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The 11 best dating sites right now
Twenty years ago, Match.com went live. It was one of the first dating sites to hit our computer screens and has remained one of the most popular ever since.
But in the last few years a lot has changing in the online dating world.
There’s been a huge rise in apps and websites all designed to help people meet online. Now, no matter what your age or lifestyle, one of the best ways to start dating is simply to create a profile.
It’s a major theme in my latest novel Not That Easy where the young heroine, Ellie Kolstakis, tries out a number of dating apps and sites to get some decent men in her life – and in her bed.
One of the biggest issues that she and her friends have with online dating isn’t so much the people they meet, but which site they meet them on. In the book they discuss the pros and cons of the different options facing them.
This is relevant to so many single people today. With thousands of new apps and sites being created faster than we can download them, it’s hard to know where to start.
Even if you used to successfully online date, but have found yourself single again, it can be difficult to know exactly what sites you need to be surfing.
It’s why I’ve created this handy guide to the 11 best dating websites and apps available right now. You’re welcome.
Inner Circle
This site describes itself as the way to meet ‘the most successful and attractive singles.’ It asks users to fill out their job title and education, and links to Facebook so you can view their social circle.
Before you join, the app has to approve you as a member (a slightly daunting process) or you have to be invited.
If you want to unlock certain features you either have to pay or invite other to join. A friend who uses it tells me: “It’s good if you’re picky… but there aren’t a lot of people on it.”
I can’t really make a list of the best dating sites without mentioning Tinder. At first people were drawn to the app for its simplicity — users can swipe left to decline and right to approve a date. If two users swipe the same way? They’re matched and can chat to one other.
Tinder once had a reputation for being a ‘shagging app’ — but that’s changed. Now, it seems you can’t go anywhere without meeting couples who got together though it. The app’s best quality is undoubtedly its sheer amount of users – there are 50 million active ones, so it’s unlikely you’ll run out of potential matches.
DoingSomething
For people who hate the forced feel of a first online date, DoingSomething might be the answer. It lets you pick a match based on their date suggestion, whether it’s a sushi-making masterclass or rollercoaster ride.
The website says it “takes the awkward out of dating”, but the drawback might be that it’s only London-focused — and handling raw fish with someone you don’t fancy could be a lot worse than just having a drink with them.
Cost: £10 per month
This sells itself as a ‘feminist’ app. It works in a similar way to Tinder, the only difference is that Bumble only allows women to start a conversation with their matches and they have just 24 hours to do so before the connection disappears. Men cannot make the first approach.
The idea is to stop women getting loads of sleazy messages – but I have it on good authority that some men are taking advantage of this and view the app as an opportunity for them to ‘sit back and do nothing’, while women ‘rush around trying to message the potential loves of their lives in 24 hours.’
Not exactly the epitome of equality…
This is one of the biggest dating sites out there, and a lot of people I know have had relationship success here. The bonus is that users can fill in a lot of information about themselves, so you can tell who’s after casual sex and who wants more.
@radhikasanghani has to be Okcupid. Not very sleazy, had good dates and met my bf of over 2yrs on there (still together)
But the app has fallen in popularity compared to Tinder, and the fact that you can receive messages from anyone — without matching first — means that your inbox can quickly become clogged with sleaze.
This is the app for music lovers. It matches you with people based on your location and a shared interest in music. It can import your favourite tunes from your smartphone or Last.fm and does the hard work for you by collating matches.
A possible drawback could be a limited number of users – those figures aren’t available online — but it does look like a good app if music plays a significant part in your life and loves.
Unlike Tinder, Hinge doesn’t let you swipe through an unlimited number of potential matches. Instead it only lets you match with people who share your mutual friends — and it shows you a new ‘batch’ of users every day.
It also lets users have a more detailed profile than Tinder – which just offers a bio – and lets you add activities, preferred dating spots and so on.
The only awkward thing is it means people in your social circle will all know you’re on the app, so if you’re not keen on having all your mates see your profile, this might not be for you.
Muddy matches
Do you like country walks? Spend most of your time complaining about life in London? Enjoy wearing wellies? Muddy Matches could be for you.
This UK website has more than 130,000 members and as one Twitter user tells me, it’s ‘perfect for meeting posh boys.’
@radhikasanghani my mates who like posh boys use muddy matches and nickname it muddy puddles — country lovers dating site
— Isolde Walters (@isoldewrites) October 23, 2015
On its website it describes itself as “the only independent dating site for genuine country-minded people.” The only problem is that it’s not free.
Cost: £22 for one month, £66 for six months
This app has been popular over the last few years, as it shows people you have crossed paths with geographically. It means you can match with hotties you live near, or with someone who always goes to the same bar as you.
Some people I know, though, have complained that though they receive matches, there’s often a reluctance amongst users to send messages.
But it still has a large pool of potentials and has a simple, usable model.
This is the app for people who hate the thought of going on a date alone. It means you can join up with a friend, search for other pairs and go on a group date.
It’s based in the UK so most of the user base will be here, and it means you don’t have to worry so much about awkward silences or safety.
The only issue is it makes the matching process a lot harder – two of you have to like two other people. And what if you end up fancying the same person as your friend?
If you’re going to use this one, it might be best to have some other apps in your repertoire, too.
Coffee meets Bagel
If you hate the thought of Tinder’s limitless matches, Coffee meets Bagel is for you. It only gives you one match a day – which is someone you’ll have a mutual friend with via Facebook.
The more times you login the more points you get, which allows you to unlock special features.
If you don’t like your option, you can play ‘give or take’ — where you either ‘take’ a possible match or ‘give’ them away by emailing their details to a friend.
Your dates are called ‘bagels’ and the app is fun – especially if you like smartphone games. The drawback is it’s quite hard to use and doesn’t offer many potential partners.
Radhika Sanghani’s latest novel, Not That Easy (Harlequin), is available to buy in paperback or as an eBook on Amazon and Telegraph Bookshop

Best Online Dating Sites
Dating is digital now, no matter which way you look at it. From setting up the very first date to entering the engagement stage, digital technology is deeply ingrained in the way we communicate, show care, and form bonds with significant others as we date. As so, it’s no surprise that the online dating industry has skyrocketed in popularity and crawled out from under the shadow of stigma to become a widely popular and universally accepted method of meeting others for anything ranging from serious relationships to casual one night stands. Meeting a significant other online is just as common, if not more so in certain geographical locations, as meeting her in person, and the vast oversaturation of the online dating industry proves just that.
There’s no longer a lacking in ways to find potential matches through digital means, instead we have the opposite dilemma: too many options. With hundreds of member-filled dating sites available, and new ones seemingly launching every week, it’s hard to know where to place our time and energy. While certain dating sites are very apparently designed for certain audiences, there is still an excess of so-called ‘mainstream’ online dating platforms that all claim to be the best online dating site available. Of course options are always good to have, but having so many can sometimes fog our vision and make us unable to find the best site for our intentions, desires, and basic needs.
