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Pros / You can access user profiles and messaging for free.

Cons / The website’s layout isn’t intuitive.

 Verdict / We were surprised too, but Plenty of Fish really holds up against other dating services with an in-depth matching process and free access to the most useful features on the website.

This matchmaking service has a signup process that is incredibly in-depth. Along with answering preliminary questions about your age, race and body type, you’re also asked how long your longest relationship was, your birth order and whether build and lifestyle choices matter to you in finding a mate. You can then show a little bit of personality in writing a short description of yourself and uploading photos. It’s optional to display your real first name on your profile, which is nice if you’re concerned about your privacy.

This initial setup is followed by a chemistry assessment consisting of more than 70 questions. The questions cover a wide spectrum of personality traits and preferences like if you consider yourself productive, whether you like scary movies, if you express yourself easily and whether people see you as stubborn or not. You answer all of these questions on scale, so you’re not boxed into simply choosing yes or no if you feel you fall somewhere in the middle.

You’re only required to complete the chemistry assessment, but there are other questionnaires available to further flesh out your dating profile, and we recommend you take them. There’s a needs assessment with about 100 questions and a 30-question psychological assessment as well as a keeper test and a sex test if you want to take them all. This really helps improve the quality of your matches. It took our reviewers 20 minutes just to complete the required part of profile setup. Only Elite Singles took longer. While there are a lot of factors at play in online dating and we can’t say for certain that a more thorough profile will lead to better matches, it certainly doesn’t hurt. That’s why we gave dating services with detailed questionnaires higher marks in our testing. Once you’ve taken these questionnaires, Plenty of Fish even shows you the results so you can gain insights about your confidence, openness, self-control and other parts of your personality.

There is a free Plenty of Fish app for checking your matches and messaging them right from your phone. Users are moving to predominantly free mobile dating apps in general. According to the 2016 Online Dating Survey for Consumer Reports, Plenty of Fish was ranked the fourth best online dating service in overall satisfaction, coming in after OkCupid, Tinder and Grindr, an app marketed to gay men. The reasons are obvious: We do everything on our smartphones now, so why wouldn’t we use them for online dating? The Plenty of Fish app is intuitive and, just like the website, gives you access to user profiles and messaging without having to pay for a membership. Photo messaging is available but that feature does require a membership fee.

For testing, we set up three fake accounts and monitored the responses we got over a period of 24 hours. On Plenty of Fish, our accounts received an average of 40 matches, the second highest number of matches of any service we reviewed. On one hand, this large volume of matches is a bit of a confidence-booster and gives you numerous options. The downside of all those options is it might lead to users being more flippant about seriously dating a match because there are so many potential fish in the sea – and Plenty of Fish says you’re a match with all of them. Other sites, like eHarmony, only give users a certain number of daily matches to eliminate this problem, so you should choose the site that best fits your preferences. Of the matches our accounts got, 22 percent of them were considered “top prospects.” You can also see how many people have viewed your profile if you’re curious, free of charge.

Plenty of Fish’s free messaging is a little hard to find on the website, but overall the function works well. In our tests, our accounts got an average of 10 messages in 24 hours with the man seeking woman account really bringing the average down because he didn’t get any messages at all. In our experience, women can be really successful on this dating website.

Once you find your special someone, you have to dig through the website’s help section to delete your account. While you can use Plenty of Fish successfully without paying, a monthly subscription does give you access to special features. For example, you can see extended profile information and see whether messages you sent have been read or deleted. These aren’t essential features, but some users might find the advantages worthwhile.

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