The Single Person’s Guide to Dating – Five Free Dating Site/App Reviews

The world has changed rapidly in the last 20 years.  Between the internet, social media, smart phones, new media and various streaming services, the landscape of communication in society today changes so fast life passes you by before you know it.  All of the “advancements” are meant to make your life better.  Whether true or not, I will leave to another blog post.  One of the biggest advancements, or detractions in the world depending upon your point of view, is the online dating world.  As if dating were not complicated enough before, we now have a world of online dating that creates a whole set of challenges about how to go about dating out there.  Dating apps and websites come fast and furious at you.

But as a single person today, especially as a single parent, meeting people becomes challenging.  And while I do not mind getting a drink now and again, going to the bar to meet people never really interested me.  Do you remember the saying: “nothing good ever happens after 2:00 am” in How I Met Your Mother?  Why is this a truism?  No one makes good decisions that late at night when they are tired.  Combine that with alcohol and I imagine the likelihood of making a good decision drops precipitously.  Tired is one thing.  Drunk is another.  Drunk and Tired and you can forget about the possibility of good decisions happening.  And add to that the litany of STDs out there and you might understand why I would be reluctant to pursue that scene.

So I took to going online and going to dating websites and then apps to be able to meet new people.  I have previously discussed what things there are to look out for when it comes to meeting people and dating.  The landscape out there is crazy enough. And with these dating apps the landscape changes even more.  So I figured that it would be good to run through a litany of some of the interesting social media dating websites and apps that are out there so you can know what to expect from them.

To judge sites you have to have certain criteria you use to rate them.  And I do have things that I believe makes some dating sites better or worse.  Just remember that these are my criteria and not yours necessarily.  While I think these are five of the better sites out there when it comes to online dating, remember that these are my criteria so take that with the grain of salt.  I know that people have all kinds of reasons for going on these sites.  Some just want sex and some want to get married tomorrow.  So they run the gamut.  I will not judge people for wanting something different than what I do.  These are just criteria that I use to judge.

My Dating Site/App Criteria

  1. App versus Website –

    Does the App even have a website?  If so how functional is it?  Does it integrate well together?  Or is this more of a website that created an app as an afterthought.  If it has an app is it functional?  How functional is it?  Is it bare bones or does it contribute to the usefulness of the website?

  2. Communication –

    How easy is it to communicate with the other person?  What methods do you use to communicate?  Are there multiple methods or just one?

  3. Selection –

    How do you select the people that you are going to choose?  How do you discriminate between talking to one person or another?  Is there a method for not receiving communication from some people?  Can anyone contact you or is it limited and why?

  4. Pay Vs. Non-Pay Features –

    All sites that are out there ultimately wish to make a buck.  No one would put together a dating site out of the kindness of their heart.  They actually expect to make money off the venture.  Sooner rather than later.  Are the pay features better?  How much better?  Why? Why not?

  5. Ageism . . . Yes or No? –

    Everyone wants to market to the people they figure will best make them money.  So I am not complaining about the fact that sites cater to where they think the dollar is.  If they feel they are more likely to make a buck from older versus younger people, they will cater that way.  And if they think younger people will pay them more, they will do it that way.  I do not begrudge them that.  But I will note that as a feature if it is.

  6. In App Features –

    Obviously, every app has particular features that they figure stand out from all the apps and websites.  What are those features?  Do they help or hinder the functioning of the website?  How user-friendly are they?  Do they create unique ways of interacting with people?

  7. Fake Profiles –

    Anyone around the online dating world long enough understands that there are vast majorities of fake profiles out there.  I believe some pay services intentionally create all these fake profiles to get you to sign up and pay for their services.  While free apps and web sites aren’t geared towards pay necessarily, sometimes they can draw you in to pay for services because you like what you are seeing.  While I admit that I judge this a bit subjectively here, I believe knowing how much of that is out there might lead you to select one site over another.  I believe knowing is important.