As a result, online dating becomes more difficult in theory. Many online daters find themselves skipping from site to site moving much too rapidly to give any one site a real shot. Or they’re stuck juggling so many different online profiles that they’re unable to give their full attention to just one platform, much less to just one match. Eventually the market will die down a bit as the successful dating sites flourish and others become acquired or dissipate into the background, but for the time being online daters are stick weeding through a much too extensive list of options and putting themselves through endless trial and error cycles that simply leave them exhausted, disheartened, and frankly somewhat over the whole idea that finding romance online is possible.
Online dating started as a way to more easily connect with others and although the landscape of digital dating may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. The newest, shiniest online dating site isn’t always the best option and the secret to successful online dating is to take the time to both consider all options and know your intentions going into it. We often explore only the newer online dating options such as Tinder and Bumble, and forget the more well-established sites such as Match. Zoosk. and Friend Finder X. While considering all possible courses, it helps to narrow down the roaster by identifying what your intentions are for using an online dating site. Should you be on eHarmony looking to meet your future wife, or at this point in your life are you better suited on an adult dating site like iHookup. where you can live out your sexual desires and find others who are looking for the same level of casual commitment, or lack thereof, that you are?
There is a perfect online dating site for you, likely more than one in fact, and the first step to identifying it is to work your way backwards from a list of the best online dating sites available right now. Whether you are just entering the online dating scene or simply need to press the pause button and figure out where your time is best spent, the following list of top online dating sites will steer you in the right direction.
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Do you find the idea of online dating daunting? We’ve picked out the 12 best dating sites for you to try – and there really is something for everyone.
No longer embarrassing or, God forbid, cringe-worthy, half of all single people now use online dating sites to find love. (or at least easy no strings sex – hello, Tinder ).
There are literally hundreds of dating sites out there. So, to make it a little less overwhelming, we’ve trawled the Internet for you and sought the advice of online dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams to find the 12 best online dating sites making the rounds.
1. eHarmony
How does it work? If you are serious about looking for that special thing called love, then this is the site for you. eHarmony take this online dating lark very seriously. They’ve even patented The eHarmony Compatibility Matching System. That’s right. They’ve taken 35 years of research to come up with a Relationship Questionnaire and pride themselves on matching users with people who are actually compatible with them.
How much does it cost? £9.95 per month.
The experts say: This is a great site for those who are looking for personality matching. eHarmony takes the hard work out of trolling through 100s of photos and delivers compatible dates directly to your inbox. This site provides quality over quantity and is great for those looking for a long term relationship.
2. match.com
How does it work? match is the most widely-used online dating site in the world and has nearly 1.8 million subscribers. It works in the most traditional way: Simply create a profile, check out your potential matches, send them a few messages and then arrange to meet for a date. There are also various off-shoots of match.com with microsites for gay and lesbian dating, Asian dating, Christian dating and Polish dating. The love-gods at match also arrange singles events and provide online dating advice.
How much does it cost? £12.99 per month for a 6-month membership.
The experts say: For those nervous about dating, this site puts the control in your fingertips allowing you access to thousands of profiles and the ability to chat to potential dates at the rate which works for you. It is well known and therefore attracts a wide demographic, allowing you to widen your dating pool or limit it with their advanced matching facility.
3. Lovestruck
How does it work? Lovestruck helps you target potential partners according to location and it covers many of the major cities across the world. It’s aimed at time-starved professionals, who due to busy work and social lives simply don’t have the time to date. Lovestruck helps put you in touch with people who are near you – be it where you work or live – to save you precious minutes or hours travelling to and from a date. The site also hosts regular events which are a fun, relaxed way to meet people.
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How much does it cost? A minimum of £16 per month.
The experts say: Perfect if you are looking for love in the city and want to approach dating with an informal first meet in your lunch break or after work. It takes the travel out of dating especially with its tube station search parameter.
4. DatingDirect.com
How does it work? There are no gimmicks or USPs with DatingDirect. In fact, it’s fairly similar to our old friends Match, mentioned above. You can start looking at potential dates for free, then when you like the look of someone and fancy striking up a conversation, you need to subscribe. It also has a handy instant messenger service which makes chatting to your matches easy and breezy.
How much does it cost? £12.99 per month for a 6 month membership.
The experts say: This site is owned by the dating giant MEETIC and gives you access to 20 million members across Europe and it also merged with Match.com in 2009. A daily email suggests six members you might be interested in, which is a useful feature that doesn’t feel like you’re being bombarded but provides you enough choice to find a compatible date.
5. PARSHIP.co.uk
How does it work? This is sold as a serious online dating site for ‘discerning singles.’ A bit like eHarmony, PARSHIP uses a patented test, this time called The PARSHIP principle®, which analyzes 32 personality traits and is based on an algorithm of 136 rules. It sounds complicated, but that’s not for you to worry about. Just sign up, do the test and get chatting to all those love-compatible people out there.
How much does it cost? Minimum of £14.90 per month.
The experts say: Great for those looking for long-term relationships with professional people, users complete a personality test to measure compatibility with potential dates using psychometric analysis. Functionality is limited as the site is more geared up to helping you find a long term partner rather than flirting randomly with people you like the look of. Members have similar incomes and education. There is also a specific gay version of the site for those looking for a serious committed relationship with a same sex partner.
6. Muddymatches
How does it work? Set up by two friends, Emma and Lucy, in 2006, Muddy Matches is aimed at ‘muddies’, who by the girls’ definition is ‘any person who loves the countryside and is not afraid of a bit of mud’. The criteria is pretty relaxed and the site uses a Muddy-Townie ratio to match potential dates accordingly. So, someone who lives and breathes country air and despises all things concrete jungle would have a ratio of 100:0, but someone who lives in the city but loves to don their Hunters at the weekend might be a 30:70.
How much does it cost? £18 for one month, £36 for three months, £54 for six months and £72 for 12 months. The experts say: If going on a clay pigeon shoot or country pub meal is your idea of a fun way of meeting new people then this is the site for you. It takes dating out of the city and into a more relaxed environment bringing the fun back into dating.
7. PlentyofFish
How does it work? Plenty of Fish works by asking users to take a special POF Relationship Chemistry Predictor test, which measures self-confidence, family-orientation, self-control, social dependency and easygoingness. You’re then matched to those most compatible to you.
How much does it cost? It’s free!
The experts say: This is great if you want free access to a large database of single people. It has a compatibility matching system that includes areas such as self-confidence, openness and family. A great starting point for people who have not tried online dating before and want to try it for free.
8. Mysinglefriend.com
How does it work? Mysinglefriend.com is the brainchild of TV presenter Sarah Beeny and it works by each member on the site being put forward and described by a friend. The site aims to get rid of the ‘cringe factor’ associated with having to big yourself up through your online profile and makes it more of a fun community, where like-minded people can chat, meet and potentially fall in lurve.
How much does it cost? £13 per month. The experts say: For those who are at a loss as how to sell themselves in 500 words or less, this site offers the opportunity to be described by your friend. It works on the premise your friend can sell you better than you can but they can also embarrass you too. MSF has a more chatty style in the profile and gives you a greater insight into your potential date’s world.
