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.
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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.
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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: