Question: What could Match.com, eHarmony, and AdultFriendFinder possibly have in common and why do you care?
Answer: They are all online dating sites designed with a very specific objective and person in mind. Fact is, an amazing number of people sign up to the wrong dating site and wonder why it doesn't work for them.
eHarmony is intended for people looking for a long-term, serious relationship, A.K.A. "looking for marriage". AdultFriendFinder is intended for people looking for a casual, and in most cases, a sexual relationship, A.K.A. "not looking for marriage". Match.com falls somewhere in between, focusing on casual dating that may potentially turn into a long term relationship.
So, if you are looking for a serious relationship, don't you think it would be a mistake to join AdultFriendFinder? Yes, it may be fun to look around and flirt, etc., but are you really being honest with yourself and with the other members of that site?
There are literally hundreds, even thousands, of dating sites to choose from. How do you know which ones are right for you?
As you begin your search for the best online dating site, you will probably be surprised by the number of options. Online dating services are popping up daily on the internet, making the decision of choosing the "right" service a bit overwhelming.
It's well worth the extra time to find 2 or 3 dating sites that fit your personality and offer the services that you're looking for. Narrow down the list of potential online dating sites to your top 3 and then compare them to determine the pros and cons of each one. Pay particular attention to the monthly cost and features offered by each dating site.
While more and more 'free' dating sites are becoming available, most sites differentiate between free and paid memberships. In general, most dating sites will let you upload your profile and a few photos, and search through their database of profiles for free (but they may not let you see all of the details). You will most likely have to pay for any additional features.
Once you've chosen a few, sign up for each of them. It only takes a little extra time and you're sure to meet different people on each of the different sites.
Here are some excellent tips for finding a service that will best match your needs:
- Establish a budget. Decide how much money you want to spend, and set a budget. Most online dating websites charge a recurring monthly fee, but there are a few that have a one-time membership fee, and even fewer totally free sites. Determine up front how much you want to spend so that you can narrow your choices and avoid sites that don't fit in your budget.
- Ask for references. Talk to friends and family to see if they or anyone they know has had a good experience with a particular online dating website. If you don't know anyone, you can always check out an online dating guide. Just go to your favorite search engine and type in "online dating guide". You'll get plenty to choose from.
- Try to choose an online dating service that has been around for a couple of years. The best way to find out how long a website has been around is to go to the website's "About Us" page where you will learn not only the date the site was started but also the company's philosophy. Another good source of information is the “FAQ”, or frequently asked questions page on the website.
- Do your research. Take the time to check your favorite search engines for popular dating sites. Try searching terms like "online dating", "meet someone online", or "online personals" to generate lists of potential online sites for you.
- Consider specialized or niche sites. Think about any special interests or unique situations that might require a more specialized online dating website. If you are interesting in something specific like Single Parents, Christian Dating, Jewish Dating, Senior Dating, Gay Dating, or Adult Dating, make sure you include those terms in your search (see #4 above).
- Determine the pros and cons of your top picks. Narrow down the list of potential online sites to your top three and compare them to determine pros and cons of each one. Compare them buy cost and features that are interesting to you such as live chat, online video, and number of members on the site.
- Sign up to multiple dating sites. Don't be afraid to sign-up for multiple websites or change services if you are not satisfied. The goal is to meet new people online and enjoy the process. If a particular site is not meeting your needs, move on before you invest more of your money on a service that isn't right for you.
- For safety and convenience, look for online dating services that offer onsite messaging and email services. This will allow you to communicate with people using a special email provided by the dating service instead of using your personal email or IM (instant message). You should stay anonymous, at least at first. You wouldn't walk into a bar with a name and address tag around your neck, would you? It is important, however, to use a valid email address when signing up for your account. Most dating sites give you the option to receive email notification of replies to your personal ad, and some even forward the reply right to your email box. You won't want to miss these emails! I suggest that you use a free email account, such as Yahoo Mail or Hotmail , to reduce the possibility of spam. Just remember to check your new mailbox!
- Make sure the dating service offers secure payment methods. Also, look at the type of payments accepted (credit card, check, money order, PayPal, etc.) to ensure the options work for you.
- Look for websites that offer free trials. Look for an online dating service that will allow you to browse profiles and photos before you join, or a service that offers a free trial period so you can talk to people that you are interested in meeting before you have to pay. This allows you to fully understand the number and types of potential matches already signed up with the service.