DATING can be a daunting experience, especially online, but the best dating sites will help you navigate the dating world easily and help you find what you're looking for.
Whether you're looking for a long-term relationship or someone to enjoy days out with, dating apps will match your likes and dislikes, characteristics and desires to potential partners looking for the same things in life you are.
It’s by no means a fail-safe way of meeting Mr or Ms Right, but you’re not limited to your local area, with matches flagged up across the country and even internationally if that’s what you want. The best dating sites enable you to specify lifestyle, hobbies, age, occupation, distance in fact anything you consider crucial in a partner.
With more and more of us working from home, online dating allows you to meet people you would otherwise never get to know, all in a virtual environment where you’re in control. You then decide whether to take it face to face.
Millions of people now use these sites to find new friends, dates and future spouses. It really is as simple as swiping.
With so many dating sites available, all you need to do is be proactive and sign up. To help you start your love journey, we’ve rounded up the best dating sites and apps for 2023 – so what are you waiting for?
21 Match.com Credit: Match
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.
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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 Number of users: Around 39 million per month Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Ourtime
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 Number of users: 2 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play READ MORE: Womanizer review Best vibrators Best sex toys for women Lelo Sona review Best rabbit vibrators eHarmony
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 Number of users: Over 50 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play okCupid
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 with 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 that 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 Free and from £19.49/month for a year subscription Number of users: 50 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Zoosk
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 Free and from £15/month (for 6 months) Number of users: Over 35 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Christian Café Christian Cafe – sign up here
For those whose Christian religion is important to their lives, this is a great site for meeting people with the same Christian values.
Sign up for a 10-day free trial and you can connect with compatible matches across the UK, viewing photos, profiles and detailed searches.
The site started in 1999 and now has members around the world. It claims more than 25,000 marriages are the result of couples meeting on the site.
Best for: Mature dating Membership cost: Free 10-day trial then $69.97 for 3 months Number of users: 2 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Original Dating Original Dating – sign up here
For those who 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 Number of users: Over 500,000 people have attended events Where available: Online Parship
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 Free and from £14.90/month (for 6 months) Number of users: Over 11 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Tinder
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 Tinder Gold and Tinder Plus give you additional features such as a Tinder passport, meaning you can swipe on anyone anywhere in the world, with 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 Free and from £3.99/month Number of users: 75 million monthly active users Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Bumble
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 dynamic. 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 Free and from £11.99 per month for 6 months Number of users: 100 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Hinge
'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 a 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 Free and from £19.66/month (for 3 months) Number of users: Around 23 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play CoffeeMeetsBagels 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 Free and from £18.50/month (for 6 months) Number of users: Around 10 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Badoo
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 Free and from £11/month for six months Number of users: Over 370 million Where available: Online/ Apple app store/ Google Play Muzz
If you're a single Muslim looking to find your person and get married, Muzz is the app for you. Launched in 2015 in the UK, it has grown quickly to over 8 million verified members.
According to the Muzz website, the 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 Free and from £19.99/month Number of users: Over 8 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play HER
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 Free and from £13.99/month Number of users: over 10 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Inner Circle 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 Number of users: Almost 5 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play EliteSingles 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) Number of users: Over 13 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Plenty of Fish Plenty of Fish – sign up here
Plenty of Fish has millions of subscribers of all ages and interests, both in the UK and around the world.
Sign up for a free account and create your profile, then start scrolling through your possible matches. There are loads of free features available without signing up for a paid subscription, but paying does get you a few bonuses, such as unlimited likes, seeing who has read your messages and more profile information.
The idea is to have a good conversation, say the site owners, so for that reason, there’s the option to set a minimum message length – getting rid of one-word messages yay! Other features include a virtual speed dating game and a Go Live option.
Best for: free features Membership cost: Free, Plus and Premium tiers Number of users: Over 90 million globally Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Silver Singles Silver Singles – sign up here
This site caters exclusively for the over 50s, as the name might suggest.
The first step is to take the site’s personality test and create a profile; you’re then matched with singles in your area according to the results of your personality test. You can start by meeting online before meeting in person (or not).
I’m not sure about the line on their homepage that goes: “If you want a serious relationship for your golden years…” The people I know who are in their 50s consider themselves as just hitting middle age, so this may well put some of them off!
Best for: Mature dating Membership cost: Free or from £24.95 per month (12-month subscription) Number of users: 13 million Where available: Online/ Apple App Store/ Google Play Mai Tai
Mai Tai, which is expecting a rebrand, is aimed at "high-calibre professionals" for dates in London and Oxford, so the clientele is more limited but great for those that fit the bill.
Once you register and include your preferences and deal-breakers you'll work with an event curator who'll invite you to a table of four with "the right dynamics" – so it's different to the alternatives on the list.
It's pricier than other sites too, a subscriber will pay for each event they choose, while premium members can enjoy two-course meals with drinks paid for as part of the £1800 fee for the 6-month membership.
It also boasts that 95% of its members are happy with the matches and 98% are impressed with the service at partner restaurants, so you're in for an enjoyable experience.
. Best for: Professionals looking to date and network Membership cost: Subscribers pay per event, Premium membership costs £1800 for 6 months Number of users: Unspecified. Where available: Online/Face to face How much do dating sites cost?
The cost of subscribing to dating sites varies, but the best dating sites will offer a free subscription, as well as at least one premium subscription.
In the first instance, creating a free profile will give you a chance to see how the site works and decide if it’s for you before committing financially. It could be you’re happy with the free features and in that case, there’s no reason to hand over any money for a premium membership.
However, if you want access to the extra features a paid subscription brings, then it can be worth signing up for full access.
The dating sites in our roundup vary in price from £3.99 per month for Tinder up to £44.95 for a month with eHarmony. The longer you subscribe the cheaper it is, with a six-month or yearly subscription costing a lot less than buying one month – if you take a yearly subscription to Match or eHarmony for example it will cost you around £10 per month.
What are the best free dating sites UK?
All of the dating sites we looked at offer some form of free sign-up, though often with limited features available.
Of these, Plenty of Fish probably offers the most free features, but others worth trying with a free profile before upgrading to premium include Tinder, Match and OkCupid.
Whatever site you choose, it's worth signing up for a free profile in the first instance so you can get to know how it works and until you're convinced it's the one you want to pay for.
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 that cover this (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 to do so.
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
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 just be yourself. You'll already have covered some ground while chatting on the app, so think of this as a continuation of that conversation.
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 talked 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, and your 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 casual dates or find a long-term relationship.
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You should also consider how you like to date and the 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 longevity and the sheer volume of successful matches over the past 25 years.
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