Are you looking for a date? When it comes to online dating, you might have way more choices that you realize. Not just in terms of potential matches – choices of dating platforms too. Some sites use complex algorithms to recommend matches, while others focus on strongly shared interests or beliefs. For anyone who already knows what floats their boat, chances are there’s a dating platform out there that’ll do the job perfectly. If you aren’t sure what the choices are yet, here are 6 questions that’ll get you started.
1. What kind of active user base does the platform have – huge and widespread, or smaller and definitely niche?
Everyone’s heard of the big dating sites like Tinder, Flingster or Match.com – they’ve won the numbers game, and they have massive user bases. Because of their popularity, most people don’t have a problem finding some who a) they could see themselves dating, and b) lives near them.
The fact is, if you have more options…you’ll have more options. It’s simple math. Unless you live out in the country, you should have plenty of matches to choose from.
Niche dating platforms can’t offer that kind of convenience, but they do offer something else – common ground that you know you’ll share with everyone else on the site. Since they can’t really compete with bigger dating sites, they attract their user base by offering specificity. There are sites for Star Wars fans, sites for conservatives and liberals, and sites for those who share a common occupation. By creating a specialized dating environment, niche dating sites offer match suggestions that feel more curated than the ones on major platforms.
2. How complicated is it to sign up?
The time it takes to create an account varies wildly from one platform to the next. Some of them, like eharmony, can take over an hour. Not only will you be filling out relevant personal information, but you’ll be taking a detailed questionnaire that will help the site’s algorithm recommend matches based on your personality.
Some sites might streamline the process by letting users sign up with a social media account, usually either Facebook or Instagram. The dating platform pulls the required data that’s already been filled in elsewhere, and even recognizes old profile pictures. It then generates a recommended profile, which the user can either approve or edit a little further.
Dating apps offer the easiest sign-up by far. At their most basic, the only requirements are a profile picture, your birthdate, and your name. There’s room for more, of course, but you won’t have to spend any longer on signing up than you want to.
3. Does the platform allow users to block suspicious accounts?
Online dating platforms have a bit of a scammer problem, so the ability to block people who are up to no good is important. Another helpful feature is photo verification, to weed out the users who are using faked or stolen pictures in their profile. This is a common move for scammers; if someone with unverified photos starts sending suspicious messages (requesting money, for example), it’s obvious that they’re not on the platform to find romance.
These features also let users play a role in keeping down the number of scammers. When people can report or block sketchy accounts as they come across them, it helps make the site they’ve chosen a better place for legitimate interactions.
4. What limits does the dating platform place on communication?
Dating sites cover a wide spectrum – from allowing unlimited, free messaging for all users, to messaging for paid memberships only. You would think that the all-you-can-type option sounds like the best one, but it really isn’t. That is, unless you just love getting innumerable and pointless “hey babe” messages. Many of the users who are taking advantage of unlimited messaging aren’t necessarily serious about any of it – they’re just throwing out a hook to see if they get a bite. For anyone who’s serious, this could get pretty old.
Then you have the sites that offer paid memberships. Yes, it costs money, but you can be confident that the users who are sending messages are probably a lot more intentional about them.
In between the two, you’ve got dating sites or apps that wait to activate the chat feature until two people have matched with each other. Since you first have to like their profile, and they have to like yours, it’s a pretty foolproof way to get rid of most of the spam.
5. Is there a filter feature?
Speaking of getting rid of things, filters are useful for refining the recommendations you get so you don’t have to manually reject so many profiles. Most algorithms will select potential matches for you based on your characteristics, but they don’t really take into account things like “I can’t stand people who write like they’re texting in 2010”, or “I don’t want someone who drinks frequently”.
Other types of filters delete or archive conversations that have been inactive for a certain amount of time. If it hasn’t happened by then, it isn’t going to happen.
6. Can you narrow down your recommendations with a search feature?
Some people prefer to explore all the options, but some already know what they want. If you’re in the second category, search features will make your online dating experience feel as slick as a whistle.
Some dating sites stick with the basics – gender, distance, age, stuff like that. Other platforms offer an array of search options, such as income, height, eye color, religion, occupation, and ethnicity. OkCupid even lets users search specific keywords – type in your favorite band or TV show to find people who’ve listed it in their profile.
Don’t let the details scare you off – a little work at the beginning will pay off in the long run.
Every dating platform offers certain features, so why not make sure you’re getting the ones that suit you best? Just make sure to do some homework before signing up – your future self will thank you.