Hookup culture has become an accepted style of human connection. Sure, wanting to have sex with no strings attached has always been a thing, but proudly searching for it is way less taboo than it was when your parents were dating.
Finding the right person for a casual hookup, however, isn’t as easy as one would hope. With so many dating sites and hookup apps to choose from, it’s hard to decipher which platform is the best option for a night of safe and shameless fun. To help you navigate the world of casual sex, we’ve rounded up the best hookup apps, plus some tips to help you get started.
What is hookup culture?
The term “hookup culture” refers to casual sex or uncommitted sexual encounters — you know, good old-fashioned consensual sex just for the sake of it.
Dating apps and sites have certainly helped bring society firmly into its hookup culture era. “If having sex was once taboo, not having it is today,” says Washington Post columnist Christine Emba in her book Rethinking Sex: A Provocation. Even though the pandemic has made more people intentional, honest, and serious when approaching dating, that doesn’t mean long-term monogamous relationships are the only types of connections people want.
In fact, being open to new experiences and casual connections was a trend of the past year, proving that people are still plenty interested in hooking up with hot strangers.
Basically, there’s nothing wrong with prioritizing looking for a hookup and, ultimately, your pleasure. Plus, bringing that intentionality to casual sex can help reduce any pressure(Opens in a new tab) you might feel about having or seeking out sex when you don’t really, genuinely want it. And when you’re on the same page as your partner, you reduce the risk of messy miscommunication.
As for finding a similarly interested partner (or two), the dedicated hookup app is the horny person’s vessel for hot instant gratification. But the cool thing is that most dating apps can be used for sex purposes these days. Where you decide to go to find your casual fling really just depends on how much you’d like to know about the person in your bed. The butterflies of meeting someone new are still there — they just might be happening in a different region of the body.
The online hookup atmosphere is full of horny anxious people
All things considered, it may seem like the ideal time for a mass release of all that pent-up sexual tension. But in reality, people are, of course, still nervous.
Hinge actually coined the term Fear of Dating Again to encompass people’s uneasiness to get back into the dating scene. Many feel like they have lost their game during isolation, and there’s a hump that many online daters still need to get over. Time feels more valuable, and even those who are DTF may be more closely considering the authenticity and personality of prospects. If anything, surveys have found that this long period of isolation has made more people want to find a long-term partner.
Still, this pandemic hasn’t meant the death of hookup culture. Just like literally every other part of life, it’s merely had to evolve and change with the times. Tinder and Hinge are still crawling with users, but baby steps between messaging for the first time and arranging a booty call may be the norm for now. The good news is that being upfront and honest about what you’re looking for has become more of the norm over the past two years, so people are more likely to appreciate you coming right out and saying you want something light and fun. Plenty of apps have also built-in the “what you’re looking for” question into profile preferences, making it a much easier topic to broach.
Are dating sites safe?
The pandemic brought on a whole new meaning to having safe sex with strangers. Some dating apps have added vaccination status as a section to their profiles, so you can tell if someone’s going to be a safer hookup or not without having to waste time chatting with someone you won’t feel comfortable seeing IRL. Badge or not, if you have any hesitations being direct and asking people outright about their vaccination status and what they’re comfortable with is a good way to make an informed decision.
Taking precautions doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. Over the past couple of years, people have been learning how to be safe while exploring new desires and kinks.
On a more general dating app note, looking out for profile verification is another way to make sure you’re meeting up with a real person who’s who they say they are. Tinder, OkCupid, and HER are some of the apps on this list that make it clear what users have verified profiles.
What makes a good hookup app?
A good hookup doesn’t have to be a one-and-done situation. Sure, things can be kept as anonymous as taking a nameless person home from the bar, but there’s also nothing wrong with ensuring that the person getting to see you naked doesn’t have the world’s worst sense of humor. Plus, getting along well with a hookup, even if you’re not looking for anything serious or exclusive, can help if you are looking for a regular friends-with-benefits situation.