I am sure that I could probably come up with more, but then this would be a treatise on dating apps and websites and I didn’t want to create that.  Mostly, I just wanted to create a short list of things to look for and to aid you if you should choose to go on this online dating journey.  Without a doubt it is complicated.  So I took the surprise out of it with five top dating app reviews.  Hopefully, you can meet some amazing people.  So let’s go out there and meet people.  Here’s to online dating and not being ghosted!

Five Top Free Dating App Reviews


  • OK Cupid

App Versus Website –

OK Cupid started a while back before applications became things on smartphones.  As such, Cupid started as one of the original free dating sites.  It was actually a derivative of an earlier website called Sparkmatch.  That was an all free dating website which they had to shut down for a while due to lack of time and funds.  When it came back, it was OK Cupid and it was no longer just a free service, even though a great majority of its functions are free.  It competed against pay services like and Eharmony for the dominance of the web.  Being the preeminent free dating site out there it has found itself in movies and television shows because of its popularity.

So when Apps started to become popular, they were one of several social media sites that jumped on board the app bandwagon with both feet.  The good thing is that it integrates well with the web page, even if the web page has some extra features involved in it.  And the company running it has kept up to date with the app so it doesn’t feel like the red headed step cousin to the service.  They are constantly updating which makes the transition between the web page and app feel seamless.

Communication –

As far as this app goes, the method of communication comes down to emailing back and forth.  Of course, one can turn this almost into a text messaging thing as you message back and forth over a phone.  But it’s set to be able to email someone a long message or a more detailed message to another person.  They do not have a chat feature like some websites do.  It’s just straight up communication between two people.

Selection –

OK Cupid has multiple methods of selection.  You can search a bunch of people out within a bunch of parameters. This includes age, distance, hair color, sex, religion, finances, education, etc.  There is also the quick-match feature.  It’s slightly different when you are on the app versus website.  It used to be that you just had pictures to select from on the app.  Now even the app has pictures and a brief snippet from their profile.  And you can see up to four pictures up front from the person.

In addition, Cupid has the match feature where you are asked a whole bunch of questions and then it is supposed to match you with someone who has at least similar profile interests.  Whether the algorithm works properly or matches you with good people I leave for you to decide.  I imagine that the more questions you answer the better the algorithm works.  But how much time do you have to answer hundreds of questions?   Once answered you get a match percentage, and the system will send you matches every so often to check out based upon their recommendation.

Pay Vs. Non-Pay Features –

There are a couple of extra features with the pay versus non-pay.  You can know everyone who matched with you if you are pay. You get to up your selection criteria based upon some nebulous terms such as “hotness”. How a computer determines this seems interesting.  And if women who do look beautiful in pictures do get more messages and yet is a fake profile, how will the computer determine this?  Is it reflexive if people talk a lot?  And if that’s true, how do you know if this is a person who will ever meet in person or whether or not they will continue to talk to fifty people while dating you?  I am not sure that this is a criterion that would be worth it even after selecting from it.

You do get to have your profile boosted so that you are seen by more people, overriding their generic algorithm for which people you actually see.  More people is more people. This can be more good people or more creeps.  You never know.  You also get a bigger mailbox, which can be useful, but I am not sure whether it’s 20 dollars a month useful. Decide for yourself.

Ageism – Yes Nor No?

To be honest, I do not know enough about their algorithms to know whether or not they are discriminating the profiles you see based upon age.  Although with the ability to select age groups I don’t see how that is possible.  People can choose the age groups they want to find, and they can limit the people they want to talk to them.  So I don’t see it as endemic to what they are doing.

In App Features –

Cupid has millions of different questions to answer that should enable you to meet someone who is genuinely interesting to you.  You can create a fairly lengthy profile involving many questions.  You can answer the questions short and sweet or write a novel but you do get a chance to reflect who you are there.  At least they create match percentages that are supposed to help with this.   They have double take which is a bunch of quick matches.  For paying they have boost feature, which makes your profile show up in more matches.  As far as search features they have lots of differents of methods including match percentage, and “special” which is an algorithm.  There are some filtering criteria for paying members only.

