Kesiena Boom, M.S., is a sociologist and writer. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Manchester and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from Lund University.
October 18, 2022
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While popular imagination might have associated online dating with fleeting or insincere encounters in the past, we now live in a time in which meeting a long-term partner through a dating app or site “is the new norm rather than the exception.”
That’s according to Lori Lawrenz, Psy.D., a sex therapist at the Hawaii Center for Sexual and Relationship Health, who adds, “Many of the clients I see have met on dating apps.” One 2017 study found a whopping 40% of heterosexual couples in the U.S. met online.
Given that healthy relationships are a key part of people’s well-being1, that’s as good a reason as any to try your luck on the apps and see what sticks. To help you on your search for that healthy, long-term love, we’ve gathered the best dating apps for finding serious relationships in 2022.
How we picked:
Known for serious relationships
All these dating sites have reputations for fostering long-term love, not just easy hookups. You’re less likely to run into folks just looking for something casual, or you can easily filter those people out.
Recommended by relationship experts
We asked couples’ therapists and relationship experts to share which dating apps they love and recommend to their clients looking for something serious.
There’s nothing worse than being met with a “no more users in your area” message, so all of these recommendations are well-populated apps with plenty of active members.
Our picks for best dating apps for serious relationships in 2022:
- Extremely thorough matching process
- Low risk of time wasters
- Takes time to set up
- Unflashy interface
For those with their sights set on getting hitched, eharmony is the surest port of call. The dating site claims to be responsible for 4% of marriages in the U.S., says couples’ therapist Kyle Zrenchik, Ph.D., LMFT, ACS.
eharmony uses an in-depth and comprehensive questionnaire to thoroughly map out your likes, dislikes, and values before matching you with those it thinks will be best suited to you. With eharmony, you can be sure that no one is there simply looking to hook up. It’s the most goal-oriented dating site, with a long and reputable history behind it. (Here’s our full eharmony review if you’d like to know more.)
Monthly subscriptions range between $12/month and $60/month.
- The OG dating site
- Price means everyone is serious
- Can effectively filter out qualities you’re not interested in
- Have to pay to get anything out of it
“If you’re looking for a partner who is sure they want to be in a long-term relationship, Match.com is an opportunity for them to put their money where their mouth is,” says counselor Rebecca Hartman, LMHC.
Match has been around since 1995 (that’s a long time!) and is regarded as one of the best sites for finding authentic matches and love, not least because it’s used by a whopping 39 million people—meaning, the odds are on your side. Unlike eharmony and its ilk, Match isn’t based on a long, in-depth questionnaire, but a quicker version, which it then incorporates into its algorithm to help it understand who and what you’re into as you swipe yes or no on people. (Here’s our full Match review for more details.)
Price-wise, subscriptions start at $19/month.
- Free version works great
- Queer and poly friendly
- Need to answer a lot of questions to get the most out of it
- Not as popular as in its heyday
OkCupid is a great option for those who want some of the in-depthness of eharmony without having to pay for it. On OkCupid, you answer hundreds of questions about your values and opinions on everything including food, communication, sex, religion, and much more. The answers are then used to give you a compatibility score with other users. These scores are usually pretty accurate and allow you to only message people who you actually have a good chance of falling in love with.
That in-depth questionnaire is what makes this dating app a favorite of sex therapist Aliyah Moore, Ph.D. “OkCupid’s full, detailed profiles let you show who you are and what matters to you. Its compatibility ratings are really helpful in helping to understand a potential date before you even meet them,” she tells mbg.
OkCupid is totally free to use, though there are upgrade options that you can purchase to get even more features and filters. Subscriptions cost $35 on a month-to-month basis or $17/month if you sign up for six months.
- Designed for people over 50
- Reputation for finding love, not just hookups
- More affordable than other paid dating sites
- Hosts community events
OurTime is a dating site that specifically caters to people over age 50, and it comes highly recommended by certified sex therapist Heather Shannon, LCPC, CST, for older daters looking for love. The reason that OurTime is so well-suited to finding a serious relationship is because it shies away from the shallow, swipe-happy culture of Tinder and instead focuses on nurturing real connections. For example, they host events and mixers for singles to attend so that you can feel the sparks fly in person and foster a true sense of intimacy.
You can’t message people with just a free version of OurTime, so to actually start connecting with people, you’ll need to pay for a plan, which costs $12/month if you sign up for six months.
- Relatively detailed profiles
- Attractive interface
- Free version works great
- Not everyone likes the “women message first” system
Bumble‘s unique selling point is that it requires women to send the first message, the thought being that it cuts out that thing where women have to wade through 100 messages that just say “Hey, sexy.” Shannon actually recommends Bumble as a great place for guys looking for serious relationships since they don’t need to sweat about crafting clever opening lines that never get a response.
Because women take the lead on Bumble, and because matches are deleted if no message has been sent within 24 hours, the environment is super conducive to actually finding true and deep connections that can lead to long-term love. According to Shannon, “You get a pretty relationship-oriented crowd on Bumble.”
Bumble profiles are also pretty in-depth for a free dating app, and you can get a lot of important info from the jump (i.e., do they want kids, do they smoke, are they religious, etc.), so you won’t waste time on matches that weren’t meant to be. The free version of Bumble does the trick, but you can pay to unlock more features if you wish. Bumble currently boasts a 4.2/5 rating on the App Store, which is based on over a million reviews.
