Tinder vs. Bumble vs. Hinge vs. OkCupid vs. Zoosk vs. Eharmony vs. Match.com vs. Elite Singles vs. AdultFriendFinder – which online dating service is best?

Time is valuable and dating site subscriptions are expensive. I’ve tested the top contenders so you don’t have to.

“Best” is relative, of course. Your performance on any platform compared to another will depend on what you’re looking for as well as the demographics of where you live combined with your own personality and personal details. For the purposes of this test, “best” means “most matches received” by our average-nerdy-guy test profile.

Obviously the tested sites differ considerably in both approach and price, but those are also covered in the mini-reviews / test results below, so you should get a good feeling for which site(s)/app(s) would be a good fit for you.

This is quite a lengthy post, so if you only care about the direct comparison and total verdict, you might want to skip to the end.


Test Methodology

Our test subject is a rather average looking, 28 year old man looking for women roughly his own age +- 7 years.

I’ve also broken my own rules for creating a great profile, for example by not using any group pictures, and way too many pictures of the same activity (hiking) instead. The bio was also rather uninspired, and I made sure to mention the subject’s love for fantasy, sci-fi, and metal, picking my favorite Hammerfall song as his anthem. Oh, and also that he’s vegan. Can’t forget that.

This to create a facsimile of an average quality online dating profile, which I believed would give us more relevant numbers than using a super model’s pictures or a perfectly crafted profile.

Profile

As far as the different profile layouts of our tested services allow, I’ve made our test profiles as similar as possible. I’ve used the same pictures in all profiles and the same profile text where applicable, lengthened a fair bit for the more classic essay type sites.

Location & Duration

Again, for consistency, all profiles were active in the same location: Manhattan. Choosing such a highly populated area also served to give all services an equal shot, even the ones with fewer users.

The test ran for a total of thirty days, all services simultaneously of course.

Behavior

For the first 15 days, I tested only the free versions of these services, then the (most expensive) paid options for the second half.

I based my swiping/liking decisions on whether I’d actually like to match with the person in question, so I didn’t just like everyone to maximize matches.

If there was a limit to how many profiles you could like per day, I noted how long it took me to reach that limit, if not, and after the limit was lifted, I spent the same amount of time on each service, each day.

For old school message-first services, I tried to write 5 messages per day, if I could find 5 people per day I would want to message within an hour.

The daily time spent varies between the services and indicates how much effort was required, or how difficult it was to find attractive profiles.

Of course the search filters were set as similarly as possible across the services.

Gathered Data

The main metric of success I’ve chosen is “Number of matches” for Tinder-like apps, and “Numbers of replies or first messages received” for classic dating sites.

Obvious scammers, bots, catfishes, etc. have been deducted from those numbers

I’ve also made note of:

  • Number of likes received – on top of matches. Basically that means people who liked me, whom I did not like back. Obviously this number is falsified by left swiping before counting them, so it tends to be lower than the actual number.
  • Number of replies or first messages received for Tinder-like apps.

I did not count flirts/winks/nudges/whatever on old school sites, because these are completely meaningless.

Ethical concerns

As I was not actually looking to date anyone (still married (yay)), I only sent out first messages to gather data. I never led anyone on, and I don’t think I’ve raised anyone’s hopes considerably just by matching with them.


Test Results / Dating Site Reviews

Note that while some of these reviews contain affiliate links (because why not), they’re not all (the most) recommended sites/apps, so I believe you can easily trust my journalistic integrity on this one.

Tinder

Let’s start with the most widely used, if not most popular candidate: Tinder.

Impressions

General

As you may know, I’m not exactly the biggest fan of Tinder’s business practices, but the thing is, it’s still one of the best apps to get dates.

Tinder has the highest user numbers of all contestants, and you’re least likely to run out of profiles, or at least you’ll run out on Tinder last if you live in a sparsely populated area.

As for the app itself, for the most part, everything works and it’s very responsive. The UI has gotten a bit bloated over the years and there are a lot of annoying pop ups at the moment, reminding you of the existence of their features every few seconds.

Demographics

You’ll get people of all levels of attractiveness on Tinder, and which ones you are mostly presented with is determined by your own attractiveness in the eyes of their algorithm.

I will say the crowd skews much younger on Tinder than any other service I’ve tested. Or at least, Tinder has shown me the highest percentage of women towards the bottom of my set age range.

