Are you looking for the best free dating apps for teenagers and young adults? Then you’ve come to the right place.
If you’re having trouble finding the right match for you, why not turn to online dating? Any stigma online dating had in the past is gone, with dozens of apps to choose from and thousands of couples crediting their love to these apps.
In this article, we’ll show you the best free dating apps for young adults (anyone aged 18 to 25), along with some advice for using them.
A Warning on Age Restrictions
Before we continue, it’s important to note that due to laws in the U.S. and elsewhere, there are legal issues with under-18s using dating apps. Therefore, none of the apps below allow users under 18 years old to join. But of course, these measures aren’t foolproof.
While using any dating apps, we advise you to take caution with regard to age. Don’t take anyone’s age at face value, and be careful of predators looking to take advantage of apps aimed at younger people. We’ll share some safety tips after we discuss the apps.
For a free dating app, OkCupid is the gold standard. The site uses powerful algorithms to find you the right matches.
OkCupid asks you to answer many personality questions when you sign up. As you do, you also select the answers you’d find acceptable in a partner. These questions range from the serious, like the importance of religion in your life, to the silly, like what crime you’d most likely be thrown in jail for.
By browsing others’ public answers, you can get a good idea of whether they’re a good fit for you. Messaging on OkCupid is free for everyone. This is great because you don’t have to pay to talk to someone you like, but it opens the door for unsolicited creepy messages.
The DoubleTake features offer a Tinder-like swiping interface for easy match evaluation, while the Discover tab highlights matches from a variety of criteria. You can upgrade to the paid Premium plan to see who liked you, add more search filters, and more.
Overall, OkCupid is a good fit for people who want to try standard online dating without paying. It’s also less focused on hookups than some other options.
You can’t have a discussion about dating apps for young adults without talking about Tinder. The app arguably popularized the dating app scene (succeeding past website-only dating services) and is still going strong.
Its interface is simple: swipe right if you like someone, and swipe left if you’re not interested. If two people swipe right on each other, they have the opportunity to exchange messages. But you can’t send messages to anyone without matching first
That’s really all there is to it. The majority of Tinder users are under 35, so it’s a great choice for younger people. In the past, Tinder was notorious for being heavily geared toward hookup culture.
However, it has come a long way. Over the years, we’ve increasingly heard testimonials about couples who’ve tied the knot after meeting on Tinder. This proves that it’s possible to find a long-term partner on Tinder, so those looking for a serious relationship should give it a shot.
Unlike before, Tinder allows you to match with people globally, so you can connect with people hundreds of miles away if you’re unlucky in your country. The free version of Tinder limits the number of right swipes you get
PlentyOfFish (POF) is another well-known free dating site. Its sheer size makes it a good option for finding a match, though sorting through all the noise can be a bit tough.
POF offers several ways to connect. Like OkCupid, it’s free to message anyone. You can also use the Nearby tab to look through other mobile users who are Live near you.
Meanwhile, the Meet Me section brings the familiar Tinder-like interface of swiping on profiles. Use the Live feature to meet other singles in real-time in a live stream.
An upgraded POF membership offers extended profile viewing, unlimited likes, username search, and more. A minor drawback is that PlentyOfFish’s interface is pretty dated and a bit cluttered, especially on the web. But it’s certainly worth a try.
If you want to try a dating app alternative to Tinder, Bumble is for you. This app uses the same swiping gestures and simple profiles as Tinder, but with one crucial difference: women always make the first move.
Once two people swipe right on each other, the woman can choose whether to start a conversation. If she doesn’t do so within 24 hours, the match disappears. In a same-sex match, either person can initiate the conversation.
To help combat abuse, Bumble has a photo moderation feature. This asks you to upload a clear photo of yourself, which lets others know you’re a legitimate profile. Failing to do so prevents you from using the app.
5. Coffee Meets Bagel
If you find the onslaught of matches in other apps overwhelming, Coffee Meets Bagel (CMB) is for you. The app takes a curated approach: at noon each day, the app sends you a handful of matches (“bagels”). Thus, instead of swiping through tons of people’s profiles, you can check out a few and see if you’re interested in them.
Potential matches can be found in the Suggested and Discover tabs. Once you match, you’ll be able to start a conversation. CMB even provides some starter questions to ease you in.
Upgrading to CMB’s Premium plan adds information about how often your matches respond to chats, read receipts, plus more features.
Advice for Online Dating Safely
Now that you have five great dating apps to choose from, let’s review some important points about dating safely online.
Meet Up Safely
After you connect and chat in an app for a while, you’ll eventually want to meet your potential match in person. This is great, but it’s important to take care when doing so.
You should always meet in a public place, like a restaurant or coffee shop. Having lots of other people around reduces the chance of your date threatening you or something similar.
It’s also wise to drive yourself to the date (don’t let them pick you up). Let some friends or family know where you’re going and how long you expect to be, just in case something happens.
You should also avoid drinking alcohol the first few times you meet to avoid that layer of complication.
Avoid Common Scams
Unfortunately, the free nature of many dating apps opens them up to scams. Always be on the lookout for signs that a profile is looking to rip you off.
These warning signs inlclude:
- Their photos are edited or stolen.
- They ask you to chat on another app or via email right away.
- They send strange links for you to click on.
- They start asking for personal details.
- They request money.