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This week marks the thickest online dating week of the year (combined with the largest divorce week of the year). Whether it’s a failed relationship or the urge for a fresh beginning that has propelled you into the dating wilderness, online dating almost certainly has someone waiting for you.
But which one to go for? Match group now wields Tinder, Slew Of Fish, OkCupid and, of course, Match, making it the largest player in the online and app dating industry.
eHarmony is another massive player, with Three million users signed up. But size isn’t everything – as anyone who has just packaged up a three-hour swiping session on Tinder will attest. Too many members with no filter can result in either hours of swiping to find someone you fancy, or hundreds of messages in your inbox that you’ll never have time to read.
Here’s a guide to the sites to check out – feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments below – and let us know if you met your life playmate online or on an app and if so, which one.
Pros: Millions of matches at your fingertips. Has both desktop and mobile site and an app, plus paid-for and free singles events. Very well managed, fresh, clean design makes it more appealing to navigate.
Cons: Millions of matches at your fingertips… inbox management can be breathtaking. It’s fairly difficult to get any information on the price to use match.com’s utter service. When you click for more info you’ll more often than not end up with info boxes that you need to pack in before you can advance to the pricing info. We wish sites would be more semitransparent about their fees. However, they do have a live help service at their homepage to talk you through joining.
Pros: Uses compatibility testing to match you with someone who shares the same worldview as you. Pitches itself as the site to go to for ‘serious, lasting relationships’ and marriage – which may well be refreshing to some in the current dating climate. Psychologists and dating experts guide you through each step of the process – including messaging, which is somewhat structured and scripted – and there’s an anonomisation function for calling. There’s presently a 7-day free trial to communicate with matches for free until 1 January. It’s a softly, softly treatment – excellent for those fresh to internet dating or jumpy about coming in the melee, or using a fast-food dating app like Tinder.
Cons: The lengthy survey you must finish before you sign up. It is 100s of questions long and asks many probing questions about religion and moral views. Some find this a barrier to join, fans say it weeds out the casual chancer from those truly looking for love – and means you don’t have to wait to broach tricky topics. Pricier – it’s £44.95 for a month, but that drops to £12.95 per month if you sign up for a year.
You can’t browse pictures or profiles – you wait to be matched by the mystery algorithm after answering the 400 questions – then you are guided through a contact process. Some may think it lacks the spontaneity of other dating sites – and you certainly can’t use it to get a quick date for the weekend.
The price and process mean only the dedicated remain – but identically, can lead to people pulling down out mid-process.
Controversy swirled in 2010 around its lack of same-sex matching resulting in a site launched later for gay and bisexual daters called Compatible Fucking partners, but eHarmony now offers matching for both mixed and same hook-up couples from the main homepage.
Pros: Free to join and to have limited contact with members. You can connect with Facebook so getting embarked is much quicker than with other sites. A one step Facebook log-in process leads on to a few ordinary questions (the most demonstrable – height, kids, whether you drink or smoke), a description and a photo – then you are in. You can browse a selection of pictures and ages before logging in, anything more specific requires you to become a member. Members can search by interest, location or age.
Cons: It’s not truly free. To use the site fully – sending unlimited messages to other members – payment is required. As with many free or low-cost sites, ads can be frequent and feel spammy. There are no compatibility filters, so once you’ve filtered by the basics, there’s no way of narrowing it down. However, perhaps controversially, arguably this is more of a pro than a con – as the telling goes, opposites attract! And there’s no sense in ruling someone out for reasons that may become insignificant once you’ve met in real life.
illustration request: How to low-key stalk you crush online
Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler /Metro.co.uk
WHY CHECKBOXES AND FILTERS ARE THE DEATH OF DATING
‘Only display me people without children’
‘Only demonstrate me guys over 6ft 1in’
‘Only showcase me people who don’t want kids’
The tick-boxes on many dating sites are a common part of the structure of the sites – and people often pack them in and make their choices quickly, based on in-the-moment gut feeling, prejudice or a past bad practice.
But too many filters and rigid check-boxes can have you dismiss yam-sized numbers of people at once – something that apps like Bumble, Happn and Tinder attempted to do away with (however that brings its own set of issues).
One 5ft 10in friend reports she witnessed only 400 potential fellows to browse when she logged in to Match.com. When she diminished her height to 5ft 9in, that rocketed to almost Two,000.
A total 1,600 studs would have unknowingly discounted this amazing person because of Two.5cm of extra gam length – and she would have continued to find internet dating limited and unsuccessful.
It seems unavoidable that if we have filters and tick-boxes for features and likes or dislikes, we could be cutting off literally thousands of potential suitors because of something we might have thought minor or irrelevant if we met in the skin.
And, by the way, the tick-box that chooses whether you’re shown people with children or not can have an even more dramatic result, with 90% of the people I asked (a straw poll of Ten in the office) telling they’d chosen not to be shown people with children.
Yet many friends of mine who had previously ruled out anyone with children on a dating site are now joyfully dating (or married to) single parents they met in real life.
With judgemental tick-boxes they would have filtered out the very person they are in love with now.