9. BeautifulPeople.com
How does it work? This online dating site does exactly what it says on the tin and only people deemed beautiful enough will be allowed to join. To become a member, applicants are required to be voted in by existing members of the opposite sex. Members rate new applicants over a 48-hour period based on whether or not they find the applicant ‘beautiful’. It sounds harsh, but the site claims that by admitting people based on their looks they’re removing the first hurdle of dating, saying that because everyone on the site is a fitty, members can concentrate on getting to know people’s character and personalities. Beautiful People also promises access to exclusive parties and top guest lists around the globe. Now for that brutal 48-hour wait…
How much does cost? If you buy a 6-month membership, you’ll get a reduced price of £7.50 per month. The experts say: This infamous dating site claims to have no unattractive members and is known for deleting members who gained weight. Aspiring members have to pass a 48-hour peer vote to be accepted as one of the ‘beautiful people’. They regularly host members’ events where allegedly you have to look as attractive as your profile photo otherwise entry to the venue is refused. This is the ideal site for those who want to bypass the usual filtering of profiles based on looks and focus on getting to know people they know they will be attracted to.
10. Tastebuds
How does it work? A similar taste in music can be a great indicator as to whether you’re compatible with someone, so the fine folks behind Tastebuds have struck gold with their music-based online datingsite. Getting started is dead simple: pick three artists or bands that you’re interested in, the gender you’re looking to date and press ‘go’. It’s a fun and relaxed site, which can introduce you to new music, concert buddies and potentially even your own real-life Caleb Followill.
How much does it cost? It’s free for exisiting members, but £8 per month for new members.
The experts say: This site is perfect for those looking for love who also love music. It makes sense that if a potential partner shares your taste in music then you’re off to a good start and a favourite artist/band is a great ice breaker when approaching someone online for the first time.
11. Doingsomething
How does it work? Let’s face it, meeting up with a complete stranger for a first date can be awkward and hideously cringeworthy. But it’s less so when the date itself is a total riot. This is where Doingsomething.co.uk comes in. The site is all about the actual dating experience and let’s you pick a match based on the date idea they’ve suggested. And the more fun and unique the date the better. So, rather than nervously meeting someone for a luke warm coffee in a crowded chain, you could be trying out your culinary skills at a sushi-making masterclass or bonding over super-strong cocktails at a hipster speakeasy. It’s basically about finding someone who wants to do the same things as you at the end of the day, isn’t it?
How much is it? £10 per month.
The experts say: It’s a simple and unique approach to online dating which is great for those looking for fun and interesting ideas for first dates. Sign up is quick and easy without the usual numerous questions and sections to fill in, the hardest part is thinking what you would like to do on a date that might attract like-minded people. Sloan Sheridan-Williams is a Relationship Coach and dating expert. Find out more at www.sloansw.com or follow her on Twitter @SloanSW_London
Oh, and here’s one extra for you – as it’s new, so…
12. Pitchit
How does it work? Ok, so technically an app but it requires way more work than a simple swipe. Pitchit is a dating app that focuses on getting a date rather than just a swipe. Subscribers use the app to pitch an idea for a perfect date. This could be anything from going to a major sporting event together, to gig tickets, to simply taking the dog for a walk together —users can be as traditional or as creative as they like. Once they hit the pitch button, they wait for the date requests to come in. Users then have the option to select up to three applicants who they wish to chat to before making the final decision and agreeing to the date. Because Pitchit involves going out on a real date at a specific time, people can be sure they are going to end up with a date rather than waiting ages for someone to make the first move and ask someone out.
The iOS app is free. All people need to do is buy the date – although it could be as cheap as a walk in the park!
Created by best friends Chrissy Rigby (a personal trainer and serial dater) and Danni Menzies (TV presenter and recently back in the dating game), they say ‘dating should be fun – it should be about meeting people and doing something you enjoy rather than messaging lots of people but never getting around to meeting. Pitchit gives people the chance to spend time getting to know someone new in an environment that you will enjoy – be it a gig, an exercise class or a parachute jump. Up to now dating apps are either endless messaging before getting to a date or based on strange compatibility ‘criteria’ that never seem to work out. Pitchit puts the romance back into old fashioned dating. Too often first dates are drinks or dinner – hardly creative – and the pressure is intense. With Pitchit, romance seekers can ensure they are meeting someone that wants to do the same activity – be it bikram yoga, go karting or even axe throwing. There is a shared connection from the start, meaning that, whatever happens on the date or afterwards, the experience will be memorable and shared. Pitchit is the future of dating.’

*Based on data collected by Harris Interactive from 19,131 respondents in the United States who got married between January, 2005 and November, 2012.
Meet the man behind eHarmony
Dr. Neil Clark Warren, Founder
Dr. Warren is a clinical psychologist and author of eight books on love, marriage and emotional health. During 35 years of counseling thousands of married couples, Dr. Warren observed a set of characteristics that seemed to be present in all successful relationships. He called them the 29 Dimensions of Compatibility. After extensive research involving thousands of married couples, Dr. Warren confirmed that these dimensions were indeed highly predictive of relationship success and could be used to match singles. Ten years later, eHarmony’s compatibility matching is responsible for nearly 4% of U.S. marriages.*
*2012 U.S. survey conducted for eHarmony by Harris Interactive®
Are you one of the 600,000 married couples who met on eHarmony?
eHarmony creates the happiest, most passionate and most fulfilling relationships according to a recent study. Our relationships have proven to be better not only than those from other online dating sites but also from any other way people meet out in the world. (Yes, even including introductions from your mom!) So, it’s no surprise that eHarmony relationships are the least likely to end in divorce.
Are you one of our happy couples?
Get to know your matches at your own pace, and start dating!
eHarmony — #1 Trusted Online Dating Site for Singles
eHarmony is the first service within the online dating industry to use a scientific approach to matching highly compatible singles. eHarmony’s matching is based on using its 29 DIMENSIONS® model to match couples based on features of compatibility found in thousands of successful relationships.
eHarmony is committed to helping singles find love every day, and with over 20 million registered online users, we are confident in our ability to do so. The eHarmony Compatibility Matching System® matches single women and men based on 29 Dimensions® of Compatibility for lasting and fulfilling relationships.
Traditional Internet dating can be challenging for those singles looking for love that lasts. But eHarmony is not a traditional dating site. Of all the single men or women you may meet online, very few will be compatible with you specifically, and it can be difficult to determine the level of compatibility of a potential partner through methods of conventional dating services – browsing classified ads, online personals, or viewing profile photos. Our Compatibility Matching System does the work for you by narrowing the field from thousands of single prospects to match you with a select group of compatible matches with whom you can build a quality relationship.
Nearly 4% of U.S. Newlyweds Can’t Be Wrong
eHarmony is different than other online dating websites and services, and we believe our success speaks for itself. On average, 438 people get married every day in the United States because of eHarmony; that accounts for nearly 4% of new U.S. marriages.*
At eHarmony, we believe you deserve to find love – true love that comes with a lasting relationship. Because of this, we are committed to assisting singles everywhere in their search to find love and romantic fulfillment.
