If you’re ready for a summer romance, it may be tempting to give online dating a try.
A few years ago, I might have thought that was a wacky idea, but it has become a huge industry — sites that help people meet up — and I now know a lot of folks who have found great relationships this way. It certainly seems a lot more elegant and less awkward than the dating scene in bars, say, or even at church.
One of the tricks is choosing the dating site that will help you choose a partner.
There are so many it can be confusing to decide which might be for you. Sure, there are plenty of free ones, but how do their “offerings” compare with some of those that charge a monthly fee?
But then again, the marketplace is a lot like the classified ads used to be — that is, different publications catering to different populations and desires — only more efficient due to the technology.
We took a spin through reviews of five of the most popular sites to give you an idea of what and whom to expect on the various sites and just what you get if you do decide to enroll.
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The site eHarmony is strictly for heterosexuals. If you’re looking for same-sex dating, the site will bounce you over to compatiblepartners.com, according to PC magazine. If you are a woman seeking a man or vice versa, you will find plenty to love on eHarmony. The site’s founders claim to be responsible for nearly 4 percent of all marriages in the United States.
The basics: eHarmony bases everything on a personality form you complete. If you try to push through it quickly, the site reminds you that thoughtfulness counts, notes PC magazine. The site is intuitive, though, so you won’t struggle to use it once you’re a member.
Launched in 2000, eHarmony gives you a profile page once you become a member. You receive potential matches from its Compatibility Matching System. You can also browse outside of your matches.
A few other points: A study found that 57 percent of eHarmony users found a relationship on the service, according to Dating Sites Reviews.
Cost: A recent ad on the eHarmony offered a six-month membership for $29.95 per month. There are different plans, though, including those allow you to speak to potential matches without revealing your phone number. Costs can go up to about $75 a month.
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Match.com is one of the oldest dating sites, having launched its beta site in 1995. It also has one of the largest member dating bases and serves both homosexuals and heterosexuals.
The basics: The diverse membership means you can seek out whatever type of relationship you want. Members are from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds in all age groups.
Match.com has what many say is the easiest profile to complete, open-ended essays where you can get into details, and a host of search options to find the right person. You can also upload up to 26 photos including those from Facebook.
Members have various ways to express interests in other members including winks and likes, according to the site.
A few other points: Match.com guarantees you’ll receive a match within six months, whether you are looking for a casual friendship, casual dating or long-term romance. Of course there are rules you must follow including responding to at least five unique members each month. If you do so, though, without success you may qualify for the extension at no extra cost.
Cost: $19.99 a month.
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You’ve probably heard of Tinder, the application owned by Match.com. It’s gained a lot of users, especially with younger people. Basically, you make matches based on photos and basic information such as age and location. You can indicate if you like the person you see with a quick swipe. If you don’t like them, they will never know. If you have a mutual attraction, Tinder offers you ways to communicate including a private, virtual place to chat.
The basics: You download the application and log in with your Facebook profile. You also specify the gender and age range of your ideal match. You make your decision based almost solely on the photo you see and very basic information. Although most sites, such as Match.com, use algorithms to match people, Tinder enables the daters to choose whom they would like, according to the New York Times.
A few other points: Match.com owns Tinder.
Cost: Tinder is a free application.
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This is the perfect way to tap into Facebook friends and find a match — without telling anyone what you’re doing.
The basics: You log into Coffee Meets Bagel through Facebook and specify any preferences you have regarding gender, religion, ethnicity, height and more. At noon each day, you receive one match or “bagel.” The system is designed so that users aren’t overwhelmed with possible matches, according to Bustle.com.
You can pass or like. If you both like each other, the company introduces them through a private texting line.
A few other points: The service is like a game with “beans” that allow you to buy special features, yet it zeroes in on serious users. The developers want members who are seeking relationships, not hook-ups or casual dates, according to TechCrunch.com
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Think of this service as the virtual equivalent of personal ads in newspapers. Just like newspaper ads, OKCupid accepts everyone and that means there are a wide variety of members from which to choose.
The basics: Those who enroll fill out a lengthy profile so that likely matches can find you and vice versa. There is also a matching algorithm. It differs from Match.com, which owns the site, according to TheDatingGurus.com. It also differs because OKCupid members are sexually adventuresome, according to statistics the site released.
A few other points: Match.com owns OKCupid.
Have you dabbled in the online dating world? Share your experiences with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.