Online dating services are a way of enabling people to meet others and make connections online. The goal is to develop a type of romantic relationship with someone else.
What are online dating services?
Normally, online dating services are companies that provide a way to find a date online through a website or application that can be accessed on a PC or a smartphone, but dating services also include matchmaking services which we will look at later.
Creating a profile
More often than not, online dating services require users to complete a profile that can include copious amounts of personal information.
This information will typically include things like gender, age, location, religion, ethnicity and interests. There is usually a requirement to include a photo on the profile as well.
Most online dating services use a direct messaging system on the platform but there are some that also have message boards or telephone chat services. Users can keep their conversations on the platform or they can use the platform to arrange to meet up in person.
Who are online dating services for?
In reality, anyone who knows how to use a PC or smartphone can use online dating services and you will find all types of people from all walks of life using them.
Pew Internet and American Life Project released a study that found people are more likely to go to online dating services if they are accustomed to using the internet regularly in their everyday life.
Today, online dating has hit critical mass and has lost all stigma from days gone thanks to Millennials who were brought up with technology and to them it is just a way of life.
There are loads of different online dating services that are geared towards different types of people. There are countless niche dating services with as many as 1000 new ones entering the market every year.
Match Making Services
Match making services and dating services are not actually the same. While an online dating service does match you with potential dates using various criteria, a matchmaking service is much more than an online questionnaire and tick-box exercise.
Match making services are services provided by a company that the client retains and pays a substantial amount of money to with the hopes of finding the right match. The matchmaking service will then take time to interview their client and then they use that information to pair people.
Let’s have a closer look at how match making services differ from online dating services:
1. They guide their clients personally rather than digitally.
2. They meet with and interview their clients.
3. They provide guidance pre-date help as well as post date support.
4. They cost much more than a dating website.
You wouldn’t necessarily trust an online fitness guru to get you in shape, instead, if you are looking for a more personal and hands on approach, you might use a personal trainer.
Look at match makers as your own personal trainer for your love life. Let’s have a look at some examples of matchmaking services.
It’s Just Lunch
Itsjustlunch.com (IJL) is a highly successful match making service. They recognize that dating is sometimes disappointing and frustrating and their goal is to change that. In fact, they state that IJL is wholly different from your usual way of finding a ‘match’ online.
They have a team of professional match makers that are actually interested in you. They want to find out who you are and what you want from a partner. Their process is certainly very successful.
They have been around for 28 years and boast of having put together over 2 million dates. There are thousands of success stories to show for it too!
They do all of the hard work in the matching process. While online dating sites use algorithms and statistics, IJL does the search for you and they do it personally. You will spend less time online looking at profiles and more time on actual dates. It’s personalized, private and very effective.
Additionally, there’s no profile uploaded online so it is very confidential. What is more, It’s Just Lunch also organizes the whole date. You just have to show up and have fun!
Luxury Match making Services
Luxury Matchmaking Services offer just that! They offer a match making service for busy, professional individuals. They have what they call a ‘high-end database’, which is full of single people who do not use dating apps and websites. All their matches are hand-selected and pre-screened.
Their clientele includes celebrities, authors, busy professionals, CEOs, doctors, executives, lawyers, scientists, engineers, famous influencers, YouTube stars, keynote speakers, actors, singers and models.
They make sure that they look into your lifestyle, your personality, philosophy, interests and values. This gives them customized personalized service.
To join, you need to submit an application. You will then schedule a meeting with an Interactive Assessor in their Professional Matchmaker Team. You will be able to say whether or not you approve of any matches before they share your details with others.
These are two of the more popular matchmaking companies. One thing’s for certain, if you don’t have the time for online dating, or if you’ve still not met your match, a matchmaking service might be just the thing for you!
Now let’s take a look at online dating services, more commonly called dating sites.
The range of online dating sites is massive. There are some dating services that are general and attract a diverse customer base with people looking for all sorts of relationships.
Others have a narrower membership base that is based on common interests, locations, jobs, hobbies, political affiliation, religion, etc.
There are sites that are completely free to use such as POF.com which rely on revenue from advertising while others operate with membership subscriptions. Basically, any site that is free operates under a freemium model, meaning there are options where you can pay for extra features.
Tinder is a mobile app that is location-based. Users have a profile with a short bio and some photos. You can also link your Instagram account. This is a swipe based app that is very popular with Millennials.
How does it work?
Users choose to swipe right or left on other people’s profiles. A right swipe means you like the look of the person, a left swipe means you don’t like the look of the person.
In 2014, Tinder was recording around 1 billion swipes a day. It is a popular dating service that is available in more than 40 languages with around 50 million users worldwide, 12 million of which user Tinder daily. In 2015, Tinder was valued at around $1.35 billion.
In 2015, it was discovered that 62% of Tinder users were male. What’s more, an experiment by Medium, showed that the bottom 80% of men (when you judge them on attractiveness) were in competition with each other for only the bottom 22% of women.
Tinder has been reputed to be a dating service that is more geared towards hook-ups than long term relationships.
Bumble is the creation of an ex-Tinder co-founder, Whitney Wolfe Herd that came about shortly after her departure from Tinder. Like Tinder, it is location based.
Its difference, however, lies in the fact that women have to be the first ones to message. Originally, you could only sign up to Bumble using a Facebook profile but you can now sign up with your phone number.
How does it work?
Users swipe right to show their interest in a potential date. In matches between men and women, the woman has to initiate the conversation and she has to do so within 24 hours of the match creation otherwise the match disappears.