Fake Profiles –

I have experienced a few fake profiles on here.  Although most of the fake profiles I have experienced on here are of the “being stranded in a country in Africa” variety.  For guys, the other big fake profile type comes from women trying to get them to pay for some sex site or something like that.  Thankfully I haven’t seen that on Cupid which makes it a cut above many of the other non-paying websites.  As for women, I know that I have been told much of the men on there like to talk about sex or show their body parts early on.

Overall Rating:  3 of 4 Stars


  • Tinder 

App Versus Website –

Tinder is just available as an app version so you cannot access it online.

Communication –

Communication can only exist with the person once you have matched with them.  There is no other way of connecting with the people are you are interested in.  If a person decides to unmatch with you, you are no longer able to chat with them online.  The communication is basically a chat feature on the phone.

Selection –

Selection is mostly picture based.  You have a bunch of pictures that you select with.  You swipe right for like, left for dislike.  They have created some interesting methods for selections.  You can select as a group to try a group date or you can select individually.  There are some interesting reviews of the group date feature you might want to check out.  There is a super-like feature where the person knows you like them without having to match them.  This enables them to know you are interested and more likely to match you.

Pay Vs. Non-Pay Features –

For the paid features, you can go back to previous matches you didn’t like and change your mind,  You can control who you see.  Hiding ads is always nice.  You get a few extra super likes per day as you usually have one.  And you can like an unlimited amount of people per day as opposed to a limited amount of likes on Tinder.  You can spoof your locations so that if you are going on vacation somewhere you can match with people in advance.

Ageism – Yes or No? –

Evidently, the answer to this is a resounding yes.  If you are younger, they charge you less to have the paid features.  Older people have to pay more for the paid features on Tinder.  I know this is because having prettier people on there is better for their service.  But it does make one question if they want to be involved with said app beyond twenty-nine.

In App Features –

There are just two basic features on there.  There is like and the super like as well as the chat feature.  You can create a profile but you have a limited amount of text that you can put in there.  So how much you know about a person before contacting them is a bit limiting.  You can connect your Instagram account to your profile so people can see more pictures of you and learn a bit more about you.

Fake Profiles –

To be honest, I have never met someone on there who was a fake profile that I can state unequivocally was a fake profile.  People either spoke with me or they didn’t.  No one tried to get me on another site.  And no one told me that they were from Africa asking for money.  However, there are tons of pictures on there.  Either tons get on and never remove themselves or there are most likely some created profiles that aren’t actual people.  Tinder may make it difficult for bots to be successful at contacting people though.

Overall Rating: 2 of 4 Stars


  • Bumble

App Versus Website –

There is no Website when it comes to Bumble.  It’s all app.

Communication –

Like Tinder, the communication is based upon matching.  So you will never be able to speak to someone that you do not match with.  Actual communication is done through a chat feature that is in the app.  The interesting thing about this app is that once connected, the woman is the only person who gets to initiate the chat features.  She has twenty-four hours to talk to you or your opportunity disappears.  If the man wants to give the woman a longer chance to talk to him, he can extend the period for one person every twenty-four hours to give them a day longer to contact you.  Once the woman chats, the man also has twenty-four hours to respond.  If he doesn’t, the match ends.

Selection –

You are given a list of pictures very much like Tinder.  The selection process is just the same.  You can just look at the various pictures or the minimal amount of text that is connected to those pictures.

Pay Vs. Non-Pay Features –

You get to see who has directly liked you.  If a match has ended, you get the chance to match with that person once again.  Likewise, you can extend the length of opportunity to chat with you indefinitely by your match.

Ageism? Yes or No –

There is no ageism in Bumble of which I know.  They do not charge more for over 30 people like they do in Tinder, so they do not seem to be discriminatory in that way in the method that Tinder does.

