The Best 5 Free Dating Sites of 2018

Close up of broken heart on computer keyboard

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One of the most popular activities online is finding people to date, befriend, or simply communicate with. We all crave relationships and human connection, after all, and the web has made this easier than ever before. Finding the best free dating sites of 2018 is a mean feat, however; simply searching for "meet people online" will return more results than you could possibly deal with — and with no limits on such a search, many that won't connect you with people who fit your criteria.

Here is a collection of websites that deliver a consistently balanced experience for the searcher who's looking for connections with like-minded people. As of September 2018, all of these sites offer free membership and/or usage of their services. Note: Because these sites are free, they are supported by ads, and not all of these ads are considered family-friendly. Please use caution when visiting and using these sites' services. 

01
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PlentyofFish

Plenty of Fish

PlentyofFish claims to be the largest free dating site online. Once you register, you can find people in your area, of your age, or of your affiliation (or all of these). At the time of this writing, the site claims to be the most active free dating site, with more than 3 million users active on the site per day.

What We Like:

  • Truly free
  • Easy to join: Just write a simple profile and post it

What We Don't Like:

  • To get features such as the ability to send gifts, see who's read your ad, use themes and more, you must upgrade to a paid membership
  • Matches are not produced by an algorithm, but by a simple search function
02
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OkCupid

OkCupid

OkCupid is a free online dating site with a bit of a twist: Your profile is matched up with others via a personality-testing process. OkCupid uses algorithms to match people up to others who are well-suited; these services are completely free, but OKCupid does offer special perks for those who are willing to pay a bit extra. Most people find that the free services suit their needs just fine.

What We Like:

  • Free version is adequate for most people
  • Results based on an algorithm that sorts through results of the personality test
  • Messaging function included in free membership
  • Easy to use for those who don't follow binary gender definitions

What We Don't Like:

  • Seeing who's viewed your profile requires a paid membership
  • Users can't upload video or have video chats
03
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Zoosk

Screenshot of the Zoosk website.

Zoosk is a free online dating site that gives you the ability to have live video and voice "speed sessions" via computer and webcam; it's a great way to meet people quickly and easily. While Zoosk is mostly about getting people to meet other people, its employees also spend time in charitable giving: "Zoosk is committed to giving back to our communities both personally and financially. We regularly donate our time at Glide Memorial, at local arts groups and animal shelters, and are always looking for new ways to contribute." If you're looking for a dating site with a heart, this is one to check out. 

What We Like:

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Proprietary "Behavioral Matchmaking" algorithm geared to delivering accurate matches
  • Offers Tinder-like "Carousel" feature for quick browsing
  • Profiles are "verified" via photo, phone number, or social media account

What We Don't Like:

  • Fake profiles are still possible with fake social media accounts
  • Strong member retention efforts can make closing an account difficult
04
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Meetup.com

Meetup.com

Meetup.com isn't technically a dating site, but it's a fantastic way to find people who are interested in the same things you are, from mountain climbing to book-of-the-month clubs and everything in between. There are groups gathering in your area for virtually any interest you can think of, and many friendships and relationships spring out of these casual gatherings.

What We Like:

  • Easy joining process
  • Fosters matches based on mutual interests
  • Hundreds of thousands of groups available in more than 45,000 cities worldwide

What We Don't Like:

  • Group organizers must pay a nominal monthly fee
  • Not geared specifically to online dating
05
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Tinder

Tinder is location-based, meaning you'll match up only with people nearby — in some cases, in the same building (bar, restaurant, etc.) as you are at the time. With more than 25 million users and growing, it offers a large pool of potential dates. Using the app is simple: View a photo, swipe right to show the person you're interested, or left to indicate a pass.

What We Like:

  • Simple and straightforward
  • Experience feels more immediate

What We Don't Like:

  • Reputation among users as a site for "hookups," rather than traditional dating
  • Based mainly on appearance, which has sparked controversy