If you are new to online dating, I’m going to say “welcome” (in a nice cheery, positive voice) as I begin this article on the best dating apps for absolute beginners.
For all the terrible stories and myths around online dating apps, they do serve a purpose and I know several people who have found love, happiness, damn good sex and even marriage from them.
The most important step in “getting it right” is choosing the right app for you because each app covers different parts of the many dating scenes, has various features, safety options and pricing tiers (some are free, check out Online dating apps: Paid vs free).
To help you make an educated choice about which app is your perfect entry point to the weird, wild and sometimes wonderful world of online dating, here is our pick of the best dating apps for beginners.
As an additional extra, we’ve included a new section in this article with dating app tips for newbies. Here you’ll find genuine tips from app users to help you get started on the right foot, have a more enjoyable experience and to find who you’re looking for faster.
Also, take a look at these article which will help you on your merry way:
eHarmony is the place to be if you’re looking for a serious relationship. It’s an excellent choice when it comes to dating apps for beginners who are tired of casual flings and hookups. eHarmony matches singles based on interests and dimensions of compatibility based on a long questionnaire that you answer on sign-up.
This combined with the verification process makes matching safe and secure and reduces catfishing. The service lets you view matches for free, but you’ll need to pay to use the full features. The money-back guarantee is one upside and refunds your money if for some reason you are not satisfied after communicating with at least five members.
Free version: Yes
Pros: Very in-depth profiles, safe and secure matching, money-back guarantee
Cons: Only paid members can view photos of matches, you have to pay to unlock full features
You will love this app if: You are an online dating beginner looking for marriage or a serious relationship
Bumble is like Tinder’s twin but with a twist. It’s a women-empowering approach that requires you to message first is unique and appeals to the bolder crowd. If the guy doesn’t reply within 24 hours, he forfeits potential dates.
This encourages contact but may put off people who like to take their time before committing to a message. Expect a lot of confident (and overly confident) men in the Bumble dating pool. As an online dating app for beginners, it’s a fun and empowering way for ladies to meet potential dates.
Free version: Yes
Pros: Reduced chances of getting unwanted messages, easy to use
Cons: Profiles are not very detailed, high rate of overly confident men
You will love this app if: You are confident and like to make the first move
Passion might not be an obvious choice among all the other dating apps for beginners, but it’s a great way to find a more casual set-up without enduring the endless nude pics. It is like the PC cousin of Adult Friend Finder, where you get the excitement of hooking up with strangers but without being x-rated.
The environment is pretty chill and beginners can flirt and seduce to their heart’s content. You can meet up with members in your area or start a steamy casual relationship with people from all over the world.
Free version: Yes
Pros: Easy to use, access to IM and chats, unlimited live webcam
Cons: No mobile app, basic version is very limited, lots of fake profiles
You will love this app if: You want steamy conversations without the endless parade of nudes
The League is one of the best dating apps for beginners with high standards. First, there’s an application process to get into the dating pool as well as a waiting list. You need to provide your LinkedIn profile, job title and education details and wait for approval (you can pay a fee to get approved faster).
Some members say that most of the profiles they see on the League are also on Tinder and other less selective apps, so don’t be too disappointed if you’re not accepted. The League is one of those exclusive online dating apps beginners who are picky will enjoy, but can be a huge turnoff for others.
Free version: Yes
Pros: Designed for singles with high standards who value career and education, very selective, safe and secure matching
Cons: Expensive, long wait list
You will love this app if: You are very picky and have high standards
Feeld promotes a fresher and bolder approach to online dating. It encourages members to look beyond sexuality and gender stereotypes. If you are seeking to explore or are longing to step out of your comfort zone, this dating app is tailored just for you.
The Feeld community promotes different types of connection, including polyamory – a non-monogamous relationship (either sexual or romantic) with multiple partners, regardless of gender identity.
Feeld is the best dating app for singles looking to have fun. But if you are looking for a monogamous partner, you might want to look somewhere else. To make a connection, simply like a profile. Once they like you back, you can start chatting.
Free version: Yes
Pros: Gender and sexuality inclusive
Cons: Not ideal for those looking for a monogamous relationship
You will love this app if: You want to try something new and explore different relationship setups.
Coffee Meets Bagel is one of the best online dating apps for beginners who need extra help setting up an account and meeting people. For dating pros, however, all the bells and whistles can make the experience a tad confusing.
CMB sends curated daily matches (called bagels) to your inbox every day and you have 24 hours to like or pass. Some days you’ll get multiple matches but on others only one. If you prefer to connect with someone instead of relying on daily matches, you need to spend money on ‘beans,’ the app currency. This can quickly get expensive if you hate waiting for matches and messages.
Free version: Yes
Pros: Curated daily matches based on specific interests and personality
Cons: Can get expensive if you want to connect with members not in your match list, too many features
You will love this app if: You like to take your time before jumping into a relationship
Hinge is perfect for those who are into deeper personal connections and want more than just swiping and chatting online. Most of its previous users found love and got into serious relationships. Hinge stands by its tagline “the dating app designed to be deleted.”
