the anonymity of its users, going as far as to include end-to-end encryption. 

Matching algorithms

  • Pure.dating uses location-based search to create matches for instant dates - you don’t have to commute 50 miles to have fun. 
  • It’s also likely that you’ll never know with whom you interacted - but that only adds fun to the search. 
  • The chat between potential partners will self-destroy an hour from the start of the conversation. 

What makes the platform unique?

PURE.dating is very clear about its intents. It’s indeed pure dating, not a personality test platform or interest meetup. Here, you don’t need to know everything about your match to go on a date. 

Disadvantages 

- The platform is quite popular in the United States but doesn’t have a big international community;

- Not a suitable choice for those who look for serious involvements.

Summary

It’s both a platform for adventures and relationship-building service with potential love prospects. A worthy member of the top 10 dating websites.

Plenty of Fish

POF positions itself as a serious dating platform for people who seek serious relationships, not just hook-ups. It’s one of the most used services with Tinder and Match as its leading contenders in popularity. Its no-cost subscription is one of the most functional ones out there, which is why we consider POF one of the universal free messaging dating sites. 

Registration process

Plenty of Fish has a custom questionnaire that’s obligatory for every new user. There is no reason for worries - it features only several thousands of questions, and they are all short and to the point. Among personality-related information, you need to specify age, height, gender, job, education. Don’t use sexual language in your profile description or it’ll be blocked immediately. 

Interface

The interface seems to have come out from the 2000s. It’s overly simplistic and tedious. If you want your dating to be fun and spontaneous, let us tell you, you will hardly find it here. The main menu features only six pages, and all of them cover only the most unaffected functionality. 

Matching algorithms

  • Matches are based on interests and shared preferences;
  • To improve the profile’s performance, users can add automatic conversation starters, list their family information (parents, siblings), the duration of the last relationship and even compatibility factors; 
  • If you’ve got dealbreakers, you can register them on your account as well. 

What makes the platform unique?

Custom POF’s questionnaire is all about allowing the user do understand themselves what it is that they are looking for in a relationship. Needs and preferences are evaluated in 100 questions. Psychological aspects of the personality reveal in 30-question tests - and let us tell you, some of those look in-depth of your heart and soul.

Disadvantages

- Outdated interface;

- The website requires a lot of personal information and requires users to provide lengthy answers during registration.

Summary

It is one of the biggest dating websites out there. Matches here are based on shared interests, shared preferences, and listed dealbreakers. Open direct messaging with an additional voice recording feature. 

Hinge

If you grew tired of Tiner’s gamified approach to dating and now want something serious, it might be time to consider Hinge. The platform was designed for users who seek serious relationships - indeed ‘an app designed to be deleted’. From Tinder, the platform borrowed the minimalistic approach - there is very little personal information required. However, there is no classical swipe - you can like a profile and leave a message

Interface

Hinge does not prioritize design above features but keeps it user-friendly. The interface is reasonably minimalistic; on the main tab, you see your matches and notifications for likes and messages. 

Registration process

Overall, Hinge stands at the simplistic side of things, requiring users to list essential information only. This includes age, height, and primary interests. Still, there is a massive advantage over Tinder in this regard - If you have more to say, you can choose additional questions. The platform allows uploading six pictures - no more, no less. You can add comments to the images, letting matches know your tastes and personality better.

Matching algorithms

  • Hinge gives you five likes per day - that’s their way of telling you to think about how you spend them. 
  • In the platform’s settings, you can edit your preferences, picking preferable height, religion, ethnicity, or indicating your openness to certain drinking habits or political views.

What makes the platform unique?

Hinge has an unusual ‘We Met’ feature. As soon as you and your love interest had a date, you can indicate that happy event in your profile. 

Disadvantages

- Five likes per day are not enough for proactive daters. 

- Hinge may be superior to Tinder in many aspects, but it inevitably loses in terms of popularity.

Summary

It’s a platform for serious relationships but with the promise of playful Tinder-like matching experiences. You can see who liked your profile for free. Only five likes per day - not much of a choice but promotes thoughtfulness. 

Tinder

Tinder dating site is a favorite choice for online dating beginners - the app is as straightforward as it could be. Swipe right for personal profiles swipe left to decline the match. It has a paid subscription but the majority of users are satisfied with a free version. Paid add-ons add more fun to the process, sure. Still, the essential functionality core, which is finding singles on a dating website for free, is fully available in the basic version.

Interface

Flexible notification settings. You can receive alerts about new messages, likes, or messages, or turn them off.  Fast swiping allows users to scan a profile in 1-2 seconds and make a call.

Registration process

You have two simple steps:

1) upload a picture;

2) write a brief description (1-2 sentences). 

That's all you’ll ever need to find love on Tinder. We’d say, the prospect of finding love in less than a minute sound compelling. 

