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Online Dating: Which site is right for you?

Feb 4, 2014

Back in October when I started blogging about my in-depth views on online dating, a couple of readers asked me to recommend sites for them to join. After my first post caused a splash, I got distracted by silly boys and forgot to answer my readers' request. So, ladies, apologies...and advance apologies for the weirdos you'll probably meet once you join the online dating world.

Maybe I'll write about safety tips as a follow-up to this post.'ll be fine, okay?

(I'm going to get hate mail about this, I can already feel it.)

General Consensus: This is where you go to find other people looking for love and commitment.
Format: Fill out a really, really, really long personality profile and eHarmony gives you matches every day that they think will be compatible with you based on your profile.
Fun Facts: The founder, Neil Clark Warren, is a psychologist and marriage counselor who started eHarmony as sort of an experiment to test his theories on relationship compatibility.
Success Stories: Supposedly 542 eHarmony members marry every day. My neighbor met her husband here.
Here's what I think: I've tried it twice. The first time, I was matched with middle-aged short dudes who mostly lived in places like Montana. Assuming I'd messed something up, I tweaked my preferences and waited for eligible bachelors to roll in. After a month of nothing changing, I called a representative and asked what was going on. She said that I was simply more compatible with middle-aged short dudes who mostly live in places like Montana, despite my express requests to be matched with dudes around my age who were at least an inch taller than me and within a 25-mile radius. She told me I was being too picky. I demanded my money back.

A couple of years later I fell for the free weekend ads again (UGH I LOVE THAT SONG) and kept it for the full six months. I had a few forgettable dates, one great one where the guy actually picked me up to drive six blocks, and two with a dude who matched the aforementioned criteria and then got really creepy so I stopped responding to his texts and he turned into a stalker and then I noticed he'd updated his profile and I found out he was actually a middle-aged dude who, as long as I was seeing things clearly, I admitted to myself was actually half an inch shorter than me, and he lived in Lorton. I mean, it's not Montana, but being a District Dweller? It might as well have been.

So I don't do eHarmony anymore.

General Consensus: People view Match as the cooler site, compared to eHarmony. The matching algorithm isn't as stringent, and you have more control over who you can talk to. Match lets you know who might be a good match, but ultimately you get to decide -- which means you need to work on your profile more, and I'm not talking about detailing your favorite bands. I'm talking about pictures. That's all anyone cares about. Seriously.
Format: Take a much shorter survey, develop your profile and start browsing. They'll send you a few matches each day, but you can *wink* at anyone you want to. Yaaaaaaay passive-aggressiveness.
Fun Facts: Match launched five years before eHarmony and has around 96 million users (but only about 1.5 million active users). They've bought up a bunch of other dating sites over the years, including OKCupid.
Success Stories: A good friend of mine met her husband here...on a free weekend where you couldn't even see each other's photos and she talked to one guy. Completely based on their profiles. You can read more success stories that make me want to stomp and pound my fists on things here.
Here's what I think: I think that if you're going to pick up yet another stalker that you should at least be able to do it for free. Hence...

General Consensus: OKCupid is Match for people who don't want to pay. You'll see a lot of weird profile photos on here because Creepy Marrieds like to see what's out there and insecure boyfriends like to make sure their lady isn't a cheater.
Format: Pretty much the same as Match. They recently added a Locals section on the mobile app that's basically Tinder, which we'll get to in a sec. Members can create quizzes for other members to answer, and you can compare your answers with your matches'. I recently told one guy I wouldn't go out with him because of one of his answers, and he claimed no one ever reads those and I was just looking for reasons not to go out with him. I'm fine with his conclusion.
Fun Facts: Although not up to date, OKCupid has a fun blog called OKTrends that shows statistical information about online dating. OKCupid has more active users than Match, probably because it's free.
Here's what I think: When I got back into online dating, this is the site I used the most. I burned out really quickly this time around, mainly because I was getting way more creeper messages than before, and also because I myself became hyper-judgmental of dudes based on their first profile picture. It wasn't a great feeling, so I go on about once a week now, just to see if anyone has written me. I've been trying to figure out the details of a date with one guy for about three months now.