- Attractive interface
- Cool voice note feature
- More male than female users
- Expensive premium version
“I like Hinge for its variety in prompts and short-answer responses, and the ability to send messages to someone about a particular picture or respond to a point they’ve made,” says Hartman. Hinge also offers you the opportunity to leave little voice notes on your profile, which is honestly so important for trying to figure out if you’ll have long-lasting chemistry with someone or not. Voices can be a make or break factor.
“Hinge also checks in after you’ve been matched with someone for a while to see if you’ve met and whether that person is the type of person you’d like to see more of,” Hartman points out, which means that the algorithm gets smarter and is therefore more likely to get better at showing you matches over time who you will genuinely click with.
To upgrade and access premium features, you will have to part with approximately $30/month, though they’re not necessary to enjoy the app.
- Dedicated to queer women
- Hosts community events
- Interest-based searching
- Have to pay to unlock unlimited swipes
HER is the place for LGBTQ+ women and nonbinary people to find love. The app boasts 10 million users and a 4.4 rating on the app store. One reviewer thanks the app for enabling her to find her soul mate despite living in a small town, and another notes that the vibrant community features of the app enhance the experience—for example, special events and dedicated channels for different interests.
HER is good for those looking for love because it offers more than surface-level swipes as you can add a lot of different information according to the prompts the app provides. The premium version isn’t necessary to match and message, but if you want unlimited swipes and to see who’s liked you, then you’ll have to shell out $10/month for a six-month subscription.
- Proven success with marriage
- Biggest Jewish dating site
Jdate is the No. 1 U.S. dating site for Jewish people and has been going since 1997. The site focuses on helping Jewish singles make real, long-lasting connections with each other, including marriage. In fact the site features a whole weddings section where it showcases some of the thousands of couples that the site has led toward matrimony. Jdate claims to be responsible for more Jewish weddings than all other dating sites put together. The dating site is also easy to navigate and uncluttered, with a focus on showcasing your personality rather than just your pictures.
Jdate is pretty costly: One month will set you back a whopping $60, but this comes down to $30/month if you choose to subscribe for six months. You need to subscribe to send the first message to the people you’re interested in, so it’s not particularly viable to stick to the free version. However, if you’re Jewish and looking for intrafaith love, this dating site is probably worth the money.
Not Jewish? Don’t worry—there are comparable dating apps for religious people of various faiths, like Christian Mingle and Salams, that also have an excellent track record and great features for serious relationships.
What dating app has the most successful relationships?
eharmony and OkCupid both claim to have strong track records for producing successful relationships. eharmony claims to be responsible for a not insignificant 4% of U.S. marriages, while OkCupid claims to have the most mentions in the New York Times wedding section of all dating apps.
Which free dating site is best for serious relationships?
OkCupid, Hinge, or Bumble are all good choices for free dating apps where you’re likely to find people looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right rather than Mr. or Mrs. Just-for-tonight.
What is the most legitimate dating site?
Match.com can credibly take this honor, as it’s arguably the first-ever dating site and has been going successfully since 1995.
What is the most successful dating site for men?
Bumble is a place where men can really thrive, as the “woman has to message first” feature evens the playing field and encourages a rethink of traditional gender roles—something that many women really appreciate.
Do paid dating sites work better?
Sometimes people need to put their money where their mouth is, as Hartman notes, and it’s certainly the case that it can be worth paying for those who want something more substantial than a one-night stand. However, it just takes meeting that one special someone, and that can absolutely happen on one of the free dating apps.
What makes a dating site better for serious relationships than others?
Dating sites that require a fee, like eharmony or Match.com, can be more conducive to serious relationships than free ones, according to Zrenchik. After all, people can find hookups easily for free, so being willing to pay indicates a dedication to something more.
Dating apps like OkCupid, which have a big focus on mapping out their users’ likes and personalities, are also better suited to finding a relationship than dating apps like Tinder, which mainly focus on people’s appearances, notes Zrenchik.
Ultimately, what makes the most difference as to whether an app or site is good for a serious relationship is what you yourself are willing to put into the experience. If you project clearly what you’re looking for, you’ll be less likely to be met with people who want something different.
How to pick the right dating app for you.
The dating market has really exploded exponentially over the last few years, and therefore you have a lot of options to choose from—which can feel a bit overwhelming. Zrenchik recommends Googling to see which dating sites and apps are most popular in the region where you live and also to even try Googling an important aspect of your identity or a favorite interest plus “dating app” to see if there are any apps that cater specifically to people like you.
You can also use the following questions to help you figure out which app might be best for you:
- What am I looking for, and which dating app best reflects this?
- What does my budget for dating look like right now?
- Am I willing to pay for a site beyond a trial period, and how much am I willing to pay?
- Am I good at answering questions about myself?
- Am I good at showcasing my personality mainly through words or through pictures?
- Do I only want to date someone who shares my religion?
- Do I want to know a lot about someone before I meet up with them, or do I prefer more of a mystery?
- Do I have the time to answer an in-depth questionnaire about myself?
- Do I want to use an app that’s geared specifically toward LGBTQ people?