It’s safe to say that COVID-19 and quarantine have had lasting effects on casual dating and loyal lovers everywhere. Whether you were already in a relationship or got into one during that three month stay at home period, the impact remains the same. Statistics originally reported by the New York Times claim that about 1 in 10 couples have already separated or are considering it. If you find yourself having to deal with a breakup on top of everything else 2020 has thrown at us, don’t be discouraged.
How to get over a breakup during a pandemic
While being alone might seem like the last thing you want right now, it’s worth a shot. According to a Bustle Interview with licensed marriage therapist Amanda Villaveces, pandemic breakups can seem worse than regular breakups because all emotions are heightened. Feelings of resentment, abandonment, and loneliness are more likely to occur and might feel more intense than normal. However, if you can cope with the initial feelings of grief that come from ending a relationship, you’ll be better off.
Entering a healing process in a time where you have minimal distractions gives you ample time to focus on yourself. What is it you need? Is there anything from your past relationship that you will no longer settle for? What type of relationship or partner best serves you? How do you best serve yourself and your needs? These are all questions you may not have answers to right now, and that’s okay. You may have never had the time to think these through before, which is also fine. Just be sure to allow yourself the opportunity now.
My advice? Take advantage of the days, and look at them with gratitude. If you feel so inclined, pick up a new hobby! Maybe that one your partner never did with you, no matter how many times you asked? Don’t be afraid to get sucked into a new show or head to the park for a solo picnic. May I suggest treating yourself to a new sex toy? Do whatever you have to in order to heal and re-learn how to be by yourself. “Alone” is a scary word. But when you finally feel like the time is right to get back out there, there are free hookup sites and casual dating apps that’ll support your needs.
Best free hookup apps and casual dating apps
A lot of the most popular dating apps are free to download and use. Some may require you to purchase a premium subscription in order to gain access to all its features. However, if we’ve learned anything from being in quarantine it’s that we, as a species, are pretty resourceful. We don’t necessarily need all the new trinkets and toys to successfully discover whatever it is we’re looking for. You just have to know how to ask the right questions. (It also wouldn’t hurt to review our guide to having safe hookups during a pandemic).
AdultFriendFinder isn’t just a casual dating app, it’s a social media platform too. Boasting well over one million site members and counting, AFF is easily navigable, explicit, and heavily used in major cities. Before signing up for a free account, the site showcases sneak peeks of active users in your area (or have been active recently). Before getting started, you’ll be able to set your preferences as interested in single men, women, couples, or groups. You’ll notice the layout is pretty simple, almost early Facebook-esque, and quite revealing.
AFF offers unique search filters that you won’t want to overlook. Having the ability to filter the content according to nudity is a big bonus for at work browsers. Other options for filtering are age, distance, username, and active status. The site even offers fun, Buzzfeed-style quizzes for people to compare answers. Complete the profile “purity test” to find out if you’re a sexual newbie or a full-blown hedonist. Or fill out the personality test to connect you with your perfect match. Not only does AFF connect you with profiles online, but it also offers a cam site, adult-centered content community, and an app! If variety is what you’re searching for on your new dating site, AdultFriendFinder is your destination.
Book of Sex
Book of Sex is a free hookup app run by the same company as AdultFriendFinder. This leads to an awful lot of similarities between the two services. The interface is the same, the features are the same, and some of the users are even the same (since access to one site gets you in on the other). The biggest difference between the two is the number of users and the variety of users. I can’t tell you which site is better since the user fluctuation is pretty small, but also, what you like and what I like are not the same. My advice would be to try both out!
As with every other location-based matchmaking service, where you live makes a difference! Cities and city-adjacent towns will always have more active users than that of low population areas.
Pure is such an interesting platform and definitely one of the best sex apps. It’s so cool I almost wish it wasn’t only geared toward anonymous hookups and one-night stands. If you’re looking for something quick, unconventional, and discreet, this is the app for you. The app is built on chats that self-destruct within 24 hours. It uses end-to-end encryption to keep anonymity and privacy the priority. What happens in those 24 hours stays in those 24 hours! Erm, as long as you use protection, anyway.
Upon joining, Pure will ask you to update a status that will display exactly what you’re looking for. If you don’t know, it’s okay to say that! Your status will be posted on a “wall” and will be made visible to other users. When someone sees your status, they can choose to engage in conversation with you. Or they can simply keep swiping down the wall.
Keep in mind that chats are only available for 24 hours as a security measure. However, if you and the person chatting both want to extend the chat, that is also an option. If a chat is extended, the app will assign the two users nicknames (which may be changed at any time). Since the app allows photo messages, Pure advises its users not to give out any personal information. If privacy is your priority, try to keep all conversations within the app.
