Almost everyone knows someone who’s tried a dating site. These days, more than ever, it’s a great option for getting to know people as the pandemic carries on. Sometimes finding a website or app that really works can be challenging. That’s why we’ve compiled our top 5 list of the best dating apps in California.
Whether it’s working from home or having fewer public areas to meet up, people are turning to apps to pick up the slack where the physical world leaves off. They help to fill the gap in connections that COVID created.
We’ve tried out every dating site we could find to come up with the best of the best. So whether you’re looking for casual romance or a partner for life, here’s a guide on the top 5 best dating apps in California.
There are tons of singles using dating apps in California
About 25% of California’s almost 40 million residents identify as single. That factors out to around 5 million men and around 5 million women who might be in the market at any given time. Outside of the larger urban centers, people tend to have it especially rough when it comes to dating and nightlife. This list is specifically geared toward people outside of big cities; so if you’re looking for a guide for your city, you may find it below:
The 5 Best Dating Apps in California Right Now
Couldn't find your city in the list above? Here are the dating apps that most people use in California.
#1 - eHarmony (Android; iOS) is one of the highest-ranked dating apps in California
Since its inception, eHarmony has built more than 2 million real matches on its highly successful platform. It’s easy to choose eHarmony to lead a top 5 dating apps list; it’s a serious matching website with a fantastic track record. With no swipes or random matching, every person you’re suggested is because the data says you’d make a good match.
The most inspiring statistic from eHarmony is the divorce rate of couples who matched and were married on eHarmony. The US average divorce rate for a married couple is about 50%, but for people who matched on eHarmony, the divorce rate is only 4%. So if you’re looking to the future and want a serious relationship, we’ve found there’s no better option than eHarmony.
Why we chose eHarmony
- 75% of online marriages started on eHarmony
- Algorithms suggest strong matches, and people stay together
- Tons of users of all demographics means anyone can be successful on eHarmony
What could be better
- Sign up quiz takes time, but that’s half the fun
#2 - Bumble (Android; iOS) is a fresh perspective on dating
Bumble is an app designed to empower women. Ask any woman; the worst thing about dating apps is the nasty guys. Thankfully, bumble eliminates unwanted harassment with one easy feature; men can’t message women unless the ladies message them first. In the case of same-sex or nonbinary matches, anyone can send the first message. To guys, this might seem like a pretty anti-male stance, but some men say it takes some of the pressure off. Now men don’t have to come up with some cheesy pickup line to start the conversation.
The other characteristic trait of Bumble is that no one can just use the app and collect matches. Once a match has been made, someone has to send a message within 24 hours, or else the match is deleted. Users can pay to extend it, but if you don’t, you lose your match. This ensures the people matching on the platform are serious about starting a relationship.
What there is to like about Bumble
- Lots of active users, especially young people, with great representation for LGBTQ+ folks
- Social media integration ensures fewer bots or spam accounts
- Cutting edge app is fun and easy to use
Things to note
- Women must message men first
AFF is the fastest path to a hookup in California for a lot of people right now. Maybe you’ve heard about people having success on other apps, but the only surefire site for casual fun in California is AFF (which you can try for free).
More than 60 million users log on to AFF, so there are plenty of people to meet and mingle with. The biggest draw for AFF is for men who haven’t had much success on other dating apps. Women generally have an easier time finding a hookup. AFF is the hottest hookup site for the everyday man. It’s worth checking out, and there’s a free trial, so you can go and see if the site would work for you. Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky.
Why AFF is so popular
- California’s highest traffic app for casual relationships
- Men have higher success finding hookups than on other apps
- Everyone on AFF is on the same page; they’re looking to meet up
What could be improved
- A lot of ads make using the app sometimes a challenge
- Mobile presence can be lacking
#4 - Hinge (Android; iOS) is now a trendy dating app
Hinge is a new app that’s steadily gaining popularity. The key feature of this app is that it starts that first awkward conversation for you. When signing up, users build their profile by answering several basic questions. Once you’re all set up and matching, you see your match's answers and can send a message to reply to what your match said. You’ve essentially got an arsenal of icebreakers to keep things fresh. It’s almost like a mutual friend described this new person to you! In this case, your mutual friend is Hinge.
