I recently went out with some friends I hadn’t seen since CEGEP to Montreal’s “Nuit Blanche”. During the evening, the topic of my online dating came up and I was asked about my online dating experiences. To expand upon some of the answers to these questions, I decided to write a series of blog posts on the topic. The first will cover what dating sites I’ve tried. While I’m no expert, I’ve written up a brief rundown of my own experiences and how they stack up between each other.
e-Harmony: Probably the most advertised site on TV. I was drawn to this site first when I finally decided to begin dating shortly before turning 28. Suffice it to say, I was a late addition to the dating scene; a story for another time. Like most dating sites, they advertise a free trial which includes account creation. Unlike most sites though, prospective users must fill out a questionnaire to determine future “compatibility”. I use quotation marks because while I would say I’ve had an overall better experience with this site over others, it still has numerous flaws.
The site design purposefully withholds or limits the number of matches for you to contact. This is done under the guise of these are the most aligned to what you are looking for and/or compatible with based on their algorithms. As e-Harmony is a paid subscription service, this prolongs your membership and thus financial investment. Even so, the site has begun to offer less ideal matches just to pad the numbers so you aren’t discouraged to unsubscribe. Thankfully, these matches are indicated differently.
Secondly, the cost can be a deterrent for many. It is among the most expensive ones I’ve used or encountered. Whenever they do make sales, they are of the 3 month to a year variety. One would think if your algorithm was so successful, members wouldn’t need a full year to find someone. Like most paid sites, even if you do pay the fee there is no guarantee the match on the other end is an active or a paying member. In my experience, I rarely received any replies except during the advertised free communication weekends.
Third, there is an option of utilizing the service as a non-paid subscriber*. If you enjoy job interviews, this is the site for you! If you’re like most people though, your communication will be limited to an exchange of a few questions before hitting the pay wall. You can skirt the restriction by answering with your email address or phone number but the site does have algorithms to hide obvious addresses, phone numbers and even URLs. You will have to be creative. Furthermore, you won’t have access to view your matches pictures. While I don’t consider myself shallow, let’s be honest: physical attraction, along with intellectual and emotional chemistry, remains a factor.
All that said, the four women I’ve most recently dated for more than a single first date were matched through e-Harmony. If that is indicative of quality or my inability to quickly assess if a relationship has long term potential. I’ll leave that up to the reader.
Match: Another paid subscription site. Unlike e-Harmony, it’s up to users to figure out what they want. Although the site does have a search engine and will make random suggestions somewhat based on the few criteria it allows you to pick from. Few of these reflect personality or emotional characteristics other than implied “values” (religion, drinking and smoking habits, etc).
Fortunately, the site also provides activity level for matches to prevent its members from sending communication to non-active subscribers. On the other hand, it still won’t indicate if your would-be future date can respond in order to compel them to pay for the service. Like most sites of this kind, the pay wall is a deterrent to some who aren’t seriously looking for someone. Nevertheless, I’ve encountered numerous accounts where women write they are just curious or just looking. I suggest not bothering sending messages.
I did meet the first and only woman I’ve ever loved romantically through Match. However, this was not assisted by the site’s design but rather our mutual writing skills. Amusingly enough, she wasn’t even a member. One of her photos contained her email address and so I sent it to both her site account and email. Curious about the message, she paid for the service and then regretted it as she could’ve just replied to the email. Heh
Chemistry: The worst of the three sites I’ve actually spent money on. It’s also the most expensive. Chemistry is Match.com’s response to the “27 aspects of compatibility” e-Harmony claims it uses. It shares e-Harmony’s small number of matches but not the subscriber base. So where the latter will reliably match you with 3-5 matches a day, Chemistry might struggle for 1-2. The caveat being for Montreal. The few matches you do get are also just as likely, if not more so, to be non-paid members as most are referred to it through Match. After all, why pay twice for the same thing? My recommendation is to avoid the site.
POF: Formerly known as Plenty of Fish. This is a free site with a pay membership option for enhanced features. I haven’t tried said features so I cannot confirm if these are worth the investment. One thing you will notice, is the number of email you receive in your junk folder will increase tenfold! A topic for another time.
The site uses ads to generate most of its revenue. If you haven’t figured out how to avoid them, just query Google.com. I’ll wait.
I assume you’re back. POF can be a source of frustration but also amusement. Most of my most amusing or horrible dating experiences were with women I met through this site. The fact its free attracts those who aren’t seriously looking or just looking for a one night stand. There is a filter to remove the latter though. There is also a higher frequency of dating scammers**. I’ve encountered at least 3 so far.
Sadly, the site’s filter remains flimsy at best and does not allow screening based on criteria. Say you are a religious person who wants to be in a relationship where you both share similar spiritual views. While you can search for these, it won’t stop someone of an opposing view to contact you. As an agnostic, I don’t really mind but I have received some rejections in the past due to this. It’s a good introduction if you want to test things out and more importantly, read other profiles to know what to write yourself or what to look for.
Zoosk: Like Tinder (see below), but limited to Facebook. It shares e-Harmony’s low profile matching too. Why anyone would pay for this I don’t know. Pass.
Tinder: While it does have a website, the service itself is a mobile app. I’ve only recently tried it as of late February 2015 after reading someone else’s blog. It’s main attraction is just that. The low word count to describe oneself, emphasis on physical appearance, and expediency to dismiss or accept the possibility of communication makes it the “fast food” of online dating. That said, I’m meeting someone tonight! 😛
*This includes free communication weekends too.
**If you ever suspect someone is a dating scammer, I recommend reading an excellent synopsis of what to look for.