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The best hookup apps for casual daters

Laura Vitto

The biggest players in the online dating scene tend to emphasize the chance for a lasting connection. But the reality is, plenty of people out there are just looking for something casual. 

When so much of the dating site marketing promises love, where should casual daters turn for something less serious? The App Store, naturally.

Dating apps like Tinder and Grindr have made it easier for people to seek out relationships of all kinds. Dr. Christian Jordal, a licensed family and marriage therapist and certified sex therapist in Philadelphia, says that's a good thing.

"I think there’s a certain empowerment [for people] that comes with being able to sexually explore and enjoy themselves, and, ultimately, maybe meet someone who they can develop friendships with, or maybe it’s a sort of regular sexual contact," he told us by phone. "Maybe it’s also someone they develop a relationship with, but it can be any of those things."

Sound like what you're after? Here are our picks for the best hookup apps right now.

1. CasualX

CasualX is an app designed exclusively for casual relationships. Founded in early 2017, it promises tons of options for people looking to hook up without the confusion of matching with users who might be looking for something more long-term. 

Image: casualx

Image: casualx

In March, CEO Michelle Li spoke with us about CasualX:

Plus, CasualX has a few key features to enhance user experience. First, they allow you to enable an unlock pattern that'll keep nosy friends from opening the app on your phone. Second, the company verifies each new profile to cut down on fakes, meaning you can feel more confident that you're messaging with a real person.

A spokesperson for CasualX tells us the app now has about 2.12 million users.

Also of note:

  • It's totally free to use

  • It's available on both iOS and Android

  • Users can browse in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the UK, Germany, and more

2. Grindr

The classic! Since Grindr's launch in 2009, it's grown from a humble hookup app used by men the world over to an actual content powerhouse. 

In 2017, the company launched Into, a thoughtful online magazine written by and for members of the LGBTQ community. (Read more on that in our feature about the site's launch.)

But at its core, Grindr is still a great place for seeking out casual relationships.

"When I think about the first mobile app that really, I felt, gained critical mass, it was Grindr," says Julie Spira, dating expert and CEO of cyberdatingexpert.com. "Grindr paved the way for people to be aware that there is this dating-on-the-fly scenario happening."

On Grindr, you can browse the profiles of fellow users in your area. And by "in your area" we're talking actual distance in feet. The app also tells you when others are online.

Image: grindr

Image: grindr

Per its press kit, the company boasts 3 million daily active users around the world, and an average of 228 million messages sent each day. 

Also of note:

The app's free for basic use, though users can opt for an upgrade to Grindr XTRA to unlock other features. These include extra filters, an "online-only" viewing option, no ads, and more.

  • It's available for download on both iOS and Android.

3. Tinder

Ah, Tinder. Launched in 2012, the app boasts 1.6 billion swipes per day, and is available in 196 countries. Chances are, you know it well. After all, "Tinder" is practically a verb at this point.

The app popularized the gamification of dating, allowing users to swipe right (to like) or left (to skip) on an unending list of nearby users. 

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: The "Tinder" app logo is seen amongst other dating apps on a mobile phone screen on November 24, 2016 in London, England. Following a number of deaths linked to the use of anonymous online dating apps, the police have warned users to be aware of the risks involved, following the growth in the scale of violence and sexual assaults linked to their use. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Image: Getty Images

Sure, we all know plenty of people who've used it for actual dating, but let's be totally honest: We know people who use Tinder to hook up as well. They key, Spira says, is to just be honest.

"Truth in advertising, whatever your relationship goals are, is imperative," she says. But how? It's as simple as a quick bio update.

"If a woman is looking for a serious relationship, she should put on her Tinder profile, 'Looking to hook up? Swipe left,'" she says. "If a guy is looking for a casual relationship, he should specifically say on his Tinder profile, 'Looking for something serious? Swipe left,' or 'not interested in anything serious."

Staying upfront from the beginning means users will attract only those looking for the same things.

Also of note:

  • Though it's pretty much free for general use, Tinder does offer two upgrades: Tinder Plus and Tinder Gold. These include extras like the opportunity to undo a left swipe, send "Super Likes" to certain users or, in the case of Tinder Gold, see which users have liked your profile.

  • It's available for download on both iOS and Android

4. Scruff

When one of our very own Mashable reporters set out to find love online back in 2015, Scruff was one of the apps he turned to. Though he'd noticed an overlap in profiles between Grindr and other apps for men, he says Scruff, the app that specifically caters to men interested in facial hair, offered something a little different. 

He wrote:

That user number has since nearly doubled to more than 12 million men. As with Grindr, you can browse other users' profiles, see who's currently available to chat, and exchange messages.

Image: scruff

Image: scruff

Also of note:

  • Scruff is free to use, but offers upgrades to Scruff Pro. Features for subscribers include an increased offering of profiles, the chance to favorite more than 25,000(!) profiles, and more. Pricing starts at $14.99 per month, though 3-month and yearly packages are also available.

  • It's available for download on both iOS and Android.

Ok, everybody — have good, safe, consensual fun out there.

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