Ten years ago people were hiding the fact that they were dating online. That is definitely not the case today. Finding a potential match in person isn’t an easy task anymore. So, many people are turning to online dating, as it is now socially acceptable, and quite popular. With that being said, finding the right online dating site for you can be tricky. When you’re on the wrong one, it can start to feel like a full-time job that never pays out.
Because of this, the team at Reviews.com spent six weeks reviewing 68 online dating sites to find which algorithms actually work and which site was most likely to find you a compatible match. They found their top picks by analyzing web-traffic data, consulting with matchmakers and online dating experts, along with evaluating their user bases, functionality and quality.
With all of their research, they created a comprehensive guide to help daters find <a href="http://www.reviews.com/online-dating-sites/">the best dating site</a> for their specific needs (best overall, best for long-term relationships, best app and best niche dating sites). They also offer tips on how to maximize your online dating experience, by making it worthwhile and safer.
Here are their two top picks…
Best Overall: OkCupid
No matter what you’re looking for — casual hookups, marriage, polyamory, relationships with men, relationships with women, a little bit of everything — OkCupid can accommodate. It’s by far the best-looking and easiest to use of our top four, on both browser and mobile, with intuitive iconography and streamlined features. Two factors really set OkCupid apart from the competition: It produces the best profiles, and it uses the best matching algorithm.
The standard fields you fill in on your profile are open-ended without being too general, which lets people come up with creative, interesting answers almost without trying. Yes, it includes the standard prompt to list your favorite movies, music, and TV shows, but it also asks you what six things you couldn’t live without and what you spend a lot of time thinking about. With those kinds of questions, it would be hard not to come up with unique answers that show potential dates what makes you you. OkCupid was the only site we tested where we never ran across a profile left blank or populated by “I’ll fill this out later.”
In addition to the more free-form profile prompts, OkCupid also lets you answer multiple-choice questions, which it uses to produce its famous match percentage. Like many other dating sites, OkCupid algorithmically compares your answers to those of other users to determine if you’re compatible. But unlike most dating sites, it (a) lets you choose the answer you want your partner to give, and (b) lets you rank how important the question is to you.
OkCupid uses your answers to these questions to do a bunch of math, so that whenever you look at another user’s profile, you see a “match percentage” (which measures ways you’re compatible with someone) and an “enemy percentage” (which measures ways you’re not compatible with someone). Though OkCupid emphasizes high match percentages, it’s just as important to have a low enemy percentage.
Best For Long-term Relationships: Match.com
Match.com was the first real dating website, and it’s still among the best. It has a reputation as a better place to search for long-term relationships than the more hookup-friendly OkCupid, and science backs that reputation up: According to one study, Match.com and eHarmony produce the most marriages of any dating sites or apps. It’s free to build a profile, but you have to pay to use the site effectively; if you’re not a subscriber, you can’t do even basic things like read your messages. Luckily, it’s affordable: $31/month for 3 months, $27/month for 6 months, $25/month for 12 months. (Though, again, look for the deals and discounts the site will advertise to you when you’re using the free version.)
Like OkCupid, Match.com tries to strike a balance between letting you use your own words and helping you fill in pre-fab questions and fields. It does a decent job, but not an outstanding one. The information it asks for is more boring (how many times a week you exercise) and often too open-ended (describe yourself in your own words), which means people often don’t complete their profiles, or they fill them in with boring clichés.
The design is more cluttered than OkCupid, so it’s harder to take in information at a glance, and it seems a bit redundant to offer winks, likes, and faves. But the app is more streamlined, and everything is easy enough to use, whether you’re accessing the site from a laptop or phone.
One great feature that sets Match.com apart from other big dating sites is that it organizes and promotes a lot of in-person events like speed dating, happy hours, and game nights. And people seem to need help transitioning from online to offline; a 2013 study from Pew Research indicates that a third of people using dating sites have never actually met anyone from those sites in person. No dating site facilitates that better than Match.com.