The best dating sites for finding a serious relationship in the UK
There are plenty of dating sites for hooking up, but these options allow you to dive deeper and find someone who's in it for the long haul. Best for swiping Millennials finally have an algorithm-oriented swiping app that's less casual than...
Anyone who's been doing the online dating thing for a while knows that there's hookup culture and then there's long-term relationship dating culture. Most dating sites have a mix of both, and after living with online dating as an increasingly ubiquitous option for the past 20 years, the general public mostly sees dating sites as a normal means to find casual dates or a hookup.
Where does this leave you if you're looking for a serious relationship or something long-term? What if you just don't want to be alone on Valentine's Day ever again? What if you're over casual dating and just want someone to come home to? What if you have no idea where to start? Keep reading.
Can you really fall in love with someone online?
The long-term potential of online dating is still met with a cloud of doubt. However, recent evidence is proving that relationships that started online might have a stronger foundation than those that started offline. A 2017 study cited in the MIT Technology Review found that people who meet online are more likely to be compatible and have a higher chance of a healthy marriage if they decide to get hitched. If marriage is your goal, you'll be glad to know that another recent study found that heterosexual couples who met online were quicker to tie the knot than couples who met offline. Either way, online dating seems to be a good recipe for a satisfying, long-term relationship whether it involves marriage or not.
No one is saying that online dating is the variable that changes everything, but we reckon people who sign up for dating sites that require thoughtful responses are more ready to settle down. That makes sense, right?
What makes a dating site better for relationships than others?
Do we even need to get into why Tinder is a long shot? Is being introduced to nearly every person in a 10-mile radius worth the boring bios or how they're "not looking for commitment?" Sure, Tinder has its fair share of those lucky success stories, but it's also the dating app where ghosting, breadcrumbing, and every other disheartening dating trend flourishes.
Singles looking for something serious might get frustrated with sites that only give a limited number of matches per day, but choosing sites that force you to be selective really heightens the focus on what you're truly looking for in a forever partner — and gets you closer to that cuffing status.
For online daters who want to make the most out of potential dates, you need to seek out detailed, high-energy profiles that give a well-rounded idea of who you're messaging. Swiping is guided by the compatibility ranking that most sites offer, which predicts how well you'll get along with other daters based on how you both answered questions. Plus, you can tell how much other daters care about the process by how much effort they put into their profile. If a single sentence about being drama free is the extent of someone's bio, you can assume that they're not taking this seriously and that they might not, in fact, be free from drama.
Potential dates will analyse your profile so make sure it does you justice
It's natural to question the legitimacy of a connection with someone who is only showcasing their best self, but that's part of the process. The dating sites that let users express themselves with prompts — from favourite movies to where you want to retire — are setting you up for success by avoiding an unnecessary argument six months in.
The best way to attract genuine people? Be authentic yourself. That's easier said than done when your biggest worry is that a truthful answer — like the fact that you might not be as good of a communicator as you would like — will deter "the one" from swiping right. However, deep down, you know that lying on a compatibility questionnaire probably won't lead to a healthy relationship.
Until a smarter AI can read minds and simply ban hookup seekers from serious sites, these are the best datings sites for serious relationships.
MatchThe original dating site reigns supreme with a proven algorithm and loads of active users.
- One month: £29.99
- Three months: £19.99/month
- Six months: £9.99/month
It's kind of comforting that you've been seeing TV commercials about the success of Match.com for the past 20-some years. Launched in 1995, its decades in the business help Match bring a comforting level of experience to the table for singles wary about online dating. The original site is so confident in the blueprint it's been perfecting over the years that it guarantees that you'll find someone in six months. If you don't, you get six months for free.
Match continues to solidify its spot as a well-rounded choice for all ages because it refuses to get lost as an antiquated, corny dating site. You're at least tediously scrolling through people Match thinks you'll like based on shared interests like volunteering or clubbing, pet preferences, whether you want (or have) kids, and more. If something like smoking cigarettes is a deal breaker, you can indicate that, too.
