Online Dating Review
Why Use an Online Dating Service?
The top performers in our review are Match, the Gold Award winner; Spark, the Silver Award winner; and OkCupid, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a dating site to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 dating services.
Why Use an Online Dating Service?
Whether or not you believe in fate, it can certainly feel like fate when you meet the love of your life. If you're eager to find love, you may want to give fate a helping hand by joining an online dating site.
Our top internet dating site, Match.com, has the combination of features and name recognition that give you a decent chance at finding love. You can browse as much as you like before deciding if you want to pay for an account, and there are so many ways to narrow your search so that you can custom-make your own best matches.
If you want a little more help in making matches, you may want to try our Silver Award winner, Spark, which uses a personality test based on colors to represent sets of characteristics. This can help you know how your personality would match up with potential dates' personalities.
Our Bronze Award winner, OkCupid, allows for a combination of suggested matches and matches that you essentially make yourself by using an array of search filters. There are fewer types of communication with this site, though. There are no digital winks or other flirts, just direct messaging.
Narrowing the Search
We narrowed our search for the best online dating services to general sites that include all types of singes, but there are many options if you prefer to narrow your search for love based on factors like age or ethnicity. There are sites like OurTime that focus on singles over 50 and lots of sites that focus on different religious groups, including Jewish dating sites like Yenta and JDate. There are also sites dedicated to specific racial and ethnic groups, like LatinoPeopleMeet. You can filter for religion, race and other factors on all of the dating sites, but sometimes it is nice to start with a more specific pool of candidates.
Best Online Dating Sites: What to Look For
The top online dating sites should have a host of tools to help you meet a large number of potential dates, and to go on dates with real potential. A dating site should act as a kind of screening tool, helping you find people you may like, and helping to protect you from anyone dangerous. Here are some of the things we looked for specifically in online dating services:
Profiles & Matching
One of the nice things about online dating is that the service can do much of the legwork for you. You can get to know some of the vital info about your potential dates before you meet them in person. The best services facilitate at least a basic personality test and let you know about a person's lifestyle, age, beliefs and other important factors. Some dating services develop their own compatibility tests that use algorithms to match potential couples. There will always be a few bad apples who do not fill out the questionnaires honestly, for various reasons, but if you find even a small handful of compatible people it could be worth it.
Each person values different things, but if you know you are not compatible with anyone under or over a certain age, for example, you can filter for that. The best services allow you to see things like how often people log onto the site. That way you know if they are active users or if you should interact with other, more active subscribers instead. You can also usually just look at photos to start the process. That way you know if you are attracted on the most basic level. Most services also allow you to create favorite lists of your most promising potential dates.
One benefit of online dating is the many different communication options. You can see who has looked at your profile, get text alerts if someone messages you through the site, or use a site's chat service for instant interaction. You can also send digital winks and other flirtations. All of these can serve a purpose as you make connections and set up face-to-face meetings.
Help & Support
All online dating sites should offer a way to ask questions if you have them, especially with any potential safety concerns about other site users. We looked for services that allow contact through telephone and email, as well as more general help through FAQs and articles.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
We found Match, Spark and OkCupid to have the most helpful tools of the sites we compared, but all of the sites in our review of online dating sites offer the potential for finding romance. Even if you don't meet the love of your life, these sites can lead to fun interactions with exciting people.
You may be too busy to find dates in the traditional ways. With the best online dating sites, you have a lot of the preliminary questions out of the way already. No need for the person with asthma to end up on a date with a chain smoker. Online dating can save you from some of the obvious mismatches, at least.