If you decide to give Pure a try, don’t forget that city-dwellers will most certainly have the upper hand. Dense population areas lead to increased activity. But that can be said about any app, really.
|Singles Chat Subscription Only||$19.99|
|PURE Hookup App Pass||$39.99|
#Open is a fun and fresh approach to the standard free hookup apps. Upon making your profile, you’ll have the choice between creating a solo account, partnered account, or a “double” profile. Double profiles allow users to toggle in between a solo account and a partnered one with the ability to edit at any time. Even better, the app has a strict no-NSFW image policy. So there’s less of a chance you’ll find yourself harassed or spammed with dick pics by a deranged user. The app also encourages the use of usernames or nicknames for heightened security. However, if you’re feeling a little more…open, you can opt to advertise your social media handles. So if you’re more comfortable having someone slide into your DMs on Twitter, you won’t need to open this app often.
#Open functions on–you guessed it–hashtags. It offers up three phrases for users to complete that will help them find whatever it is they’re looking for. Some examples being: “I’m open to trying…”, “My interests are…?”, and “I’m looking for…?” which can all be answered by typing in specific phrases which then convert into active hashtags. There is also a spot for users to describe their current relationship (if applicable) and what it is they’re looking for.
The app is pretty simple to figure out and works like many other swipe-based apps. The only exception being users can also browse the hashtags that they’re interested in. Which is a great way to stumble upon other like-minded users and possible flings.
What this service excels in is the diversity of its users. It’s way more inclusive than other apps that have you identify within a gender binary. #Open allows you options! The algorithm often layers multiple profiles behind each other. So, for instance, if you don’t want to match on a couple but are interested in one of the individuals from the couple you’ll be able to. Well, if that person has a solo account, anyway. #Open is smart enough to auto-generate their solo profile as your next swipe.
#Open also requires all of its users to play “N.I.C.E,” it’s so refreshing to see a dating app highlight consent, respect, and boundaries! All in all, #Open is a great app for open minded adults looking to connect with couples, individuals, and groups of all backgrounds!
HER is one of the most popular dating apps for the LGBTQ community. 40% of users on this app are either gay or lesbian. 30% are bisexual. 20% are pansexual or queer, and the remaining 10% don’t identify. This is a free app made by a queer womxn for queer womxn. How it sets itself apart is with the well-connected community it has built.
What do I mean by this? Well, while in the app, users are able to browse the community tab. This aggregates all event postings within the general feed tab, bringing you closer to the members on the app. Rather go out in a group than solo your first time? Register to attend an event with the click of a button within the app! Users can also join different communities such as Strong and Single, Newly Out, and Queer Womxn of Color. HER makes it almost too easy to find users with similar interests.
With 24/7 moderation on the platform and seemingly limitless options for filtering and engagement, HER is the app the LGBTQ+ community.
Previously known as 3nder, Feels is your destination casual dating app for all things kink, swinger, and polyamorous. This app has an engaging design, easy-to-navigate interface, and trusted security. It really flexes its creativity right upon opening the app! You’re greeted by an aesthetically pleasing orange and white screen detailing the ways you can browse the app. Feeld is your best bet for judgment-free browsing of couples, doms, subs, and a whole lot more. Meet open-minded people and join solo or with a partner, lover, or friend. With the ability to link and unlink accounts, the browsing opportunities are limitless and exciting.
After creating a profile, you’ll be asked what you’re looking for and how you identify this profile. Is it a couples’ profile? Does it belong to a single bisexual person? What are your pronouns? You get the idea. Users will also be asked to set a “core” location and age range. Feeld profiles appear as a split-screen with a summary of the account underneath a photo gallery. Upon first glance, users will be able to see your name, sexual orientation, age, relationship status, gender, and bio.
Swiping is a little different than other sites so make sure you pay attention! Swipe left and right to toggle back and forth between profiles. When you come across one you like, just give it a heart! If they like you too, you’ll be able to start messaging. For your peace of mind, the app also lets you create your own pin as an extra layer of security. This way, if you happen to pass your phone to your nosy mom or leave it unlocked around a snooping younger relative your secret is safe.
If you throw everything you know about free dating apps out the window, you get the ever-inclusive Yumi. It’s not every day that you come across an exciting new way to browse through profiles, but Yumi has managed to create one.
Forget going through the same profile creation of uploading a selfie or body pic and creating a bio. Yumi allows you to browse anonymously. You have the option to upload a standard picture, but if you’d like to remain hidden, you can play with countless emojis and effects that will hide your face. If you don’t want to upload a picture at all, you can record yourself speaking instead.
