Have you ever had an account on a dating site? Not one that your friends made as a prank – one that you set up so you could find a date. You might have made sure that you spelled your name right, described yourself in a way that showcased your personality and sense of humor, and uploaded some photos that you knew would make a good impression.
What if, after all that, nothing really happened? Well, don’t just assume that it was because of you. You spent plenty of time putting together a winning profile, but you may not have spent much time making sure that this particular dating site was a good fit.
If this could be the case, don’t give up! An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure – ensuring that you know what you’re getting into will make all the difference in your experience with online dating. If you find a dating site that has most or all of the features described below, you’re setting yourself up for success.
1. Attentive customer service
If you ask any dating site – or any online business at all, for that matter – they’ll assure you that their customer service team is ready and waiting to take care of all your problems. Well, just because they have a “contact” button somewhere on the home page doesn’t mean they’re right.
Thorough customer service isn’t exactly common, so if you’re planning on giving online dating a try, make sure the platform you’re using actually offers solid support for their members. After all, it’s nice to know that an actual person will have your back if you run into any issues.
2. A common-sense level of messaging
“Unlimited” isn’t always the best choice, especially with the messaging function on an online dating platform. How many times can a stranger say “hi what’s up” before you decide that it’s not worth the bother? Dating sites in general can have a spam issue, so it would be prudent to avoid the ones that offer unlimited free messaging.
You also don’t necessarily want to go to the opposite end of the spectrum – paying a subscription fee for even the basic memberships, so everyone there is likely to be pretty intentional. It’s an effective way to minimize the spam, but if that’s the only reason you’re paying then the price might not be worth it.
A balanced middle ground is to find a dating site like Match.com, where there are a few restrictions on messaging, but only for the purpose of cutting down on random greetings and copy-paste messages. Only members who are matched can send messages, so it’s already been established that they’re both fine with hearing from the other person.
3. An algorithm that consistently recommends compatible people
What makes a person “compatible” with you – is it their location relative to where you live? Is it the number of personal characteristics you share, or similar hobbies? Most dating sites set up their algorithms to match certain aspects of your profile with certain aspects of someone else’s profile. It’s not as mysterious as it sounds; if you know what you want to see in your recommended matches, you’ll know to choose a dating platform that will help you find it.
4. Enough members to give you plenty of choices
Have you ever heard someone complain that their hometown is so small, there’s nobody to choose from? That’s what can end up happening if you sign up for a dating platform that just doesn’t have enough users. In that case, though, the problem wouldn’t be that everyone was already taken; it would be that none of the possible matches lived within 300 miles of you.
This is part of what’s behind the popularity of dating platforms like Tinder and Match.com. Unless you live in the literal middle of nowhere, the chances of finding at least a decent match are about as good as they get.
Sometimes, though, passion can trump convenience. That is, passion for things like Star Trek, fine wine, or Ayn Rand. There are niche dating sites centered around all these topics and many more. Even if some of them only have a few thousand members, everyone knows that they’re all on the dating site for the same reason.
5. Extra features to spice things up
The dating sites that offer extra paid features know what they’re doing. The free membership offered by the site or app might be perfectly adequate, but the premium features are designed to really take things up a notch. Popular extras are features such as being able to see when someone’s read a message, or seeing who’s favorited your profile. None of them are exactly necessary, but they sure do make things more interesting.
6. An emphasis on photos in the profiles
You’ll probably want to steer clear of the few dating sites that don’t require photos for the members’ profiles – this just makes it too easy for the people who like pretending to be someone else. For the majority of platforms though, this won’t be an issue.
Each dating site will have their own policies on what is and isn’t allowed in photos, but most of the prohibited content would be things like violence, minors, illegal activity, identifying information, or nudity. In addition, some dating sites require the primary photo to include the member’s face, without anything obscuring it.
The ban on nudity is far from universal among dating platforms – adult dating sites will sometimes allow nudity, or even let users upload flirty videos.
7. Flexibility – to meet people in your own way
People are different and often go about meeting people in different ways. Some are more introverted and prefer to send messages and text chat, possibly phone, at first. Others want to jump right in and meet up, look you in the eye and see if there is a spark. Video cam chat sites like CamSurf may be perfect in these situations, since it allows users to meet so many people and easily pass onto the next if the fit isn’t right.
Now that you know what you know, how is your online dating strategy going to change?
Even if you’ve had a less-than-ideal experience with online dating in the past, it doesn’t mean that you can’t do better this time around. Choosing an online dating platform is only tough if you don’t know what you’re doing; the worst part of it is the uncertainty. Armed with the right information, you’ll be ready to march in and take everyone by storm.