In 2021, are you swiping right? When it comes to matters of the heart, love in the time of COVID-19 is challenging at best. The 1970s introduced mail order brides, kiss.com was the first online site in 1994, but match.com followed quickly in 1995, founded by Gary Kremen. Eharmony came onto the scene as an early 2000s platform. Modern dating is changing, and if you are in the game, you need to know the new rules. 

Here are the top dating apps of 2021 (in no particular order):

• Tinder

• Hinge

• Facebook (is poking still a thing?)

• Elate

• Happn

• Taimi

• Bumble

• Inner Circle

The common thread among all of the apps is you create your profile. Use a great photo of yourself. Do not take a selfie. In fact, a professional headshot says, "I have a real job." 

Then proceed to highlight your career and personal interests. Be honest here, and make sure to post a recent picture. Do not post a five-year-old photo. Keep it real. 

Subscribers are able to set their preferences, including age bracket and geographic range. I personally feel that 60 miles is a reasonable radius, and age is just a number. My new mantra is to ask someone how old they feel versus how old they are. You then chat or text within the app until you elect to exchange phone numbers.

Tinder was one of the first dating apps. It launched back in 2012. Then in 2014, I was working in Austin, Texas, at South by Southwest, a music/tech festival, for Wickles Pickles. We walked by the Tinder party, and the line was out the door. 

Hinge markets itself as the app that is designed to be deleted, and says that three out of four dates lead to a second date. I took a poll amongst single friends, and they all feel like Hinge is the hot app at the moment; although, we did not have a personal success story to share with you. Tinder on the other hand, is still free, and you know what they say – you get what you pay for. The ladies I know are avoiding Tinder and mingling on Hinge and Bumble.

Bumble remains incredibly popular because it puts women in the driver's seat. Women have to make the first move and initiate the conversation. Bumble also offers Bumble Bizz for business connections and Bumble BFF, a platform to make new friends in your area.

Taimi is one of the largest social platforms for the LGBTQ+ community, boasting nearly 9 million users. It has a wide range of features that help users find both friendships and relationships through Finder. Users can share thoughts, ideas and stories through Digest; there is a whole host of different ways the LGBTQ+ community can enjoy Taimi’s platform. One of the main goals of this app is safety. 

I do think sharing a common lifestyle is a big factor in any successful relationship. You have to have a few things in common. I never bought the "opposites attract" tagline. Seeing as how our readership is here in rural Alabama, I must mention the Farmer's Only app as well. 

From its site:

What is FarmersOnly? FarmersOnly.com was founded in 2005 to help single farmers, ranchers and other country-minded folks with down-to-earth values to find love in the United States and Canada. It now boasts many millions of members, countless successful relationships and several weddings every week of the year. 

Jerry Miller founded FarmersOnly.com after a divorced farm owner complained to him about a lack of like-minded people to date. Jerry then spent six months researching singles in farming communities. "I kept hearing the same thing: 'I know everybody in my church, everybody at the store, but I go on these big dating sites, and they just don't understand the lifestyle.'" That's when FarmersOnly developed its tagline, “City folks just don’t get it.” Ask anyone out in the country and they’ll tell you that they agree. FarmersOnly.com launched in 2005 and quickly became the leading dating site for farmers, ranchers, and good ol’ country folk to meet like-minded people.

The ultimate takeaway to online dating is to be safe. Make sure someone you know and trust knows where you are going on your date and who you are meeting. Even better, take them with you and offer to do a double date. A person that is not cool with that sends up a red flag anyway. 

Maybe we should start LakeMartinOnly.com because I definitely do not think everyone understands the lifestyle! Happy Valentines Day y'all!

~Lacey Howell is a recovering English major from Auburn who lives on Lake Martin, sells real estate, rides horses and loves good wine. Follow her on Instagram @LaceyHowell and on her Facebook page.