You can be sure that most of the users on the app will be legit as Yumi approves profiles on a case-by-case basis. Which makes the only drawback the amount of patience it requires. Users can’t jump into anonymous matching right away. After the 24-hour review period, Yumi will either approve your profile and let you in on its games or they’ll deny it. If your profile is denied, that doesn’t mean you’re banned for life. You just need to update your information to meet the requirements discussed on the app’s FAQ page.
Once you’ve gotten your profile approved, the real fun begins. The app will provide you with its own random matches in the form of cards. If you flip one user’s card over, and the user flips your card over, then it’s a match! Chatting is 100% free, but Yumi does offer premium perks like bonus user cards in the pool, Extra Flips, and more. So what are you waiting for?!
You don’t get to be the second most popular dating app in the US by having a shitty platform. Clearly, Bumble knows what it’s doing and we’re going to break it down for you. As soon as the app appears on your phone screen, It looks like a little square of goodness. Its signature bright yellow theme almost tricks you into being excited to open it up. Once in the app, you go through the standard procedures of selecting a photo and creating your profile. We give a big thumbs up for including over 50 gender identity options to select from, as well as offering the option to browse in three different modes.
Date mode, BFF mode, and Bizz mode are all the ways you can swipe on the app. And as you might have guessed, yes, they all lead to different things! Date mode will take you through the standard dating app practices. BFF mode is available for those who simply want to make friends in their area. While Bizz mode allows you to browse through career-driven profiles as the ultimate networking site. Bumble is less like a dating app and more like an awesome social media platform. Only here are everyone’s true intentions known.
I once saw a Tumblr post that likened the Grindr app to the Bible app. Unbeknownst to me, and what I was doing at the time, I downloaded it on my mother’s phone. You can imagine her surprise. A decade later, I’m proud to say that Grindr has become the world’s largest hookup app for gay, bi, queer, and trans men. With its no-frills grid display sorted by location and super specific filter options, it’s no wonder why people flocked here. Decide if you’re looking for chats, dates, a relationship, or hookup. Then sift through its basic filters, just to see what you’re working with. Or you can target a specific audience using filters like bear, jock, daddy, or twink.
Basic Grindr is free, but there are paid subscriptions that boost your mojo. We recommend trying Grindr’s 7-day free trial. It allows you to sort through profiles that you haven’t chatted with, find users that accept NSFW pictures, or advertise enjoyment with specific positions. If you like all of this, the Xtra or Unlimited memberships might be worth your while. Unlimited is the most elite tier of paid Grindr subscriptions. It allows users to unlock unlimited profiles so they’ll never run out of people to browse and chat with. People with the Unlimited membership can also see who’s viewed their profile, browse in incognito mode so other users can’t see them, un-send messages, and even seen when someone is typing to you.
Grindr XTRA is a step below Unlimited. It still offers a bunch of perks that the basic (free) subscription won’t getcha. We’re talking read receipts, no ads, push notifications, a discreet app icon, more Grindr Tribes, additional filters, online-only view, and much more!
|1 Month Grindr XTRA||$24.99|
|3 Months Grindr XTRA||$20.97|
|6 Months Grindr XTRA||$29.94|
|12 Months Grindr XTRA||$47.88|
|1 Month Grindr Unlimited||$49.99|
|12 Months Grindr Unlimited||$299.99|
Rated highly in the app store with over seven million users, this very mature dating app has seen its fair share of flings. The concept is easy to understand: swipe left or right to review or skip a user. Swipe up if you’d like to “date” the user, and swipe down if you’d only like a hook-up with the user.
In terms of ease of communication, I think Down has nailed it. There’s no confusion between users when their profiles are matched. You’ll know instantly if that person wants to date or just wants something quick depending on the way they swiped. And if you happen to swipe the wrong way, don’t worry! You can edit your picks in the likes tab. If there’s someone you really want to meet, you can click on the lips button and send them a crush. This will pop up on their feed and push your profile to the front of their list.
What I don’t like about this app, however, is that they only give you about 10 preview swipes before you have to pay for the subscription. It’s also a pretty dark interface with standard features. Out of the profiles I did see, there were no bios included, and they all only had one photo. This is nice for discretion, but if you need more info to go off of before you start swiping, then this app might be too spontaneous for you.
It almost feels like a waste of time to review Tinder, like who hasn’t used Tinder for sex?! At this point, it’s the mother of our modern-day hookup services. But, since this is a list of dating apps, I kind of have to include the OG sex dating app.
For those of you who have been in a relationship since 2012 (or have been living under a rock) Tinder is the free dating app that invented swiping right. For the 1% of you who don’t know what “swiping right” means, it’s basically Tinder’s way of letting a user match with another user. The whole interface is based on the profile picture, a small bio, and common interests. You’ll never have to read a paragraph response to generic prompts ever again. Swipers see a person’s photo, bio, and interests. Some users choose to link their Spotify accounts, too. Tinder is really good at allowing users to see a mirror reflection of how the subject in question sees themself.
