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As more and more singles take their search for love, hookups and everything in between online, the stigma that once accompanied online dating has become a thing of the past.

Today, nearly 40% of couples in America meet using online dating sites. So if you’re searching for that special someone, you could very well find what you’re looking for via a dating app.

Whether you’re seeking romance or a hookup, there are tons of apps to choose from. While having a lot of choices is usually a good thing, when it comes to online dating apps, it can make picking the best one pretty difficult.

If you’ve decided to enter the world of online dating, the most important decision you’ll make is which app to download. If you choose the wrong one, it can lead to a lot of frustration and wasted money not to mention concerns with data and privacy.

Choosing well

There are a few steps you’ll want to take before tapping the download button.

First, do your research. Reading some well-researched reviews for hookup apps will give you valuable insight into the apps you’re considering. A good article will mention the writer’s personal experience with the apps being reviewed. 

There are also a lot of “listicles” out there—articles that list the most popular dating apps and give a description of each. Some of these can be helpful while others are so brief and poorly written that there’s little value in them. The key is to read articles on well-known, authoritative sites.

As you’re reading, it can be handy to make a list of the sites that interest you as well as their pros and cons. Once you’ve completed your research, it’s time to narrow down the choices.

The best way to do that is to match the apps on your list to your needs and wants. Start by setting your priorities. What are you looking for? Do you have niche needs or do you prefer variety? Are you looking for a committed relationship or something casual?

Once you’ve decided what you want, it’s time to choose an app that will maximize your chances of finding compatible matches. But what happens if your needs align well with several apps?

Considering things like success rate, cost, membership numbers and free trial periods can help you make a decision.

Success rate and cost

If your priority is success, that may mean choosing a subscription app. Paid apps almost always offer better matches and more features. Even apps that are free at signup offer premium models with better features—and many people who have tried them say their success rate goes up substantially after shelling out for the paid version.

Membership numbers

While established dating sites boast an extensive membership, not all dating apps do. If, for instance, you’re thinking about signing up with a niche app, do a bit of recon first. If you’re considering an app but it doesn’t reveal its membership numbers, that should be a big red flag. Successful niche dating sites may not boast huge numbers, but they should still be transparent about how many signups and active users they have.

Free trials

Apps that offer a free trial give you a chance to see what they’re all about before asking you to fork over your hard-earned cash. So, if you’re having a hard time choosing between a few different apps that eventually require payment, signing up for the free trial is a great way to decide if they will be worth your while in the long term.

Social media integration

Apps that offer users the ability to login with Facebook or Instagram not only make it easier to sign in, but it helps to verify users’ identities. Connecting with social profiles allows the app to access users’ social information and verify that they’re real. That’s not to say that you’re forced to login via Facebook (you’re not), but apps that offer this type of integration may have a leg up on those that don’t when it comes to security.

Safety and privacy

Speaking of security, choosing an app with adequate safety measures is key to a positive experience. You’ll want to choose a site that enables you to block or report anyone who is offensive as well as control the visibility of your profile.

Another thing to consider is, the easier it is to sign up for an app, the easier it is for scammers or perverts to create a profile. Apps with lengthy signup procedures are more likely to have real people looking for real relationships. In general, the longer the signup, the fewer fake accounts an app has.

Once you’ve whittled down your list by eliminating apps that don’t measure up when it comes to security, membership numbers and success rate, it’s time to zero in on your specific needs.

If you’re looking for a relationship

If love is what you seek, you’ll want to choose apps that cater to people seeking an exclusive relationship. Lots of apps out there cater to different preferences, and some are even very specific with their target users.

Before choosing one to download, you’ll want to make sure the app aligns with your needs in terms of age. For instance, if you’re over 30, you’ll probably want to give apps for a younger demographic a pass. Likewise, if you want to meet younger singles, avoid apps that appeal to cougars, older bachelors and the like.

The app should also allow you to narrow down potential matches. So, a man looking for women over 30 would be able to set his age range preference. Other preferences could be appearance, location or ethnicity.

Not all dating sites are created equal, so if you’re serious about meeting someone, choose your app carefully.

If you’re looking for a hookup

If the idea of commitment leaves you cold, then a hookup app could be the right fit for you. And that means you won’t find what you want on a traditional dating app. Although keep in mind that there are a few apps out there that cater to both audiences.

If you do opt for a hookup site, use it knowing that anyone you connect with is only looking for sex. Just like many of the dating sites, you get what you pay for. So, if you want to get the most out of your experience, consider getting a paid membership. 

If you’re a person of faith

Having strong convictions about your beliefs can make online dating difficult if you’re using a general app. But signing up for a general dating app often leads to disappointment. That’s because although there are thousands of profiles to scroll through, you won’t always find people who will share your convictions. So, if your faith is important to you and you want a partner who’s as devoted as you are, you’ll be best served by a niche app.

So while general dating apps are great, if faith is high on your priority list when it comes to a mate, a niche faith app will probably serve you best. Do your research and decide which one is best for you.

If you have specific needs

Have you ever been told you’re too picky when it comes to finding love? Not to worry. There are a ton of niche dating apps out there today.

With so many new apps popping up left and right, you’re likely to find a niche app that suits your preferences. There are already lots of apps for meeting cougars, BBW, college graduates and even millionaires.

Keep in mind, if you do decide to go with a niche dating app, you’ll encounter less people than you will on a more general app. But if you’re a person with truly discerning tastes, the lack of variety won’t be a problem.

If you’re gay

Those who are looking for same-sex mates can have success on general dating sites apps. But using an app that caters to a specific demographic can make dating less cumbersome. So, if you don’t want to spend time swiping through irrelevant profiles, try a niche LGBTQ app.

There are now apps made for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and even those who are just curious. There’s even a good mix of apps for the LGBTQ community for either dating or hookups. With so many options out there, you’ll need to do a bit of research about which apps suit your needs.

Now that know what to look for in a dating app, it’s time to dive in. If you’ve chosen well, you should find matches in no time.

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