For casual dating
“Casual dating has always varied in definition depending on a mixture of generational, cultural and societal norms and expectations. It isn’t just about lots of sexual interactions; it can mean cute dates, intimate discussions, sharing kinks and flirting.
“You may be surprised to hear that Grindr is on the rise with both the LGBTQ community and heterosexual community. Feeld is another app which is popular with those seeking casual relationships and to explore non-monogamy. The aim should be not to mislead anyone on your profile.
“No two relationships are the same, but be open and communicate your goals from the start.”
Ness Cooper, clinical sex therapist and resident sexologist for jejoue.co.uk
“For men looking for casual dating and zero commitment I’d point them towards Tinder, OkCupid, Hinge, Grindr and Pure.
“When creating a profile for casual dating, signpost this with pictures of yourself that don’t have much sentimental value and display your sexy, fun side.
“Hinge offers plenty of opportunity to get creative with funny jokes, prompts and audio notes, while Tinder, a ‘swipe right or left’ app, focuses on the ‘superficial’ rather than deeper connections. Make your intentions clear to avoid any upset later.”
Liam Barnett, men’s dating expert at datingzest.com
For emotional connection
“Dating apps are amazing for opening up a pool of people that you may not meet in real life. Bumble is good for both men and women looking for emotional connection. The women message first (for same-sex matches, either can), which means they are not filtering unwanted messages.
“Hinge is good for easy conversation starters, while Match and eHarmony require a bit more effort and paid subscriptions. In theory, people willing to put in the time and money into dating app will be looking for a deeper emotional connection.”
Eimear Draper, dating coach and founder of kindlingdating.com
For the adventurous
“If you are someone who is curious about open relationships, polyamory or sexual experimentation, be upfront and honest about your intentions and needs on dating apps. This helps to ensure you attract people who are on the same page.
“Feeld is one of the most inclusive and open apps out there and provides a safe space for people to explore various relationship dynamics, from polyamory to threesomes and more.
“For something a bit more mainstream, OkCupid is highly praised for its inclusive approach to dating and allows users to be upfront about their specific preferences.”
Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at lovehoney.co.uk
“As humans, it is natural to want to experiment and learn more about ourselves and others. OkCupid is slowly becoming more open to those interested in polyamory or open relationships and may be a good stepping stone for those starting out. Dating apps allow you to speak up about hard limits without the fear of rejection or confrontation.”
“The anonymity of dating apps combined with the possibility of inventing and presenting an alter ego is appealing on a number of levels. The user may feel more in control, because they are not revealing much of who they really are and it can make the whole process more exciting.
“But I would always suggest that it is wise to be honest, irrespective of whether your wants and needs from a relationship are less traditional.”
Mark Vahrmeyer, psychotherapist, brightonandhovepsychotherapy.com
For the undecided
“From long-term to casual partners, everyone’s idea of love can look different. Bonkers is an LGBTQIA+-inclusive app and the first dating app which has two sides: Bonkers for long-term dating and Bonk for casual fun.
“This eliminates small talk around what you are looking for in a match. The app has a range of safety features including facial recognition, no screenshotting and a ‘pin’ feature, which puts a stop to unsolicited imagery.”
Jay Dodds, co-founder, Bonkers
“The negative outcomes from casual dating or ‘situationships’ arise when people feel unsure, anxious or confused about what to expect from the other person. Be open about your intentions from the onset. On Bumble, you can update your relationship goal badge from ‘something casual’ to ‘marriage’ to match with like-minded people and get what you want.”
Dr Caroline West, Bumble’s sex and relationship expert
“My first piece of advice would be: don’t approach every match with the view of ‘Could this be my husband or wife?’ Be open-minded and take your time.
“We did a recent National Wedding Survey, which showed that 26 per cent of newlyweds met through dating apps. For someone looking for serious commitment, avoid apps such as Tinder, Grindr or Hinge and look to apps such as OkCupid and eHarmony, which uses a patented compatibility matching system – a very in-depth relationship questionnaire, which took 35 years to create. They take this love stuff pretty seriously and so should you.”
Zoe Burke, wedding expert and editor of hitched.co.uk
“Match believes that ‘love starts with me’ and helps to empower singles to enjoy the journey of being single. Match’s platform is unique in that it offers dating coaching that helps its users to build their confidence and improve their dating skills through live webinar coaching broadcasts (and replays), which helps users to identify the right standards to look out for in a partner, and how to get better at identifying the best matches for you, in a practical sense.”
Hayley Quinn, dating expert for Match
“If you are feeling curious or unsure about what you like when it comes to dating, looking inwards will undoubtedly lead to self-discovery and growth. Use dating apps to practise setting boundaries and communicate your needs effectively. This will help to foster self-respect to ensure that you are engaging in relationships that are mutually beneficial. It is also imperative that you learn from your experiences along the way.”