Matching algorithms

The platform will show you profiles in a defined range (options vary from 1 to 100-meter radius). Also, Tinder favors active users and will prioritize those who swipe a lot (here comes the motivation to keep that swiping going). Finally, your appearance. It’s the main matching factor, and whether it’s ethical or not, you have to make do with what Tinder offers.

What makes Tinder unique?

Dating turns into a game. You are just swiping left and right, no pressure. Safety check is guaranteed. No website is wholly freaky-dudes-free, but Tinder comes very close. The app’s team regularly monitors photos and descriptions. Users can report suspicious matches and moderation. 

Disadvantages

- Tinder’s minimalistic approach, while being the app’s most significant advantage, is also its most serious drawback. 

- No refunds. If Tinder decides to delete your profile, the money paid for the premium subscription is wholly lost.

Summary

Tinder is an OG of online dating and for a valid reason. The platform turns love pursuit into a game, minimizing the fear of rejection and keeping things fast and casual.

Grindr

The first location-based platform exclusively for gay men. Although Grindr was always more about looking for free singles, ready for immediate hookups, it has a quite in-depth matching system, suitable for long-term relationships as well. 

Registration process

1) Fill out basic fields - username, password, a valid email address;

2) Essential information - age, sexual interests. 

3) Select the category that describes you better. The choices are Clean-but, Bear, Discreet, Daddy, Leather, Jock, Poz, Rugged, Twink, Trans, and Others. 

Interface

The website throws you into the sea of potential matches right away. On the main page, you will see the feed with Grinder’s users. A lot of naked torsos here, and considerably fewer pictures with close-ups on men’s face. It looks like the platform’s users have gotten their priorities straight.

Matching algorithms

The functionality of the free version is limited. You can pick a suitable category that describes desired qualities of your potential match and links social media accounts so a partner can get to know you better. 

With a paid subscription, your pool of possibilities is infinitely more significant. You can block unwanted profiles, see who liked your profile, send attachments, and send more matching requests. 

What makes the platform unique?

It’s the first geo-based hookup platform for gay men only. It’s also one of the most popular ones. Suffices to say, chances of finding gay matches here are much higher than on Tinder or Bumble. 

Disadvantages

- Building a serious relationship is not in the books for most Grinder’s users;

- Matching algorithms lack precision - you have to rely on picking the right category and analyzing the match’s social media profile. 

Summary

It is a gay-only hookup platform that finds matches in your close radius. Ten categories that define your sexual preferences for more compatible dating are available. 

Her

 

It’s a cool-looking mix of social media and matching service. You can make posts from your profile, connect with friends, and build your community while also looking for love. 

Registration process

1) All profiles on ‘HER’ are verified by approving a mobile number - you’ll receive a shortcode in a text and enter the code to the platform. 

2) After you’ve filled out a basic registration form, start making posts about your favorite TV shows, career accomplishments, traveling, and main interests. 

Interface

The platform looks like a social media service - you have the same old communities, comments, likes. Maintaining a page on ‘Her’ feels a lot like having another account on Instagram or Facebook - decide for yourself whether it’s a good thing. 

From a dating perspective, the service has a dating tab where you can see all the matches. It’s a two-services-in-one platform, with double possibilities as well as twice as many commitments.

Matching algorithms

Let’s start with a dating service first. On ‘Her’, you can receive an automatically compiled digest with ready-to-contact matches or dive right into the sea of all available profiles, filtering accounts by preferences and interests. As soon as you found a suitable partner, send her a ‘like.’ To start messaging, wait till she accepts the requests.

On a social media service, women can take their time and read community posts - that’s where you truly get to know your potential partner.

What makes the platform unique?

It’s the only dating service created exclusively for LGBTQ-women. It’s an empowering feminist solution with the liberal user base, oriented on young and ambitious women — generally, a great crowd. 

Happn

You perhaps already noticed that all dating platforms tend to base exclusively on online interactions, leaving users no openings for cute real-life interactions. Happn is an exception to this rule. The platform analyzes your geodata and movements of users nearby. If two users cross paths on the street, both receive a notification. Now the communication can be continued online. 

Registration process

The platform uses Facebook-based authentication. Instead of filling out lengthy questionnaires, you can connect a social media account to the platform. Happn will analyze your friend's list, liked pages, and recent posts. 

Users will be able to access this data to get to know you better - and you don’t even have to move a finger. 

Interface

A stylish, professional interface with minimalistic menus. All main pages (notifications, messages, likes) are displayed in the main panel, within a one-click distance. 

Matching algorithms

  • The platform tracks user’s movements and connects potential matches, located nearby.

  • The search for romantic partners is based on interests, locations, and personality traits. All photos are automatically dragged from Facebook and posted in the slideshow. 

What makes the platform unique?

