Choosing A Dating Service

by Jason Tudor

Like potential mates, dates, and one night stands, online dating services are everywhere you look, er, surf. Of course, just like searching for that potential significant other, finding the right site might require a little bit of looking at yourself. In fact, when you narrow down why you want to surf dating sites, you’ll see that some are going to be better than others.

Exactly what kind of a relationship are you looking for? A date? An email-pal? A spouse? Or just a night of fun? Some dating services are tailored towards a particular activity. “Adult” sites like Adult Friend Finder are for those of you looking for a more intimate and possibly short-term situation, while others like Match.com have all sorts of matchmaking machinery to find that special someone for the rest of your life. Some sites like Lavalife have multiple communities, each one unique to different types of dating interests.

Assuming you actually want to meet that person, well, in person, you’ll have to think about distances. Does that person have to be from your city? Are you willing to travel a little? Or, as is increasingly the case, are you wanting to find someone from really far away? It’s not uncommon for matches to be made across continents these days, though not without a fair amount of emails and phone calls in between.

Pay attention to the kinds of searches allowed by each site; if they only allow for searches by state and not by city, you’ll have to work harder to find someone close to you. If the site doesn’t allow you to search anywhere other than North America, they likely don’t have that many members outside of this continent.

Age can also be a factor. Some sites, either by design or by accident, seem to have membership bases that are older or younger than average. If you’re concerned about this, do a few exploratory searches on each site while paying attention to the ages of the profiles that come up. Some searches will even tell you how many profiles you found each time. It also doesn’t hurt to look at the site’s overall design: if it’s got lots of little buttons and pictures all over the place, you can guess that it’s for the younger more tech-savvy types.

Speaking of complex sites, most have a wealth of features such as instant messaging, video, forums, or even phone services. Pay close attention to what you want, and don’t pay extra for a bunch of features you’ll never use. It’s a bit like buying an SUV when you live in the suburbs and only need to get over the speed bumps at the Starbucks’ parking lot.

Just how much are you going to be using the dating service? Would you check in every once in a while to see if anyone’s left you a message, only occasionally searching for matches? If so, you may want to use a site that allows to pay on a credit-by-credit basis. If you’re going to load up early and send lots of emails, use a site that has a monthly fee.

Speaking of prices, many sites have much cheaper rates for those who pay for six months or even a year at a time – less than ten dollars a month isn’t uncommon. If you’re just starting, and worried about spending forty-odd bucks only to become completely disenchanted with the whole thing, there are a few sites that offer super-short term memberships for almost nothing.

And if you’re not wanting to spend anything just yet, pay attention to what each site offers for free. Many, especially the adult ones, won’t even allow you to read member profiles without paying. If you have a hard time figuring out what’s free and what’s for pay, find the link that says “join” or “be a member” and it almost always go to a page that summarizes the benefits of joining.

So, if there’s a moral to this article, it’s “search around”. After poking through five or six dating services, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how they work. If you’re still not sure (well, even if think you’ve got it down), check out this article "Where to Post Your Profile" or read the Reviews here on DateSeeker.

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