*2012 U.S. survey conducted for eHarmony by Harris Interactive® online, very few will be compatible with you specifically, and it can be difficult to determine the level of compatibility of a potential partner through methods of conventional dating services – browsing classified ads, online personals, or viewing profile photos.
Our Compatibility Matching System does the work for you by narrowing the field from thousands of single prospects to match you with a select group of compatible matches with whom you can build a quality relationship.
Free Personality Profile
Receive your Free Personality Profile and get matched just by taking our Relationship Questionnaire
Meet People of all Ages, Races, and Religions on eHarmony
With over 20 million registered users, the eHarmony member base is an ethnically, racially, and religiously diverse group of individuals of all ages – all of whom are looking to find someone special.
We understand it can be difficult to find a mate with whom you share a similar background, goals, or beliefs, and regardless of who you may be looking for, eHarmony wants to help you find the love of your life.
Find Local Singles Online
No need to hang out in the local coffee shop to find a date. eHarmony recognizes it can be difficult to meet people with whom you share common interests and goals within your geographical area, and we can help. eHarmony matches you with compatible local men or women — whether you’re looking for love in Los Angeles. Denver. or Worcester, Massachusetts .
Our membership pool consists of quality singles residing in all 50 U.S. states and more than 2000 countries worldwide. Wondering who is on eHarmony in your neighborhood? The girl next door could be your next date, and your next date could be the best date of your life.
Free Online Dating Advice and Community
We at eHarmony want you to find love and romance to and to make it last. To assist you in this quest, we offer free dating advice at eH Advice. Meet people in our online dating community, utilize our Date Planner, and receive advice from our relationship experts.
More Personal than Personal Ads
Unlike traditional dating websites, eHarmony matches compatible men and women based on 29 Dimensions of Compatibility that are predictors of long-term relationship success. Determining compatibility through conventional dating methods could take months, or even years, of interaction between you and your potential partner
At eHarmony, we deliver more than personal ads. We are committed to matching you with truly compatible men or women in order to provide you with the best online dating and relationship experience possible. This is one of the many reasons why eHarmony is now the #1 Trusted Online Dating Site for American Singles .
Start Dating with eHarmony Today
To begin your eHarmony experience, register now and complete your Relationship Questionnaire. Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, you will receive your FREE Personality Profile and our Matching System will begin prescreening singles against your profile. Once matched, review your matches, and choose the payment plan you prefer when you’re ready to begin communication.
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Find True Compatibility Today
Isn’t it the time you experienced the joy of falling in love with someone who sees you, loves you, and accepts you for who you are? This is the kind of joy that comes from finding someone special with whom you share true compatibility, and it’s compatibility that forms the basis of every match we make at eHarmony.
eHarmony Success Stories
If you’ve met someone special through eHarmony, please contact us and let us know how it all started and how the relationship is progressing. Thousands of eHarmony couples have shared their stories with us. To learn more about eHarmony success stories, simply click the link below
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©2000-2016 eHarmony, Inc. Terms and Conditions of Service eHarmony #1 Trusted Relationship Site — Move Beyond «Traditional» Online Dating * A recent study by Brand Amplitude, based on a survey of adults aged 18-64 in 2014.
eHarmony Compatibility Matching System® Protected by U.S. Pat. No. 6,735,568

Best online dating sites for men
There’s no taboo in being desperate and socially inept any longer; the world and his wife are finding love (and lust) online.
But with so many sites catering to very different tastes, which is the right one for you? Naturally, I should be steering you towards Telegraph Dating . which I’m contractually obliged to tell you is BRILLIANT.
But I haven’t tried it, whereas I’ve sampled all of the following. On the whole, I’ve enjoyed the experience and they have helped expand my social horizons.
There’s something here for all tastes, so fill your boots with sexy singles.
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eHarmony claims to be «responsible for nearly 4% of new U.S. marriages» and scores well in surveys of online dating sites, if you’re the sort of person who believes surveys. This is a serious site for serious (I didn’t say desperate) singles — and you’d better be serious to fork out £45 for a month’s membership (although reviewing your matches is free). eHarmony takes a quantitive approach to matching based on “key dimensions of compatibility proven to be the foundation for a long-term relationship, like character, intellect and values”. For those looking for a long-term emotional investment the site is very good at separating the wheat from the chaff and finding the sort of people you say you like, but it means that you may miss out on the spark of someone surprising and exciting enough to tempt you away from your usual «type». ( eharmony.co.uk )
OkCupid describes itself as «the fastest-growing online dating site», thanks to its «math-based matching system» — dating’s answer to Google’s algorithm. It’s pretty much free to use, too. More important than what’s going on under the bonnet, the standard of hotties on the site is relatively good, with plenty of hip, urban types on its database. Match.com (see below) it aint — in my experience many people here only want a FWB arrangement, so don’t sign up looking for a life partner. But if that’s your cup of tea, great, and I’d certainly recommend it for its in-depth filtering system, a series of questionaires that narrow down your search in a realistic and practical way. ( okcupid.com )
This is where people go to get married, if you believe the ads, and you have to be pretty serious if you’re going to stump up the £30 monthly fee (cheaper if you commit to three or six months).
I didn’t get married after my experiences with Match, but I did learn an important lesson: an awful lot of people are deceptively attractive from a distance. One fella I dated for a few weeks seemed to have it all going on; he had a briefcase and a job which occassionally requred him to commute to Burgess Hill, so I was pretty sure that he was a full-blown adult. I heard wedding bells after the first few dates, until he started acting like we had already been married for 17 years and gave up on any pretence of romance. He berated me for the state of my fridge (“KitKat Chunkys and beer, what sort of woman are you?”), then he started leaving toothpaste spit in the basin, which was one of the more repeatable bathroom crimes he committed. Should I blame Match? Possibly not, but I do.
Match claims its site has “led to more dates, marriages and relationships than any other.” Which might well be true, but perhaps that’s because so many of its members are willing to compromise, having given up on ever finding someone they actually have a spark with as they navigate SO MANY profiles that ALL SOUND THE SAME. ( match.com )
We’ve all seen the naff ads on telly; Uniform Dating is the Aldi of the online partner-shopping scene. Yet I have (female) nurse friends who use the site because, in their line of work, they only ever meet doctors — who apparently have an irritating superiority complex. They explained that they want to meet someone who «gets» their weird, knackering shift patterns, but not someone with whom they have to talk shop all the time.
It’s not just for nurses: UD is where PCSOs and firemen come to meet stewardesses and traffic wardens, shattering the delusion that working in uniform is one big porn movie waiting to be filmed. (Though for some users that’s probably part of the site’s initial appeal.)
Standard membership is free, but if you want to contact another member you’ll have to upgrade to FULL membership, for £30 a month. So how does it work? During registration, UD asked if I was part of a uniformed industry and provided a drop-down list which included such options as «model» and even «journalist» (well, I suppose chardonnay-smattered chinos and a pyjama top are a sort-of uniform). But on the basis that no one tells the truth on dating sites I opted for «prison officer», because I’ve always harboured a secret fetish for dangerous convicts.
Alas there’s no whiff of danger to uniform dating. It’s a no-nonsense site for straight-down-the-line singles who know what they want and go for it — as illustrated by such profile names as red_hot_refuse_collector.
