Some people don’t fit into the usual societal mold and want to find new ways to connect with potential partners. Alternative dating sites provide platforms and safe spaces to explore your interests and find like-minded people, whether you’re a dedicated metalhead, a passionate hunter, or a freewheeling couple.

The term “alternative” covers a lot of ground and can mean a lot of things to different people, so this eclectic list is just a starting point for exploring what you can find out there. Read on to get some ideas for where to start your search for sex and romance!

Poly-Friendly Casual Dating Alternatives

These dating apps and sites make it easy to find open-minded people to bring into your relationship. Whether you’re in an established polycule, getting into swinging for the first time, or just want to explore things with a sexual partner outside of your established relationship, you can find people to connect with on these online dating platforms.

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★★★★ 4.1/5.0

While Ashley Madison has a reputation as the online dating site for people who want to have affairs, polyamorous people in committed relationships are welcome to join as well. Ashley Madison makes it possible to keep your polyamorous lifestyle private whether you’re in an open marriage, or have an existing web of relationships that you want to discreetly expand,. Swingers and other married-but-open-to-more people make up a substantial chunk of the platform’s membership, so as long as you’re okay with dating while married, you’re in.

The big benefit for polyamorous members on the site and the dating app that goes with it is discretion. While being outed is always a possibility, Ashley Madison takes security and privacy to a high level. The platform offers encryption, discreet billing for premium features, and photo blurring, among other tools, to keep your secret under wraps as much as possible. Women get the full run of the site for free, but men on Ashley Madison have to pay to access unlimited messages and other features.

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★★★★ 4.1/5.0

Adult Friend Finder (AFF) started in the mid-1990s to connect sexy singles, couples, and anyone who wants to get down and dirty together. The site offers the convenience of a chat room and the features of a dating platform, all geared toward helping adults find each other for sex and more. Although the site has had its issues in the past with leaks, AFF has doubled down on security to keep its millions of active monthly users safe and their information secure.

In addition to the public spaces on the platform that all members have access to, premium members can send instant messages or even join in on video chat with each other to spice things up further. If you’re not just polyamorous but kinky as well, AFF makes it easy to filter your potential matches to find people who share your sexy interests. 

3. Bloom Community

The Covid-19 pandemic made it difficult for polyamorous people and kinksters to find each other, but Bloom Community is one of the tools that rose up to replace munches and other get-togethers. Bloom Community is all about inclusivity: Everyone is welcome, regardless of sexual orientation, whether they prefer monogamy or polyamory, or whether they’re vanilla or prefer things a little kinkier. The only rules are that you have to keep an open mind and you have to communicate honestly, without harassment or hate.

Bloom Community
Bloom Community is a friendly site promoting ethical non-monogamy.

The inclusive, sex-positive space bridges the gap for many people by not just offering a digital alternative to in-person meetups, but by working with event organizers to help members learn about their kinks or explore in safe spaces. Although it’s not the most popular dating app, Bloom Community has plenty of room to grow and lots of happy members.

Dating Sites & Apps for Alternative Music Lovers

Metalheads, punks, grunge kids and emo lovers keep music as a big part of their lives, so it’s not surprising that singles in the alternative music scenes seek out a dating platform that caters to them. Find someone with a similar interest in music, and you’ll always have a concert buddy.

4. Planet Rock Dating

Planet Rock Dating welcomes rock lovers of all types, whether you’re into Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, David Bowie, or more recent rockers like Rage Against the Machine, The Black Keys or Arctic Monkeys. The dating site puts communication up front because, after all, you can’t learn everything about a person from a profile picture and a few sentences. 

Planet Rock Dating believes that the secret to starting a good relationship is plenty of banter before you take the plunge, so the dating service makes it easy to get in contact with other members. The site even offers alternative dating ideas to get you started on the road to romance. If you want to take things private, however, you’ll need a premium membership. 

