Best dating apps 2021: The most popular sites to help you find love in the time of Covid

Being in lockdown doesn’t mean finding a new potential love interest has to be put on hold

<p>Dating apps have experienced a boom during the coronavirus pandemic</p>

Dating apps have experienced a boom during the coronavirus pandemic

If you’re single at the moment, the chances are you’ve resigned yourself to not having an active dating life until things go back to normal – whenever that might be.

But even though we can’t go out to meet potential new love interests, that doesn’t mean things have to be put entirely on hold.

You can still use apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge to swipe through potential love interests –an activity which has become even more popular while many of us have more time on our hands.

In fact, dating apps have enjoyed such a boom during the pandemic that Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe Herd, 31, was recently named the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire.

In an attempt to keep things interesting during lockdown, dating apps are a great alternative way to meet new people, with many encouraging virtual dating and releasing new features specifically aimed at helping you find love in the time of Covid. Read more:

But, while there’s no shortage of people using these features to pass the time, navigating the thriving dating app pool can be confusing with so many options to choose from. So, whether you’re looking for a casual fling or your next long-term relationship, we’ve rounded up our picks of the best to download right now.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

This is the dating app where women have to make the first move, which greatly reduces the amount of uninvited messages you’ll receive.

Once your profile is set up and you start swiping, the woman or non-binary person has 24 hours to message a match, otherwise it is deleted. The app is for same-sex couples too, and in that case anyone can start the conversation.

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples.

New updates: Bumble has a built-in video calling and voice calling feature that its CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, is encouraging people to use, embracing the idea of a virtual date. You won’t need to share your email address or phone number in order to use the video feature, so your personal information will stay private until you choose to share it.

Download Bumble for iOS

Download Bumble for Android

It describes itself as the app that’s “designed to be deleted” and limits free users to liking just 10 profiles a day, although paying to upgrade will allow you unlimited likes.

There’s plenty of preferences you can set too, including politics, religion and family plans, should you want to start seriously looking for a partner.

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples. Hinge offers more than 50 gender identity options for users to select within the app.

New updates: Hinge offers in-app video dating, which is available to all users globally. The app states that two-thirds of users see video chat as a fun, low-pressure opportunity to see if they’re compatible with a match on the app before meeting up in person post-lockdown. 

Download Hinge for iOS

Download Hinge for Android

This app was created to help you find a true “match”, and has quite specific preference settings to fill in when you create your profile, including height and body type.

While not relevant for the time being, it hosts singles events to encourage users to meet up offline too, so at least you’ll have plans once lockdown lifts.

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples.

New updates: Match has launched a free hotline within the app for anyone struggling to navigate online dating while isolating.

Download Match for iOS

Download Match for Android

The OG dating app is simple if you’re new to it – sign up, complete your profile, set your age and distance limit (although, that’s not so relevant during lockdown) and start swiping.

When two people swipe right on each other and match, either one of you can start the conversation.

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples.

New updates: The app already had a paid-for “passport” feature, which allows you to match with people around the world. But Tinder has made this free until 30 April, so if all goes well with your match, you could find yourself planning a trip to wherever they’re from once we can travel again.

But if you’re struggling to make digital dates work, Tinder has also written a lengthy post about what it means to date in the age of coronavirus. It details how to keep the momentum going, including a Netflix or Zoom date, partner workouts or dinner delivered from your favourite takeaway.

Download Tinder for iOS

Download Tinder for Android

Described as “anti-superficial dating”, this app does things differently from the others on this list. In a bid to prevent people from being judged solely on their looks, users’ faces on Jigsaw start off covered with a jigsaw puzzle – hence the name.

If you’re interested in someone, you simply need to send them messages to make the pieces of the puzzle fall away, so you can match the face with the personality you’re getting to know.

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples.

New updates: The app recently banned images that had been filtered using Instagram and Snapchat in order to create a more honest space.

Download Jigsaw for iOS

Download Jigsaw for Android

For a serious, more meaningful partnership, Coffee Meets Bagel focuses on quality, not quantity, by allowing you only one match per day, giving you time to get to know each other.

Be warned though, if the person you match with isn’t for you, then you have to wait until the following day to be able to start chatting to somebody new.

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples.

New updates: To combat isolation, the app has launched virtual community meets-ups where you can swap advice with other users on how to find romance amid the coronavirus outbreak.

It has changed the rule that chats disappear after seven days – instead they will remain open indefinitely, as long as someone has spoken within the chat in the past three days.

Download Coffee Meets Bagel for iOS

Download Coffee Meets Bagel for Android

Launched in 2015, The League is one of the newer dating apps to download.

Designed for working professionals, users are vetted based on their social media accounts before being allowed to become a member.

Once you’re signed up as a member, potential matches are known as “prospects” and the amount of users you have access to is based on the preferences you set for your area.

Who is it for? Straight and same-sex couples.

New updates: On Wednesdays and Sundays at 9pm, there’s a “league live” section which lets you swipe through video feeds of other people on the app near you, and you get a two-minute timer to talk before deciding whether you like them. Think virtual speed dating, but for a modern romance. Plus, if nothing else comes of it, you’ll end up with some fun stories with which to keep your coupled-up friends entertained.

Download The League for iOS

Download The League for Android

If you’re looking for something less serious, and maybe with more than just one person, Feeld could be the app for you. All you need to do is set your location when you sign up to be connected with people or other couples in your area – although physically meeting up will have to wait.

The app is aimed at open-minded people who are potentially looking for polyamorous relationships or may be interested in kink.

It doesn’t allow nudes or other explicit content and its full photo guidelines can be found here. If any pictures with nudity are detected, Feeld will not host them.

Who is it for? Couples and singles of all sexual orientations and gender identitie​s.

New updates: As the current situation doesn’t allow for meet-ups, you can instead join any of its three virtual hubs within the app; quarantine, remote threesomes and the sext bunker. Within them, you’ll be able to explore experimental micro-communities such as “Facetime foreplay” or “online orgasm control”.

Download Feeld for iOS

Download Feeld for Android

Spending Valentine’s Day alone? Read our guide to the best sex toys for solo pleasure

Listen to our podcast, Millennial Love In The Time Of Corona, for more on dating during lockdown

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