Online dating can seriously improve your love life - but to really boost your odds, you need to start with the best dating site.
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With more than 1, online dating services in the UK alone, choosing the best site for you can feel as intimidating as finding the right person. Should you a specialist site where you're guaranteed to meet like-minded singles? Or should you throw the net as website as possible? To make it even harder, most dating sites hide their subscription prices until you've created a profile. To help you choose, we created temporary profiles on more than a dozen dating sites. Here we expose the prices they'd rather keep secret and reveal which sites are best for user experience, clever features and chances of finding love.
There are pros and cons to narrowing down your search from the get-go. Niche dating sites tend to be dating than mainstream sites, for starters, but the biggest advantage of a specialist site is the feeling of being among friends. If you're new to the online dating jungle, a niche site can help you feel more at ease than a huge mainstream site, where you can easily feel overwhelmed.
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You may be surprised by the of specialist dating sites out there. More than half the UK's 1, dating sites cater for a specific group such as over 50sgay daters and disabled daters. There are matchmaking sites for wine connoisseurspeople who share your music tasteand — yes — dating for dog lovers. On the downside, a niche site limits your choices. You may assume you'll want to date someone who shares a specific interest, but attraction doesn't work like that in real life.
Your ideal match may not fit the formula.
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And remember, mainstream sites do let you narrow your search, then expand it gradually to widen the net. The other big advantage of mainstream sites is that they tend to offer more innovative features, such as live chat, rich profile tools and incognito modes. We'll mention the best tools in our reviews below. Free dating apps such as TinderBadoo and Facebook's new Match Me are great for finding hook-ups, but they're not deed to find you a match for life.
In this review we're focusing on services that aim to find you a compatible partner. They charge subscription fees and make you wade through epic questionnaires because they want to filter out casual browsers. So be prepared to spend an afternoon spilling your heart out as part of the -up process before you can get anywhere near other members' profiles.
Guard your personal information carefully. The thrill of connecting with someone online can easily make you drop your guard. You want to tell them everything. Well, don't. Information like your mum's maiden name, your street and even your pets' names are gold dust for scammers. Don't swap s until you've met.
Many sites, including eHarmony and EnableDatinghave secure online calling features that let you chat without having to give away your phone. Be cautious of file downlo.
If a stranger s you a ZIP file of songs or photos, it may be perfectly innocent — but it could also be dodgy malware. Don't open files until you know the person better. Meet up quickly. Chemistry is almost impossible to assess through s alone.
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Meet up soon, so you can be sure there really is a spark. If the person you're chatting to keeps putting off the chance to meet, ask yourself why. Report suspicious behaviour. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or gets abusive, don't hesitate to report them to the website. Check the site has ed up to the ODA. If you're in the UK, make sure your chosen dating site follows the Online Dating Association code of practice. Enter the site's name into the ODA's free ' Check a site ' tool to find out if it's registered. Don't pay for the same service twice!
Many dating sites share a database of members.
Best dating sites: top online dating services for men and women of all ages
Two of the best-known dating sites, Match and Dating Directare both now owned by French company Meetic and are effectively the same thing, but will happily take a subscription fee each. All the services we mention below are separate from each other.
Before posting a profile, you have to wade through dozens of soul-searching multi-choice questions about yourself and your approach to life. After that, you can't see people's photos until you're a paid-up member, and even then you can only see pics of people you've been 'matched' with. It's hard work, but that's the point.
If you're a woman who's fed up with the torrent of "winks" you get on other sites, eHarmony will come as a big relief. And if you're a man on eHarmony, women will know you're serious.
All adults are welcome here, but you may prefer one of its sister sites for a more focused search. Premium plans, which let you send unlimited messages and see who's viewed your profile, are priced roughly in line with eHarmony's rivals. As with most of these sites, the pricing isn't an exact website - there are generous discounts if you return after months away, even if you didn't pay for premium membership before.
You can do more for free on Match than on eHarmony. You can search profiles using smooth filters, check for people nearby using the Around Me tool, publish your profile, receive "winks" from interested suitors, and see everyone's photos — all gratis.
That makes Match a winner if you want to dive straight in, but it does mean there's less quality control. The moment your profile is published, which you have to do before seeing prices, you're battered with attention. So if you want a ton of options and a dating tonight, Match is the place to come. If, on the other hand, you want to ease your way into online dating, you'll find Match a bit "too much".
You'll have to subscribe to send and receive messages. The Basic package lets you send unlimited messages to 10 different members a day, which is surely more than anyone needs. Match's sister site, Affinityuses the same database but adds eHarmony-style compatibility testing.
Match also hosts events where you can meet singles face-to-face in a secure environment. Dating Direct also uses the same database, so don't be fooled into ing up for both services. Price: free with premium extras OkCupid.
OkCupid is like a vivacious younger version of eHarmony, although they are separate entities and don't share a database. Like eHarmony, OkCupid makes you sit through numerous compatibility questions and has a focus on getting to know you, heart and soul.
However, it's much more open to non-traditional matches and casual relationships than eHarmony is.
You're invited to specify a preference for hook-ups, one-night stands, platonic friendship, non-monogamy, non-specific gender, LGBT relationships You can post a profile with numerous photos, see other members' profiles and photos, send and receive messages, and use the companion app for Android and iOS without paying a penny.
There are a couple of 'A-List' plans too, if you want advanced features such as incognito mode, message-read receipts A-List basic and the chance to see everyone's questionnaire answers A-List premium.
GayParship is the sister site of a mainstream dating site Parshipand uses a lengthy questionnaire to match you to compatible potential partners, with a focus on long-term relationships. It's careful to filter out time-wasters and protect your privacy.
The questionnaire is even longer than eHarmony's, with soul-searching multi-choice questions such as 'How would you feel attending a wedding with your new partner? You get to see your full for free, with a breakdown of your personality and relationship type. You can see photos of your matches and they can see you before you subscribe.
However, you must subscribe to send and receive messages.
Muddy Matches offers the best user experience of all the niche dating sites we tested, with a fast and fuss-free ing process that fills you with confidence. And you don't have to be muddy to use it: country-curious townies are welcome, too.
The site is less conservative than you might assume. The 'seeking It's free to search profiles and receive messages, and to read the impressive choice of articles such as 'Online dating after divorce' and profile tips.