Welcome to Internet Dating!
Not too long ago Internet Dating had a desperate feel to it, now it’s mainstream. There are several sites that let you get matched, catch fish or find your harmony! Let’s talk about those top three:
e-Harmony – www.eharmony.com
e-Harmony is founded on the principle of personality profiling and matching. You start by making a profile, uploading some photos (6 I think is max) and answer some questions (there are over 900 if you answer them all) and they will run it through their computers and select members for you to see. Then they guide you through your communications. It is designed to be “safe” dating. You can’t just randomly contact any user you want – you can’t even see the other users unless they are a match for you. Once you’ve been presented with match, you want to initiate a communication or send a “smile”. The first communication is a list of 5 questions that you pick out of a list and that have standard multiple choice answers. You then wait for him/her to answer them and send you their 5 questions. If all goes well you can then send your Must Haves/Must Not Haves these are your deal breakers and deal makers. They are fairly standard and again you pick them from a list. You send and if you get a response you can send your final controlled communication which is 3 open ended questions (no predesigned answers) that you pick from a list or make up yourself. If they are answered then you are cleared for unfiltered communications (to their eHarmony) email. Yay! The promised land. This can happen quickly – if the other person is online or very slowly if they are not. I was on eHarmony and I met a total of 2 people in a year. They were great people but honestly, I felt it was a rip off. Most of the “matches” were expired people and they hadn’t logged on in over a month. Additionally, you don’t get to see them until they are matched with you – so us VISUAL GUYS – most didn’t pass my profile picture standards. The filtered communication and the lack of daily matches were extremely frustrating. I contacted customer service several times to try to get my money back and I was never answered. I would NOT recommend this site for men looking to meet available and interested women.
Pros: Personality based. Feels more secure. Controlled communications give sense of security. Can verify yourself as a “real” person and give peace of mind to others. If unsure of yourself or how to start a conversation with the opposite sex, the controlled communication can help to get you started.
Cons: Cannot see the available members. Barely any “daily” matches. Too many questions to answer in the personality profile and if you answer them all you are “punished” by not many daily matches. Not enough active members (80% of my daily matches hadn’t logged on in over a month). A lot of wasted time waiting for communications. Not a proactive site. IT IS VERY EXPENSIVE compared to other sites.
Cost: The have a free version, basic and Total Connect. The more you want to connect, the more it costs. 6 months total connect is $49.95/month. 3 month started package is: $54.95/month and the 24 month basic connect is 9.95/month.
POF – Plenty of Fish – www.pof.com
The old saying, there are Plenty of Fish in the Sea…and POF is a very popular site. My first time on POF I was on for 6 hours, that was over a year ago and there weren’t really any rules that I knew of on the site. All my guy friends recommended it (while all my lady friends recommended eHarmony or Match). Reason I was only on 6 hours is because it felt like the wild, wild west of dating. In those 6 hours, I received 3 offers of “full wife privileges” if I would help some poor ladies get a green card by marrying them. I had 3 offers of “sex for rent” where if I had at least a 2 bedroom house/apt and would let them move in – they would pay me in sex. I had received at least 10 nude photos from several different women (sent to my email) and learned some new words that I won’t repeat here. It definitely felt like a “hook-up” site. I went back onto POF a few of months ago and I have had a positive experience this time around. Like everyone you create a profile telling about yourself and what you are looking for in a match, free form text in your profile and at least 6 photos. There is a free version that will work for most people and a VIP / Upgraded version that gives you more visibility into what other members are doing (reading your emails, looking at your profile, winks etc.). The one thing I didn’t like about the site is the age restrictions they put in place. There can be no more than 14 yrs difference between your ages. That means a woman who is 30 cannot communicate with a man that is 45 on the site. This “rule” causes many people to have to lie about their age to get to the people in the age range they are looking for. And before you put a face, BOTH men and women have to lie on their profile for this reason. I contacted customer service and they said that is the rule and basically said if I wanted to access a certain age range I had to lie on my profile (while they don’t condone it). It’s not a great way to start a relationship by lying. There are a large number of users and as long as they are in your age range – you can attempt to communicate with them.
Pros: Large amount of users. Free version is good enough to begin and meet people. Connecting is very easy. Easy search tools. Premium site allows you to know if your email was read, deleted, who has viewed your profile, etc. Inexpensive alternative.
Cons: Can be the wild west. Has a reputation as a Hook-up Site (you can even specify looking for a casual relationship). Age restriction forces many to lie to get access to the members they want.
Cost: 2 month plan – 19.35/mo, 4 month plan – 12.75/month, 8 month plan 10.18/month. No refunds.
Match – www.match.com
Match was the first Internet dating site and has been around for many years. It is actually my favorite site and the site I’ve had the best experiences with. It has no rules as far as limited communications – you can connect with any user you want. You can setup your profile – there are some standard fill in the blanks (religion, kids, marital status, etc.) and a free-form profile where you can tell about yourself and what you are looking for. Your profile must be approved. You can upload up to 26 photos, which must be approved. Once all approved it goes online and you can start to interact. There are some search tools that I like on the site. One called mutual match goes and finds people that you are looking for (based on what you entered in your profile) and if they are looking for you (based on what they put in their profile) presents them to you in a list. You can then sort this list by several factors. What I do typically is sort by last activity date and eliminate all profiles that haven’t been logged into within 5 days, then I sort by photo count and eliminate all that don’t have at least 3 photos (more later) and then age, location, etc.. It takes a little work but if you can narrow down to the people you are most interested in then you can send a wink or an email (I always send email). There several ways to get verified so you know it’s a real person you are talking too – credit card, facebook, linkedin, google plus are just a few of the ways they verify you.
Pros: Can contact anyone you want on the site. You can look at any profiles you wish and send a wink to someone, like a photo, make a comment on the photo, favorite them and send emails. There are daily matches and an email in your in box daily with multiple matches as well. Very good search tools.
Cons: A lot of scammers on the site. I will talk about how to identify in next blog. A lot of inactive profiles (More than 3 weeks without logging in).
Cost: 6 month subscription cost me $119.94
All of these sites allow you to block users. All of them offer an auto-renewal of your membership. None of them offer a refund so make sure you choose carefully.
My recommendation is Match.com. I have found the quality of matches, their tools, easy of use and ability to connect to be people to be the easiest. I had a good experience with POF this last time but I do not like their restrictions they put upon me and my dating choices.
Next time we will talk about your online profile and what we’d like to see – ladies – in your profile.