Match has so many online daters in its arsenal that it's hard to avoid the notification onslaught even if you live in a less-populated area. However, it should slow down once the algorithm starts learning about your swiping behaviors.
Most of us would like to believe that anyone paying almost £30 per month is genuinely looking for a seriously relationship, but Match has had its fair share of extreme catfishing. It is working to make this better, and Match is set to follow Tinder as the second Match Group app to utilise location-based emergency services via Noonlight as well as photo verification to authenticate users and ensure that they're the same person that's in their profile pictures.
eharmonyCasual daters will feel smothered here, but marriage-minded people will love the focus on settling down.
- One month: £44.95
- Six months: £24.95/month
- 12 months: £13.95/month
- 24 months: £11.95/month
As you might expect from a site that's all about settling down and getting married, the sign-up process is a doozy. eharmony uses a comprehensive questionnaire with 29 dimensions to match you with people based on your long-term compatibility. You'll rate yourself on prompts like "I'm an honest partner," with sliding scale responses.
On paper, asking deep questions like these right off the bat makes total sense when pairing two people together — but they're so basic. Then again, eharmony promises to pay for three months if you're not satisfied after those three months, so it's clearly pretty confident that all of those questions work.
Profiles also look really nice, like a fancy résumé designed by a graphic designer. You even have the option to put your favourite TV shows, music, sports, and more on your profile.
It should be noted that eharmony hasn't always felt like a welcoming place to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Following a 2010 lawsuit, its gay and lesbian spin-off site Compatibility Partners has been folded into eharmony's overall site, but users on Reddit as recently as 2019 say that it still seems geared more toward straight people.
HingeMillennials finally have an algorithm-oriented swiping app that's less casual than Tinder.
- One month: £6.95
- Three months: £4.70/month
- Six months: £3.86/month
Despite the fact that we're actively seeking out new dating apps and feel a rush every time a cute contender swipes right back, no one looking for something serious wants to be on these. The whole point of online dating is to find your person so you can stop looking for your person. That's the whole idea behind Hinge's 2019 rebrand to "the dating app designed to be deleted." Catchy slogans mean nothing without real-world success, however. Thankfully, these Hinge statistics offer a vote of confidence for anyone who's skeptical about whether dating behind a screen can actually foster serious connections IRL. Beta trials of a feature called "We met" asked Hinge users how the first date went. Some 90% said the first date was great and 72% said they'd be down for a second date.
There's a common understanding among users that Hinge isn't just for sex, but there's no pressure to rush into a relationship either. Instead of extensive cheesy questionnaires and spam emails about the 50 winks you were sent, Hinge uses your personal prompts, ethnicity, religion, education, and more to find you anywhere from five to 15 matches per day. Prompts range from "The most spontaneous thing I've ever done" to "Two truths and a lie." Seems like a good recipe for a first convo that's not about sex, right?
EliteSinglesA place for career-oriented individuals who don't have the time to swipe right.
- Three months: £70.17/month
- Six months: £54.63/month
- 12 months: £39.01/month
EliteSingles loves to brag that 82% of its members are graduates, and with most of its members between the age of 33-50, we can pretty surely say you won't have to worry about accidentally coming across a fresh uni grad. Freshers wouldn't be down to pay £70 per month on a dating site anyway, and neither would people who are only looking for a friend with benefits situation. They can do that on Tinder for free. That high subscription price is just another giveaway that EliteSingles is targeted toward serious folks with a disposable income who are ready to focus on someone with an equally-mature lifestyle.
Mixed online reviews make it difficult to justify that price point, though. Matches might be further away than you indicated in your mile range and, unfortunately, it's hard for EliteSingles (or any dating website) to verify that someone makes the amount of money that they claim to make. However, it's comforting to know that all profiles are manually verified and that your money is going toward an upscale fraud detection system.
