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Best dating sites 2022: Top online dating services for men and women of all ages

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Want to find your perfect match? We've picked the best dating sites whatever your age, sexuality, interests… and budget

Online dating can seriously improve your love life - but to really boost your odds, you need to start with the best dating site.

With more than 1,400 online dating services in the UK alone, choosing the best site for you can feel as intimidating as finding the right person. Should you join a specialist site where you're guaranteed to meet like-minded singles? Or should you throw the net as wide as possible? To make it even harder, most dating sites hide their subscription prices until you've created a profile.

To help you choose, we created temporary profiles on more than a dozen dating sites. Here we expose the prices they'd rather keep secret and reveal which sites are best for user experience, clever features and chances of finding love.

How to choose the right dating site for you

Should I use a niche dating site, such as dating for dog lovers?

There are pros and cons to narrowing down your search from the get-go. Niche dating sites tend to be cheaper than mainstream sites, for starters, but the biggest advantage of a specialist site is the feeling of being among friends. If you're new to the online dating jungle, a niche site can help you feel more at ease than a huge mainstream site, where you can easily feel overwhelmed.

You may be surprised by the number of specialist dating sites out there. More than half the UK's 1,400 dating sites cater for a specific group such as over 50s, gay daters and disabled daters. There are matchmaking sites for wine connoisseurs, people who share your music taste, and – yes – dating for dog lovers.

On the downside, a niche site limits your choices. You may assume you'll want to date someone who shares a specific interest, but attraction doesn't work like that in real life. Your ideal match may not fit the formula. And remember, mainstream sites do let you narrow your search, then expand it gradually to widen the net.

The other big advantage of mainstream sites is that they tend to offer more innovative features, such as live chat, rich profile tools and incognito modes. We'll mention the best tools in our reviews below.

Why don't I just use a free app like Tinder?

Free dating apps such as Tinder, Badoo and Facebook Dating are great for finding hook-ups, but they're not designed to find you a match for life.

In this review we're focusing on services that aim to find you a compatible partner. They charge subscription fees and make you wade through epic questionnaires because they want to filter out casual browsers. So be prepared to spend an afternoon spilling your heart out as part of the sign-up process before you can get anywhere near other members' profiles.

Top tips for safe online dating

Guard your personal information carefully. The thrill of connecting with someone online can easily make you drop your guard. You want to tell them everything. Well, don't. Information like your mum's maiden name, your street and even your pets' names are gold dust for scammers.

Don't swap numbers until you've met. Many sites, including eHarmony and EnableDating, have secure online calling features that let you chat without having to give away your phone number.

Be cautious of file downloads. If a stranger emails you a ZIP file of songs or photos, it may be perfectly innocent – but it could also be dodgy malware. Don't open files until you know the person better.

Meet up quickly. Chemistry is almost impossible to assess through emails alone. Meet up soon, so you can be sure there really is a spark. If the person you're chatting to keeps putting off the chance to meet, ask yourself why.

Report suspicious behaviour. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or gets abusive, don't hesitate to report them to the website.

Check the site has signed up to the ODA. If you're in the UK, make sure your chosen dating site follows the Online Dating Association code of practice. Enter the site's name into the ODA's free 'Check a site' tool to find out if it's registered.

Don't pay for the same service twice! Many dating sites are owned by the same company and/or share a database of members. For instance, Classic FM Romance, The Telegraph Dating and Smooth Radio Singles all use the same database as each other. We’ve made sure all the services we mention below are separate from each other.

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The best dating sites for 2022

1. eHarmony: Best dating site for finding long-term love

Price: Free to join, then from £8.95/month | Join eHarmony

eHarmony is a right old pain to join. Before posting a profile, you have to wade through dozens of soul-searching multi-choice questions about yourself and your approach to life. After that, you can't see people's photos until you're a paid-up member, and even then you can only see pics of people you've been 'matched' with.

It's hard work, but that's the point. eHarmony is committed to filtering out time-wasters and matching you with genuine potential partners. If you're a woman who's fed up with the torrent of "winks" you get on other sites, eHarmony will come as a big relief. And if you're a man on eHarmony, women will know you're serious.

All adults are welcome here, but you may prefer one of its sister sites for a more focused search. eHarmony Gay Dating focuses on same-sex relationships; eHarmony Lifestyle Dating focuses on cultural background; and eHarmony Single Parents matches lone mums and dads.

Premium plans, which let you send unlimited messages and see who's viewed your profile, are priced roughly in line with eHarmony's rivals. As with most of these sites, the pricing isn't an exact science - there are generous discounts if you return after months away, even if you didn't pay for premium membership before.

eHarmony price per month

Contract length24 months12 months6 months
Premium plan£8.95£11.95£29.90

2. Match: Best dating site for quick replies and wide choice

Price: Free to join, then from £9.99/month | Join Match

You can do more for free on Match than on eHarmony. You can search profiles using powerful filters, check for people nearby using the Around Me tool, publish your profile, receive "winks" from interested suitors, and see everyone's photos – all gratis.

That makes Match a winner if you want to dive straight in, but it does mean there's less quality control. The moment your profile is published, which you have to do before seeing prices, you're battered with attention. So if you want a ton of options and a date tonight, Match is the place to come. If, on the other hand, you want to ease your way into online dating, you'll find Match a bit "too much".