This modern app uses tons of useful info to help you find your match. You can filter based on age, distance, or even info like education, politics, or whether someone wants children! This app is mainly popular with Millennials and Gen X, so if you’re over 50, you may want to pick a different site.
Why Hinge is one of our favorite apps
- Conversational messaging means there’s always something to talk about
- Dating From Home feature makes it easy to know when to call your match
What we don’t like about it
- Likes and Matches are limited, for free users
- Mainly caters to a younger crowd
#5 - Zoosk (Android; iOS) is a great choice for relationships
Zoosk is a San Francisco-based dating app that people swear by. As an alternative to apps like Tinder, young people who are more serious about relationships choose Zoosk en masse. The app and website are both fresh and have all the features of popular matching sites and are generally on par with popular new apps from an interface perspective.
Zoosk prioritizes matching single people together for the long haul. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t people looking for a more casual relationship, but overall, it’s on the more serious side.
The key with Zoosk is that you have to pay after your seven-day free trial, but when it comes to dating sites, sometimes you get what you pay for. Premium memberships generally mean people are more serious about finding a good match, so if you are too, Zoosk might be a good fit.
Why you should choose Zoosk
- Minimalist app with a modern style that’s serious about relationships
- Lots of active users on the platform
- Representation for LGBT people
- Zoosk is generally more popular with younger people
- You have to pay to send messages to other Zooskers after the 7-day trial period
The Best Hookup Sites in California
Whether you’re just not ready for a relationship or you’re more into one-night encounters, hookup apps are the way to go. In our experience, these are the ones that always work:
One of the best hookup sites in California we’ve used is AFF
One of the reasons the site has so much traction is because everyone who signed up is on the same page. When you find a match on AFF, both of you know what you’re looking for. Users on AFF find solid matches regardless of their age, demographic, or sexual orientation. There’s no reason not to give it a try.
Tinder is a fantastic hookup app if you’re good-looking
California is seriously full of attractive people, and many of them are on Tinder. Sounds great, but what if you can’t compete with these surfer dudes and aspiring actors? Will Tinder work? It could if you work on your photos. The good news is that since there are so many people on Tinder, the odds of finding a match is still pretty high.
The Best Dating Sites in California for Relationships
Finding a long-term partner in real life can be tough, especially if you keep running into people who prefer to keep it casual. So if you’re thinking of going online to meet someone who’s looking for a relationship, here are the best options for you.
eHarmony is an app that actually works
If you’re skeptical about online dating, eHarmony might just change your mind. As one of the top dating apps for finding a long-term relationship, eHarmony’s track record is unmatched. The app facilitates almost 15 million matches a day and over 2.3 million messages exchanged per week. It’s an incredibly active site where all the users are serious about finding their future partner.
Zoosk is gaining popularity among younger singles
The reason we like Zoosk is that it has a pretty unique demographic. While Tinder may be popular among younger singles, it’s now currently drawing in singles who are both older and looking for relationships. This is in contrast to Zoosk, which narrows down its userbase to two things: singles in their early 20s who are only looking for relationships. If you fit into that category, you’ll find tons of potential matches here!
The Best Free Dating Sites in California
The major conclusion we came to is that the best way to find a real match in California is to pay for a legit site. A free app might work for somebody, but who knows, maybe they just got lucky. If you want to be placed in a relationship sooner, or find a like-minded person, you’re better off paying for a fully-fledged service.
On a site like eHarmony, you have to enter info to build your profile, but the likes, dislikes, and personality you put into the app is why it’s able to match you so well. In general, paid sites don’t restrict your messages, they’ll show you what other users think of your profile, and sometimes even offer boosts that get your profile seen by more people than usual.
If you’re serious about being in a relationship, the best way to meet people who feel the same way is to pay for membership! Don’t put off meeting the right person. Try out a legit site; the price is likely well worth it.
Free trials exist for almost any site you’re interested in, but don't give up too soon if you don’t find the right person. Almost every app has more features if you pay for the full version, so make sure you know what’s available before trying out a different solution.
If you don’t want to pay, try one of the most common free apps in Cali, such as:
Just so you know, just because people use apps like Tinder doesn’t mean they’re actually going on dates. Tons of people just swipe for fun or act like dating apps are some type of mobile game. If you’re serious about hooking up or finding the love of your life, consider paying for expert services to do so.