We've almost made it the most relationship-focused day of the year, but all year long, casual dating, hookup culture, and no-strings-attached relationships deserve their flowers, too. In this new era of dating, dating apps are available on almost every smartphone. And for good reason. You watch TV on demand (thanks Netflix) and your food can be ordered and delivered to your door while you sit on the couch (hello DoorDash), so why should finding a potential partner be any different?
UPDATED: December 7, 2023, 2:33 p.m. EST We're re-evaluating Feeld's place among our recommendations after the app's recent update came with bugs and location-related security issues.
What is hookup culture?
The phrase “hookup culture” refers to casual sex or uncommitted sexual encounters — you know, good old consensual sex just for fun.
A long time ago, Before Dating apps became a thing, people relied on chance encounters or social gatherings (mainly parties or bars) to meet someone new to have a casual fling with. But now, with the huge pool of dating and dating apps available, we've found ourselves firmly in what we'd like to call our era of dating culture, and finding a partner is as easy as swiping right on a photo in profile.
The dedicated hookup app is a gateway to instant, hot gratification, and the coolest part is that you can decide where to find your fling and how much or little you'd like to know about the person before getting down and dirty.
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What makes a good hookup app?
The best hookup apps don't have to be a one-size-fits-all situation. Sure, things can be kept as anonymous as bringing an anonymous person home from the bar, but there's also nothing wrong with ensuring that the person seeing you naked doesn't have the worst sense of humor of the world. Additionally, getting along well with a relationship, even if you're not looking for anything serious or exclusive, can help if you're looking for a regular friends with benefits situation.
While many of these hookup apps make it clear that people are looking for *that*, people using more generalized dating apps can avoid a lot of mess if some information about their intentions is given in the first few DMs. Many apps even include an option to mark what you're looking for so your intentions are clear from the start.
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How do I find people to connect with?
Basically, there's no “best hookup app” you can use to find guaranteed partners, but you'll probably also want to skip apps that offer a 10-minute quiz about romance and future families or those that require expensive subscriptions aimed at people. who want long term relationships.
Photos are also an important factor for good hookup apps. Some dating apps and sites hide people's photos unless you have a paid subscription, and we don't really like that – for reasons of physical attraction and security. Apps that show a full view of someone's profile are the way to go.
It's up to you whether you want to pay for a hookup app, but we will say that Tinder and Hinge have great free versions. You can probably find a connection on the weekend without paying a cent.
Whether you're looking for casual sex or just looking to swap nudes, here's our pick of the best hookup apps right now:
How we tested
Finding the right platform for casual dating can be tricky, so we've taken a hands-on approach to providing readers with the latest and most accurate information when recommending the best hookup apps.
Since December 7, 2023, we have been re-evaluating Feeld's place among our recommendations due to serious security issues related to sharing user location data and other issues that arose during the recent app update. On February 1, the application announced that they would report user locations back to the app over the course of a week, so we'll keep an eye on how the rollout goes.
As for the rest of our recommendations, we put each app through its paces to understand its interface, matching algorithms, and overall usability. We've prioritized platforms that embrace the LGBTQ+ community and promote inclusion for all users. Diversity was a key factor in our selection process to ensure our recommendations meet a wide range of preferences.
In addition to testing each app ourselves, we read user reviews and enlisted the expertise of our seasoned sex and relationship editors. By incorporating diverse perspectives, we ensure our recommendations are based on real-world experiences and trusted expertise.