Did I meet anyone interesting? No, but I was impressed and flattered when one of those furry-hatted blokes outside Buckingham Palace started messaging me. Or at least, that’s where he said he worked, and who am I to doubt him? ( uniformdating.com )
I took an interest in PoF because a friend of mine was dating a guy she had met on there, and you don’t have to register to «window-shop», as it were. You know what they say about curiousity and the cat? I scrolled through the profiles of men in my city (chav, chav, sex pest, chav) only to stumble across the guy I had been dating for a YEAR. He had last logged on a few days ago.
Learn from my lesson: when dating sites are free, as this one is, people tend to use them as a cheap salicious self-esteem boost. It’s very easy to pretend to be someone you’re not, or over-hype who you really are. As genuine as someone seems, they may not have the same agenda as you; make sure that the girl you are getting attached to is legit. My rule of thumb is to suggest meeting after about 10 messages. If they aren’t keen then they either just want a cyber-flirt or they have something to hide. ( www.pof.com )
«My Single Friend is the brainchild of TV presenter Sarah Beeny”, boasts the website. Sarah Beeny? I’d trust her to wallpaper my downstairs bog, but would I trust her to find me a decent shag? However, she is unthreatening and middle class, much like the well-meaning pals who provide the profile information on the site, on the basis that if you want to know what some is really like, ask their mates, who are likely to be slightly more honest than people who write their own online profiles. The company one keeps says a lot about a person, and the benefit of this site is that you can be pretty sure your potential match has a friend or two, and so is not some psychotic loner. Browsing is free, but you’ll have to upgrade (£28 per month) if you want to contact other members. (mysinglefriend.com )
«Where the classy, attractive and affluent can meet», claims the site. Begging the question: meet whom? In fact, the men I met on Sugar Daddie were super hot, super rich, and super nice. But obviously super married. (Whereas I **climbs to higher moral ground** was looking for a single, solvent baby-daddy to set me up with a luxury lifestyle and childcare allowance for life, naturally.) However I enjoyed elegant dinners with extremely interesting, busy blokes, a world away from the one I know.
You don’t need to be rich to constitute a sugar daddy, just willing to spend money on a girl. This is a rule applies to all dating sites: avoid the temptation to exaggerate. You dont need to be Olympic-standard fit, just reasonably active. You don’t need to be as popular as Harry Styles, just fairly sociable. People will always take great delight in ramping up the exciting aspects of their lifestyle. Often, they are a bit boring, and that’s OK because you are too.
Be warned, there are women on this site who, to my eyes, look just a teeny bit like wannabe escorts, but there are also a lot of nice, slightly lost men and women looking for some shared humanity amidst all the Bollinger and banking crises the world throws at them daily.
Top tip for wannabe bachelors who want to not look married – don’t take your profile pic in the bathroom when your wife is asleep, because we can all see the bottle of Chanel no 5 and the box of Tampax on top of the loo behind you.
Membership costs from $9.99 a month. (sugardaddie.com )
Described as a «sex satnav «, or Grindr for straight people, Tinder is a free app that uses your (and other people’s) Facebook details, combined with GPS, to find out if there are any compatible, interested singles near you. Simply swipe «yes» to tell them you like the look of them, wait for them to respond, and you’ve saved yourselves a hefty restaurant bill or several hours of awkward pub chat. According to Tinder, however, the only people living near me are 22-year-old white males. Presumably the app thinks it is helpfully narrowing down my target demographic, but what if I actually fancy an old, Asian lesbian this evening? Whether it’s genuinely useful or plain gimmicky, I’m undecided, but it’s interesting to spy on your neighbours, if nothing else — although there’s definite potential for stalking/dogging. (gotinder.com )
Whether this actually constitutes a «dating» site depends on whether your dating parameters extend into extra-marital affairs (which are, of course, WRONG). Ashley Madison makes no bones about what it is and, with a questionable moral code, it’s probably not for everyone. Yet what the success of this adultery-specialist site tells me (eight million subscribers, allegedly) is that there is a shed load of sexually frustrated married men and women out there who aren’t communicating well. Whether the tagline — «Life is short. Have an affair» — tallies with the actual experience the site delivers is another matter. Although it’s fine if what you’re after is tedious cyber sex with lonely married people who are too scared of being alone to leave their partner and too scared of an argument to ask for more in the bedroom. (ashleymadison.com ).
Part of the Match group, Chemisty’s USP is that it uses «three decades of research by biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher» (me neither) to help you find Mr/Miss Right. And that’s roughly how long it takes to fill in the forms. Dr Fisher says the registration process will “help you pole vault those early relationship breaking points.” She starts by working out if you are a builder, negotiator, director, or explorer, after which my mind began to wander. The rest of the form-filling marathon passed in a slow-motion blur, as I began to realise that I could’ve got married and had three children in the time it took to see anyone’s face through Chemistry.com, and that my initial $50 monthly subscription would have expired before I’d hit «submit». The site engages the user like a self-help book. Hey, Dr Helen, I already know ME, it’s OTHER PEOPLE you’re supposed to be helping with. (chemistry.com )

Who it's for: Tinder's primary audience is people who want dead simple match-ups. Outside of tweaking your Facebook interests, there's very little you can do to add to your profile. While you don't get much criteria to go on at first, it also removes a lot of the clutter. No one can message you if you haven't liked them already. Combine the minimal features and the mutual approval requirement and 90% of the clutter of other dating sites is instantly removed.
Match a Little Smarter: Blendr and Plenty of Fish
Casual dating can be fun, but if you don't have much steering your matches, you could just be setting yourself up for a series of awkward and stressful experiences. This is why dating sites that put together matches with complex algorithms exist in the first place.
Blendr (Android /iOS /Web ): Blendr (not to be confused with the 3D modeling software of the same name) occupies a handy middle ground between the no-fluff apps in the previous section and more in-depth services like OKCupid. You can sign in via Facebook, add interests, fill out basic information and explore nearby matches.
Blendr also includes some unique features like highlighting how some of your matches are connected to your Facebook friends, up to a couple hops away. It also includes an anonymous chat feature that lets you start talking to someone immediately. With all the fun and fear that entails.
Who it's for: If you're relatively outgoing and want to browse quickly, Blendr allows you to connect with people on a whim without leaving you in the dark like Tinder or How About We. While you can add plenty of information to find better matches, it's not required.
Plenty of Fish (Android /iOS /Web ): Like Blendr, Plenty of Fish matches users more intelligently than simple mutual likes. Your profile can include a wider array of basic information. You can also browse matches by people who are nearby, or use Meet Me to quickly find a date. Like the simpler dating apps, if two people like each other, they'll receive a notification, so you get the best of both worlds.

The 20 best online dating websites
2 December 2014 • 12:00am
A s the internet plays an ever greater part in our social lives, with sites such as Facebook helping us to keep in touch with our friends, it’s inevitable that we also use it to help us run our love lives as well. Here is the pick of the best dating sites — not forgetting our very own website telegraph.co.uk/dating. of course. With over 140,000 members, it’s easy and safe — what’s more, it’s FREE to join.