Though many of these apps make it obvious that people are looking for *that,* people on more generalized dating apps can avoid a lot of messiness if a head’s up about intentions is given within the first few DMs. Many apps even include an option to mark what you’re looking for, so your intentions can be clear from the get-go without any messages.
You’ll probably also want to skip any apps that feature a 10-minute questionnaire about romance and future families or ones that require expensive subscriptions intended for people who want long-term relationships. However, you should choose an app that has ample space to showcase what you’re looking for — and maybe turn a few people on with your personality.
Photos are also a huge factor in good hookup apps. Some apps and dating sites hide people’s pics unless you have a paid subscription, and we don’t really love that — for physical attraction reasons and safety reasons. Apps that show the full view of someone’s profile are the way to go.
Whether you want to pay for a hookup app or not is totally up to you, but we will say Tinder and Hinge have great free versions of the app. You can likely find a hookup by the weekend without paying a cent.
Whether you’re looking for casual sex or are simply looking to exchange nudes, here are our picks for the best hookup apps right now:
Best dating app for liberals
- Free version: Yes
- One month of OkCupid Basic: $34.99 per month
- Three months of OkCupid Basic: $23.33 per month
- Six months of OkCupid Basic: $17.49 per month
- One month of OkCupid Premium: $44.99 per month
- Three months of OkCupid Premium: $29.99 per month
- Six months of OkCupid Premium: $22.49 per month
Turned on by social awareness? Same. You’ve heard of OkCupid before, and you know it’s not solely for hooking up. But if your attraction to someone is partly dictated by whether you’d be on their side in a political Facebook fight, OkCupid can direct you to the sexy, woke side of the internet.
This hip LGBTQ-friendly site has won the hearts of liberal millennial singles by dedicating a portion of its profile-building prompts to the current political climate: weed, guns, vaccinations, women’s rights, and more topics are covered. This, badges for voting and open pronoun and orientation options, all help to reel in an informed, respectful, and sex-positive crowd. Dry-humored graphics do a lot to alleviate pressure, too.
While you get the most out of the site with a paid plan, you can still use its search features without ever paying a dime. In other words, you literally search the keyword “hookup” — or any other common interests that might be important to you — and see what users have those words in their profile. Even easier is marking down the type of connection you’re looking for on profile preferences — both “new friends” and “hookups” are options.
On a website that can lean more relationship-oriented, it’s still simple to find people looking for the same casual connection as you.
Best dating app for regular hookups
- Free version: Yes
- One month of Hinge+: $29.99
- Three months of Hinge+: $59.99 ($19 per month)
- Six months of Hinge+: $89.99 ($14 per month)
- One month of HingeX: $49.99
- Three months of HingeX: $99.99 ($33 per month)
- Six months of HingeX: $149.99 ($24 per month)
Hinge is *officially* geared more toward relationships, but if you’re upfront with your intentions, it’s as useful of a hookup app as Tinder — especially in more populated areas.
Hinge(opens in a new tab) marries the modern, instantaneous feel of swiping apps with the relationship atmosphere that sites like eharmony(opens in a new tab) or Match(opens in a new tab) offer. Hinge literally labels itself the relationship app, or as I prefer, the “anti-Tinder(opens in a new tab).” You scroll like Instagram, creating a smoother (and less judge-y) feel than swiping. It’s a chill alternative for singles who are down for a hookup but would see where things go with the right person.
On Hinge, you get to send eight likes per day with the free version (unlimited with the paid version) and set preferences like age, ethnicity, and religion. You can filter by even more preferences with a paid membership if you’re looking for a specific height, drug usage, and more. If you’re just in search of a hookup, this level of compatibility might not be necessary, so you’re probably good with the free version.