Here’s how it works: if a user likes what they see, they swipe right with their finger to try to match with that person. And if they don’t like it, they swipe left. If you both swipe right, it’s a match! If they swiped left, nothing will happen. It’s pretty anonymous in that aspect. Users can only message matches, too. So no more spam mail from potential lovers that you have no interest in!
The app is super straight forward, very clean, and easy to use. It isn’t the most advanced in terms of filtering. The only options free accounts have is to filter by gender, age, and distance. But with 1.6 billion swipes per day and 57 million users globally, it’s safe to say that it doesn’t really matter.
Tinder is free to use but offers two different premium memberships, Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold. Both extensions allow you unlimited daily likes, the ability to “rewind” your last swipe for a do-over, five Super Likes per day, one free Boost per month, and a “passport” that lets you swipe around the world rather than being limited by your location. Tinder Gold takes it one step further and allows you to see who already liked you. Which makes it much easier to decipher whether or not you’ve got a shot. However, it’s worth noting that if you’re over the age of 30, Tinder is going to upcharge your subscription costs. Rude.
|1 Month Tinder Plus (aged 18-29)||$9.99|
|6 Months Tinder Plus (aged 18-29)||$34.99|
|12 Months Tinder Plus (aged 18-29)||$54.99|
|1 Month Tinder Gold (aged 18-29)||$14.99|
|6 Months Tinder Gold (aged 18-29)||$52.99|
|12 Months Tinder Gold (aged 18-29)||$82.99|
|1 Month Tinder Plus (aged 30+)||$19.99|
|6 Months Tinder Plus (aged 30+)||$60|
|12 Months Tinder Plus (aged 30+)||$80|
|1 Month Tinder Gold (aged 30+)||$29.99|
|6 Months Tinder Gold (aged 30+)||$112.99|
|12 Months Tinder Gold (aged 30+)||$149.99|
Blendr is another one of your typical casual dating apps. The user interface is nice, but not over the top. It’s cleanly laid out with more information readily available for free than compared to other hookup apps. Anyone with a basic account can see your popularity on the site (not sure how this is relevant), verified photos, etc. And there’s actually quite an amazing selection of potential matches that seem to be legit! Unlike some of its competitors that are crawling with bots. Another feature I really like is how users can access the service via its app or the site itself. This is much more inclusive to those who’re not smartphone-savvy, or just hate the idea of downloading another app.
Once you’re signed up, creating your profile is pretty easy. The process requires asking for all the standard info–the usual profile photo, bio, physical characteristics, and traits. Like #OPEN, Blendr also offers the option to spice up your profile with hashtags that you can then use to match with users who have similar interests.
For a free app, Blendr is on the up-and-up. I would be lying if I said this was an app that we couldn’t live without since it isn’t a major player in the dating app scene (yet). But signing up won’t be a waste of your time, especially if you live in a city or a highly-populated area. As aforementioned, Blendr has a photo verification process in place to weed out bots, fake accounts, and scammers. So unless you comply with the photo verification, you’re sh*t out of luck. So if you’re looking to keep the fact that you’re on a dating site on the DL, this isn’t the app for you.
The app and most of its features are free. But if you do choose to go premium, Blendr offers users the ability to subscribe on a membership basis and/or purchase coins that can be used to purchase gifts and other virtual perks.
Happn is a breath of fresh air when it comes to free dating apps. Forget the algorithm and personal aesthetics. This free app matches you with people who have physically crossed your path throughout the day! Using its geo-location system, this app will connect you with other users that have crossed your path within a 250-meter radius. During a pandemic, this feature might actually be handier than we once realized.
The matches appear on your screen in the form of a user profile. At first glance, you’ll see the user’s name and occupation. You can click on it to scroll through photos and read a short bio of the person. Unlike other services, this platform strays away from open-ended responses. Instead, users’ biographies detail what they’re looking for in a relationship and their physical attributes. You’ll also be able to see what their food preference is and even what their party habits are. These “matches” will be available to view for up to one week after crossing paths. So waiting to say hello is probably a bad idea. However, some matches will have their timeout clocks reset if you cross paths again within the same week.
Because of its geo-location feature, even people you haven’t “matched” with will be able to see where they crossed paths with you and how far away you are. If sharing location services make you feel uncomfortable, you’ll need to sign up for the premium membership. Ranging from $10-$25 per month, users can turn off their geolocation, among other things. Premium features also include: filtering the types of profiles you want to see and unlocking an unlimited number of likes. So, if you want to feel that balance between fate and curation that no other app offers, strap on your shoes, download the app, and see what Happns!