This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.

If you’ve dated in the past 20 years, it’s almost certain that you’ve encountered a dating site or app. You might have even encountered a few of them (no judgement here). As our lives have moved online in recent years, digital dating has allowed us more freedom to meet others how we choose.

The only real issue with online dating is that there are a lot of sites and apps out there to consider. With so many options, it can be really tricky knowing where to find the best crop of potential partners. Each of the dating apps on offer has a selection of features that will matter differently to you depending on your lifestyle, what you want, and what’s most important to you. It’s simply a case of finding something that works for you. This is where we can help.

What should you include on your dating profile?

In many cases, the amount of information you can get from detailed profiles is more than what would be covered in the “traditional” period of getting to know someone. The whole “do you want to have babies” thing is a huge piece of information that could decide your future with someone, but it’s very possible that such a weighty subject won’t be brought up until you’ve caught feelings or met their parents.

However, many dating sites ask about kids — whether you want them or already have them — during the sign-up process (as well as other potentially-awkward questions), and probably won’t match you with someone who has different goals than you do. Similarly, some of OkCupid’s matching is rooted in political and social justice views. Will you find out if someone opposes vaccinations on the first date? Probably not, but OkCupid won’t send you to get a beer with someone you’d start a fight with on Facebook.

Plus, it’s always nice when your current booty call doesn’t suck as a person. Even if you’re just in it for something frisky and fleeting, the personality you can gather from a simple bio might let you know who’s worthy of your time — even if that time is strictly within “You up?” hours.

Julie Spira, dating expert and CEO of cyberdatingexpert.com, says it wasn’t always so easy to meet people online. She would know — she’s been helping clients find love online since 1994.

“People didn’t have mobile phones and laptops, and the process was people would go home, log on slowly, see who had written to them and write back,” she says. “The courtship process was a lot slower, so it took quite a while to get from the first interaction to actually going on a date. Plus in those days, there was a stigma associated with online dating. You did not tell people you met your spouse, or partner, or even a date online.”

The rhetoric has clearly come a long way since then, and the digital dating landscape has evolved with people’s changing needs. OkCupid realised that the way a potential match votes matters romantically to a lot of people. Women were tired of men blowing up their messages with creepy first-liners, so Bumble came along. “Tindering” is now a verb, but it’s far from your only option.

Do you really need to use dating sites?

If you’re lucky, you’ll find a perfect match right away, but that’s not usually how it works out. While you do know more about online matches than you would a stranger you met in person, there’s only so much a quick dating profile can tell you.

Dating sites and apps can make finding a compatible potential partner easier, but it’s still dating. Not everyone is going to be a gem. While apps like Bumble let you display what kind of relationship you’re looking for, others don’t, so you might end up going out with someone only to realise you’re not looking for the same thing.

That said, there will be people on dating sites who are looking for the same thing as you. And using a dating app to find them is a hell of a lot easier than going up to strangers on the street or in bars and asking if they’re looking for a relationship. Apps and dating websites expand your dating pool and allow you to meet people with similar interests you might not run into naturally in your everyday life. You just might need a little patience to find The One.

We haven’t reached full AI-based or gene matchmaking just yet, but many modern features facilitating more meaningful matches (or quicker, safer hookups) have sprung up even in the past five years.

What is the best dating site?

Whether you’re looking for something specific or a site that ticks every box, we have produced a handy guide that gives you all of the essential details. To ensure that you find a date in time for the weekend, we have tracked down a selection of the best dating sites for everyone, including popular sites like Match, eharmony, and EliteSingles.

All you need to do is check out these dating apps and pick a favourite from the bunch. Once you’ve made your decision, you just need to get out there and actually date someone. Good luck out there.

These are the best dating sites for finding a connection in 2023.

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