Some 29 different matching algorithms mesh together to find singles that complement your attachment style, selfishness, and more important personality type stuff. Strewn throughout the mundane sections are laid back questions like "Do you like sleeping with the window open?" and "Which of these foods would you like the best?" It's no five-minute signup, but at least it covers all your bases.
SilverSinglesSilverSingles is dedicated to finding romance later in life.
- Three months: £47.45/month
- Six months: £36.81/month
- 12 months: £26.16/month
You're not alone here: 50% of marriages in the US end in divorce. It's no surprise that many men and women are finding themselves in the online dating world during their golden years. Because SilverSingles wants to ensure that your next relationship is your happily ever after, the sign-up process and questionnaires will take a good bit of time to asses the type of partner you are. The site will use your info to send you five of its best matches per day.
A sister site to EliteSingles, SilverSingles uses the same intense compatibility system that EliteSingles does, bringing in the popular big five personality traits to assess five levels of your being: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. If you've heard of Senior Singles Meet in the past, SilverSingles is that same site with a rebrand — so it has actually been working on mastering the five factor model in tandem with senior dating for about two decades.
If you were worried about online dating because of the whole "technology" thing, don't worry. The site is easy to navigate and clearly lays out the path to a premium membership, which will get you unlimited messaging with matches among other convenient features. Creeps are weeded out by a high-end verification process and you can report any user who's acting suspicious or inappropriate.
Guardian SoulmatesA dating site that makes it easy to find someone with similar values.
- One month: £32
- Three months: £21.33/month
- Six months: £16/month
Guardian Soulmates makes use of a clever feature called 'Find a soulmate' that gives you a list of potential "soulmates" based on criteria you set. You can pick just how important these aspects are to you, and if they are important to other members, you will be matched up. You might not believe in the whole soulmates thing, but any potential long-term lovers should line up with you on what matters most.
The fact that matches are based on both your preferences and how well you fit the preferences of other users means that you should be able avoid unpleasant encounters, and focus on dates with like-minded individuals.
Dating sites that are better for booty calls post-breakup
So things didn't work out with the person you thought you'd be with forever? Give yourself some space to heal before looking for love again — but by all means, do the hooking up that you couldn't do while you were in a relationship.
Pick your poison: Lack of an algorithm, lack of bios with any meaningful information, or lack of users who care what your face looks like as long as they have more explicit photos. These are the dating sites to steer clear of if you're tired of people who only want sex.
TinderThe original swiping app where you should be able to find a hot date in under 10 minutes.
- Tinder Plus: £4.99/month
- Tinder Gold: £7.49/month
Tinder may not want to advertise as such, but we all know what it's mostly used for. You're quite literally deciding if you want to interact with someone based on nothing but profile pictures and a quote from The Office, so yeah, you can see how getting laid would be the main goal of most users — but hey, we all know those couples who met on Tinder and have been together for years. It's fast, easy, and if there's one app that even the shyest, most skeptical people will be on, it's Tinder.
It's free for general use, but Tinder does offer two upgrades: Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold. These include extras like undoing a left swipe (bless), send "Super Likes" to people you're really into, and in the case of Tinder Gold, see which users have liked your profile.
AdultFriendFinderLive videos and more monthly visitors than eharmony makes this a great option for finding a casual fling.
- One month: £15
- Three months: £13.33/month
- 12 months: £10.08/month
Though a lot of young people use Tinder to find casual sex, AFF is more... mature. Regardless of whether you're looking for an in-person hookup or to blow off some steam via sexting or raunchy videos, AFF has everything that your dirty mind can think of and more.
With over 25 million monthly users as well as live video options, chat rooms, groups for ultra specific kinks, and more, you can probably assume how wild this site can get. There's such a large and diverse group of potential matches, you're very likely to find other like-minded people, which does wonders when all you want to do is connect with someone who's on the same page as you. The part that you wouldn't expect is the fact that it offers plenty of compatibility questions and matchmaking services, because it is that intent on finding you a good lay.