So you’ve finally decided to give online dating a try. You fire up your browser, search for “online dating” and voila! Suddenly you’re sorting through hundreds of millions of results to find the right place for you. What a letdown.
Finding an online dating site that suits your needs and goals can be just about as difficult as finding a date. Here’s some basic information, tips and online dating site reviews to help you get started and make the process a little simpler.
Depending on your goals and the amount of time and effort you want to invest, you might wish to start with a site or two that offer free services or a free trial period. Although your access to all of the features on a site may be limited as a non-paying member, you will be able to at least get a feel for the site, assess its potential and see if you’re comfortable there, plus browse around to see if there are singles from your area registered. Be advised that some sites leave profiles up from people who have never subscribed in order to tout higher levels of participation. You’ll also likely not be able to initiate or reply to messages on some sites as a non-paying member. It’s still a good way to get your feet wet and compare some of the sites yourself.
Stick with highly visible, reputable sites. The top sites that show up in almost any dating site comparison are great places to start. eHarmony, Match.com, PerfectMatch and Matchmaker are all usually ranked fairly high, so let’s do a quick review of each of those sites.
Match.com is known as one of the largest dating sites with over 15 million subscribers. It’s also known for ease of use and great search options, but it doesn’t offer matching based on surveys or other scientific approach. Browsing and searching is available for free, but you won’t be able to send or reply to emails unless you upgrade to paid membership (around $25 a month if you pay a month at a time).
Matchmaker.com is another site with millions of members, and it has the distinction of being the longest running dating site on the web. It’s another solid choice for the marriage minded, and offers access to many features for free, with the “Gold Membership” coming in at about $25 a month.
PerfectMatch is somewhat of a hybrid site. It uses a comprehensive personality profile system (developed by Dr. Pepper Schwartz) to help match members to others who are likely to be compatible, and yet it allows members to search other user profiles and initiate contact on their own. The monthly cost (again, if you pay month-to-month) is around $60.
eHarmony uses a unique and patented compatibility matching system to bring together singles who show good potential for successful long-term relationships. Although the site is a bit more expensive than many of the others (about $60 a month if you pay a month at a time), it does claim 20 million members and if you are serious about finding a compatible match for a long-term relationship or marriage, eHarmony’s rigorous matching system and guided communication process may be just what you need. The site notes that on average more than 200 members in the United States marry every day as a result of eHarmony matching.
All of the sites above offer lowered membership fees if you sign up for multiple months, and some of them have special discount offers available here on our site as well. Take a look at our online dating category for more information.
An intriguing site for those who may or may not be looking for a serious, long-term relationship is LavaLife. With 15 million members worldwide and three communities on one site, LavaLife caters to those who just want to flirt or meet new people as well as those who want to find romance or a relationship. There is also a community for those looking to hook up for what the site describes as “intimate encounters.” It’s been ranked as the #1 dating site in Canada. This one comes in at around $30 for a one-month membership. Again, you can try it for free or save on a longer subscription with our LavaLife offer.
Finally, no dating site review would be complete without mention of some of the great niche sites out there. From dating sites based on faith (such as CatholicMingle or J-Date) to those based on race (BlackSingles, Interracial Singles) and even those for mature singles, single parents and more, if you have a particular criterion in mind for your match, it couldn’t hurt to at least sign up for the free trial version on some of these sites. Of course, the broader sites also allow various ways to filter through potential matches to find what you’re looking for.
We hope our survey of top dating sites is helpful to you. Feel free to leave a comment if you have advice or experience of your own to share. And don’t forget to check out all of our online dating offers to get the best deal on the site that’s right for you.