I only got a few bots/scammers, compared to other services.

Quirks / Misc.

When using paid boosts, the attractiveness of the shown profiles drops noticeably, or maybe just normalizes i.e. does not take your own rating into account anymore.

When first signing up, or switching locations, you get a kind of noob boost, so don’t let your day-one match rate fool you into thinking it will continue like this, or into thinking something is wrong later on.

One weird detail about Platinum is that I finally started getting “passive” matches again, that is matches where the girl liked me later on after I had already liked her. That hasn’t happened since Gold was introduced, for some totally innocent reason. Ahem.

Pricing

Prices for Tinder’s premium offerings vary based on your age and location, but here’s some numbers for an under-30 year old in new york (double for over 29 year olds):

  • Platinum: $20 per month (1 month sub)
  • Boosts: $6 each (single purchase)

Free version viable?

The monetization has gotten more than a bit out of hand, and without paying for platinum and/or boosts, you’ll have a slow trickle of matches ahead of you.

Results

Average matches per day (free-gold): 1.2

Average likes per day (free-gold): 6.2

Average matches per day (Platinum): 4.1

Average likes per day (Platinum): 8.6

Matches per 30min boost: 9

Likes per 30 min boost: 32

Responses or first messages received: 32% of matches.

Average time spent to distribute 100 right swipes: 12 minutes.

Initial set up time (onboarding and profile completion): 10 minutes.

Verdict

Even though the monetization has gotten out of hand, and the experience for guys has only gotten worse over the years, Tinder is still a good option. I didn’t get the most matches here, but the overall quality of those matches and their responsiveness was relatively high. It was also easy and quick to find 100 attractive profiles daily.

You can find Tinder on google Play, as well as the iOS app store.


Bumble

Impressions

General

Bumble started life as a Tinder clone with a gimmick (women must message first), and that’s still basically what it is. But that’s not really a bad thing, because it spun off from Tinder while Tinder was still good.

As such, it’s a facsimile of what Tinder used to be like, just with a nicer UI and fewer bugs, bots, and scammers. In fact, I didn’t come across any of these during my test.

The gimmick of women having to message first unfortunately means you can’t win anyone over with your opening message and your profile has to be interesting enough for your match to decide to message you instead of one of her other matches.

Demographics

Like Tinder, you’ll get all sorts of levels of attractiveness on Bumble. Unlike Tinder, they seem mostly blended well, and if there’s an attractiveness score – matching system, it’s much less aggressive than Tinder’s.

Also unlike Tinder, the Bumble crowd seems much more age appropriate for me, meaning there seem to be more users around the age of 30 or above, proportionally. That, or the women of Bumble tend to set their age filters closer to their own age than the women of Tinder.

I have also noticed a higher proportion of professionals, of women in good careers. A factor that may be important to you if you’re looking for something long term.

Quirks / Misc.

There’s an annoying coin system for premium services, except for the subscription.

The rewind button does not work for right swipes or “super swipes” (I wonder why, since they’re paid through coins that you have to buy in greater numbers than needed for one swipe, and it’s easy to hit the button by accident). You can only undo left swipes.

There are a lot more profile info fields (smoking/alcohol/religion/etc), which are also filter-able, which is nice if you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for and want to waste less time on people who don’t fit that idea.

Bumble’s version of a super like is not given out for free, not even for premium members. Thus the people you send it to have to realize you paid for it. Whether that’s good or bad is anyone’s guess.

Pricing

There are a LOT of subscription options, even for 1 day or one week.

  • Premium/”Boost”: $24 per month (1 month sub), or $3 for one day.
  • Boosts/”Spotlight”: 2 “coins”, so $3.6, but you have to buy a minimum of 5 coins.
  • Super Like/Swipe: 1 coin, so $1.8.

Free version viable?

Absolutely. In fact, the only reason to get a premium subscription is if you want to swipe without a daily limit, or rewind mistaken left swipes.

Results

Average matches per day (free): 2.5

Average likes per day (free): 15.2

Average matches per day (Premium): 2.3

Average likes per day (Premium): 16.1

Matches per boost/”spotlight”: 4

Likes per boost/”spotlight”: 28

Responses or first messages received: 22% of matches.

Average time spent to distribute 100 right swipes: 16 minutes.

Initial set up time (onboarding and profile completion): 15 minutes.