For mid-life second chance/newly divorced
“I left it quite a long time before re-entering the dating scene after my divorce and if you’re nervous, putting it off can feed that fear. But go in feeling healed. In a raw, damaged state, you are going to make bad choices.
“For middle-aged divorced women, Bumble and Hinge are good starting points. With Hinge, you can specify exactly what you are looking for and Bumble works well because the woman is in control. It is a journey and different apps will become useful to you at different points in time.”
Kate Daly, relationship expert, co-founder of online divorce services company amicable, and host of The Divorce Podcast
“There is no shame in protecting your time and energy by establishing what you actually want from a relationship and being honest with yourself about how you want to date.
“According to Bumble’s 2023 dating trend predictions, this year we will see a spike in people having a ‘dating renaissance’, with more than a third (39 per cent) of people on Bumble having ended a marriage or serious relationship in the past two years. These people are now jumping into their second chapter, with a third (36 per cent) using dating apps for the first time.”
Dr Caroline West
“I interviewed male dating app users in their thirties and forties, many post-divorce. They generally favoured Tinder because it was easy to use, direct and enabled them to have hook-ups, which they felt would not be available in their existing couple-centric social circles. However, research has shown that women at this age are put off by the transactional focus on looks and youth.”
Dr Jenny van Hooff, sociology professor at Manchester Metropolitan University
For single parents
“There is an app called PlayDate, which, as the name suggests, is great for singletons who are either looking for a partner with kids or have children. It knows that dating with children can be a total minefield, so it even offers tips for dating with kids, and provides a forum for all those single-parenting struggles.”
“Even is a new dating app designed especially for single parents. Our research revealed that 57 per cent of single parents have been ghosted because they have children, but here there is no taboo. We have designed an app for anyone who understands the priorities and pace of life of single parents. Users can share the number of children they have, their ages, their custody arrangement, parenting styles and preferred times for meeting to simplify interactions from the start.”
Marion Graff, spokesperson, dating app Even
For the career-minded
“Career-minded people can feel that, even if they focus solely on their work, a relationship will come along somewhere along the line. But unfortunately, you have to be deliberate and intentional and strategic.
“Go where there’s the most volume: Tinder, Hinge and Bumble are popular and present lots of options. Or you could choose a slower-pace app such as Match or eHarmony and a niche app aimed at professionals, such as Elite Singles.
“Having three apps on the go is enough, but it will require time, attention and focus – just as if you are applying for your dream job.”
Chengi Tobun, relationship and dating expert, podcaster, author and founder of Black Swan Relationship Academy
For silver seniors
“Ourtime is a dating platform for the over-fifties that lets people search, chat and meet other like-minded people. You can search for matches with specific criteria (such as age, height, location), but the app also suggests new matches every day. It also offers video calling in-app, or live chat sessions with groups of other singles, as well as live dating coaching, with expert advice on everything from creating a dating profile to sex.”
Kate Taylor, dating expert, Ourtime
“Dating apps designed for older generations often have easy-to-use interfaces to take away some of the pressure. Silver Singles suggests matches determined by a detailed questionnaire when you sign up, while eHarmony has a majority of active users aged 50 and over and a section of its site dedicated to mature dating. Ultimately, dating should be a fun experience that helps you discover the joy of companionship – so enjoy the process.”
Will Donnelly, later-living expert and co-founder of care-home and retirement-community search service Lottie
“Dating apps and websites are hugely popular with younger people and so it is totally understandable that older people may be interested in exploring how they may be able to help them, too. After all, as we age, we still need love and companionship in our lives.
“It is really important to do your research before plunging in and to have your eyes wide open about the risk of fraud and scams. We know that so-called romance fraud is by no means unusual and that older people may be especially targeted, which can destroy your self-confidence as well as your finances. Dating online is not for the faint-hearted, so stay vigilant.”
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director
For the widowed
“When I lost my husband to Covid in 2020 and tentatively tried Hinge and Tinder, I had a real dilemma, as a 49-year-old widow, on when to drop it into conversation without it being a passion killer.
“Dating while grieving was incredibly challenging, so I set up Chapter 2, the UK’s first community and dating app for widows and widowers. I think, as a widow, if you’ve loved and lost, you probably are looking for your chapter two. The app aims to provide a safe space where users understand there will always be a part of your heart that is lost.
“The upside is that our recent survey found that 48 per cent of widows and widowers have more sex with their new partner(s) than they did previously.”
Nicky Wake, founder, Chapter 2 dating app