Happn finds a middle ground between creating a territory for serious relationships and still keeping things casual. Users can know their potential partners well enough from Facebook profiles alone - it’s not Tinder’s picture and a short description. 

Disadvantages

- Privacy-intrusive algorithms - the service continuously tracks your movements;

- Happn is not as popular as its millennial-oriented competitors (Tinder, OkCupid, and others). 

Summary

Matches are located within a proximity. People know each other’s interests in detail - favorite magazines and TV shows, and even Spotify playlists.

Hater

Haters gonna hate, daters gonna date - that’s, in a nutshell, the principle of this dating app, based on matching people with the same anti-preferences. 

Interface

It’s stylish and genuinely playful. You’ll have a lot of fun exploring potential your dislikes, compare them to the tastes of other people.

Registration process

Similarly to Tinder, on Hater, you only need to upload pictures, specify age, and share a short description of your personality. Then, get ready to do some swiping, but not on people yet. The service offers you a lot of things for potential hatred, and ask to choose which ones you hate and how much. 

Matching algorithms

To avoid typical swipe-swipe-match-lame-date dynamics, Hater focuses instead on people’s interests. In a way, you get to know what a match likes by understanding what a person dislikes first.  

What makes the platform unique?

If you don’t particularly like anything and hate a lot of things, it’s just an app for you. Now you can pair up with someone who hates Justin Bieber, kissing in the rain, or Valentine’s Day just as much, if not more.

Disadvantages

- The service was recently released, so it doesn’t have that many users yet;

- Not enough factual information about a potential match. 

Summary

This service has an original approach to online dating - Hater makes swiping feel even better than legendary Tinder’s swipes. Questions are fun but deep, just enough to lay a solid foundation for a serious relationship.

The League

This elite website that allows only the best to join the club. Career, ambitions, top-notch universities - these are defining characteristics of The League users. Of course, to join the community, you have to go through the strict selection process - but user ratings and media buzz prove that it all just might be worth it. 

Registration process

The League analyzes Facebook and LinkedIn profiles of its users. If you are serious about applying to join the club, be sure to take a careful look into your social media accounts. Your profile should reflect your career accomplishments and aspirations as well as hobbies and passion projects. 

Interface

The League is a very stylish platform, and the design reflects its scope, which is making online dating feel professional. The League uses a swipe-system, but unlike Tinder, the profile also includes information on career, education, and height. 

Matching algorithms

  • The platform has a flexible filter system where users can determine the age, height, career field, and even race of their future match.
  • On League, additional perks can all be bought with an upgraded membership. To get two-three times more matches, you can purchase The League tickets. 

What makes the platform unique?

The League is all about elite experiences. If you join the app, you are signing up for some very exclusive online and offline activities. How about joining a yacht club or visiting golf training sessions with some CEOs? With League, it all becomes possible. Now, it’s on you to decide whether it’s a suitable environment for building a deep connection. 

Disadvantages

- A long waitlist with undefined selected criteria - users depend entirely on commission opinions.

- The platform is efficient for dwellers of big cities. Small towns are not yet supported.

Summary

A platform for serious relationships and with financially-stable users. The platform feels too elite at times - a business approach takes the romance and fun away from the actual dating experience.

Making the final choice

The ideal option would be to try out all of these free messaging dating sites to rely on your own experience rather than on descriptions. But honestly, no one has time to maintain that many profiles. So, we tired them out for you and defined which platform fits for what purposes. 

  • OkCupid - casual dating and liberal millennials;
  • Pure.dating - adventurous dates or something more serious;
  • Plenty of Fish - committed, long-term relationships;
  • Hinge - fun experiences with long-term goals;
  • Tinder - casual dates and quick hookups;
  • Grindr - right-now hookups for gay men;
  • Her - a friendly community of LGBTQ-women with serious relationships in mind;
  • Happn - meeting people nearby and sharing common interests;
  • Hater - a fun RPG-like casual experience, based on sharing dislikes;
  • The League - an elite club of successful and ambitious professionals. 

Be honest with yourself and define what is it that you truly seek in a relationship. After you know your preferences, take a second look at our reviews and pick the platform according to your personal needs.

author

Katherine Awkley

Journalist

#KatherineAwkley

Katherine Awkley is a journalist and a dating anthropologist, researching both theoretical and practical aspects of romantic relationships, psychology, and sex. Awkley is an NYU graduate with an M.A. degree in journalism. Her primary goal is popularizing the dating culture, educating people to get rid of their fears, prejudices, and complexes.

Most of the time, Awkley spends on consulting and researching the hidden aspects of human sexuality. Her masterminds are Betony Vernon, Guillaume Apollinaire, Dita von Teese, Robert Green, Belle de Jour, Andrew Blake, and many more. Currently, Katherine Awkley is a leading columnist at Pure.dating.