Online dating is now one of the most popular ways to meet a new partner and there are more than 1,400 sites in the UK alone, catering for people from all walks of life and interests.
So whether you’re mad about dogs, passionate about green issues or a connoisseur of fine wines you’re sure to find someone who shares your interests.
The 20 best dating sites in the UK
Match.com claims its site has led to more dates, marriages and relationships than any other. With millions of members, its large user base should mean there is someone for everyone, although you may have to trawl through a LOT of profiles to find them!
The place for those well-meaning types who can’t believe their best friend is single. They push your qualities so you don’t have to.
Taking a scientific approach to love — eHarmony matches singles based on key dimensions of compatibility proven to be the foundation for a long-term relationship, like character, intellect and values.
Webcam chats, an online magazine and plenty of Good Housekeeping-style tips and advice.
The net’s biggest Jewish dating service, with often hilariously self-deprecating personal descriptions.
Probably with the broadest reach of the hundreds of lesbian and gay sites on the net, plus news, features, travel tips, fashion and gossip.
Launched in September 2000, Christian Connection is the largest, and longest established subscriber based UK Christian dating site.
If you’re partial to the country life – then this rural Online Dating Site for Single Farmers, Rural Singles, Equestrian Singles and Country Friends could be the place for you.
The romantic social network that found its feet through Facebook, it helps people create and share their romantic journeys, with a multitude of members from around the globe enjoying the service each month.
With over 140,000 members — it’s THE place for people aged 40+ to meet. It’s easy to use with a sophisticated system that matches you and your partner on a multitude of likes and interests. Join now for FREE.
Fancy a date in your lunch hour? If you’re in London you can search for members by tube station.
Dating with a scientific approach — finding "the perfect match" through online psychometric testing.
Claiming to be the world’s largest online matrimonial site — it was founded with one simple objective — to provide a superior matchmaking experience to Indians all over the world.
Because dating’s not just for the youngsters. The over 50s are one of the fastest groups of online daters these days.
If you are looking for a kindred soul that just so happens to also be a veggie lover, this site is worth a nibble.
Newly merged with Meetic, the giant of the dating scene, giving access to nearly 20 million users across Europe and with plenty of high-tech ways to find them.
Simple, straightforward and free UK personals site — hugely popular.
Matching singles who love the arts.

2017’s Best Dating Sites
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When my best friend joined her first dating site, like most people, she went with one of the largest ones that was completely free. She assumed she was making the right choice, but within the first day, she regretted her decision. The site had too many people for her to sort through and didn’t have the resources to help her to do so. Plus, she had already received 40 or so messages that she needed to read. Online dating become more work than fun.
A little research beforehand would’ve saved her a headache, but there are literally thousands of online dating services. It seems unrealistic for my friend and others like her to look into every single one of them.
The good news is not only is that our job, but it’s our passion. Below we’ve narrowed down the seven types of dating websites you need to know about — and the top one for each.
1. Most Popular Dating Sites
What we consider to be the most popular dating sites are the ones that receive positive comments and high star ratings from users — as well as ones that are easy to use and, most importantly, successful.
Best Overall: Match
Match.com was founded in the ‘90s and has been a pioneer in the dating industry ever since. No other dating website has been responsible for more dates, relationships, and marriages than Match. Not only that, but with over 13.5 million people visiting Match every month from more than 25 countries, no other dating website has anywhere near the same reach.
Best for Mobile: Zoosk
If you’re always busy and on your phone all the time, like most of us are, then we’d highly recommend Zoosk. One of the first dating sites to also expand to a dating app, Zoosk is integrated with Facebook and Google+ — which means it’s really simple to upload your information and start dating instantly.
Best for Serious Relationships: eHarmony
Launched by clinical psychologist Dr. Neil Clark Warren, eHarmony.com is a go-to if you want a serious, long-term relationship — which explains how 4% of U.S. marriages have taken place thanks to the site, according to Harris Interactive. eHarmony is also known for their unique matching system that compares 29 dimensions of compatibility to pair their members.
Here’s where you can learn more about all three of the dating services above:
2. Hookup Sites
Online dating isn’t just for finding a date or relationship — it’s also a great way to find a hookup if that’s what you’re looking for. However, not all hookup websites are created equal. There are ones you’ll want to join, and then there are others you’ll want to avoid. Here’s what you need to know:
Best Hookup Sites
BeNaughty is a hookup site that is among the cream of the crop. With cool features like instant messaging and location-based matching, this site will help you find no-strings-attached adult fun in no time.
Free Hookup Sites
When you’re searching for the top sex site, you’ll often find ones that claim they’re 100% free. While that certainly sounds appealing, we’d suggest staying away from these services, including Craigslist. We’ve all heard or read the horror stories about people on Craigslist pretending to be someone they’re not. You can avoid having that happen to you by joining a reputable site like BeNaughty. Not only do they offer a free trial period that doesn’t cost anything, but they also use anti-scammer technology to ensure their members stay safe.
3. Christian Dating Sites
Finding someone who has the same religious beliefs and values is important to a lot of people, particularly Christians, and one of the best Christian dating sites on the web is ChristianMingle. More than 2.4 million Christian singles use the site every month, and the search filters even let you sort by keywords like “bible study.”
4. Senior (Over 50) Dating Sites
Online dating for seniors can be intimidating, especially if they’ve just been through a divorce, lost a partner, or aren’t that tech savvy. But it doesn’t have to be this way. OurTime.com is dedicated to singles over 50 and has a quick signup process and clean interface, making the entire process very easy.
5. Gay & Lesbian Dating Sites
While you may think you have to use an LGBT-specific dating site if you’re an LGBT single, that’s not really the case. There are plenty of conventional sites that are also among the top websites for gay dating and the top lesbian date sites .
With over 1.5 million gay members and more than 1 million lesbian members, Match is one of them. Zoosk is another fantastic choice, particularly if you’re looking for a quality mobile experience.
6. Free Dating Sites
Free doesn’t necessarily have to mean a cheap or low-quality experience. The best free dating sites are the ones that give you every chance of success without any hidden fees or other barriers. We’re happy to say all of the sites on our list are 100% free to create a profile, upload photos, browse for and receive matches, and communicate.
7. Dating Apps: Free vs. Best Apps
Dating apps have become extremely popular because they allow singles to date anywhere they are and at anytime, but you don’t want to just download the first one you come across. Luckily, we’ve done the groundwork for you.
Best Dating Apps
Zoosk’s much-heralded dating app lets you sign up through Facebook or Google+, so you can pull pictures and quick facts about yourself from your profiles that already exist — instead of having to spend a lot of time answering a bunch of questions. This is just one of the many reasons Zoosk is among our favorite online dating apps.
Free Dating Apps
You could take a chance on a 100% free dating app, but, honestly, you never really know what you’re going to get. A lot of the self-proclaimed free dating apps allow you to sign up, but then they limit what you can do, ask for your credit card info, and then require you to upgrade if you want to move forward.
Zoosk isn’t one of them, though. Zoosk has a totally free, extremely comprehensive membership that anyone can sign up for and that will give you the opportunity to try out the entire app before whipping out your wallet.