Verdict

Bumble is a really good alternative to Tinder. It’s the same concept, but with a cleaner UI and a more professional, age appropriate (for me) population. It’s also far less aggressively monetized and it’s entirely possible to have a good experience for free.

The only downside is the “women must message first” gimmick, coupled with women’s reluctance to message first, offsetting the higher match rate compared to Tinder.

You can find Bumble on google Play, as well as the iOS app store.


Hinge

Impressions

General

Things have changed since my 2019 review of Hinge, and unfortunately not for the better.

While I was cautiously optimistic for the future of the app due to its balanced approach to online dating and the functionality of the app, I noted concerns over the small user base and the fact that Hinge was bought out by the Match group, which also owns Tinder.

My worry was that they’d either screw the pooch by over-monetizing the app, or intentionally run it into the ground to get rid of the potential competition. And here we are: The app has completely gone to shit.

UI/Functionality

For starters, while the app was never the most responsive of the bunch, it has become a lot more sluggish since then. In fact, it becomes more and more sluggish as you use it, and I had to restart the app every 10 or so swipes because it tended towards grinding to a near complete halt.

Even without the slowdown, it takes way too long to reject a profile. I still like that you’re encouraged to really look at profiles by having to choose which part you liked especially, but it shouldn’t take 3 seconds for the profile to disappear and the next profile to load when hitting the X button for “dislike”.

Meanwhile, the rewind button you pay for as part of the premium subscription just simply doesn’t work. Not once has it rewound to the previous profile for me, but instead it goes back between 2-10 profiles, after which you can press it as often as you want and it just loads a random profile from the past 10 or so swipes. When swiping “forward” again, the profile you wanted to reconsider never shows up again.

Then there’s the paid boosts. Even though they’re way too expensive I tried one for the test of course. I went for the 24h boost, aaand – it didn’t activate. I also couldn’t buy a new one, with the app telling me I already owned this product.

On the plus side, customer service was quick to respond and helpful. It took two weeks to resolve the situation because their solution didn’t work at first, but I did receive a refund and they were really friendly.

Finally, there’s a bug with messaging, often sending/displaying messages twice.

Demographics

If the app itself is a letdown, wait till you see your potential matches!

It starts off with about 10 of the most attractive profiles the app has to offer (probably), then nosedives to the other extreme. It’s hard to write this without being mean and super superficial, because at least those few women who weren’t morbidly obese can’t change anything about their looks, and I don’t want to go into detail here.

In any case, I was glad the free version didn’t allow for more than ten likes a day, because I had a hard enough time getting that far while being honest with my swiping.

In fact, the only times the app presented me with at least average, or “normal” looking people was when they “just joined”, which probably means their attractiveness hadn’t been determined yet.

The only way to see consistently good looking profiles meanwhile, was to check out the “standouts” section, where Hinge apparently hides all the attractive people. It should come as no surprise that you have to use one “rose”, at $3.6 a pop (or one free per week), to like these profiles.

After about one and a half weeks into my premium subscription, this carousel of unfortunate aesthetics did come to an end, and I started seeing mostly people of slightly below- to average attractiveness (though I don’t think it has anything to do with paying. For that, the delay is too great). The beautiful people were still reserved behind the “standouts” paywall though.

Checking reddit, there are indeed threads about this issue, and it seems like it may be a bug.

Prostitutes / Scammers

As a caveat to the above, there was indeed a third group of at least semi-attractive matches to be had: Prostitutes and scammers. And lots of them. They do get deleted relatively quickly, but there’s usually enough time to have a fun chat with them, leading them on and wasting their time. Here’s the end of one of my favorite chats (unfortunately I didn’t screenshot the beginning), in which you can also see the double message bug:

She wasn’t interested in my services ;-(

Jokes aside, please don’t try to actually take them on their offer. Not because it’s illegal, but because they’re most likely not even really hookers, but rather scammers trying to get you to pay them before they show up to your place. At least I’ve gathered as much by indulging in their BS to see what their endgame is.

Quirks / Misc.

Another bug: Dismissed likes from the “likes you” screen just come back the next time you open the app, at least for the day.

Buying a premium subscription does not grant you any extra free roses, or boosts.

Pricing

The subscription price would be reasonable if it offered anything worthwhile, and the boost and rose prices are ridiculous for the value they offer.

  • Premium/”Preferred Member”: ~$20 per month (one month sub).
  • Boosts: ~$10 each.
  • Super Like/”Rose”: ~$3.6 each.