Though it may attract a relationship-seeking crowd, one of Hinge’s newest features is the “Dating Intentions” section of your profile. Just like your location, age, and alcohol preferences, right on your profile, you’ll be able to put if you’re “figuring out your dating goals,” looking for something shorter-term, or if you don’t want to jump into anything serious, but could be open to the idea. No hookup-specific language, but it definitely sets the tone — and tells you probably not to send a message to the cutie looking for a “Life Partner.” Ever up to date with the times, Hinge has also added a section to indicate whether you’re looking for a monogamous or non-monogamous relationship (or if you’re figuring it out).
For those looking for sex
- Basic version: Free
- One month of Gold: $27.95
- Three months of Gold: $59.85 ($19.95 per month)
- 12 months of Gold: $179.40 ($14.95 per month)
Best dating app for casual sex
- Free version: Yes
- One month of Tinder+: $13.49
- Six months of Tinder+: $40.50 ($6.75 per month)
- One year of Tinder+: $54 ($4.50 per month)
- One month of Tinder Gold: $22.49
- Six months of Tinder Gold: $67.50 ($11.25 per month)
- 12 months of Tinder Gold : $90 ($7.50 per month)
- One month of Tinder Platinum : $26.99
- Six months of Tinder Platinum : $81 ($13.50 per month)
- 12 months of Tinder Platinum : $108 ($9 per month)
Tinder(Opens in a new tab) may not want to advertise as such, but it doesn’t have the reputation as a hookup app for no reason. Yeah yeah, we know the amount of success stories of happy couples who met on Tinder is growing rapidly, but it’s way easier to find a date for the night than it is to find someone looking for a long-term relationship. Using Tinder for the latter includes 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.
It’s fast and easy, and if there’s one app that even the shyest, most skeptical people will be on, it’s Tinder. Sure, you may get carpal tunnel from swiping so much, but I guess that also means that it’s nearly impossible to not find like-minded people who are also DTF. Profiles with a blue checkmark indicate that the person has been verified with a video selfie, so you can stay safe even while swiping for nothing serious.
Though it’s pretty much free for general use, Tinder does offer three upgrades: Tinder+, Tinder Gold, and Tinder Platinum. These include extras(Opens in a new tab) like the opportunity to undo a left swipe (bless), send “Super Likes” to people you’re really into, see who has swiped right on your profile, and in the case of Tinder Platinum, message users before they’ve even matched with you.
Best dating app for gay men
- Free version: Yes
- One month of Grindr XTRA: $9.99
- Three months of Grindr XTRA: $20.97 ($6.99 per month)
- Six months of Grindr XTRA: $29.94 ($4.99 per month)
- 12 months of Grindr XTRA: $47.88 ($3.99 per month)
Grindr(Opens in a new tab) is the go-to hookup app for gay guys. It’s one of the only mainstream dating apps for gay men, and you can truly find a range of relationship types through the platform — yes, obviously, this includes casual hookups.
On the surface, Grindr is a hookup-oriented app, so it won’t be too much work to find another guy who’s also looking for a one-night stand or friends with benefits. The app is location-based, so instead of swiping, you’re able to message anyone in your nearby area, making it pretty much as easy as it can be to find someone to link up with within the hour. You can set your expectations about what you’re looking for and whether or not you accept NSFW pics, but don’t be surprised if you’re greeted with an unsolicited dick pic or two, regardless of your preferences.
That’s not to say that Grindr isn’t also a place to find serious relationships, but that’s not what you came here for, is it? Grindr is technically for gay, bi, trans, and queer people, but you’ll mostly find cis men on there.
Best dating app for quick hookups
- Free version: Yes
- Weekly Pure membership: $14.99
- Monthly Pure membership: $29.99
If you’re tired of getting signals crossed or dread being asked “What are we?” by a friend with benefits, Pure is the place to find a booty call who won’t try to text you earlier than midnight. App rules urge you to “pretend like you’re strangers afterward,” making no-strings-attached sex the only name of the game. The surge of blatant sex positivity is a breath of fresh air when compared to other dating apps that try to convince you that you’ll find your soulmate.
