So, you’ve decided to get into online dating, but you’re just now realizing how much choice there is in the marketplace. It’s daunting, isn’t it? What will you do? Which app or website will you choose? Hopefully, our article will help you in choosing the right dating platform. It’s all about getting into the right mindset, and considering carefully what exactly it is you want from an online dating experience.
What Do You Want From Online Dating?
No-Strings-Attached Fun; Action; Hookups
There is sometimes a bit of stigma attached to those who are using online dating sites and platforms to just hook up with others, but as long as no one is getting hurt in the process and everyone is consenting and of legal age, we think it’s hard to justify such criticism. Anyway, regardless of your personal position on the subject, there are myriad dating sites and platforms that can help cater to your desires.
For websites, examples include AdultFriendFinder, or Match. The former is a bit dated, but according to many users it still works well, and it is more heavily focused on those looking for fun only. Match is more of a mixed bag, catering to all sorts of people, but there’s a definite population within that ecosystem that is up for no-strings-attached fun. Ashley Madison is another popular choice, but some are put off by the ‘affair’ angle of this site.
For apps, there are more choices in this arena, such as Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, Her, and many others. These are sometimes geared towards specific audiences, such as Grindr and Her, both of which are aimed at gay men and lesbian women respectively. Tinder is a more general and inclusive platform, but is dominated by heterosexual couplings. Bumble is a female-oriented app that gives women more control over how they interact with others, and while not marketed as a “hookup” option, there’s still plenty of that going on.
Any of the above options could also be useful for those who might be looking for a “Friends with Benefits” situation. This refers to making connections with people who could become regular sexual partners, but while at the same time maintaining a sustained but chiefly platonic relationship with that person. It can get complicated, but that’s what some people really want, and these same apps are generally the best place to find that.
A Steady Relationship
If you’re looking for a steady boyfriend or girlfriend, then there are also many options. Most of the hookup apps that we mentioned above like Tinder and Grindr all have the possibility of meeting people for relationships, and you can stipulate that desire in your profile to help you match better with other users.
Those who are more serious about meeting someone for a more meaningful connection, however, might do better on a big online platform like Match. There is a general sense that apps are used more for more light-hearted, less serious relationship searching, and websites are for those who want to take their time and really look more seriously at a connection.
One app that does stand out among the crowd when it comes to more serious connections is the above-mentioned female-oriented Bumble. Since the app is geared more towards women users — though they are not the majority of users on the platform, it seems — it’s easier for women to filter out men who are only looking for action and instead focus on making deeper connections.
Friendships and Connections
It could be that you’re just looking for like-minded friends rather than anything romantic, especially if you’re part of a niche dating community such as the LGBT+ community. Most heterosexual users employ these apps for finding romantic or sexual connection, but it’s quite possible within niche groups that this is a primary motivation for joining.
Among the more mainstream apps, it’s easy to set your profile to say that you’re looking for friendships primarily, of course, but once again it’s Bumble that stands out because of the way it actually offers different modes such as “BFF” and “Bizz” modes. The “BFF” mode allows women or men to find friends of the same gender, and who are also set to “BFF” mode and so all on the same page.
“Bizz” mode turns Bumble into a kind of LinkedIn-like application where you can seek mentors, publish your work history, and use the app more like a personal resume to try and advance or change your career path.
Finally, we come to those who are looking for the ultimate relationship step: marriage. Traditionally, websites like eHarmony have dominated this space with their use of relationship science that is geared very specifically towards creating strong matches that they believe could and will lead to marriage if pursued. They do have the numbers to back it up of course, accounting for about 4 percent of all marriages happening today in the US, and a rock-bottom divorce rate among these marriages of just 3.5 percent!
Of course, you could well find marriage material on virtually any other platform, but the reason we highlighted eHarmony there is because it’s one that has long been dedicated to the institution. Others such as Match also claim a lot of success here, boasting some 900,000+ marriages and even a million babies born of their matchmaking prowess.
Read the Reviews
Once you’ve determined what it is you want primarily, then you need to take to the web and start reading user and professional reviews of the various platforms. It’s important that you make your reading on this subject as broad and varied as possible, because the fact is that there are a lot of different perspectives on these platforms, and there are new options emerging all the time.
No matter how big any one app seems to get, there’s always some serious competition from elsewhere that keeps the landscape interesting for consumers. While more choice is good, it also makes choosing one more confusing. The problem is that there’s essentially no such thing as a totally free and satisfactory dating app. Any platform that you want to use seriously, you’ll have to pay for, and that means taking the time to investigate how they perform.
Determine an Acceptable Budget
No matter how hard you search, it’s highly unlikely that you will get absolutely everything you want from a dating site or app without paying any money at all. Most platforms are geared towards severely limiting features and access to users of the free version, while lavishing premium additions and extra features on those who pay the subscription fee.
So, you’ll have to resign yourself to a simple fact: if you want to get the most out of your online dating experience, then you’ll need to be ready to pay. To that end, you’ll need to figure out an amount that you’re willing to pay, and over how long. Most websites work on a rule that the longer you subscribe for, the more you’ll pay in total but the cheaper it works out from month to month.
For instance, eHarmony has a 6-month premium membership that works out to $65.90 a month, or $395.40 in total. They also have a 24-month premium membership that works out to $35.90 a month, or $861.6. In this case, you have to balance the time limitation and monetary cost, otherwise you might end up spending a lot more than you wanted.
Longer memberships like the 24-month one on eHarmony may seem pessimistic at first. Will it really take you 2 years to meet the right person there? What if you pay for the big 2-year subscription, but then meet someone after 2 months? On the other hand, what if you assume you’ll meet someone great within 6 months, but then just run out of time and have to spend another $395.40 to get another 6 months?
We’d advise that in general it’s better to take the chance on a longer, cheaper monthly subscription that gives you more leeway, and allows for things to go wrong. We also suggest that you don’t stray outside of what you can genuinely afford, however. For those on a stricter budget, smartphone apps are generally cheaper, and offer more flexibility in their plans.
To wrap up, let’s go through a few more important things to consider when choosing your online dating app.
When budgeting and looking at premium subscription packages, pay special attention to the exact features that come with each package. For example, Match offers a “Standard” and “Premium” package. For a lot of people just looking for basic online connection, the cheaper Standard package is enough, and the Premium one only brings added features that they end up never using.
Examine feature offerings carefully and compare those with the price. The most important features for most are:
- No limits on messaging, swiping or whatever other method of matching they use
- Boosting your own profile visibility
- Access to a greater number of profiles in your area
- The ability to use special tools like “Super Likes” to set yourself apart from typical users
As we touched on above in the budgeting section, choosing an appropriate subscription length is important. If you’re only looking to find hookups, then short-term subscriptions (usually less than 12 months) should furnish you with enough contacts to find all you need for any period of time after the subscription expires. For those looking for something serious, they should consider subscriptions of at least 12 months in length.
Beware of platforms that make a huge deal out of the sheer number of users they have. The real number you’re looking for is the number of ACTIVE users. Zoosk, for instance, boasts many millions of users and was once praised as one of the richest searching grounds for online dating. Nowadays, however, it is constantly criticized for its “dead” or “zombie” profiles that the admins seem to do little or nothing about. It’s no good finding a million users on your screen only to find that none are online!