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But do these sites really work? Are some better than others? Reams have been written about online dating, but as far as we know, no one has put the sites to the test.
Best Online Dating Sites & Services
So Consumer Reports decided to survey almost , subscribers about online dating and their experiences with it. Given that we usually rate products like refrigerators and services like banking , this is new and fairly unusual territory for us.
But as we explored the possibility of taking on this investigation, we discovered that 20 percent of our subscribers are either divorced or have never married, and might benefit from what we found. Our survey included many people who at some point had used a dating website or an app, as well as a subset of 9, respondents who used them in the past two years. The more recently active group rated specific sites. Our findings tell an almost contradictory story. On the one hand, the numbers indicate that these sites are helping people find mates. A whopping 44 percent of respondents who tried online dating said the experience led to a serious long-term relationship or marriage.
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That kind of connection rate would shatter Hall of Fame records, at least in baseball. They gave online dating sites the lowest satisfaction scores Consumer Reports has ever seen for services rendered—lower even than for tech-support providers , notoriously poor performers in our ratings. Well, finding a mate can be arduous and exhausting. The fact is that online dating is, well, complicated. Online dating is different from shopping for, say, a sweater, he explains: But with dating, the sweater has to agree, too.
Find out which type makes more sense for you
But our research also found that online dating, however painful and time-consuming, often does produce the intended result if you use it well—and persevere. You can find the right person more effectively by choosing the right site, which means determining the demographics it caters to and figuring out whether a large or niche site will best serve your needs. Our survey found that OkCupid and Tinder, both free, were more popular among millennials than Generation Xers and baby boomers, who were both more likely to use a paid subscription-based dating website or app.
And we found that the free sites generally did marginally better than the paid ones, presumably because they offer a better value. Kate, the government analyst, has started using Tastebuds, a site based on music preferences. Many dating sites rely on matchmaking algorithms the same way that Netflix uses them to recommend movies. Apps like Bumble, Grindr, or Tinder use things like your location and sexual preference. If the interest is mutual, you can send messages to each other. But that can happen on any site, says Laurie Davis Edwards, a professional dating coach and founder of eFlirt in Los Angeles, which helps clients navigate the dating world.
Joseph Lynn, 50, was matched with a woman who seemed perfect. Disappointment, clearly, is almost unavoidable. Our survey found that among those reluctant to try online dating, 21 percent of women and 9 percent of men said it was because they knew someone who had a bad experience. Veteran online daters become adept at realizing when a match is going nowhere.
But persistence paid off for Riolo: They live separately but spend about half of the week together. Vince Manfredi, 61, who is divorced and works in marketing in San Diego, found that deception is all too common. Where that person taught and what subject kept changing. Edwards has sensed a pattern of untruthfulness. Manfredi wishes the sites would offer verified information about users. But that runs counter to another user concern: Many of us are wary of the marriage of technology and our love lives.
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12 Things to Know About Choosing the Best Online Dating Site
We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our prior written permission. Consumer Reports will take all steps open to it to prevent unauthorized commercial use of its content and trademarks. Please call Member Services at Welcome to Consumer Reports. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed.
Yes, send me a copy of this email. Oops, we messed up. While the prospects of finding a long-term match were surprisingly good amongst our survey respondents, our survey suggests that online dating can be as frustrating and emotionally fraught as offline dating. Use recent pictures, ones taken within the past 12 months, maximum.
Everyone needs at least one good, close-up headshot. But in the meantime, the best dating sites for you will be the ones that match your expectations in terms of communication.
1. Decide whether or not you want to pay for access
On OkCupid, for instance, anybody can send you a message. Online dating sites will help you meet lots of fun people, but it still takes a lot of work to find the right person. In a separate post , Meltzer revealed another interesting finding from the Consumer Reports survey. Online dating is actually a lot of work.
So go easy on yourself if the process is a bit harder than you initially expected. A quick Google search will reveal that there are tons of paid and free dating sites to choose from. But if you want a quick guide to the most popular options, Consumer Reports has you covered. To figure out the best dating sites for you, research the demographics of each of the options on your shortlist.
So those free dating sites may not be the best choice for Gen Xers or baby boomers who are more likely to choose a paid dating site or app, anyway. If you want more information on the best dating sites on your list, read user reviews.