Which Website Has the Best Reviews by Local Singles?
Ultimately, narrowing down all of the dating sites out there comes down to which ones receive the best user and company reviews. Listening to singles about their experiences and testing out the numerous options ourselves are the two biggest components that make up our reviews. And through all of our research, we’ve determined that Match truly is the top choice for any type of dater, while Zoosk is great for dating on the go.
We don’t want anyone to have a frustrating time with online dating like my friend did, so take a couple of minutes to check out what our experts have to say before taking the leap. Then you’ll confidently be on your way!

Top 10 online dating websites and how much they cost a month
Singles with a New Year’s resolution to find someone special in 2017 will be off to a promising start on the very first day of the year, says dating site PlentyOfFish (Photo: Getty)
Millions of Brits turn to the web in search of a partner every year — but what’s the true cost of finding love on the internet?
There are currently over 1,400 relationship-finder sites in Britain — all claiming to do one thing — find your match, and at that, fast.
And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many singletons will be heading online to look for love.
But, with so many websites to choose from online — but how much should you spend on your quest for love?
Here’s our run through of 10 of the biggest websites in the UK and how much they each cost a month.
1. Match.com
UK members: 3 million
Top features: Advanced ‘smart search’ which allows you to filter matches by location and personality traits.
Price per month: £29.99. Get £51.75 cashback, equalling to five months free when signing up to a six month membership at Match.com via TopCashback using this link .
2. Eharmony
UK members: 3.5 million
Top features: Their ‘Compatibility matching system’ focuses on helping you find people you’ll match emotionally with.
Price per month: £12.95. Get two months free when signing up for a three month membership via TopCashback here .
3. Match Affinity
UK members: 3 million
Top features: Complete their free affinity questionnaire and you’ll be matched with compatible and like-minded members.
Price per month: £44.95 per month or £11.95 per month for a 12 month membership
4. Plenty of Fish
UK members: 3 million
Top features: Chemistry test tool to help you find matches based on your personality and emotional needs.
Price per month: Free
5. Elite Singles
Top features: Personality profile based on the »Big Five» personality models — gender, age, residence, profession and level of education to help create long term relationships.
Price per month: £89.95 a month or £29.95 a month when you subscribe for 12 months.
Get £63.25 cashback which is two months free when you sign up to elitesingles.co.uk for 12 months via TopCashback — use this link to sign up .
6. Lovestruck
Top features: Lovestruck.com’s behavioural recommendation engine assesses your search history, like page views, winks and favourites to help you find what you’re actually looking for — and not what you say you’re looking for.
Price per month: £39 a month or £11.58 a month when you subscribe for 12 months
7. DatingDirect.com
UK members: 3 million
Top features: Location tracker to help you find singles in your area.
Price per month: £29.99
8. mysinglefriend.com
Top features: They believe that your friends know you best — so, like a virtual wingman, they write your profile for you!
Price per month: £28
9. Mirror Dating
Top features: 24/7 live chat support and super-high security. Inbuilt personalised location features, and weekly dating tips, to help you find that special someone.
Price per month: £14.95, a month or £9.98 a month when you subscribe for 3 months. 3 months for the price of 2 when you join today.
UK members: 27 million
Top features: Inbuilt behavioural matchmaking engine which learns as you click to pair you with singles you’re likely to be mutually attracted to.
Price per month: £22.74

Choose the Best Dating Website for You
If you’ve already committed to a dating website, be sure to check out our online dating pointers for tips on how to improve your odds. But if you’re still new to the game, be forewarned that not all sites are created equal—some are free, some are for religious purposes, and some are downright sleazy.
That’s why we signed up for 8 of the most talked-about dating websites in the market and did the heavy lifting, soul searching, and message fielding—so you don’t have to. Read on to see which service meets your dating needs the best. It’s the first step to maximizing your chances at finding love.
Chemistry.com Chemistry.com is a «sister site» to Match.com. What sets it apart is its hyper-intense science-based matching algorithm, designed by Helen Fisher, Ph.D. a biological anthropologist and the site’s chief scientific advisor. Based on your answers, chemistry.com gives you a personality title—for example, Director, Negotiator, Builder, Explorer—and from there, you’re matched with others who should be good matches, based on scientific research.
Based on my unprofessional opinion, this is the most valuable personality test of all the dating websites. Boy, what an effort, but it is worth it.
Best for: Singles over 35, and those who care deeply about relationship science. Additionally, Chemistry.com seems to be positioning itself as an attractive alternative to those rejected by eHarmony.com—typically, those interested in same-sex relationships. EHarmony does not match same-sex couples, but in February 2010, chemistry.com celebrated Telluride’s Gay Ski Week.
Question philosophy: The questionnaire takes upwards of an hour to complete, and asks you confusing, multiple-choice, and occasionally repetitive questions about your level of adventurousness or your need for space. Some questions are even stranger—for instance, men are shown four pictures of hands, and asked to tell which one looks most like their own. The reason is tricky—relative finger length has been linked to testosterone exposure in the womb. (It’s a scientific way of asking if you’re aggressive.)
User base: From the About Us page: «Take the test that over 8,000,000 people worldwide have already taken.» Of course, this doesn’t mean all of those singles are active members.
Cost: 1 month: $49.95 3 months: $33.32/month 6 months: $26.65/month
Like most other sites, you can sign up for free and have access to basic services—receive a personality review, view photos and profiles, and receive personalized matches. However, to communicate with these matches—or to see who’s been looking at your profile—you need to sign up.
eHarmony.com EHarmony.com depends heavily on its matching system, which is constantly revised by a team of scientists. They rely so heavily on this system, in fact, that there is no search function on the site. You may not message any user deemed incompatible by the algorithm. Until recently, you couldn’t even see the pictures of those with whom you did match. The greatest benefit to this pay-only service is the corollary to these perceived flaws: They do all the work for you (and you can just about trust they’ve done their work correctly).
Best for: Heterosexual people looking for marriage or serious relationships.
Question philosophy: Users must endure a questionnaire that takes the longest of all the sites—over an hour—and asks a range of questions that include everything from what your partner ethnicity preferences are to how much money you make. In the end, you can be rejected without explanation.
Side note: This author has been rejected, twice. And so has our Girl Next Door.
User base: About 20 million. About 15,000 people fill out the survey every day.
Cost: Because I was deemed unsuitable for any of eHarmony’s matches, I could not verify the cost of admission—but, according to About.com, it’s one of the highest of all major dating sites.
1 month: $59.95 3 months: $119.85 6 months: $179.70 12 months: $239.40
JDate.com JDate.com is known for catering specifically to people of Jewish faith or heritage looking for love, but it isn’t exclusive to Jewish members. It doesn’t have a very extensive matching algorithm, but it does have a loyal following.
Best for: People of the Jewish faith or of Jewish heritage, or those seeking a Jewish mate, typically for long-term, serious relationships.
Question philosophy: The matching algorithm is limited to questions about religious practices and beliefs and ethnicity. The rest is left up to you to describe yourself freely. As such, the only criteria by which you can match yourself with singles is through religion, and from that cipher you can sift through profiles, one by one, for the personalized essay-style information.