Your uploaded selfies, personal info, and conversations with others self-destruct every 60 minutes, promoting spur-of-the-moment and borderline anonymous hookups. There aren’t even any profiles — it’s just a feed of personal ads that let you get directly to the point of what you’re looking for. People on the app aren’t shy, which means you can put exactly what you want out of hookup and expect that you’ll get some responses.
After you write your ad, the app uses your geolocation and sends out the sex version of an Uber request, so you won’t have to worry about finding out your match actually lives across the country.
Though you can find someone down for pretty much anything, Pure doesn’t have that same sketchy vibe as Adult Friend Finder. If you receive a photo that looks like it might be a nude, for instance, the app will cover it with a filter that literally says, “Looks like a nude,” so you can choose whether or not you want to see it.
Plus, using filters is completely free, which is a nice perk when you’re trying to find someone to get down with, even if you’re not looking for anything serious. Of course, you should still be smart about meeting up with basically anonymous strangers, but for no-strings attachment, Pure is a pretty good place to be.
Best dating app for queer women (and more)
- Free version: Yes
- One month of HER Premium: $14.99
- Six months of HER Premium: $59.99 ($9.99 per month)
- One year of HER Premium: $89.99 ($7.49 per month)
Made by and for queer women, HER is a space where women can feel safe looking for other women to hook up with without worrying about being sexualized by skeevy men. HER isn’t designed just for hookups. If you’re looking for a hookup-turned-relationship, you might find that here (the app has more than 4 million active users).
If you’re looking for a simple way to mention you’re not springing to jump into anything long-term, the “Looking for” section of the profile provides a “something casual” tag that’ll be displayed out in the open on your profile. To streamline your own search, you can filter users by this tag (and more) if you’re willing to pay for a membership. Adding it to your profile is completely free of charge, though.
The app isn’t even solely focused on romantic/sexual relationships — it’s also just a space carved out for the 2SLGBTQ+ community where women can connect with other queer people. This is a great breeding ground for friends with benefits.
HER lets you choose to use your phone number, email, Apple ID, or Facebook/Instagram account to sign up. Like other apps on this list, HER has also added a check mark badge to profiles that have been photo verified. The app even runs like Facebook with a feed filled with events, media, and more specifically tailored to the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
Best dating app for over 35
- Free version: Yes
- Three months of Premium: $62.80 ($20.94 per month)
- Six months of Premium: $94.23 ($15.70 per month)
- 12 months of Premium: $125.64 ($10.47 per month)
Sometimes, you might be in the mood to swipe for a while, and sometimes, you’re ready to get straight to chatting. For when you want the best of both worlds, Plenty of Fish has your back.
Thanks to the sign-up questionnaire, you may get the impression that Plenty of Fish is more relationship-oriented. While it’s certainly possible to use the app to find your future partner, at the end of the day, the app’s main draw is that you can chat with any user, even if you haven’t matched — that includes seeing who’s nearby and online. This ease of communication means finding someone who’s also not looking for anything serious isn’t all that difficult.
You can also mark in your profile that you’re looking for something casual, giving you an easy way to chat with someone a bit before deciding to meet up, without giving the wrong impression. And in the case that you do feel like doing a bit of screening before saying hello, there is a tab where you can swipe through potential matches. Plus, if you’re more into the idea of exchanging steamy messages than meeting in person, you can set your search radius to a worldwide scale, free of charge.
It can be a little bot-filled, you can’t look for men and women at the same time, and its livestream feature sets up more of a creator-viewer relationship than a two-people-trying-to-sleep-together relationship, but if you ignore that tab, you’ll find that with its four million daily users(Opens in a new tab), you really do have quite a few options with Plenty of Fish.