In App Features –

There is the chat feature.  Tinder includes a small profile feature with a limited amount of pictures.  They have a verification method for people so you know whether or not the person is real or a bot.  This cuts down on fake connections with people.  They have the limiting features where your matches will only include people from certain categories.  It only allows the woman to make the first contact with a gentleman.  If she responds, the man has 24 hours to respond back or the match also ends.  The man or woman can extend the time for their opposite sex match with which to contact them.

Fake Profiles –

As far as fake profiles go, like Tinder, I haven’t been contacted directly by someone who I noticed was a scammer of one sort or another.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop some unseemly men from being legitimately gross in their contacts with women.  But what it does seem to limit is people being scammed.  Furthermore, by the addition of the verification method, you are more likely to know who is real and who is not, if there are fake profiles there.

Despite this, I believe that there are a plethora of fake profiles.  As much as I want to believe there are that many gorgeous single women out there, with just the sheer amount of them popping up to match with, I am convinced that many are fake profiles.  This may help the company with encouraging people to sign up for pay for premium service.  I know many dating sites do encourage these fake profiles to encourage people to pay for their premium services.  Given the copious amounts of good looking women, and hearing from women about the copious amounts of good looking guys, I can believe that there are numerous fake profiles.

Overall Rating: 3 of 4 Stars


  • Plenty Of Fish

App Versus Website –

Plenty of Fish, like OK Cupid began as a website and then moved over to app features.  But like OK Cupid, they have decided to focus on the matching aspects of it.  Like Cupid, there is not a significant difference between the app and the website.  To be honest, I like the look of the app better.  I never really liked the look of the website for Plenty of Fish.  It never worried much about its looks, how the pictures are presented, the organization of profile description, or anything like that.  Maybe some people like that better but I always appreciate something looking like a polished product.

The conversion from Website to app gave Plenty of Fish (POF) a better organized and better-looking format.  Obviously, it’s going to be smaller in view than a computer screen but as things are moving from computers to the app, it’s possible they figure they don’t care about the look of their website anymore.  It maybe beneficial financially but it makes me trust them less as a company ignoring early adopters to focus always on the new technology.

Communication –

It is a chat screen with a person.  It’s very much like Cupid in the sense that it’s something that isn’t unlike an email, although it does look more like a chat box now.  You have the freedom to send them messages without matching first.  However, they do have some things.  Some people require you to write longer messages to them or they don’t accept from a person.  So you have to say more than hi.  And they also have computers paying attention to how much you are talking to different people and can consider what you are doing to be spam.  So they might stop you from messaging for the rest of the day.

Selection –

To be able to choose someone you want to talk to they have various different methods.  You take a test and they match you with chemistry.  They have people they think are more likely to talk to you.  Plenty of Fish also has filters on all your searches to help you select people that you are interested in.  They have location searches as well if you want to find someone locally to you.  And they even have opinions about which people are the best matches that you have struck up a conversation with.

Pay Vs. Non-Pay Features –

I am not saying the paid features aren’t useful.  But they just don’t seem to be worth the extra cost.  First, it creates a boost in appearance.  You show up first in people’s match list.  I suppose this gives you more opportunity to be noticed.  And second, you can see whether people have read your messages to them.  I suppose that helps in knowing whether a connection with that person is worth it.  And the number of images you upload increases.

Ageism? Yes or No –

To the best of my knowledge, Plenty of Fish does not have any separate price points based upon age like Tinder.  And they don’t have any other features to discriminate people by age unless the individual person is doing so.  The individual person has more control to discriminate emails by age, gender, country, and location.

In App Features –

The In App Features are much like cupid with matches, swiping, matches and chemistry. All are looks or suggestions for people based upon the qualifications that you have set up.  The chemistry search is based upon their questions and not questions created by users so there might be some more legitimacy to the matches here.  Their ultra match I am guessing is akin to the percentage matches on Cupid.  But instead of giving you percentages, they just list the matches in order.  So if your filters make number one a seventy percent match or whether your first ten matches are 90 percent, you have no means of knowing.