User base: JDate lets you see how many members are online. At any given time you might see 12,000-15,000 members.
Cost: The free sign-up allows you to post a profile, search for members, reply to instant messages, send (but not receive) a variety of «flirts» (like the myriad of «pokes» that Facebook offers)—and (bonus!) lets you see who has looked at your profile.
The premium service has more options for communication: email, chat, and an internal instant messaging service. It also includes the ability to highlight your profile (further customization for eye-catching ability) and features you more often as a match for other members.
3 months: $29.99/month 6 months: $19.99/month 6 months: $21.99/month (premium)
Lavalife.com Lavalife.com allows you to post three different profiles at one time, answering different questions for each of them. How is this useful? Lavalife has three different sections: Dating, Relationships, and Intimate Encounters. You are allowed full anonymity to pursue who you want, how you want. From a features standpoint, this website blows the others out of the water. They offer a huge slew of communication options, including chat and instant messaging, e-mail, smiles, sharing of private photo galleries, video greetings, and phone calls made through the site.
For the sheer variety of interaction possibilities, from different profiles, in different sections, across different platforms and mediums, this website is a panoply of discussion. It is almost impossible not to get your message across to whomever you want it to reach.
Best for: Anyone willing to pay for a huge range of features or anyone who wants more than one type of relationship to pursue.
Question philosophy: For the free signup (the first step) there’s only the nitty-gritty (height, body type, ethnicity, religion, smoking habits and drinking habits, and so on). But, as mentioned above, you’re allowed to create three separate profiles and answer questions differently for each based on your intentions.
User base: There’s speculation that the site hosts over 5 million users.
Match.com Match.com is the first, largest, and most global dating website. The primary means of communication are e-mail, wink, and call. The call feature is unique to Match: It allows users to call one another using dummy numbers on their real telephones. When you don’t want someone to call you anymore, you simply remove her from your phone book. Also notable: Match is one of the few cellphone-friendly dating sites. In case the date you’re on isn’t working out, you don’t have to wait until you’re home to check out other singles.
Best for: Those who are serious about online dating or who only want to browse but never actually connect. The free site allows you to look at others’ pictures and wink, but it doesn’t offer a message center or mailbox. In short, it’s not worth it for those who don’t pay, especially when there are so many more comprehensive free sites available.
Question philosophy: Match asks basic lifestyle compatibility questions: what you look like, what movies, music, and books you enjoy, your religious and educational background, your occupation (and income), and your ethnicity. This allows users to discriminate their matches based on hyper-specific and self-selected criteria: If you only wanted hazel-eyed, Middle Eastern Christians, for instance, so be it!
User base: Projections put this population at over 20 million. However, recent figures show that there are only about 1.35 million paying subscribers, which means that many of the «matches» suggested might not be people who can read or reply to your messages. In fact, a recent complaint filed in the US District Court, Southern District of New York, read: «Match misleads paying subscribers by charging them for the ability to write e-mails to members who can’t reply to their e-mails or even read them.» Not exactly a glowing review.
Date began: April 1995
Cost: 1 month: $39.99 3 months: $22.99/month
There are two options for the 6-month plan: $19.99/month and $20.99/month. For the extra dollar, you can receive notifications that your email was read, your profile will show up more often in matches, and your profile gets some nice customizable features to help it stand out (like colorized banners).
OkCupid.com OkCupid.com is almost entirely free, with a small cost for luxury options, like a specialty search mechanism and removal of ads. The site employs a mathematical algorithm based on your answers to a series of questions, and based on that algorithm they tell you what percentage match, friend, and enemy you are with any given user. The most stand-out feature for the site is the staff blog. The blog posts analyze their massive user base and provide extremely helpful tips for how to increase your odds at online dating. Recently they even began offering a service called MyBestFace, which analyzes the pictures you have posted and tells you which one will generate the most responses.
Best for: Anyone looking for best value, transparency, and extremely tailored search capabilities.
Question philosophy: While there is a general set of staff questions that you must answer to complete your profile, the most interesting aspect of OkCupid is its Web2.0 approach to compatibility: Staff questions establish the basics (who are you physically, mentally, and emotionally, and who are you looking for along those same criteria), but the user-generated questions provide answers that you personally care about. These range from the basic informational, «Are you vegan, vegetarian, or meat-eater?» to the strange hypothetical, «Imagine that your significant other has a fantasy that cannot be fulfilled with you for anatomical reasons. Would you encourage them to go elsewhere to fulfill it if it involved sex with another?» Moreover, you can rate the importance of how your matches answer any given question: You can say that you are vegan, but that you care minimally whether your partner eats meat, for instance.
User base: A little over 1.2 million.
PlentyOfFish.com Almost every compilation of dating websites includes plentyoffish.com (or POF, as it is referred to in its forums). Notable features include the heavily-trafficked forums, the usual compatibility questionnaires, and the rarely free, much-loved «Who’s Seen Me» button. A New York Times article extolling the site said the look and feel of the site, «. has some unfinished patches and irritating quirks and seems to come from the Anti-Perfectionist School of Design.» The same article describes spending time on the website as «a visually painful experience» thanks mostly to problems with site organization, picture sizing and resolution.
Best for: Anyone who is looking for a cheap fix—think of this site as the MySpace to OkCupid’s Facebook. It’s definitely one of the best deals on the Internet, with free access to such a large and bustling community—but the website is not for anyone who cares about site design.
Question philosophy: PlentyOfFish has a matching system that is based on questions designed to measure five broad categories that impact compatibility: self-confidence, family orientation, self-control, openness, and how easygoing you are. As the disclaimers preceding your personalized results point out, it’s not that you need to score «high» in each category. (By the way, it’s worth joining this free site just for the personality test and insight into your compatibility profile.) The site emphasizes chemistry between profiles «based on decades of empirical research in the social sciences.»
User base: About 600,000, with older, inactive accounts purged every few months.
True.com True.com’s purpose is to provide a safe online environment, so it conducts background checks on all its users, focusing on criminal records and whether or not you are married and trying to use the site for affairs. For example, by checking against a criminal database, any user who has a U.S. felony or sexual offense conviction is prevented from communicating with other members.
Best for: People who want to know what they are getting into. This includes the cautious as well as the paranoid.
Question philosophy: Whatever the question, you’d better answer honestly. They are known for prosecuting people who misrepresent themselves under the pretense that doing so constitutes wire fraud. Compared to «Are you a convicted sex offender?» questions like, «What do you like to do in your free time?» seem out of place. However, the site does set itself apart (for better or worse) thanks to its ubiquitously risqué advertising on social sites like MySpace («It’s nice to be naughty») and its equally charged quizzes on sex, sexuality, and sexual preferences.
User base: An independent analysis form the New York Times estimates 3.8 million unique visits per month, and the founder, Herb Vest, claims 16 million use the site.
Cost: Joining is free, but it only allows you to see what you’re missing. If you want to communicate with others, you’ll have to pay.
1 month: $49.99 3 months: $79.99 6 months: $129.99