If you’re ready to find the love of your life, then you might have considered entering the realm of online dating. While internet dating used to just be for awkward people, it has now bloomed into a socially acceptable method of finding your one true love. These days, even celebrities have flocked to the web to find a lover, including Adele, Jenny McCarthy, and Martha Stewart. With just the few strokes of a keyboard and a couple clicks, you can be put in touch with thousands of potential partners in your area.
Choosing the Right Dating Site for You
Now that you’ve decided to take the plunge, the first step is to decide which dating site to use. Many have membership criteria, such as age, profession, or even sexual orientation. While these niche sites might be great for people looking for a very specific partner, it’s probably best to stick to a mainstream site to reach a better demographic of people.
Joining a free site, such as OkCupid or Plenty of Fish, might be a good way to start to see if you think the online dating scene is right for you. They are also perfect for finding casual dates. However, if you’re in the market for a real relationship, your chances of finding true love are better with subscription sites like Match, eHarmony, or OurTime.
OkCupid is one of the few dating sites that is 100 percent free. Once you create an account, you have the ability to search for new members, message or chat with anyone, and upload photos of yourself. The home page is set up similar to a Facebook newsfeed, with updates from potential matches. Answer multiple choice questions about yourself, and the site will record data about your personality and use it to match you with other users. You can even link your profile to your Instagram account. With all of these high-tech features, in addition to a sleek interface, OkCupid is a great choice for the younger generation.
Plenty of Fish
Plenty of Fish is another free option that is both simple and easy to use. By filling out a personality assessment, you can help others learn more about you and find better matches. The site makes it easy to browse for other users, as there is always a list of people online near you. You can read and send messages, and even see the total number of members online worldwide. Because Plenty of Fish is free and widely used (the site currently has 3 million members with 50,000 new users joining each day), you will find a large variety of people with myriad lifestyles, professions, and interests to talk and interact with.
While you can use some parts of Match for free, you will have to pay around $20 a month to contact members. However, the subscription cost does help to keep the site’s members honest and trustworthy. The site provides you with daily matches and allows you to search for people in your area. Match also organizes singles events where you can mingle with site users in a safe and controlled environment. The interface is a bit less modern and the features are quite simplistic, which might work well for people who simply want to find a date without all the bells and whistles. Match also has a great 50+ crowd, which makes up 20 percent of their members.
eHarmony’s matching system is a bit different than other sites, as they send potential matches directly to you rather than giving you a long list of profiles to search through. After joining, you’ll have to answer a lot of questions about your personality and what you are looking for in a date. While this might seem cumbersome, it’s actually crucial to the process, as the site uses this data to find better matches for you. You also need to pay for a subscription- prices range from $19.65-$39.95/month- to connect with members, and while it’s a slightly higher cost than Match, the superior matching system makes it worthwhile. eHarmony also features an updated design for the modern era, making it a solid choice for people of all ages.
OurTime is exclusively tailored to members over the age of 50. For older adults, you want a dating site that celebrates age as an accomplishment. The cost of membership is free, however, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account in order to use of all of the site’s features– pricing starts at $11.99/month. The interface of the site is easy to use, allowing you to access every feature from both the top and sidebar menus. Chat with other users, see who viewed you, and keep track of people you like by adding them as a favorite. While you do have to subscribe in order to contact other members, your membership also gives you the ability to view users’ videos and find out if you are an astrological match.
How to Stay Safe
One important thing to keep in mind before trying online dating is your personal safety. Always remember that anyone can create a fake profile on a dating site and lie about who they really are. While most people have only the best intentions, there are also people out there simply perusing these sites looking to take advantage of others, whether it is emotionally, sexually, or financially.
When talking to someone new online, never reveal your true identity until you feel comfortable with them. First names are typically ok, but never give out your full name, phone number, social media accounts, or address until you trust them. Additionally, never respond to requests to send money overseas or by wire transfer. Simply ignore these messages and do not contact the user further.
If you ever feel uncomfortable, nearly all dating sites have a block or report option to alert administrators of troublesome users. Don’t hesitate to use this feature if you are in trouble. Generally though, online dating is even safer than a blind date, as you can learn more about the person before meeting them in real life.
Top Dos and Don’ts
Online dating is hard, since you really only have one chance to make a good first impression. Always keep these tips in mind for your personal security and to come off as genuine, likeable, and trustworthy.
- Do protect yourself by meeting in a public place for the first few dates until you’re comfortable and trust your date.
- Do be polite, even if you aren’t interested. If someone took time to write you a nice message, reply back just so they know your feelings and can move on to someone else.
- Do use a family member or friend to help proofread your profile. They can catch any errors you made and help you represent yourself in the best way possible.
- Don’t lie about your height, weight, or age. If you ever meet anyone in real life, they will quickly realize you were lying to them.
- Don’t use an old picture from your “glory days.” Again, your date will quickly realize they’ve been duped the first time you go out.
- Don’t send generic copy and paste messages. Always take the time to write a personal response that shows you read the person’s profile.