Fake Profiles –

I would say this is also the same as Cupid.  I think I have had more fakes on here than Cupid, but less than Tagged, Meet Me or any number of other free online dating services. So I have dealt with scammers.   The one advantage to Cupid is that they take their reporting seriously and will block a person if a few people decide to block them.  The upside is that it eliminates scammers.  The downside is that you may end up getting quickly blocked if someone just doesn’t like your look that day or you didn’t give them the message they were looking for.  After 5 blocks you may end up permanently blocked. So you may be walking on eggshells here.  And people on dating sites can be vindictive.

Overall Rating: 2 1/2 of 4 Stars


  • Coffee Meets Bagel 

App Versus Website –

Coffee Meets Bagel is only an app and does not exist in website format.

Communication –

The communication console is slightly different than some of the others.  Like Tinder and Bumble, you can only communicate with your matches when you have made a match with them.  Once you have matched with the person you have a week to talk to that person and get to know them before it stops you from talking to them.  You do have the chance to open it up again but this has to deal with how their pay service goes.  The other interesting thing about their service is that it gives you some interesting way to initiate conversation with the other person.  You put some interesting facts about you and it gives your matches one to begin the conversation with.

Selection –

As far as the selection here you have a few interesting ways.  The system sends you “bagels” every day to select from.  You get the opportunity to choose between whether you like or do not like these bagels.  You do have filters to filter through the bagels you are given, although that doesn’t always work as well as you might think.  And then once you have run through your limited bagels, you are given some people you can “discover.”  These discoveries are extra bagels that may appear in your daily choices later on.  But you can only pay with a good deal of bagel chips, which leads us to the pay services.

Pay Vs. Non-Pay Features –

Pay services for here are based upon bagel chips.  You can either earn bagel chips by selecting bagels and rating pictures (think hot or not when you vote up one picture over another), or by paying money to get extra bagel chips.  These chips allow you to do more matches with more people.  And they allow you to lengthen your time getting to talk to someone.  All of those are good things and they are things that can be earned or paid for. To earn these bagel chips does take time on the app though.  I suppose you have to decide whether or not your time to get free bagel chips is worth it.  You can also purchase a report on your best picture.  They will tell you which one people like more.

Ageism? Yes or No –

There does not seem to be multiple price points for Coffee Meets Bagel for people of different ages.  And there does not seem to be any big deal to limiting who you see at least that is visible.  Of course, they do allow you to filter out who you want to see.  And since you can only talk to matches, that means that more than likely you will not be able to have wild differences in ages you are interested in.

In App Features –

You do get to write a profile on there.  The profile only has a few different questions you can answer so there isn’t much to look at when you check out a person’s profile.  Then you have the discovery section which only really is useful with Bagel Chips.  You have the photo lab portion which allows you to help others choose better pictures.  ( I don’t think it’s very useful though.  I think most people select the picture on the right.) Finally, you have that pay for report where you can find out which of your pictures people like best.

Fake Profiles –

Like Tinder and Bumble, the way Coffee Meets Bagel sets itself up makes it hard to talk to any profiles that are overtly fake.  It’s not that I haven’t had some profiles that don’t talk to you, but that isn’t necessarily fake.  And it’s not like Bumble where there are so many pictures of beautiful women that you either think someone stood the world on its head or that there is something rotten in the State of Denmark.  And it’s not the world being turned on its head.

Overall Rating: 3 1/2 of 4 Stars


Continue The Conversation

So if you have been in the dating world, what kinds of dating apps or websites have you used?  Which were successful and which were not?  Which did you like more?  Did you have more success with pay sites or with ones that were free?  And what was your favorite site?  I would love to hear what worked for you and please share your experiences.  Any interesting dating site experiences I may put together for another blog post.

Follow Me

If you enjoyed this post, please check out some of my other posts on the dating world.  And don’t forget to follow me here and get updates on the blog.  Email subscribers get access to the Dad Rules, ten rules dads should know about and follow.

Thanks for stopping by once again.

Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life

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