Meeting people "the old fashioned way" has become obsolete. There seems to be a noticeable dearth of relationships stemming from meeting at a bar, through friends, or via work -- instead, people are picking up their phones and letting technology do their dirty work. While just a short few years ago "online dating" was considered by many to be taboo and only acceptable for the 40+ divorcee crowd, it has now become so commonplace among 20- and 30-somethings that startups are quickly stepping up to tackle the task. Online dating giants such as Match.com and eHarmony are still in full force, but the simplicity and ease-of-use of emerging apps have undoubtedly taken a toll on the market. And with so many options to choose from, deciding to try out online dating can be a daunting task. Whether you're looking for a no-strings-attached hook up, new and spontaneous date ideas, or a long-term relationship, in today's dating marketplace, there is something for everyone.
1. OkCupid. One of the more "old school" options available, OkCupid takes a free approach to the successful sites such as Match.com and eHarmony, offering a dating profile and daily "matches" with likeminded people nearby. Pros: It's free; desktop and mobile apps make it easily accessible wherever you are; you can search by distance, height, religious preference, etc., presumably weeding out those who are not of interest to you; detailed profiles with pictures, so you know what you're getting yourself into. Cons: It's free, so many people are on the site who may not be too serious about it; anyone can message you; the user experience on the mobile app is substandard.
2. Tinder. Tinder has exploded onto the scene in the recent months, capitalizing on the younger generation's proclivity for shallowness. The concept is simple: a picture is displayed on your screen and you can either "swipe right" for yes, or "swipe left" for no. If you swipe right and that person swipes right on you, too, you are then matched up and can message one another. Pros: It's free; syncs to your Facebook so there is some attempt to deter Catfishing; only those who you expressed interest in can contact you. Cons: Mobile app often experiences bugs; it seems to be less about dating and more about easy access to people looking to engage in casual sex (perhaps this is more of a pro for some).
3. Coffee Meets Bagel. "CMB" attempts to cut through the masses and provide only one curated match for each user per day. If you "Like" your match and they like you too, you will be connected via a temporary texting line in the hopes that you can spark conversation and exchange real contact information. Pros: It's free; desktop and mobile apps with simple UI; zero effort required of the user. Cons: Only one match per day, so less likelihood of finding someone; short profile doesn’t allow for much personality to be shown; matches expire within 24 hours.
4. Twine. The newest dating app on the market, Twine attempts to do the opposite of Tinder – by seeing if two people are compatible without factoring in physical attraction. Twine photos are blurred until both members agree to “reveal” themselves – hopefully after having established a connection. Pros: It’s free; simple and aesthetically pleasing UI; places an emotional connection before a physical one. Cons: Little incentive to message people when you really know nothing about them; the inevitable feeling of guilt if you stop talking to someone after the “reveal” due to no attraction; buggy UX.
5. How About We. Designed for singles and couples alike, How About We attempts to solve the age-old problem of boredom and make dating “better.” For example, a user suggests a date: “How About We – fly a kite at Baker Beach” and another user can hit “I’m intrigued.” Pros: Desktop and mobile apps; attempts to break you out of your typical dating mold; you can search by different criteria; people seem to be genuinely interested in meaningful connections. Cons: It requires a paid account to use any of its functions; somewhat overwhelming UI.