- 1. Best dating site for beginners: eHarmony
- 2. Best dating site for a serious relationship: OkCupid
- 3. Best dating site for more matches: Match
- 4. Best dating site for busy people: Lovestruck
- 5. Best dating site for compatibility: PlentyofFish
- 6. Best dating site for introverts: My Single Friend
- 7. Best dating site for music-lovers: Tastebuds
- 8. Best dating site for parents: Playdate
- 9. Best dating site for sporty people: Zeal
- 10. Best dating site for finding long-term relationships: PARSHIP
- 11. Best dating site for the aesthetically orientated: Beautiful People
- 12. Best dating site for excitement: Happn
- 13. Best dating site for lesbian, bisexual, and queer women: HER
Are you someone who finds dating IRL tricky? Don't worry, you're far from alone. One Pew Research Center survey found nearly 50% of US adults think dating's become harder in the last ten years. That's why, below, we've rounded up the expert's pick of the best dating sites to help you find your perfect match.
Sure, you could wait to bump into a love interest in person, but stats show many aren't that patient. Case in point: searches for the dating site Bumble rose by 3,350% in 2021, plus over half of all single people are now using some form of match-making site to find love.
Long gone are the days when Internet dating was seen as a no-go. Now, e-dating is about as normal as Internet banking (just way more fun). That said, scoping out the best dating sites in a market of very *meh* ones can be difficult, especially if you're a newbie to the whole she-bang or haven't really dated much since Covid. So what is a guaranteed win?
Testing process for the best dating sites
We drafted in a whole host of pros to share their take on the best. Scroll for top picks from:
- Online dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams
- Bedbible sex expert Rachel Worthington
- eHarmony sex expert Rachael Lloyd
- Sexual and relationship psychotherapist, host of The Sexual Wellness Sessions Podcast, and sex expert for Lelo Kate Moyle.
Keep scrolling for their pick of the thirteen best dating sites for those looking for queer, heterosexual, LGBTQAI+, casual, or serious love.
Best dating sites: 13 to try now
eharmony's Rachael Lloyd says: "Maintain an open mind, and remember that being yourself is key to success. Treat online dating as an opportunity to meet new people and enjoy new experiences, rather than wondering if who you're talking to is the love of your life. It'll take the pressure off a little bit."
(Pssst: this is how to make your online dating profile stand out, too).
1. Best dating site for beginners: eHarmony
How does it work? If you are serious about looking for that special thing called love, then this is the site for you. eHarmony takes this match-making lark very seriously, making them one of the top sites to try. They've even patented The eHarmony Compatibility Matching System. That's right. They've taken 35 years of research to come up with a Relationship Questionnaire and pride themselves on matching users with people who are actually compatible with them.
How much does it cost? £9.95 per month.
The experts say: Online dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams says: "This is one of the best dating sites for those who are looking for personality matching. eHarmony takes the hard work out of trolling through 100s of photos and delivers compatible dates directly to your inbox. This site provides quality over quantity and is great for those looking for a long-term relationship.
Sign up with Marie Clarie's unique eHarmony discount code and save 20% on any membership. Use Code: MC20
Try now: eHarmony from £9.95 a month
2. Best dating site for a serious relationship: OkCupid
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How does it work? This one's great if you've got a really specific type in mind. You can filter your requirements by everything from age to what type of relationship you're actually after. Then, following that, you'll do an intense questionnaire about what your personal likes and dislikes are. Et voila - filtered results based on what you're looking for.
How much does it cost? From £19.49 per month.
The experts say: Online dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams says: "This dating site is great for more fussy daters, plus it's about as inclusive as it gets. Choose from 22 genders and 13 sexual orientations - matchmaking for all."
Try now: okcupid.com from £19.94 a month
3. Best dating site for more matches: Match
How does it work? Match is the most widely-used dating site in the world and has nearly 1.8 million subscribers. It works in the most traditional way: Simply create a profile, check out your potential matches, send them a few messages and then arrange to meet for a date. There are also various off-shoots of match.com with microsites for gay and lesbian dating, Asian dating, Christian dating and Polish dating. The love Gods at match also arrange singles events and provide online dating advice, so it's easy to see what makes them one of the top-drawer dating sites.
How much does it cost? £12.99 per month for a 6-month membership.
The experts say: Online dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams says: "For those nervous about dating, this is one of the best dating sites as it puts the control in your fingertips allowing you access to thousands of profiles and the ability to chat to potential dates at the rate which works for you. It is well known and therefore attracts a wide demographic, allowing you to widen your dating pool or limit it with its advanced matching facility.
