This is the first installment of our Intermet online dating series!
Let's get real: dating sucks. It was a ton of fun when you were 21 and still in college, surrounded by thousands of similarly-aged dating prospects, but it sucks when you're older. How do you meet people?
You might as well bite the bullet and just do it already: online dating. Although some of the older generation may find this taboo (Sar's Uncle Tom likened it to "writing [your] number on the world's bathroom stall"), but it's becoming more and more popular. Who wouldn't want to search through a database of potential love interests and find the one best suited for you? Forty million Americans say that they've used at least one online dating service. To put that into perspective, that's about 40% of the total singles population in the US.
First off, a recap: if you didn't know, we met online.
We're not experts by any means, but we feel we've experienced a good representation of online dating (creepy emails, rejections, awkward first dates, fun Skype chats, and love--eventually). A ton of people feel uncomfortable online dating, have negative connotations, or just don't know how to do it effectively, so we've decided to provide a helpful guide!
The first step is deciding what online dating service you want to use. If you want a free dating site, we suggest using PlentyOfFish or OkCupid. Free websites are good because they have more profiles to choose from, since making and maintaining a profile doesn't cost anything. This is also a good option if you're a little unsure about online dating, because it's not monetarily costing you anything.
The downside to non-subscription online dating websites, however, is that you're going to get a lot of range on the quality of suitors (remember ZackAss?), and sometimes, people on the free websites can be a little, um, forward. If you're someone who gets offended easily, we wouldn't recommend a free online dating website because you'll have to be willing to search through the frogs--and trust us, there are a lot of frogs--until you find Prince(ss) Charming.
As far as subscription websites go, are you looking for a specific demographic? JDate and Christian Mingle are good resources if you're Jewish or Christian and you only want to search in those populations. Remember, however, that just because Match or eHarmony aren't specifically focused on one religion doesn't mean you can't find someone with similar religious convictions as you. Paid subscriptions are great if you're more serious than wanting to just casually date, as we've found the people on paid websites are more focused on dating that will lead to marriage.
Occasionally, Match or eHarmony will have "free" weekends, which means you can set up a profile for free and have unlimited access for that weekend, but it will revert to a paid website after that weekend (and usually involves a credit card to initially set up). You can choose not to enter credit card information, but you will only have limited access to the website's features. Regardless of "free" weekends, we suggest setting up a profile on the paid websites without buying a subscription first, just to get a feel for the website. Do you like the way it's set up? Can you navigate it easily? Do you want to have unrestricted access to all the features?
Then, don't buy the paid subscription--yet. If you wait a week or two without buying a paid subscription, the websites usually sent you an email with a reduced subscription price as incentive to get you to sign up. You're welcome. (Sar also had a friend who was able to Google a promotional code to get a discounted subscription for Match, so you could also try that.)
We used OkCupid to meet each other, but Sar has previously used Match and PlentyofFish briefly before. Sar likes OkCupid because it was made by a bunch of math nerds (go stats!) and is thus abundant in statistical resources, like not only how well you match with someone, but also how big of enemies you'd probably be. There's also a section where you get to answer questions and then compare your answers to others' to see how similar your answers are, as other websites don't offer this option.
And that's a brief rundown of the online dating website world! Of course there are more, but these are the main websites we've noticed our friends using. (Note: Craigslist is not an appropriate tool to meet a significant other--even if you know someone who has done it. Be safe!) Next week, we'll talk about how to construct your profile and sell yourself. No, really.
Have you used any online dating websites? Which ones? What did you like/not like about them?