General Consensus: Everyone's on Tinder. Also see: Grindr for heteros. With an "e". Be clear that you're not looking for a hook-up if you're not looking for a hook-up.
Format: Completely mobile. Pulls your info from Facebook. Shows you people near you, using your GPS, that are also on Tinder and based on very few criteria you set beforehand. Swipe to the left if you think the person is ugly, swipe to the right if you think he's cute. Talk to each other via your thumbs (ugh the worst) if you both swipe right. Done.
Fun Facts: Much like Facebook, college kids started this. At a party. Nerds. Rich, rich nerds.
Success Stories: Everyone I know is going on a date tonight with someone they met on Tinder.
Here's what I think: I tried it, like, right after my break-up. It was too soon. I'm totally turned off by this concept, but I'm rethinking it since I'm realizing I'm older than I thought and I'm probably going to have to start playing by the rules of the Millennials if I want to ever go on a date again.

General Consensus: Hinge is a great, less icky way than Tinder to meet people.
Format: eHarmony meets Tinder. You only get a handful of matches each day, but they're (almost always) friends of your Facebook friends, so they're vetted! Kind of!
Fun Facts: Hinge was founded in DC with a focus on networking (read: connecting Facebook friends). This app is aimed at the late-20s and early-30s crowd. The youngins didn't take to it too kindly. Obviously it's my favorite.
Success Stories: A C&S reader shared with me recently that she met her boyfriend here.
Here's what I think: It's a lot less stressful than the others because you only get a few matches every day at noon and therefore aren't compelled to go on and hunt for guys that you can't message first anyway because, despite what all guys have told me on this point, you're not going to get a date with a guy you talk to first. I've gotten lots of matches that *heart* me after I *heart* them, but only one dude is actually talking to me. Again, all thumb talking. Ohhhh I hate it so much.

I'm not going to go into detail here. There are two. Stay away from them. Got it? 

1. Craigslist Personals: I reference the Lifetime Original Movie, The Craigslist Killer. This is not the most mainstream place to find a date, so just don't. 

2. Plenty of Fish: Regardless of Patti Stanger meeting her current beau on POF, you don't need to be on here. Please correct me if I'm wrong, experienced online daters. But I tried it for about a day and a half and got a stream of gross messages and one from a shirtless-selfie-in-the-bathroom dude who wrote, "Sweetie, you don't belong on here."

The names say it all. And there are more. So, so many more.

You're welcome?


  1. omg LOVE THIS.. LOL

  2. Haha glad you liked it!

  3. Good to see the update about online dating. Well impressed with the post about dating here. I love to get it here I generally do India dating and try to find a good site there.

  4. HA! I love your POF reaction. I'm an online dating coach, and I can assure you that POF is right for *some* singles. It depends on a lot—your demographic, your personality, and the kinds of pictures and words you upload!

    And for what it's worth, I met my husband on Craiglist—but that was back in 2006. I don't advise current clients to date via that medium. Just FYI that it's not as simple as "yes" or "no" for most sites—I don't tell clients which site I think fits them best until after we've chatted for a while, and I've gotten a good read on them.

    I do think you nailed it with The Big Three, though. Using a fairly major/mainstream site is almost always better than using a niche site, especially if that niche site is brand new to the game. They simply won't have the numbers in terms of active users.

  5. I think a lot has changed over the years. POF might be a great place now -- I tried it a few years ago and hated it though. However, I know it's still one of the most popular worldwide!

  6. It depends a ton on your age, too, and your location. I don't want to guess at age (that's a dangerous thing!) but your right sidebar avatar shows a face that looks too young to be POF's ideal demographic give your DC location. :) Hard to say more than that without actually knowing you, but again, it's less about the site "changing" and more about you merging and shifting into different online dating pools in different walks of life!

  7. Ahhh...that have been the problem then! There's a lot out there to choose from, so it's probably a good idea to shop around. Like you said, the Big 3 are always a safe bet.

  8. The other day my (Internet-sourced) husband saw a TV ad for the site "Farmers Only." He COULD NOT believe it. Of course, I've seen a zillion links/roundups of weird niche sites, so I quoted their "City folks just don't get it" tagline and he was like "THAT'S ACTUALLY WHAT IT SAID!!!!" Cracked me up. I really have to wonder about all those niche sites' business models, ya know? It *can't* be sustainable.

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