5. Rock Passions

Rock Passions takes the forum experience to dating, making it easy for rock lovers to connect in a low-stakes atmosphere while talking about the music they love. The forum format makes it easy to dive into the groups that you’re most likely to find love in: Punk Rock is for single punk lovers looking to mingle, while Classic Rock is for those who need a date for the next Pink Floyd gig. 

Screenshot of Rock Passions
Rock Passions is a niche dating site for rock music enthusiasts.

Rock Passions is connected to the larger Passions Network, which includes many quirky niches, even a community for mullet lovers, so newcomers will be in good company.

The Rock Passions site is 100% free to sign up and participate, and offers dating advice from other people in the rock dating scene. Who better to get advice from on what your first date with a fellow rocker should be? You can also join in on live chat rooms and otherwise connect with people who share your passion, whether they go on to become friends or something more.

6. Metal Dating

Metalheads love to talk music, so it’s no surprise that Metal Dating put music discussion at the forefront of the process for its members. One of the unique features the dating site boasts is the ability for users to post their favorite albums to the site’s blogs to get the conversation started and to help rule out anyone whose taste just isn’t quite up to yours.

Created by one metalhead for other metalheads, Metal Dating has become one of the largest dating sites for metal fans in the world. Free members get access to a limited version of the site’s full features, like fewer messages or winks and fewer profile pictures. For a small fee you get complete access to all of the site tools without any restrictions. Fees help keep the niche dating site working and customer service running.

7. AltScene

If you like punk, rock, emo, and grunge equally, AltScene wants you! The free dating platform hosts alternative people who haven’t sorted themselves into just one format of alt rock music, but instead appreciate a little bit of everything and incorporate aspects of each subculture into their lives. 

The site doesn’t charge members to sign up or send messages, and it doesn’t restrict the number of messages you can send. One of the few entirely free dating platforms for alt rock daters, the site makes it easy to connect, chat it up, and find love. Whether you’re a wild-haired manic dream girl or a skinny jeans-wearing goth boy, you’ll find your match.

Dating Site Alternatives to Tinder

If Tinder’s reputation as a hookup app puts you off, there are many dating sites with apps that are geared more toward finding a long-term relationship than a one-night stand. These sites help you find other singles who are looking for something a little deeper, a little more intense, so you don’t have to spend tons of time screening out the folks who just want to keep things casual.

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★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Match is the world’s longest running dating site
  • The Discover section has search filters by interests, looks, lifestyle, and more
  • Match is available in 50 countries and 15 languages

Our dating experts love Match, it’s no secret. But even though the site and the dating app that goes with it have a lot of mainstream success, alternative singles can really benefit from the platform too. With around 40 million active monthly members, your dating pool is huge, and Match offers a lot of search and matching filters to help you screen out the people who really won’t work with your lifestyle.

Free members get access to somewhat limited free messaging, but you can contact your top picks at any time no matter what membership level you’re on. Paid membership on Match opens up your options when it comes to getting more specific about who you talk to, and lets you reach out whenever and to whoever you want.

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★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Over 2 million monthly users
  • Premium members receive 20 wildcard matches a day
  • Search features include age, height, education, ethnicity, and lifestyle habits

If you’re looking for a serious relationship and the mainstream dating sites don’t offer the caliber of singles you’re looking for, Elite Singles is a top choice for finding love. Over 80% of the site’s members have at least a Bachelor’s degree, and the users tend to come from high earning backgrounds. For singles who want to form the ideal power couple, choosing the most ambitious and talented people out there is the first step.

In keeping with the high caliber of its membership, Elite Singles doesn’t operate like a meat market, but instead curates matches for you to review every single day. You also have the option to browse profiles that come close to your preferences. You’ll need a paid membership to get full access to the features, but this keeps things serious and keeps fake profiles to a minimum.

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★★★★ 4.3/5.0

The site responsible for around 30% of Christian marriages in the U.S., Christian Mingle makes a great case for itself for Christians who want an alternative to mainstream dating sites. Values-driven features and the ability to connect with people who share your beliefs make Christian Mingle a great choice for faith-based dating, no matter your denomination.

