With such a wide range of online dating sites available these days, your first foray into the world of online dating can be a scary and intimidating one. Before you do anything, take a step back; don’t rush into setting up an online dating profile on the first website that comes up after googling ‘Online Dating Site’.
Being aware of the different types of sites can make all the difference to choosing the most suitable one for you and ultimately how much fun and success you have.
To help you make an informed decision we’ve summarized the various dating sites into the following categories:
Generic Dating Websites
As the name suggests, these are for anyone, any age, race, color, religion etc. They can however, be split into two distinct types, Pre-Picked and Pick Your Own. Pre-picked – sites like Match Affinity and eHarmony; after completion of a lengthy profile the site uses a complex matching algorithm to find your suitable matches, and all you have to do is accept or reject. This isn’t the most interactive type of online dating, but if you’re busy and trust a computer to find a future partner then this could be for you. Pick Your Own - much quicker to set up an account and create a profile as they don’t have complex matching algorithms requiring vast amounts of information. This also means that you can choose to contact people who aren’t typically “your type”, which can be a bit of fun.
Free Online Dating Websites
These are free, and usually have fewer features and support because of it, but a wider range of users. However, as it’s free you may feel the need to question the motivation of other users, so if you’re looking for a long term partner this maybe isn’t the best option. These sites can be useful for those who want to try out online dating, but aren’t sure if they want to put the money in yet. OKCupid and PlentyOfFish are some of the most popular free ones.
Geo-location App Based Online Dating
Well, yes, this type is more of a subclass. When an online dating website releases some sort of smartphone application, it usually has some sort of optional geo-location feature built-in. This uses your smartphone’s in-built location features to show you other singles located near you, which gives you the opportunity of an instant hook up. The homosexual iPhone app Grindr could be said to have popularized the concept for the ‘online dating’ market, and apps such as FourSquare and Facebook Check-In utilize a similar concept. So if you’re glued to your smartphone and want the excitement of instant dates (and you don’t live in the middle of nowhere) you should look for a site with a geo-location dating app.
Activity Based Online Dating
This is as opposed to being dating profile based. Users aren’t just matched because they are necessarily similar, or you like their dating profile. These sorts of sites aim to get people doing activities together (‘dates’), and then let relationships develop from there. Some are ‘groupon’ (coupons for multiple people) based such as ChirpMe, and others just work on quirky suggestions such as HowAboutWe.
Popular Niche Online Dating Sites
You might find you get more success on a niche dating site with a smaller but more targeted database of members. There’s a niche dating site for pretty much everything these days; mature dating, toy boy or cougar dating, sporty singles, alternative dating, vegetarian, and such.
Religion or Race-Centric Online Dating Sites
The name says it all really. The most common of these types seem to be Indian or Jewish dating. If you feel like you’d rather meet people in the same religion or race, then you really should check these out.
Adult/Casual/Affair Dating Websites
Naughty, behind closed doors dating. This sort of illicit behavior is not to be encouraged, but if the fancy takes you there are plenty or online dating websites for hooking up with people already married, engaged or dating and aren’t satisfied by their partners. These usually have a casual and sexy edge, not really aimed at building a meaningful relationship. However, fun if you’re into that sort of thing.
Weird Online Dating Websites
Well, weird makes them sound bad. ‘Quirky’ may be more apt. These are sites with a gimmick, or aimed at a niche that are trying to be unique and different. Naturally, try these sorts of sites if you like what they’re selling. It’s difficult to explain this type because most of them are pretty unique. Some match potential couples based on facial structure (Soul2Mate or FindYourFaceMate), some ask you to play online ‘Snog, Marry Avoid’ (Snog.com), and others offer a buy/sell type of situation for dates, which is allegedly borderline escorting (WhatsYourPrice).
Pretty much whatever sort of thing you’re looking for in an online dating website is available somewhere. Just make sure the site you choose is right for you, and don’t be afraid to move dating sites if you’re not sure the one you’re on is what you want. Don’t forget, online dating comparison websites exist too, and make use of them where you feel the need. Good luck!
Cover Image by Mick Orlosky via Flickr