The singles scene may be buzzing with the phone dating apps fad, but traditional online dating websites are not going anywhere. These services remain popular with people who do not find swiping dating apps dignified or serious and would rather not participate in playing the latest fashionable dating game (e.g. anyone remember speed dating?).
Online dating sites―with the notable exceptions of OkCupid and Plenty of Fish―generally require a paid membership and more of a time commitment than dating apps, which likely leads to members who are more dedicated to the process and more focused on serious dating. I will review three of the more popular online dating sites that I have had extensive experience with in different cities. Your recommended reading is the Dating Apps Guide since many of the rules presented in that article are also applicable to online dating sites.
eHarmony was founded in 2000 in Pasadena, California by Neil Clark Warren, a psychologist and author of relationship advice books, and his son-in-law, Greg Forgatch. The website has a well-deserved reputation as the place for people seeking serious relationships leading to marriage.
The eHarmony process starts by answering a ridiculously lengthy questionnaire that can take over an hour. This part of the process alone will weed out anyone wishy-washy or unserious and then eHarmony will further cull some undesirables based on their answers. After setting up your profile, you will get a few daily matches that eHarmony deems compatible with your values and background. There is a multi-step process before getting to the emailing stage, which allows you to decide at each step if you wish to continue getting to know your new connection.
It is worth noting that the eHarmony founder, Mr. Warren, deserves tremendous credit for not giving in to the aggressive homosexual lobby (a.k.a. Big Gay) and its Cultural Marxist red guard allies. These decadent nihilists and radical leftists are relentless in advocating for tearing down every last pillar of the Western Christian moral order and, thus, continue to whine and express faux outrage at eHarmony’s policy of not facilitating homosexual relations through its dating service.
Why do certain annoyingly agitating people insist on trying to join clubs or organizations where they are not allowed or where they do not belong (e.g. homosexuals and pedophiles in the Boy Scouts of America)? Should heterosexuals make a fuss about Grindr only being geared toward homosexual and bisexual men or should we just use any of the available dating apps that cater to us? Private, non-governmental businesses and voluntary organizations should be allowed to decide who their customers or members are, or can be, by setting their own standards (i.e. actively discriminate). I’m glad to have that off my chest now.
My experience: I signed up for eHarmony on a couple of different occasions in Los Angeles, and once in Nashville, before deleting my account for good at the beginning of 2017. The premise and aim of the service are admirable and sensible in theory, but I found it to be a major disappointment overall.
Please don’t get me wrong; I received many high-quality matches of nice, intelligent, attractive women who seemed to be good fits with what I was (and still am) looking for. The problem was that too many of these ladies had left the building weeks or months before. That is to say, eHarmony sends out inactive, outdated profiles, which makes its site appear more popular than it really is. This tendency is not necessarily nefarious on eHarmony’s part, but most likely the result of women leaving their profiles up on the site after their subscription has expired.
During the three months that I used eHarmony when I first moved to Nashville, I went out with only two women. The first one I saw once and never again, while the second one I dated for two months before mutually calling it off. When I used the service last year in Los Angeles, I went out with maybe three women in a six-month period and none were worth writing home about.
Verdict: If you happen to live in or near a large city then eHarmony is worth joining for at least one month―or three months at the most. eHarmony’s subscriptions are not inexpensive, but you can get a monthly discount if you buy a three or six or, God forbid, a 12-month subscription. I do not plan on returning to the site ever again, but good luck to Mr. Warren et al.
The Match website was started in 1995 and is now owned by IAC, the company that also owns OkCupid, Tinder, and Plenty of Fish. Match is the oldest operating online dating service and is the classic in the industry. The company is headquartered in Dallas and serves 25 countries around the world.
Match has a useful search and filtering system that allows users to hone in on members with the attributes they are searching for. The website has a modern, well-designed, user-friendly interface that will make the hours fly by as you hunt for that special someone. The hunt will likely take months, and odds are that you will tire and quit before finding your dream gal, but it is wrong to blame Match completely for your failure. You should be able to score a Match subscription for about $20-30 per month, but it is cheaper if you commit to a longer subscription period.