Try now: Match.com from £12.99 per month
4. Best dating site for busy people: Lovestruck
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How does it work? Lovestruck helps you target potential partners according to location and it covers many of the major cities across the world. It's aimed at time-starved professionals, who due to busy work and social lives simply don't have the time to date. Lovestruck helps put you in touch with people who are near you – be it where you work or live – to save you precious minutes or hours traveling to and from a date. The site also hosts regular events which are a fun, relaxed way to meet people.
How much does it cost? A minimum of £16 per month.
The experts say: Online dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams says: "Perfect if you are looking for love in the city and want to approach dating with an informal first meet during your lunch break or after work. It takes the travel out of dating, especially with its tube station search parameter.
Try now: Lovestruck from £16 per month
5. Best dating site for compatibility: PlentyofFish
How does it work? Plenty of Fish works by asking users to take a special POF Relationship Chemistry Predictor test, which measures self-confidence, family orientation, self-control, social dependency, and easygoingness. You're then matched to those most compatible with you.
How much does it cost? It's free!
The experts say: Bedbible.com’s sex expert Rachel Worthington says: "I personally prefer online dating sites that use psychological tests or factors when matching people together, like PlentyofFish. If you’re sick of looks-based dating sites or apps or don’t feel like you can judge someone based on a couple of words in a bio, I'd recommend it. It helps you look deeper at someone’s personality without having to spend a long time getting to know them, so you can make informed choices up-front about who you might date."
Try now: PlentyofFish for Free
6. Best dating site for introverts: My Single Friend
How does it work? Mysinglefriend.com is the brainchild of TV presenter Sarah Beeny and it works by each member on the site being put forward and described by a friend. The site aims to get rid of the "cringe factor" associated with having to big yourself up through your online profile and makes it more of a fun community, where like-minded people can chat, meet and potentially fall in lurve.
How much does it cost? £13 per month. The experts say: Online dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams says: "For those who are at a loss as to how to sell themselves in 500 words or less, this site offers the opportunity to be described by your friend. It works on the premise your friend can sell you better than you can but they can also embarrass you too. MSF has a more chatty style in the profile and gives you a greater insight into your potential date’s world."
Try now: Mysinglefriend from £13 per month
7. Best dating site for music-lovers: Tastebuds
How does it work? A similar taste in music can be a great indicator as to whether you're compatible with someone, so the fine folks behind Tastebuds have struck gold with their music-based online dating site. Getting started is dead simple: pick three artists or bands that you're interested in, the gender you're looking to date, and press "go." It's a fun and relaxed site, which can introduce you to new music, concert buddies, and potentially even your own real-life Caleb Followill.
How much does it cost? It's free for existing members, but £8 per month for new members.
The experts say: Online dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams says: "This is one of the go-to dating sites for those looking for love who also love music. It makes sense that if a potential partner shares your taste in music then you're off to a good start and a favourite artist or band is a great ice breaker when approaching someone online for the first time.
8. Best dating site for parents: Playdate
How does it work? Not a site, but an app, and a good one at that. Playdate is the UK’s first dating app for single parents. Founder Nevine shares: "As a single mum myself, I struggled to meet people, so I spent the year of lockdown creating this app."
With nearly three million single parents in the UK, she found that there wasn't a dating app that caters solely to them, so... made one. Plus, fun fact: they're partnered with Bubble, a babysitting app, to provide discounted childcare solutions, too.
The experts say: Bedbible.com’s sex expert Rachel Worthington says: "If you’re a single parent and don’t want to go through the process of telling someone you have a child, only to be potentially ghosted, then I would highly recommend checking out Playdate."
How much does it cost? Free, but offers in-app purchases.
Try it now: www.gotoplaydate.com for free
9. Best dating site for sporty people: Zeal
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How does it work? Zeal is a new dating app that connects people based on a shared interest in sport, instead of matching people based on looks.
If you've ever joined a club run or cycled with friends, you'll know that there's normally a real sense of community. That's what Zeal's aiming to recreate - a sense of community but in the online dating space, in the hope to create "more genuine and meaningful relationships", or so says the founder, Izzy.
The experts say: Bedbible.com’s sex expert Rachel Worthington says: "Lifestyle-based dating sites are also a great option, especially if finding someone who has or wants the same lifestyle as you is very important to you. If you’re very sporty, I'd recommend Zeal, instead of trying to find a very sporty person on a more traditional dating site."
How much does it cost? Free.