Free version viable?

Yes, but only insofar as the premium version can be considered viable. Maybe even more so, because some of the premium features don’t even work.

Results

Average matches per day (free): 1

Average likes per day (free): 6

Average matches per day (Premium): 1

Average likes per day (Premium): 4

Matches per boost: 1

Likes per boost/”spotlight”: 10

Responses or first messages received: 55% of matches.

Average time spent to distribute 10 (ten!) right swipes: 41 minutes.

Initial set up time (onboarding and profile completion): 15 minutes.

Verdict

Even after starting to be shown at least average looking profiles, and even if you’re willing to spend money on boosts, Hinge’s performance is just abysmal in all aspects of the app, except for how likely matches are to respond.

You can get a lot more for your time and money investment from literally any other service in this test.

If you want to see for yourself anyway, Hinge is available on both Google Play and the iOS app store.


OkCupid

Impressions

Sites like OkCupid, which focus much more heavily on character and compatibility than the swiping apps above should be where our honest profile shines, where we will find like minded people and will not be punished by the algorithm for being too specific and niche with our interests. Let’s see if that theory holds up.

General

OkCupid has also changed a bit since the last time I reviewed it, but not quite as drastically and tragically as Hinge.

The biggest difference is that you can no longer call it a “classic” dating site, insofar as it no longer offers the ability to freely browse and filter all members and message them at your discretion.

Now you have to play the matching game first – and of course they introduced a limit to the number of profiles you can view per day for free. Only once you’ve liked a profile can you send an “introduction” to the person behind it.

It’s not necessary for them to like you back first though, so the reason behind this move is clearly to get you to pay for premium to be able to see and message more people. I mean, what other motivation could you expect from a dating site that was bought out by the Match group (quite some time ago).

For me, this means OkCupid has given up its position as the best, and cheapest “classic” dating site to become some sort of twisted hybrid between match.com and Tinder. And who wants that?

What remains is the best priority weighted personality comparison of any dating site out there. It’s just a shame we can’t browse anymore. At least for those who prefer browsing to swiping.

Demographics

OkCupid users tend to lean far left on the (US) political spectrum and like to use words like “woke”.

Apart from that, it’s comparable to Tinder in age and all other aspects, apart from the sheer number of users – if you don’t live in a big city, chances are you’ll run out of potential matches quickly.

There are some fake profiles and scammers, but they usually get removed quickly.

Quirks / Misc.

As mentioned, the personality test is really well thought out and consists of thousands of questions you can answer (with 100 being a recommended minimum), which range from preferred room temperature to opinions on pegging on mountaintops vs bedrooms.

The smart part of this system is that you can not only answer the question yourself, but also declare what answers you find acceptable from a match, and how important this topic is to you.

If you find a 99% match, and both of you have answered hundreds of questions thoughtfully and honestly, chances are you’re pretty damn similar people. Now if this in and of itself makes chemistry and a successful relationship more or less likely is open to debate.

Pricing

There is a usable free version, and two subscription tiers offering a host of useless to creepy features such as getting or denying read receipts for messages, or seeing someone else’s answers to questions you haven’t answered yet. Frankly the only real reason to get premium is to lift the daily swipe limit.

  • Premium/”Basic”: ~$8 per month (1 month sub).
  • Premium/”Premium”: ~$25 per month (1 month sub).
  • Boosts: ~$2 (single purchase).

Free version viable?

What should I say, even though the OkCupid experience has been crippled beyond recognition, the free version still “works”. You can find matches and those can result in dates.

I certainly wouldn’t pay them, just because I’m annoyed at what they’ve done with what used to be one of the coolest dating sites there ever was. I miss their super interesting blog full of in depth dating site data too.

Results

*Messages = Replies received to my first message, or first messages received from a match

Average messages per day (free): 0.3

Average likes per day (free): 1.7

Average messages per day (Premium): 0.45

Average likes per day (Premium): 1.8

Matches per boost/”spotlight”: 1

Likes per boost/”spotlight”: 7

Responses or first messages received: 9% of matches.

Average time spent to distribute 10 likes: 3 minutes.

Initial set up time (onboarding and profile completion): 60 minutes.

Verdict

OkCupid used to be great. After it was bought by Match, it held on for years as a still somewhat quirky but very good dating site. Now it’s a twisted mess.

