Jumping into the online dating pool is overwhelming for a noob. The Internet dating virgin will hem and haw at the prospect of resorting to seeking mates through a series of filters and personality quizzes. They’ll confide in friends, whispering, “I just don’t think I’m… that kind of person.” In many ways, a beginner becomes his or her own worst enemy by buying into the stigmatization of meeting someone online.
Once the novice gives in and signs up for a site, it’s common to become discouraged rather quickly; reinforcing the idea that online dating isn’t for them. What’s interesting is that, if you have experience in this arena, you’re able to quickly distinguish that most of the troubles a newcomer faces stem directly from the site they chose to sign up for. Veterans of the game can sum up every major dating site in a few words. Match.com and E-Harmony are for people who are looking to get hitched. J-Date is the site you sign up for to appease your Bubbe.
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“Online dating” isn’t a catchall. Each site offers a unique matching algorithm, and each site attracts a certain type of user. Here are how the top sites “match” up (so to speak).
Cost:$60 for 1 month; $239 for 1 year
Matching Technique: Users answer a series of questions that account for “29 dimensions of compatibility.” The user pool is select – you can and will get turned away if you don’t click with the already-approved users in their database.
Intensity Level: 10 (You can’t even exist on the site unless you’re compatible with pre-existing users. These people are not messing around.)
Cost: $34.99 for 1 month; $215.88 for 1 year
Matching Technique: Users choose everything from income to smoking habits for their potential mate. There’s also a section to briefly describe yourself and what you’re looking for. The less selective you are while checking off criteria, the higher you’ll rate with other singles.
Intensity Level: 8. (They’re the first legitimate internet dating site, and their users take the brand recognition to heart. They’re trying to get hitched.)
Cost: $28 for 1 month; $96 for 1 year
Matching Technique: To put a spin on online dating, How About We users simply propose dates to the site at large and wait for the responses to roll in. Profiles prompt members to complete phrases that are atypical of dating sites like, “Obscure knowledge I posses” and, “My life history in five sentences or fewer.” The site recently added a search filter that eliminates dates proposed by members who are undesirable to the searcher (based on height, smoking status, politics, and more).
Intensity Level: 5 (The site aims to send people on original dates, not set you up with a life partner – fun! But for people who like to message extensively with no intention of taking it offline – intense! HAW breaks even; in that respect.)
[See our interview with the founders of HowAboutWe here.]
Established: ~2007 (spurred from the now defunct TheSpark.com’s SparkMatch feature)
Cost: Free (or $10 a month for an ad-free, A-List account)
Matching Technique: OkCupid’s algorithms are mathematically based and exponentially evolved when compared to its competitors. Members take a never-ending poll that evaluates not only their answer a question, but also how their match should answer, and how important the question is to the user. The more questions a user answers, the more accurate their matches become. A technical explanation of how this works can be found on their site.
Intensity Level: 5 (Most users use the site to date casually – they’re not willing to shell out money to meet their “soulmate.” However, the accuracy of their matches will translate offline.)
Matching Technique: The “Plentyoffish Relationship Chemistry Predictor” measures five broad dimensions of personality, like Family Orientation and Self-Control. Basically, it’s the poor man’s eHarmony. Users aren’t required to submit text-heavy self-summaries.
Intensity Level: 3 (Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for.)
There are countless options online and there are dozens of niche-based sites that cater to specific religions, races, and sexualities. It’s no wonder that newcomers are overwhelmed – but should that stop them from becoming one of the 1 in 5 people who are currently dating someone they met online?
Joining the ranks to help hesitant daters find the best fit is TheRightDatingSite.com. There’s no registration – you answer eight simple questions and based on extensive research and a proprietary algorithm, the site will provide the dater-in-question with the best website for them. The site also publishes helpful articles that guide new virtual daters.
If you’re already dating online, would you stick with the site you’re on? If you’re not, would you use TheRightDatingSite to guide you?