Another friend is about to marry the brief, bald banker with absolutely no ‘online dating’ message-type talk she met at a party. As a 5ft 9in fascinating cocktail type who says she hates bankers, she loosely admits she’d have swiped right past him on Tinder or blocked him on Match – and he may well have done the same. But the moment they spoke in real life, they were hooked. It’s charisma, not check-lists, that win hearts.
The moral of this story is: Be open minded, people!
Slew of Fish
Pros: ‘UK’s largest dating site’ with Three million members. Free messaging. Quick to join, lots of interactions, constant flow of fresh members. Has a ‘chemistry test’ to match you with personalities that suit your own and meet your ’emotional needs’, and a ‘Relationship Needs’ service that claims to be able to tell you what you need in a relationship, where you screwed up (without knowing it) and a customised plan to make your next relationship successful. Which sounds like a hella challenge…
Cons: So large it can be time-consuming to keep on top of communications and filter through the members, however Match.com the same applies. Anecdotally, users can be spammed by unwanted messages and inappropriate pictures.
Pros: Large global audience. Clean, easy-to-use site. Effortless to link up with Facebook. Verified photos and accounts keep catfishing or phony accounts to a minimum.
Cons: Pay-for site that means you can’t see who’s viewed you or communicate with members without paying. A month’s membership is £22, which is halved per month if you sign up for 6 months.
Pros: Straightforward dating site for those into fitness, healthy living or outdoor pursuits to meet likeminded people. Encourages daters to meet doing the activity they love rather than across a table in a cafe. It’s free to join and post a profile and ordinary to get began, tho’ messaging costs.
You choose the sports or activities you’re into – a number of primary ones to showcase on your main profile then the rest – then add a photo if you wish (you should always add a photo, not for superficial reasons, but to let others know you’re genuine) and a few details about yourself.
Don’t be put off thinking you need to be an athlete to join – Fitness Singles is for people of all types who like an active lifestyle, however you will find a lot of profile pictures of people sailing, hiking and running. Our tester found the calibre of people to be high with low risk of dick pics or those just after hookup. A very palatable dating site practice. Caters for both mixed and same hook-up couples.
Cons: Fairly rudimentary site, old fashioned type-face and layout. Lots of photos of people in cycling helmets, and when we joined, too many with no photo at all.
Pros: Free. Has an incognito mode ‘cut out the creeps with incognito mode’ – that permits you to choose who sees your profile, revoke access to your profile and dip in and out of a public account. Has quick Facebook sign-up option, which is invaluable if you’re joining multiples.
Cons: Users have previously reported getting bombarded with many unwanted messages, partly because it’s free, aka a free for all. However, OkCupid responded to such complaints by adding the Incognito Mode, which can quickly put a stop to that.
The best dating apps to use
Sapio – connects people based on personality and what their mind has to suggest, rather than looks. Calls itself ‘a dating app with depth’ and claims to make interactions joy rather than ‘aimless’ (or aimed at getting a quick lay). Talk is enabled only when you’ve both liked each other and you can browse people by their answers to life questions and moral issues rather than just by photo.
Tinder – if you’re single (and often if you’re not) you’ll know all about Tinder by now. The best known of the swipe-to-like apps, this revolutionary app transformed dating forever, taking the hunt for a fucking partner out of the bars and into the home – permitting us to surf for a date while on the sofa in our pyjamas. Unlike other apps too, it instantly catered for same hookup relationships. More than 50 million people use Tinder every month with over 12 million matches per day from over 1 billion swipes. That’s a lot of people looking for love.
When it commenced it truly was the cool kids’ way to engage with online dating. Now it has gone mega-mainstream, some users think the user practice has suffered from its size. The swipe mechanism that we all loved at the beginning can now seem laborious when there’s no filter – users say they find they now need to swipe through dozens more of photos before they find one they like – and, thanks to a proliferation of dick pics and lewd propositions for hookup, dismiss it as no more than a hookup app. However, there’s no denying this is a sure-fire way to get a date/hook-up/playmate if you’re looking – and we know at least three couples personally who met and married after meeting on Tinder, so…
3nder – to help likeminded people look for threesomes. If you’re a regular user of Tinder you’ll have come across an enlargening number of threesome-hunters there too, but you have to scroll to find them. With 3nder, they’re all there waiting for you.
Bumble – Location-based dating app that, in their words, ‘changes the rules of the game’. Gained legions of female fans early on with message function that requires women to message very first, reducing the risk of dick pics and unsolicited come-ons. Because of its positioning in the market as a ‘feminist’ app (simply becuase of the woman-first messaging function), it appeals to a certain sort of man (and, in fact, woman) meaning many of the more obnoxious types from other apps are absent, which can be a bonus.
Grindr – the number one gay dating app, however many would say it’s more useful for hookups than finding the love of your life. Elementary to set up – just add pic and a few details – and you’ll instantly be able to search your local area for studs. Paying for Grindr Xtra gives you the power to block unwanted attention plus access a much larger group of studs – plus get rid of all the annoying ads on the free version.