10 Best Dating Sites to Meet New People or Make an Authentic Connection

dating websites
  • Mischief
  • Mar 22, 2024

Dating sites are no longer a taboo topic and if you ask couples today how they met, chances are they’ll look at each other with a smile and admit to meeting via an app or one of the many online dating sites. Not all of these dating sites or apps are the same, and for anyone eager to make an authentic connection, it is a good idea to start with the very best-rated sites. We’ve put together a list of the highly rated and best dating sites. While most will describe themselves as offering free online dating, we’d add a caveat: They do provide some free features, but if you are serious about making the most of the sites, read our best dating sites reviews and pay for a subscription (or whatever system is used) to get the very most out of your time spent using it.

Before we look at our preferred and best online dating sites, let’s take a moment to consider what they offer that you won’t get in real-world dating scenarios.

Why Use Online Dating Sites?

How many free online dating sites do you think there are in the world? Though not all are the best dating sites, it might shock you to discover that there are many thousands of sites – more than eight thousand as of this writing. They have all transformed how we look to meet our mates and partners or seek out relationships “just for fun.” Yet, there are so many that it can feel overwhelming, and so we offer our list of the best dating sites and the following tips:

Go for a membership or subscription after going through reviews and feedback

Use both mobile and desktop features (including apps) when available

Be realistic about your expectations and goals (if you want free online dating purely to hook-up, don’t be disappointed that the best dating sites yield you very little feedback as many use them to find partners and not casual encounters)

Be honest as you build a profile, otherwise, you may be wasting time and money

You are different from your friends, so choose online dating sites suited to you (for example, OurTime is for the 50+ crowd while OkCupid is noted for its more youthful vibe)

And with those simple tips, let’s dig into the very best dating sites at this time:

1. AdultFriendFinder.com

AdultFriendFinder homepage

If you are not really looking for something long-term but still want to have some no-strings fun there are only two options these days, Tinder and AFF. Tinder is still very good if you are young (18-28ish) and only interested in meeting people in that age range (you can see this in our Tinder dating app review). It has also been slowly morphing into a more general dating app filled with people who are not really looking for casual fun or are only using it for compliments and validation.

On the other hand, AFF is the top dating app that has remained really focused on helping men and women connect for short-term sexy fun or a longer-term friend-with-benefits type arrangement. If you are ONLY looking for that, this is the dating site for you. They have been around since the early 2000s and have over 50,000,000 active members (that's a ton) spread out in most English-speaking countries. AFF is especially good for people who are 28+ or those interested in meeting people that are 28+.

What we really like about AFF is how easy they make it. You don't have to jump through a ton of hoops to get started and they don't restrict who you talk to. You put together a simple profile and can start looking for other women (or men) interested in the same things. With 50,000,000 members there are a lot of options out there and with dating apps bigger is better.

2. AshleyMadison.com

AshleyMadison homepage

Ashley Madison is the go-to dating site for hookups and affairs. It's for all those husbands and wives who aren’t pleased with their romantic lives. Based on our firsthand experience, we’ve learned that Ashley Madison is great for hookups with cougars, and they do a good job at keeping your presence on the platform anonymous.

Where other dating sites function on a subscription basis, Ashley Madison is based on a credit system. You’re charged with credits for each action on the platform such as initiating conversations, chatting, and viewing messages.

You need to provide simple details including your age, weight, marital status, height, etc. Ashely Madison comes with a search function that lets you find people that appeal to you. Once you’re on the platform, you can set your status as seeking males, females, attached, or singles, and filter other profiles based on their status and what interests you.

3. Match.com

match homepage

This has to rank as one of the top online dating sites because of its dedication to innovation and improvements. It is constantly updating its algorithms and options to continually bring better matches to customers. Its logo is “start something real,” and so those who are looking more for free online dating that leads to casual hook-ups, it may not be a good fit.