Bumble has 22 million registered users and is worth $1 billion dollars, according to Forbes.
Coffee Meets Bagel (Free)
Coffee Meets Bagel is an online dating service that is APP based and originated in New York in 2012. It appeared on Shark Tank and the three founders – sisters named Dawoon, Arum, and Soo Kang – refused the offer of a $30 million buy-out.
How does it work?
Coffee Meets Bagel is different from other online dating services in that it limits how many profiles a user can interact with every day, meaning that users have to be more selective.
The website uses a user’s Facebook account to identify their matches. Each user is shown one match per day as a minimum but contact can only be made if the matches mutually ‘like’ each other.
The company has had over 7 million app downloads to date and receives good online reviews.
Coffee Meets Bagel was criticized heavily after a data breach in February 2019 with over 6 million accounts being affected.
OK Cupid (Free)
This dating service is based in the U.S. but is available across the globe. It is a free service that is supported by advertising although users can pay to not have ads.
How does it work?
Users answer multiple choice questions in order to be matched. The questions are said to be ‘non-traditional’ in the dating site world. The questions they pose are unique and are positioned to learn some deeper things about their members.
OK Cupid is a very popular dating service with over 30 million registered users. Time magazine listed it in their Top 10 dating websites.
OK Cupid has controversially removed instant messaging between people until they have been matched. Some users prefer this as it filters out the constant messages and helps save some users from a barrage of messages that they don’t want!
This site is reputed to be extremely liberal and it isn’t the ideal site if you’re a conservative!
Plenty of Fish (Free)
Plenty of Fish has around 100 million users worldwide! It is an entirely free service.
How does it work?
Plenty of Fish (PoF) has a detailed signup process. There are the preliminary questions including body type, age, sex, etc. as well as questions on how long your previous longest relationship was, your birth order in comparison to your siblings, and what influences you the most in finding a partner.
There’s a section for writing your own profile to help you express who you are to the world and you don’t have to display your real name.
After this initial profile set-up, there’s a chemistry assessment. This has over 70 questions and covers a wide variety of preferences and personality types such as whether or not you are stubborn. These are all answered on a scale, not just yes or no.
This is the only required assessment but there are others which will help you find the right match. Completing the required questionnaires takes around 20 minutes, and any extra ones you choose to take will take a bit more time.
PoF is immensely popular worldwide. This is primarily because it is an entirely free service that really holds its own against paid sites.
PoF’s messaging service is a little hard to locate. Users also complain it is hard to delete their accounts and because of the large number of people there may be a lot of dead or fake profiles as well.
Zoosk has 35 million members in more than 80 countries and 25 languages. It is an online dating site as well as an app.
How does it work?
With Zoosk, there are no long questionnaires. It uses your existing online social media account profiles and integrates them rather seamlessly into Zoosk.
Let’s face it, Facebook and Google probably know you better than many online dating sites could! Zoosk uses its own “Behavioral Matching” algorithms which claims to give users better matches.
It looks at what you ‘like’ on Facebook and who you’re messaging. You do have to verify your profile, supposedly to avoid fake profiles.
It requires a video verification, not just a photo. Zoosk essentially wants to know you’re a real person, not just a photo of a photo. It is then sent to the administrators and it takes a few hours to have full verification.
Zoosk is popular thanks to its integration with existing social media accounts and the fact that it is available in more than 80 countries and 25 languages!
Despite all of the verification, some users report questionable profiles. It isn’t difficult to create fake Facebook profiles, so it figures that getting past Zoosk’s verification isn’t hard either.
Other users say it is difficult to cancel an account. Also, you can browse for free. But, if you want to contact anyone, then you need to pay.
Match was one of the first online dating sites, launching in 1995. It is one of the largest and most reputable dating services.
How does it work?
Users create a profile about themselves and what they want to find in a date. It is traditional in its setup with information on gender, sex, race, location as well as what type of person you are looking for. It also asks about interests and values as well as your background.
Trial membership is quite restrictive in what you can do with the site. Typically Match will offer a 3 day free trial whereby you can communicate with anyone one the site for free.
Match is one of the most popular and well-known, as well as trusted brands available.
Match has been criticized for their auto-renew policy. When you sign up you must enter a credit card into the site. If you do not cancel the membership, they will automatically renew it and charge you again!
eHarmony is a website for people who are seeking a long-term partner and a meaningful connection, not just a fling.
How does it work?
eHarmony has a thorough signup process which increases the chances of having a good match with someone. However, without a paid subscription, you can’t view others’ photos or send and receive messages. The signup takes about 30-45 minutes as it is a fully personality analysis.
The website has around 10 million active users. It is a popular choice for those looking for long-term love and a committed relationship.
As mentioned, you can’t look at others’ photos or use messaging unless you pay for a subscription. It does have a longer sign up process than most (but because of the great details, the hope would be that you get better matches).
Another criticism is that if you are LGBTQ it will send you to a different partner site called “Compatible Partners”. Whilst this offers the same services, it is an entirely different platform.
Online Dating Services – a Summary
No matter what you are looking for in your life, there are online dating services out there for you. Many are free, some are paid.
If you’re new to online dating services, we recommend that you try out a few with free accounts to see what you think before you take the plunge and sign up for a paid dating service.
If you are not finding your match with an online dating site, you may want to consider a match making service. Before you begin, it is wise to think about what you want from your dates as this can greatly influence the path you take.
Happy date hunting! We hope you find what you are looking for.