You'll have to subscribe to send and receive messages. This will cost different amounts depending on how long you want to commit to Match for, with the longer contracts being cheaper.

Match's sister site, Affinity, uses the same database but adds eHarmony-style compatibility testing. Match also hosts events where you can meet singles face-to-face in a secure environment.

Match price per month

Contract length6 months3 months1 months
Premium plan£9.99£19.99£29.99

3. OkCupid: Best dating site with a completely free plan

Price: Free with premium extras | Join OkCupid

OkCupid is like a vivacious younger version of eHarmony, although they are separate entities and don't share a database. Like eHarmony, OkCupid makes you sit through numerous compatibility questions and has a focus on getting to know you, heart and soul. However, it's much more open to non-traditional matches and casual relationships than eHarmony is.

You're invited to specify a preference for hook-ups, one-night stands, platonic friendship, non-monogamy, non-specific gender, LGBT relationships... or marriage and a tidy house, if you prefer.

But OkCupid’s biggest lure is its free plan. You can post a profile with numerous photos, see other members' profiles and photos, send and receive messages, and use the companion app for Android and iOS without paying a penny.

There are a couple of 'A-List' plans too, if you want advanced features such as incognito mode, message-read receipts (A-List basic) and the chance to see everyone's questionnaire answers (A-List premium).

OkCupid price per month

Contract length6 months3 months1 month
A-list basic£3.95£6.95£7.95
A-list premium£19.90£22.90£24.90

4. UK GayParship: Best dating site for LGBT relationships

Price: Free to join, then from £14.90/month | Join Gay Parship

GayParship is the sister site of a mainstream dating site (Parship), and uses a lengthy questionnaire to match you to compatible potential partners, with a focus on long-term relationships.

GayParship clearly understands the challenges of LGBT dating. It's careful to filter out time-wasters and protect your privacy. The questionnaire is even longer than eHarmony's, with soul-searching multi-choice questions such as 'How would you feel attending a wedding with your new partner?'. You get to see your full results for free, with a breakdown of your personality and relationship type.

You can see photos of your matches (and they can see you) before you subscribe. However, you must subscribe to send and receive messages.

GayParship price per month

Contract length12 months6 months3 months
Premium plan£14.90£19.90£29.90

5. Muddy Matches: Best dating site for lovers of the countryside

Price: Free to join, then from £7.83/month | Join Muddy Matches

Muddy Matches offers the best user experience of all the niche dating sites we tested, with a fast and fuss-free joining process that fills you with confidence. And you don't have to be muddy to use it: country-curious townies are welcome, too.

The site is less conservative than you might assume. The 'seeking...' dropdown menu includes 'man seeking either' and 'woman seeking either' as well as straight and gay, and you can specify friendship and casual dating as well as relationships.

It's free to search profiles and receive messages, and to read the impressive choice of articles such as 'Online dating after divorce' and profile tips. You have to subscribe to send messages, though. A Premium upgrade lets all your recipients reply, even if they're not subscribers.

The main site has sub-sections including Gay Farmers Dating and Lonely Farmers, and Muddy Matches' sister site Maverick Matches is aimed at adrenaline junkies.

Muddy Matches price per month

Contract length12 months6 months3 months1 month
Subscription£7.83£12£16£26
Premium upgrade+£5.99+£5.99+£5.99+£5.99

6. EnableDating: Best dating site for disabled people

Price: Free to join, then from £16.66/month | Join EnableDating

Disabilities don't exclude you from mainstream dating sites, of course. But EnableDating's strong community spirit makes you feel especially welcome and understood, whether you're looking for love or new friends.

You're invited to state your disability from a list (which includes less visible conditions such as epilepsy and asthma), but you can skip if you want, and you don't have to be disabled to use the service.

There's no questionnaire to wade through, and most features are free, including adding videos to your profile. Gold membership lifts email limits, adds online chat tools and lets you view full photo and video galleries. The VIP upgrade lets you chat with all members, including non-subscribers.

EnableDating price per month

Contract length6 months3 months1 month
Gold plan£16.66£19.98£29.95
VIP upgrade+£12.95+£12.95+£12.95

7. My Single Friend: Best dating site for instant browsing

Price: Free to join, then from £10.50/month | Join My Single Friend

My Single Friend was co-founded by TV presenter Sarah Beeny back in 2004, when the idea of roping in a mate to write your profile was a brilliant wheeze to get around the stigma of online dating. But the stigma has faded and My Single Friend is now very much "my single me", with a profile-creation process similar to the other sites we looked at.

The main difference now is the ease of diving in. You have to create a profile before contacting anyone, but you're free to search and browse profiles without creating a profile or even an account. The site even reveals its fees up-front, including the extra £10/month that lets anyone you contact – including non-subscribers – write back for free.

The downside of all this openness is that anyone can see your profile, whether or not they're members of My Single Friend. You can opt to 'hide' once you're a paying subscriber, but if you do this you're only visible to people you contact, which rather limits your chance of success.

My Single Friend price per month

Contract length12 months6 months3 months1 month
Subscription£10.50£13.33£18£32
Premium upgrade+£10+£10+£10+£10

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