Try it out for free, and if it’s your cup of tea and your target audience, go for it: www.okcupid.com, or you can find the app in your Play or iOS app atore.


Zoosk

Impressions

General

Do you miss the early 2000s appeal of classic dating sites, where everything feels a bit cheap, potentially scammy, and every profile seems to have a 50/50 chance of being real?

Then Zoosk might just be what you’re looking for!

It’s the cheapest option left after Okcupid has dropped the classic concept of browsing for matches, even though every single action on the site seems to cost something.

Demographics

I guess “Average” would be the best way to describe the Zoosk population at large. There’s no theme of defining characteristics I could write about. If you look long enough, you’ll find some attractive profiles, some of which are even verified.

A lot of profiles seem fake, but it’s hard to confirm. I didn’t receive any obvious scam messages.

Quirks / Misc.

You can buy stupid gifts like virtual bottles of wine, or flowers for people in an attempt to woo them. Why someone would respond positively to this is anyone’s guess.

Pricing

There is no one-month subscription option, but refreshingly, only one type or tier of premium.

There was no discount offered during my two weeks of holding out.

  • Premium: ~$20 per month (3 month minimum sub).
  • Boosts: Variable, depending on “coins” spent.

Free version viable?

You can see member’s profiles and pictures, but not message them without a subscription.

You will get notified about received likes/flirts and messages, but you can’t see the messages or who sent them without a subscription.

So no, the free version is not at all viable.

Results

*Messages = Replies received to my first message, or first messages received from a match

Average messages per day (Premium): 0.4

Average likes per day (Premium): 2.2

Responses or first messages received: 8% of messages sent.

Average time spent to write 5 messages: ~45 minutes.

Initial set up time (onboarding and profile completion): 15 minutes.

Verdict

As mentioned earlier, if you want a classic dating site experience, Zoosk is among the cheapest viable options. I’d personally still prefer the free version of OkCupid, but if you can’t help yourself and you want to try it out, you can do so here:


Eharmony

Impressions

Sites like eharmony, which focus much more heavily on character and compatibility than swiping apps should be where our honest profile shines, where we will find like minded people and will not be punished by the algorithm for being too specific and niche with our interests. Let’s see if that theory holds up.

General

Eharmony is one of the oldest standard dating sites and one of the few that haven’t been bought by Match (yet). The site feels modern though, if a bit simplistic.

This is a prime example of the classic dating site experience. You can browse all members, but only see blurred pictures and can’t message any of them, or see their messages to you, before you pay.

If you do decide to sign up, you have to commit to at least 6 months, which is a bit pessimistic I have to say, but also typical for old school sites.

On the plus side, if people are willing to spend this much on online dating, they’re probably serious about wanting to find someone. On the con side, there’s a lot of people you might find interesting who will not be able to answer your messages because they’re not paying members.

Demographics

The eharmony crowd skews older and more professional than OkC for example, but not by a wide margin. As could be expected, you can find all sorts of people here, though I do have to say I’ve seen more attractive profiles on the free or freemium dating apps on average.

Maybe the people here are less superficial and more about compatibility? I’m sure they at least tell themselves as much, yes.

I have not seen or been contacted by any obvious scammers, bots, or catfishes.

Quirks / Misc.

The filters you get, which together with free browsing set this type of dating site apart from the swiping apps, are mostly what you expect, but rather limited. Hinge offers about the same filters for free, and OkCupid still tops eharmony in this regard.

Of course the main problem with filters is that you won’t see people who left the filtered field empty, or whose self-classification differs from yours.

Personality profiles meanwhile are something eharmony seems really proud of. Well, I have to say the results are a bit iffy at best, because most of the questions are too imprecise, or the “neither of these sounds good to me” option was missing. I wouldn’t put too much stock in it and pick matches based on pictures and profile contents manually.

Pricing

There’s an initial 40% off offer when first signing up. There was no repeated or better offer within the two weeks I was lingering in free mode, as opposed to sites like Parship which I’ve tested in the past.

The minimum subscription duration is 6 months, which even with the 40% initial offer will still run you $40 a month. You can go as far as 24 months to “save” money on the monthly premium, but do you really think you’ll find someone in two years on this platform if you didn’t find anyone in one year?

You should know there is no way of getting a refund, almost no matter what.

  • Premium: $66 per month (6 month sub).

Free version viable?

Not at all. There is nothing worthwhile you can do without paying.

