The best dating apps for virtual romance

Navigating online dating is already a bit of a minefield, now throw self-isolation into the mix and it gets a whole lot more complicated. As well as the obvious obstacle of not being able to leave your house for dates, there is also a dizzying choice of different options and boastings on offer from the best dating apps. Swiping on Tinder? Pinging a message on Bumble? Formulating a crackin’ profile on Hinge? It’s a jungle out there.


An endless roster of actively seeking singles (even ones with really niche preferences) are accessible on your phone, and profiles are swamped with Uber ratings, food preferences and requests that we follow these complete strangers on Instagram (like we weren’t going to stalk you anyway). Not only this, but apps themselves are now flooded with options – fancy filtering for height or asking for recommendations on your next holiday (whenever that may be)?


According to the latest study from my favourite dating app (biased, I know, but I did meet my partner on there) Bumble, over two thirds of respondents are using apps to find a steady relationship. This shows that, despite what you may think, the UK population is ready and willing to meet someone long-term. In a super revealing comment on our generation, however, the study also revealed that over 70% of UK users are using emojis to flirt. Well, sometimes you can be lost for words…


Plus, a survey on UK online dating from Comscore revealed that over 7.6 million of us visited a dating app or site in June 2019… that’s a whole one in six internet users over the age of 18. And we’re not in it for a few swipes then tapping out, either, with the average dating app user spending 191 minutes of their precious time searching. While we don’t yet know how the Coronavirus lockdown has affected these figures, we’re guessing the extra time at home means more people than ever are looking for love, virtually.


So, how do you know which apps have the best tech to rely on in a time of social distancing? What are the new features they’re developing? Which are the ones with the ‘best’ single people lurking on them, whether you define that by most intelligent, tallest, or your perfect astrological match?


You’re in luck, we’ve tried and tested the best dating app options on the market and we’re here to help you find your perfect match (the app, that is. No guarantees on the new beau, sorry).


Stuck for what to say? Try the best opening lines for Bumble to get initial conversation flowing easily.


Need profile tips? Here are the top tips from Tinder on how to have the best dating app profile.





Best dating app for: Voice and video dating in isolation

You’ve got 24 hours, and you get the first word – no pressure, right? Bumble breaks down the unspoken rule of dating where we wait to be approached – ball’s officially in your court here. Best of all, it’s ahead of the curve by launching video chat and voice call features within the app (again, the woman gets to make the first move), so no faffing around setting up Hangouts when they don’t have a Gmail. Try asking everyone the same three questions if you want to see how they all measure up, treating it like a job interview or go for a tried and tested ‘virtual drinks Thursday?’ if you’re feeling bold.

Cost: Free, with premium option ‘Bumble Boost’ and beeline features from £6.99.


Writer’s block? Check out the tips Bumble gave us on the ten best opening lines.






Best dating app for: Confidently converting to a digital date

Hinge lets you customise your profile to add three key bits of personal information – claiming this will help you find something more real. You can certainly tell more about your potential partners from their profiles, but the catch? It comes with the pressure of coming across as witty, fun and effortlessly debonair. Plus the answers might get a little old – we get it, people hate slow walkers. Importantly for times like these, you can add videos to your profile so your matches can get a real feel for your personality. But even more essentially, the latest Hinge ‘Date from Home’ feature allows you to flag to your match when you’re ready for a virtual date but just like when you match, they won’t know until they’ve done the same. Avoid the embarrassment, and put your spellbinding fluency in sarcasm to one side as you convert to a digi date.

Cost: Free to download, with Hinge Subscription options from £10.49


Check out our interview with CEO & Founder for more tips






Best dating app for: Endless possibilities

It’s no secret that Tinder is one of the most widely used, most saturated apps and it’s changed the way we date. If you’re looking for a whole host of options, Tinder’s the place for you. It has a feature called Loops where you can see GIFs of potential matches, which could come in handy for weeding out catfishers before you set a video date. Disclaimer: 4 in 5 profiles feature dogs and/or naked torsos. Only let the former sway you.

Cost: Free, with Tinder Plus options from just 79p!


See the Tinder report on this year’s dating scene here.






Best dating app for: Joining a community of lesbian and queer woman

If you’re looking for a safe way to meet a community of likeminded women in group chats, at online events, or discuss anything from LGBTQ+ news, HER is the perfect platform.

Cost: Free, with HER Premium memberships from £7.99






Best for: Approaching that guy you always stare at on the northern line without looking like a stalker

If you pass them IRL, they’ll appear on the app, and Happn will even rack up how many times you cross paths. Living in a big city can cause issues, though – think needle in a haystack…

Cost: Free, with starter packs of coins available from £1.99


The Inner Circle


Best for: Finding cultured and ambitious people who are looking to date more seriously

A super selective process, say goodbye to swiping and hello to screening fuller profiles that showcase hobbies, favourite venues and past holidays. Find top tips on your next holiday, or just enjoy the notification every time someone new is checking your profile out…

Cost: Free to join, but you’ll need to pay for a full membership (£19.99+) to see your messages and message others


For tips from the professional matchmakers at The Inner Circle see our interview.




Let’s Day In


Best dating app for: Fusing fun experiences with meeting new people virtually

Let’s Day In (which was launched as Let’s Day Out in pre-social-distancing times) is the union between an exclusive events app and a premium matchmaking service. CEO Vicky Cheng, CEO, is tying these two together aims to tie these two things together while encouraging fun events as you self-isolate. Her app matches users that share similar interests and invites them to exclusive online events in London (think comedy gigs, book clubs or workouts). The app then lets you stay in touch with these people. Experiences, friendships, networking, dating – it’s all here.







Best for: Avoiding being seen, and keeping things private

How often are you put off by being spotted by the man in IT or adding facts like your surname, job or 4 filtered (it’s OK, we all do it) photos for everyone to see? With Pickable women reveal themselves to men they’re interested in. For the men? They get a fun dashboard to gamify the experience and give them better feedback in future. This could be a game changer.

Cost: Free, with premium options from £4.99



Coffee Meets Bagel


Best for: Patiently waiting for the one

Give the lowdown on your tastes, hobbies, age, education etc. by linking up to Facebook and Coffee Meets Bagel will serve you up a single, quality match each day. They’re right there on a plate, but if they’re not your thing you’ve got a full day to uncomfortably ignore Jordan while you wait with baited breath for tomorrow’s option. To deal with the current ban on IRL dates, the makers of the app have launched CMB community virtual meetups, where you can get tips from your fellow daters on finding love in a time of Coronavirus, and instead of all text chats disappearing after seven days, conversations in which both people have said something within the past three days – can stay open indefinitely. They’ve even published some virtual dating inspo on their blog, including musical 20 questions and a videogames night.

Cost: Free, with extra beans from 99p!






Best for: Single Muslims finding their perfect partner in the halal, free, and fun way

With complete photo privacy and an anonymous nickname, you control who can see you. You can also use the app’s filters to search for those single Muslims who meet your ethnicity/sect/religious criteria. For extra peace of mind, this is the only Muslim app that allows you to include a Wali or Chaperone in your chats.

Cost: Free




Jen Garside

Published on Glamour

Press team contact:

Lois North