What we love most about Hinge is its straightforward and user-friendly interface. Every user is required to verify their mobile numbers so encountering a scammer is less likely. You can also send messages for free.
Free version: Yes
Pros: Lower rates compared to other apps, Free one-month trial
Cons: Unresponsive customer support, repeating users appear even if you skipped them before
You will love this app if: You want more decent conversations
OK Cupid is one of the original online dating sites and the desktop version was a big hit back in the day. It has been reskinned to appeal to a younger generation a la Tinder, but it still attracts singles of all ages who are new to dating apps or want to get back on the market.
The in-depth survey and personality profile are unique and a big plus for people who want to get to know their matches better, but the app interface is a bit outdated and cluttered. Still, OK Cupid is a great online dating app for beginners who are more into a potential mate’s personality than their physical appearance.
Free version: Yes
Pros: Free to view profiles and send messages, in-depth profiles
Cons: Anyone can message you, you can’t see who likes you without paying
You will love this app if: You prefer in-depth information about potential matches
If you’re a beginner who’s into sugar daddy relationships, Sugarbook is the dating app for you. You can sign up as a sugar baby (the one who gets treats in exchange for sexual favours) or a sugar daddy/mummy (the one who pays for the treats and expensive membership).
A free Sugarbook account lets you browse the member list and send a limited number of messages. However, people with a university email can sign up for a free premium account. We like that all members are ID verified to reduce the number of fake profiles.
Free version: Yes (limited features)
Pros: ID-verified members, easy-to-use app, fun filters, free premium account if you sign up with a university email
Cons: Expensive for sugar daddies/mummies, you need to pay to send unlimited messages
You will love this app if: You are a dating app beginner who is into sugar daddy-sugar baby relationships
Tinder is one of the most popular online dating sites for beginners and veterans alike. It’s easy to use and offers something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a casual date, hookup or a serious relationship. While definitely not the first choice for the marriage-minded, Tinder can be a lot of fun and it’s a great way to get your feet wet and see what online dating has to offer.
The lack of detailed profiles can make decision-making difficult, but Tinder is all about the spur of the moment. You’ll need to swipe right a lot of times though before clicking with someone special.
Free version: Yes
Pros: Easy to use, fun and simple matching system
Cons: Lots of people looking for casual hookups
You will love this app if: You’re looking for something fun and casual
Getting into the world of online dating is thrilling, but also scary, so it’s important to get it right from the start. This will save you time and help you get only potential partners that are compatible with you.
Even if you have subscribed to the best dating apps for first-timers, if you’re not utilising them properly, it will take you a long time to find your perfect match. Whether you’re looking for a hookup or “the one,” here are ideas you can try to make your experience more fun and hassle-free.
Present your authentic self on your profile. Being genuine helps attract matches who appreciate you for who you truly are, making meaningful connections more likely. It also saves you a lot of time and energy … trying to come across as different to who you really are is exhausting!
Dating apps are designed so you can browse and chat with complete strangers while keeping your privacy intact. Don’t share any private details until you’ve met someone and feel comfortable. That includes your phone number. People can find out a lot about you from one phone number.
Further reading: 12 Tried and tested tactics to date safely online.
Understand that not every interaction will lead to a long-term relationship. If your standards are too high and unrealistic, you won’t land yourself a man! So always keep an open mind and be prepared for a mix of experiences.
Scammers are all over dating apps. There even is a documentary made about a real-life dating app con artist (hello, Tinder Swindler). So never send money even if they say it’s for an emergency. Oh and if they mention crypto … run.
Instead of focusing on the number of matches, prioritise quality connections. No matter how many matches you create, they’re useless if they don’t have substance. Invest time in getting to know someone before deciding if they’re a good fit for you (and your kids).
Be clear about your intentions and expectations, and encourage open dialogue with your matches. This will make sure you and your match are on the same page. If someone doesn’t come across well while messaging, it might be that they are better at face-to-face communication.
When deciding to meet in person, choose public places for safety. Inform a friend or family member about your plans and keep your phone charged. Trust your instincts and don’t keep your guard down too soon.
For an extra level of safety see: 14 Clever personal safety apps for single mums.
Dating apps can be overwhelming. It’s okay to take breaks when needed to focus on yourself and your family. Balance is key in navigating the dating world as a single mum.
Further reading: 10 Warning signs that you need to take a break from online dating.
Cheers to being brave and putting yourself back out there! It’s not an easy thing to do.
I know because it took me two years to muster up the courage to create my first online dating app profile. Thanks to my friends who endlessly pestered me into doing it. The first few tries weren’t a success, but the tips above helped me find my current partner (we’ve been together for three years now!).
There are plenty of fish in the sea. But make sure you don’t jump the gun too soon. You don’t want to make the same mistake twice, or more! Whether you’re on the app for that long overdue rebound sex or just want someone to talk to – just remember to go with the flow and have fun (while being careful, of course!).
Believe it or not, dating apps are not all about one-night stands and flings. With the right app, you can find authentic souls like you who are looking for love, a relationship, and everything in between.
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