Results

*Messages = Replies received to my first message, or first messages received from a match

Average messages per day (Premium): 0.7

Responses or first messages received: 14% of messages sent.

Average time spent to write 5 messages: ~40 minutes.

Initial set up time (onboarding and profile completion): 40 minutes.

Verdict

If you want the classic dating site experience with free browsing of potential matches who are also paying to be here, and you’re willing to spend a bit more to get a higher quality experience than Zoosk, then eharmony may be a good choice for you.

If you’re interested, you can try it here:


Elite Singles

The point of Elite Singles is to offer a slightly modernized classic dating site experience, while catering specifically to highly educated professionals. Seeing as our profile guy is Harvard educated, he should do just fine here. Or will he?

Impressions

General

The site looks clean and modern, minimalist, but high quality. I like the chosen color palette a lot.

Apart from the free-browsing main match screen, you also get a “have you met” swiping screen, where you’ll be notified of any resulting matches.

I like the combination of both systems (basically OkCupid a few years ago) because it allows you to filter all members and hone in on a few promising candidates, while also providing the best ice breaker there is: you both finding each other attractive.

There’s a huge caveat though, mainly concerning the free browsing: It’s not all that free at all. You are being drip-fed additional matches each day and not allowed to see all options from day one.

I suspect this is due to limited member numbers and them trying to keep you hooked as long as possible, or avoiding making you feel cheated when you run out of new profiles to view within a few days of signing up for a three month (or longer) subscription.

It could of course be that the idea is to make you really consider what they consider good options for you, and to keep you from feeling overwhelmed with browsing thousands of matches.

Demographics

Though limited, if not overall then at least on a daily basis, the matches they presented me with were on average more attractive to me than the other classic sites (though Tinder and Bumble still win this one).

As for the “Elite-ness” of elitesingles’ elite singles, well, they might average more professional and highly educated than on other platforms, but not by a landslide.

One difference is that you will see their job and education prominently displayed on their profiles, but there’s plenty of high school graduates and low income job holders among the presented matches. There’s obviously no vetting going on and no real rules. They just want to appeal to the “elite” target audience.

Pricing

There are three, six, and twelve month subscription options, but the 3 month option is pretty crippled in functionality. Paying $53 bucks a month and still not being allowed to see members’ pictures? That’s ridiculous.

  • Premium: $32 per month (6 month sub).

Free version viable?

Not at all. Like the previous classic sites. What sets this one apart is that not even the 3 month premium subscription is viable, unless you like blind dates.

Results

*Messages = Replies received to my first message, or first messages received from a match

Average messages per day (premium): 1.1

Responses or first messages received: 22% of messages sent.

Average time spent to write 5 messages: ~30 minutes.

Initial set up time (onboarding and profile completion): 30 minutes

Verdict

If the elite-ness of your matches is important to you, you might be disappointed. If “more elite on average than others” is good enough, or if you don’t care (and if you want to pay for a classic dating site), then the site is worth a try:

www.elitesingles.com – Regular Link


Match.com

I would have liked to test the evil overlord itself too, instead of only its manifold minions, but alas, the eye of Sauron must have spotted my approach.

Match.com banned me right after completing the onboarding process (nice of them to at least let me waste an hour of my time), and I haven’t been able to create another account, even with new phone numbers and a VPN. I don’t know if this was some kind of bug or if they really have it in for me for some reason, but okay. I doubt this one would have won the test anyway.

I tried contacting customer service via email but haven’t received a reply to this day. I hung up the phone after 5 minutes of waiting in line.


Adult Friend Finder

A surprise entrant (probably) in this dating site test, but one that deserves a closer look.

If you’re like me, you’ve never really considered adultfriendfinder because you associate it with “HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA” ads and you don’t think there are any real women on the site that you’d actually like to meet.

Well, appearances can be deceiving and a large portion of Tinder users are using the app for hookups rather than dating anyway, so why not cut the BS and try a site whose unapologetic focus is sex? So I did.

Impressions

General

Back to the topic of appearances: It sure does look like a porn site. A milennium-era porn site. Cam models and all. The difference is that the lewd thumbnails belong to user profiles, at least some of which belong to real people who might like to have sex with you. Apart from the dated aesthetics, the site works fine.

One of the bigger surprises has been the profile creation. I actually spent more time answering all the questions than I did on OkCupid. And if your focus is finding a compatible sex partner you would also like to have a conversation with, the questions actually make a lot of sense, and you can filter profiles for a lot of the (non-free-form) answers. Classic dating sites could learn a thing or two from the depth of AFF profiles.