It is easy to create your profile here, but it is best when you are 100% honest about every answer. Match is one of the few online dating sites that actually assess personalities and builds matches based on the findings. It has fun options and lets you get pretty specific about your wants and likes.

Match has group hangouts and helps to organize real-world events such as cocktail hours, and it provides a free app to registered users that works more like social media than any “swipe left” type of app.

The site easily ranks among the top online dating sites, but you will want to pay for your use of it as it is not great as one of the free online dating options since features are limited with non-member accounts.

4. POF.com

pof homepage

Plenty of Fish is a nice concept for those looking to really enjoy lots of dating. This is one of the few truly free online dating options, and though it works online and as an app, most users prefer the mobile app for its messaging and easy to use design. This is one of the best dating websites for someone eager to use photos and profiles for free, but be aware that it does take a lot of time to set up a profile and answer the different questions; there are more than 70!

If you want to use one of the best online dating sites for finding matches quickly, and you don’t mind the time it takes to set up the account, this one is for you.

5. eHarmony.com

eharmony homepage

While free online dating is possible here if you are looking to use most of the features of this site, a subscription is required. It asks all users to complete an in-depth personality or profile questionnaire, and this is what makes it one of the best dating sites for someone seeking a partner. There is also a survey that lets the accountholder indicate what they want in a partner. There is a high level of responsiveness on this site, and it features a mobile app to allow for the greatest amount of communication.

One of the few “cons” or downsides to this site is that it is known for directing LGBTQ account holders to a different site.

6. Chemistry.com

chemistry homepage

This is one of the best dating sites for Christian men and women seeking partners with similar interests. It is a part of the “MarriageMinded” community, and that means it is not one of the online dating sites suited to anyone eager for nothing more than “hookups”. It is, on the other hand, a perfect online dating site if you are looking for a long-lasting relationship with a well-matched partner.

7. Ourtime.com

ourtimes homepage

This is one of the best mature dating sites for the over-50 crowd, and is for those eager to begin dating and building a serious relationship. There are more than nine million accounts. This is one of the only online dating sites that uses the same approach as Match.com, but that is because it is owned by the same firm! It is, technically, one of the free online dating sites, but for those who want the most out of it, a subscription is recommended. You can see images, look at profiles, send and receive messages and more, but for more targeted searches and results, it is best to pay for the subscription.

Now that you have some basic guidance about the best dating sites and options for free online dating, take some time to explore your top picks, create free profiles and test the features. Soon, you’ll be enjoying precisely the kinds of dates you’d hoped to enjoy, and meeting all kinds of fascinating and compatible people.

8. OKCupid.com

okcupid homepage

Described as the fun and well-designed option among online dating sites, this is one of the few that is friendly to the LGBTQ community. It allows you to access your account through a desktop or laptop as well as a mobile app, but it is not among the free online dating sites. While account creation is free, a subscription is mandatory for accessing most of the site’s features. It does offer messaging, profile views, and limits communications only to those you have “liked” rather than anyone who wants to send a message.

It emphasizes profiles to help improve matches, rather than being all about photos, and is one of the best dating sites for those who want better dates!

9. Zoosk.com

zoosk homepage

Though this is one of the online dating sites, it is also famous for its mobile app. It has a simple sign up process accessible through Facebook, and this integration with social media makes it more appealing to those active online. The site is one of the best dating sites for those interested in free online dating and innovative features. It uses its proprietary Carousel that shows all potential matches, their photos, and their age. Users just tap the image to indicate whether they are interested or not. Zoosk has almost 30 million accounts and includes basic searching as well as matching. While it does have a free online dating component, it provides the best outcomes with a subscription and complete profile.

10. Mingle2.com

mingle2 homepage

For those eager to do free online dating, but who are not eager to find long-term relationships, this rates as one of the best options. There is a 30-second registration process, making it one of the fastest online dating sites for accessibility. There are less than 200,000 registered users as of this writing, but around 60,000 of them are active every week! It is among the best dating sites for its free profiles, mobile app, and balance of men and women.