You don’t have to be Christian to join this respected Christian dating site, but of course the majority of the site’s members belong to one sect or another of the Church. Free memberships give you access to browse profiles and create your own, but there are limits, as we discuss in our review. If you want to do more than send hearts to the person you’re crushing on, you’ll need the premium membership option. 

12. Facebook Dating

Facebook Dating is a relative newcomer to the online dating space, but it provides a different experience if you’re looking for an alternative to the mainstream. Facebook’s dating site uses your account details to jump-start the profile creation process, although it doesn’t share details of your dating life with your main Facebook account.

Screenshots of Facebook Dating
Facebook Dating is a free dating service for meeting new people.

The Facebook Dating site uses the power of social networking to connect you with friends of friends who are on the platform, which definitely speeds up the process of introducing your new partner around if things work out.

Facebook Dating isn’t the largest dating service out there, but it does offer all of the features for free. You can set up your profile, find matches, and send unlimited messages without paying for any of it, which makes it an especially strong option for anyone on a tight budget.

FAQs: Where Can I Go to Meet People in Real Life?

If a dating site or dating app just isn’t your thing, no worries — you have a lot of options for meeting people who share your interests. The most obvious option is to visit bars and clubs, especially those that cater to like-minded people in your community. Swinger bars, metal clubs, and all kinds of nightlife options exist because people in alternative communities want somewhere to meet in real life.

If you’re having trouble connecting with people you meet out in the real world, consider hiring a dating coach. Not only will a good coach help steer you to the best places to meet people who share your passions, but they’ll help you make the best impression possible once you find a potential partner. 

Maybe a new hobby will put you in the loop of your perfect match, right when you least expect it. If you’ve ever considered trying out archery, or learning how to sew, or learning how to rock climb, jump into the new interest and you’re sure to meet people who are into the same thing. 

Are There Any Popular Emo Dating Sites?

The glory days of emo music and culture haven’t died, and there are a few dating sites that make it easier for grown-up emo kids to find love and sex. Emo Dating is part of a larger network of sites for fans of alternative music who want to connect, so your free profile gets maximum exposure, and you can check out punk singles or take in the goth dating alt scene without any extra steps. 

EmoWire is more of a social media platform than it is specifically a dating site, but the features make it a great platform for meeting new people and arranging dates or hookups. Live wall posts, discussion forums, personality quizzes, and chat functions help you get a feel for your potential partner and build a bond, as well as make arrangements to meet without stressing out.

Which Dating Sites on This List Are Completely Free?

Every dating website on this list offers users the chance to sign up for free, and you can browse profiles and find a new person to date without paying anything. However, most of the sites on this list use a freemium subscription model, which means that, for the most part, you’ll need a subscription to make meaningful contact with your potential match. 

Our experts agree that the best dating site for people who don’t want to spend any money is Match. While Match does offer perks and benefits to paid members, it also provides a wealth of communication options for all members, free and paid subscribers alike.

Category Rating
★★★★★ 4.9/5.0
  • Match is the world’s longest running dating site
  • The Discover section has search filters by interests, looks, lifestyle, and more
  • Match is available in 50 countries and 15 languages

Match is a mainstream dating platform with enough free communication options to satisfy single people of all stripes. The large user base also means your odds of finding love are a lot better.

If Match isn’t your thing, you can try something new using the Facebook app. Facebook Dating puts your Facebook friends’ networks to use to help serve up matches, and the dating service offers 100% free messaging. You don’t have to worry that your membership on the site will show up in your feed, either, since Facebook keeps that information separate. But there is a downside: There aren’t a lot of people on Facebook Dating, so your pool of options is limited.

Ditch the Mainstream Dating Apps & Try Some Alternatives!

If you don’t fit into mainstream culture, mainstream dating apps and sites may not be your best bet for finding new people to flirt with or date. Alternative people need alternative dating sites, and the platforms on this list provide safe and open-minded spaces to get to know people and find love, sex, or whatever your heart desires. 

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