The other big surprise was the interest I received as a man on a dating site. Granted, many of the first messages came from couples, but there were a few from attractive and identity-verified members. Still, any unsolicited message on a free-browsing dating site is a refreshing experience for me. And hey, if you’re into the couple-thing, even better.

No surprise, however, was the fact that you have to subscribe to do anything meaningful on the site.

Demographics

The big question on my, and maybe your mind at this point: How many women are there, and how many of those are real?

Well, Adult Friend Finder turns out to be the most transparent dating site I’ve ever seen concerning member demographics. Here’s the “browse all” screen:

As you can see, there’s a 1/19 imbalance between (both verified and unverified) women seeking men and men seeking women. Shocker, I know. (On a serious note, Tinder’s numbers may not be all that different, but secret.)

Of course, the scales tip in your favor if you’re not a man seeking women. If you’re looking for a couple, or for men, or if you’re a couple yourselves, you’ll have a much easier time. But for the purposes of this test I’ll assume you’re a guy looking for women (or a couple of women).

Of those 1M women looking for men in the US, most are not verified. In fact, when you apply lots of filters according to your preferences, you might be left with only one page of results for your region if you also select “verified members”.

But then that’s one page of verified real women fitting your preferences, looking for the same kind of thing as you. If you’re less picky than me with your preferences, you’ll find tons of verified profiles. Note that a lot of the results might be inactive members.

I should note that “not verified” does not automatically mean “not real”, but there are definitely catfishes and scammers abound and I would play it safe, sticking (it) to verified members. If you’re only interested in cyber sex, of course, you might not care if JessicaRabbit18 is really JimmyBobTruckerMan69.

As for attractiveness, well, let’s just say attractive people exist here, though they may not be in the majority.

Quirks / Misc.

The filters are great, and it’s definitely fun to narrow them down to your perfect lover, cup size and all. The problem with these filters is just that someone fitting them perfectly might still not show up because they left some of those fields blank, or classified themselves as “a bit more” while you would consider them “athletic” or “average”.

There’s a social aspect to the whole thing. You can have fans, write blog posts, have your own cam show and receive tips, etc. I also got the feeling there’s a kind of community among the “regulars”, which is probably not far off, just think of swingers’ clubs.

Pricing

  • Premium: ~$38 per month (1 month sub).

Free version viable?

No and yes. In general, no, you can’t do anything worthwhile as a non-member. The exception is if you’re really hot, because members can gift non-members memberships, so they will have the option of replying to their messages. You might get lucky if you wait it out a while. Probably forget about it as a guy though.

Results

*Messages = Replies received to my first message, or first messages received from a match

Average messages per day (premium): 2 (verified women counted only)

Responses or first messages received: 40% of messages sent.

Average time spent to write 5 messages: 25 minutes.

Initial set up time (onboarding and profile completion): 110 minutes

Verdict

Adult Friend Finder is surprisingly legitimate and effective, if more than a bit dated.

If your end goal of using an online dating app is something between a one-night stand and a friends with benefits situation, you might consider dropping the pretense and using a site that’s completely geared towards that. You can even use filters to find someone who’s into or interested in the same kinks as you, which is something you don’t (yet) get on Tinder.


Grand Conclusion / Total Verdict

1.

You might have guessed it, but now you know: Tinder and Bumble are the overall most effective, most value-for-money options out there, with Bumble beating Tinder on the value-for-money front, because the free version is actually still viable.

2.

If you’re absolutely married to the idea of using a classic dating site with free browsing and filters, as well as the option of writing to users before you know if they find you attractive, then eharmony and elitesingles both make for decent options, depending on your personal taste and target demographics.

I would recommend divorcing that idea though, because there’s just no point to paying that much money and making such long term commitments when Bumble and OkCupid exist.

3.

If all you’re looking for is sex (or cyber sex), and you’re not interested in a relationship that goes beyond FWB, then you may consider dropping all pretense and signing up for Adult Friend Finder. The chance of finding someone sexually compatible is probably higher than with random matches on swiping apps, and you know from the start what the other person is looking for as well.


And there you have it, folks. I hope this review has helped you decide on the proper platform to find what you’re looking for. Do you have anything to add? Feel free to leave a comment below, or on the r/swipehelper subreddit.