Try it now: www.zealmatch.com for free
10. Best dating site for finding long-term relationships: PARSHIP
How does it work? This is sold as a serious online dating site for 'discerning singles.' A bit like eHarmony, PARSHIP uses a patented test, this time called The PARSHIP principle, which analyses 32 personality traits and is based on an algorithm of 136 rules. It sounds complicated, but that's not for you to worry about. Just sign up, do the test and get chatting to all those love-compatible people out there.
How much does it cost? Minimum of £14.90 per month.
The experts say: Online dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams says: "One of the best dating sites for those looking for long-term relationships with professional people, users complete a personality test to measure compatibility with potential dates using psychometric analysis. Functionality is limited as the site is more geared up to helping you find a long-term partner rather than flirting randomly with people you like the look of."
"Members have similar incomes and education. There is also a specific gay version of the site for those looking for a serious committed relationship with a same-sex partner."
Try now: PARSHIP from £14.90 per month
11. Best dating site for the aesthetically orientated: Beautiful People
How does it work? This online dating site does exactly what it says on the tin, only accepting those deemed "beautiful" enough. To become a member, applicants are required to be voted in by existing members of the opposite sex. Members rate new applicants over a 48-hour period based on whether or not they find the applicant ‘beautiful’. Thinking that it sounds.. kind of harsh? Yeah, us too.
The site claims that by admitting people based on their looks they're removing the first hurdle of dating, saying that because everyone on the site is attractive, members can concentrate on getting to know people's character and personalities. Beautiful People also promises access to exclusive parties and top guest lists around the globe. Now for that brutal 48-hour wait...
How much does it cost? If you buy a six-month membership, you'll get a reduced price of £7.50 per month. The experts say: Online dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams says: "This infamous dating site claims to have no unattractive members - although whether that's true is unknown. What is known - aspiring members have to pass a 48-hour peer vote to be accepted as a "beautiful" person. While this definitely won't be for everyone, it's a good dating site for those who'd like to bypass the usual filtering of profiles based on looks and focus on getting to know people they know they will be attracted to."
Try now: BeautifulPeople from £7.50 per month (6 month membership)
12. Best dating site for excitement: Happn
How does it work? Simple: Happn enables you to meet the people you've crossed paths with IRL. Think about it: you cross paths with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people every day. The app creators believe that fate is what brings two people to the same place at the same time, which is why they launched the app in 2014 to help you actually connect and form a bond with those people.
How much does it cost? Download and use of the basic features free. Happn Premium costs $24.99 a month and offers an ad-free, unlimited service.
The experts say: Sexual and relationship psychotherapist, host of The Sexual Wellness Sessions Podcast and sex expert for Lelo Kate Moyle says: "Happn is an amazing app for those moments where you have caught someone's eye as you cross paths, as if they also have the app then they will become visible to you on Happn, and there's something about the potential of that which feels exciting."
Try now: Happn for free
13. Best dating site for lesbian, bisexual, and queer women: HER
How does it work? On their site, the HER describes the app as "the world’s most loved LGBTQIA2S+ dating & community app - an ever-growing, safe space to be your authentic self and find your people. Made for queers, by queers." Sounds pretty good to us.
How much does it cost? As with most of the other apps, what they call the "core" features are free - you can add friends, view profiles, start chats, view events, and join communities. But there is also a premium subscription for $7.50 a month (if you subscribe for a year) which is ad-free and lets you use the app in incognito mode plus see who's online in real-time.
The experts say: Sexual and relationship psychotherapist, host of The Sexual Wellness Sessions Podcast and sex expert for Lelo Kate Moyle says:"HER is the world’s most loved LGBTQIA2S+ dating and community app for lesbian, bisexual and queer women. It's fully set up to be supportive and safe offering options like incognito mode so that you can start the conversation, and offers a lot of networking and support with their communities."
Try it now: HER for free
Which dating site has the highest success rate in the UK?
Good question - no wonder it's a top Google search term.
eHarmony is actually the dating site with the highest success rate, according to stats from the brand. It's a good one to try if you're after a more serious relationship and, fun fact, has helped over two million people find love.
How to act on a date from a dating site?
According to eHarmony relationship expert Verity Hogan, nothing is as reassuring as a genuine smile. "If you go into your date with a positive attitude, you’re much more likely to have a good time and make your date feel good, too," she reassures. (Our guide to reframing negative thoughts and acts of kindness might help, too).
Not just that, but if you’ve had a great date, let them know. "Trying to act aloof by waiting three days after a date to get in touch doesn’t work in today’s age of instant communication," she warns. "In fact, only 4% of people think you should purposely wait before replying to a message from a date. If you enjoyed the date, don’t be afraid to send them a quick message and let them know that you’d like to see them again."
Our guide to dating safety will come in handy, too.
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Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.
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