Best dating app for threesomes
- Free version: Yes
- One month of Majestic: $11.99
- Three months of Majesitc: $23.99 ($7.48 per month)
Sometimes a hookup includes more than one other person, but finding people who are down for a threesome (or more-some) isn’t always the easiest task. Don’t be that asshole who goes on a dating app and matches with someone only to later reveal your intentions of finding a third.
Feeld(Opens in a new tab) is where everyone on the app is on the same page about what they’re seeking. It’s an open-minded community that allows you to choose from more than 20 sexual and gender identities, pair your profile with your partner’s, list your desires, and create group chats. So yeah, you’ll be able to narrow down exactly what you’re looking for.
The app is sex-positive without looking like a computer virus popup. You can sign up for Feeld as a couple or as a single to practice consensual polyamory (AKA, people openly participating in non-monogamous relationships rather than people secretly cheating on their partners).
Feeld is free to use but has a paid Majestic membership with bonus features like seeing people who liked you, filtering by desires, sharing private photos, and incognito browsing.
Best dating app for mature singles
- Free version: Yes
- Three months of Standard: $95.97 ($31.99 per month)
- Six months of Standard: $137.94 ($22.99 per month)
- 12 months of Standard: $227.88 ($18.99 per month)
- Three months of Premium: $104.97 ($34.99 per month)
- Six months of Premium: $149.94 ($24.99 per month)
- 12 months of Premium: $239.88 ($19.99 per month)
Anything can be a hookup app if you want it to be, right? We know Match(Opens in a new tab) isn’t the raunchiest place (it’s actually known for its relationship success rate), but its massive user base of over seven million people can’t be ignored. Even if you’re not looking for a long-term relationship like many members, there’s a pretty high chance you’ll find a ton of users also down for something risqué.
One main difference between Match and most of the other sites we’ve listed is that Match sees a way more diverse age range. Sure, there are a ton of young people on Match who are probably on Tinder as well, but Match also attracts significantly older, more mature (and probably more experienced in bed) users. If you’re at an age where you feel nothing but creepy on Tinder, Match is a nice alternative.
Best as a last resort
- Free version: Yes, but limited
- One month: $29.95
- Three months: $59.95 ($19.98 per month)
- Six months: $74.99 ($12.50 per month)
- 12 months: $149.95 ($12.50 per month)
Zoosk(Opens in a new tab) sports a flirty “pick up and go” philosophy when it comes to online dating, so they won’t make you answer a torturous string of questions about yourself. Instead, Zoosk monitors your on-site activity and attempts to give you better matches based on what you already like, so if the idea of minimal effort appeals to you, Zoosk might be your place. There are, however, a few caveats.
Specifying the age range and gender that you’re looking for in a partner does very little to narrow down your options. That might be fine for a strict hookup, but finding something past friends with benefits will require a little more help. Or, at least in theory, it would. Zoosk may boast 40 million members, but it also has a bit of dead or fake profile problems, so chances are you’ll see some repeat users. It’s also not uncommon for the site to show you people living thousands of miles away, so if you’re looking for an in-person connection, it might require more patience.
Next caveat: If you are a bi person, you need to make two accounts to look for both men and women. Zoosk will let you set up a second account(Opens in a new tab) at no additional cost, but it feels like the easier solution would be to, I don’t know, let users look at men and women at the same time. Speaking of gender, there’s no support for users who identify as any gender other than a man or woman, so that’s disappointing.
The other main drawback is, again, the amount of fake or dead profiles makes this place seem like the dating site version of The Walking Dead. Of course, all dating sites have their fair share of duds, but Zoosk is just feeling that plague a bit more intensely (we’ve heard it’s mostly female profiles).
Like most sites, there is a free version, but it’s worthless — AKA you’re gonna need to pay to do anything, including sending messages and, in some cases, making matches.
Leah is a shopping reporter at Mashable, where she covers shopping trends, gift ideas, and products that make life easier. She graduated from Penn State University in 2012 and is watching horror movies or “The Office” when she’s not shopping online herself. You can follow her on Twitter at @notleah(Opens in a new tab).