My experience: Match was the first online dating site I ever used and have returned to it time and time again in three different cities (Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Nashville). Washington was by far the best out of the three cities, but I was in my late 20s at the time with a full head of hair and the schoolboy innocence that tends to reverberate with the opposite sex.
The D.C. area also has the highest female-to-male ratio in the country after New York City, so even a clueless, hopeless, unappealing putz in the Seth Rogen mold could eventually land someone. In Nashville, I went out with three women in the four months I was active on the site and all went to at least a second date, but ultimately nothing panned out longer than one month.
Verdict: If you wanted to try only one online dating site, then Match is your best bet. If you live in a large metropolitan area then a three-month subscription might be called for, but you don’t have much to lose in getting on board for one month. I may return to Match next year, but Nashville’s Match scene is smaller than I was expecting and I quickly ran out of reasonably promising matches.
A useful tip before you subscribe is to do a search on Match and see if there are any worthwhile women out there before laying your money down. You will first need to create an account, which is free, and remember to sort your search by activity date, so you can ignore profiles that have been inactive for more than three weeks. Another useful tip is to search for online Match.com coupon codes that you can use for some decent discounts on subscription packages. You can also do this before committing to an eHarmony plan.
OkCupid was launched in 2004 by four Harvard students and acquired by IAC for $50 million in 2011. The site is entirely free and you can pay a small monthly fee ($5) to upgrade to their A-list, which unlocks a few features, but is entirely optional and not necessary. There are hundreds of quizzes and surveys you can fill out, and thousands of oftentimes nonsensical questions you can kill hours answering, which help calculate your match percentage with your matches.
My experience: Despite my obvious dislike of OkCupid I actually met my ex-girlfriend on the site through what must have been divine intervention. She also turned out to be my longest relationship to date at over three years, but I have serious reservations that lightning can strike twice in the same spot.
My latest and very last attempt on OkCupid lasted less than two months total in Nashville and I only went out with one woman. We only met for a quick coffee and I never saw her again, but strangely enough she was the most attractive woman I have gone out with in Nashville to date. But even this was not enough to convince me about OkCupid and I deleted my account this year and have no plans to use this pathetic excuse for an online dating site ever again.
Verdict: In many ways OkCupid is the Tinder of online dating: free, weird and perverted women (often freakishly so), low-class, rampant obesity and tattooing, a plethora of single mothers, and the usual assortment of social misfits, feminists, and social justice warriors. You can try it for one week to see what I’m going on about, but I doubt that it would work out for any self-respecting, non-feminist man unless you get incredibly lucky. If you want to roll the dice, don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Similar to my recommendation on trying one dating app for a month, I would recommend that everyone try one online dating site for at least one month before badmouthing it. I think that Match is your best bet since it has a large mix of singles and you can find casual and serious dating housed under one roof. As far as keeping expectations realistic, if you can manage a response rate north of 10% then you are doing fairly well. Anything around 20% or above and you should be teaching a class to men on how to craft that perfect, enticing opening message.
It is worth bearing in mind that both online dating and dating apps are not anywhere close to as successful as the old-fashioned methods of meeting women as shown by this Pew Research study. According to Pew, only 5% of Americans who are currently married or in a serious relationship met online. Pew also checked on couples who got together only in the last five years―since that is when online dating and dating apps really went mainstream―and found that only 12% of these new couples found their love via the internet.
Pew did not ask about how many casual escapades were facilitated by online modes of meeting in case that is your angle. I was somewhat surprised to read that only approximately one in five Americans aged 25-44 have ever tried online dating or dating apps. If you set your expectations low and are realistic about what you will or will not find, online dating sites are worth at least one round. Doing either online dating or dating apps for extended periods of time will only result in you dating down.
If I wanted to further discourage you from attempting online dating then I would recommend this article from 2011 that cites a Duke University study, which found that six hours of online dating activity is required on average to set up one actual date. Or another depressing statistic noted in the aforementioned piece that only 1 in 1,369 dates leads to marriage on Match.com. Maybe it’s time to go back to the tried and true methods of connecting with people in person in real life instead of deluding ourselves with more technological utopian dreams?
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. ― Ecclesiastes 1:9