The Ins and Outs of Online Dating Sites - Frequently Asked Questions

Read below for answers, help and information on everything you need to know about online dating services.

Have an important question? Well, it has most probably been addressed in this comprehensive list.

Note: This list is being updated all the time. Feel free to contact us with any feedback and/or more questions to add to this list.

When did online dating start?

Online dating officially started in 1995 with the launch of Match.com by Gary Kremen. By 1996, there were 16 dating sites that were listed on Yahoo!, which was a directory at that period. 

How many dating websites are there?

The popular Online Dating Magazine states there are over 8000 online dating services competitors worldwide, around 2500 of which are from the United States of America alone.

There are about 1000 new dating sites launching every year with these websites being more audience-specific, some of which branch off from the bigger sites.

Despite this large, every-growing number of online dating sites, the United States boasts 25 major websites with the most members. The word "major" means that there are over 1 million active, unique and current members on the site.

Which dating site is best for me?

Choosing a dating site is like picking the right pair of shoes, and can almost as tricky as choosing your actual partner. The world of online dating is only slightly less bewildering than the regular one.

The most important thing is to consider which online dating site your future partner is likely to use, as well as which website suits your needs. If you want to date a vegetarian, you wouldn't go looking at a steak house, now would you?! 

Each site should be examined separately in terms of what it has to offer and which audience members it targets.

If you invest a lot of time and energy in picking the right website, chances are you will be successful in finding love.

Here are some things to consider when researching and choosing the best online dating site for you:

  • You have invested a lot of your energy and time to choose the right site and create a detailed profile; your ideal partner will do the same.
  • What type of relationship are you looking for: friendship, causal dating, serious relationships, or marriage?
  • How long does it take to sign up and maintain a profile.
  • Look for websites that send a fair amount of matches a day.
  • Opt for a site that allows you to send multiple messages per day.
  • How big is the site's user base, how many people are online in your region, and how many people are online.
  • Peruse the site's success stories and reliability of these testimonials.
  • Consider how many matching, flirting and communication features there are, and which you can use for free.
  • Does the site have a well-functioning mobile application for dating on-the-go.
  • Are you allowed to search for your matches or does that site reserve the exclusive right to do so.
  • How much control do you have over who can you communicate with and match with.
  • Can you enjoy a full online dating experience for free or must you sign up to communicate and receive more suited matches?
  • How much does the site cost, and is it cost effective for you to pay a fee for access to potential matches, or to maximize your presence in the database?
  • Is there a free trial with most of the features?

Why is online dating good?

There are a myriad of reasons why online dating is a good option for all singles.

Online dating is about finding the RIGHT person at the RIGHT time, and the right time is NOW! The only questions is how! Online dating services can solve this issue very quickly for you; you just need to understand who the right person for you is.

Here are some convincing reasons:

  • It is the perfect platform to match the right people for in-person dating by filtering out people you wouldn't want to go on a first date with using the keyword search filters, something which you can't do if you meet people at a bar. 
  • Lots of people don't have enough time on their hands to meet people offline all the time. It serves as the first date, which saves lots of time, energy, and even money.
  • You have a very good chance to find your ideal partner because there are millions of singles in search of the same thing as you, to find love, and they subscribe to these services with this number 1 goal in mind.
  • It is extremely convenient if you choose the correct site for your needs. You don't need to dress up for the first date because your first impression is made online, and you can save on gas. You may just need a higher internet cap.
  • It is a great opportunity for shy people, but it is in no way passive dating as it helps you out of your comfort zone.
  • It is a great skill-building opportunity and networking system. You can meet all sorts of people from different walks of life that can become friends and mentors, if not lovers. You learn how to have conversations with complete strangers which helps you in your professional and personal life.
  • You learn a lot about yourself with all the essay questions, surveys, summaries and personality quizzes.
  • You figure out what you really want from your ideal partner. Singles usually limit themselves to what is available to them, whereas online dating opens up a huge variety for you but without too many unrealistic expectations.
  • It's about bringing serious dating back. You can see a few people at the same time before making a final decision without being labeled as a player.
  • You can score free meals ladies -  most guys are likely to pay for your drink or dinner! Jokes aside, it keeps the fun alive!

Online dating advocates that the right time is NOW to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right. Dating sites save you time and energy and solve your number 1 goal of finding love.

How online dating works?

Online dating isn't complicated, but there are a few essential steps to go through in order to maximize the best results.

These are some steps one can expect when signing up to an internet dating service.

Note: Some of these steps differ from site to site in terms of order or detail; however, most more or less go through this process.

  1. Create a profile: this is the first thing one needs to do to show up on a dating site's database. This step includes the sign up page which includes details like, age, birthday, gender, zip code or city, relationship status, and sexual orientation. You also have to provide an email from which to operate your dating profile. This is the email through which the site administrators will communicate with you. Some dating sites allow anonymous messages from other users to be sent to your email, and notifications about matches come through to this address. To ensure your safety, it is advisable to set up a separate email just for your online dating accounts. In this way, your email won't be flooded with notifications from dating sites either.
  2. Physical attributes and interests: once you have the basic sign up set up and approved, you need to start building up your profile with indications of your physical appearance and personal interests. You choose or fill out your weight, height, eye and hair color, as well as body type. Some sites even ask about tattoos and piercings, and all ask if you smoke or drink and how often. You also indicate which activities, sports, and hobbies you like to do, as well as your favorite books, TV shows, movies, and music.
  3. Personal questions: there will also be personal questions about whether you have or want children, your political and religious beliefs, your occupation and income, living situation and whether you have pets.
  4. Repeat Steps 2 & 3: you repeat these step again but this time the answers are about your date. The site uses this information to build ideal matches for you based on what you specified, and to filter out users that won't suit you. 
  5. Essay & detailed questions: this is the part to buckle down and invest some time and energy into. Most sites require or recommend you to fill out open-ended questions on your profile. This is an opportunity to express more about your personality than a list of pull-down options can represent. 
  6. Photos: most sites encourage users to post photos as it is said it dramatically increases interest in your profile. Each site has stipulations and guidelines to abide by for the photo uploading process as to how many you have to or are allowed to upload, while some even have to approve your photo before it gets published. In general, revealing images are prohibited, and the requirements suggest natural and recent photos of yourself with only you in the picture. Photos are a chance to reveal more about your personality, so you can indicate what activities you enjoy in them.
  7. Communication: once your profile is set up you can send messages to members. Some sites online allow you to send and receive messages if you are a paying members, while others allow for restricted communication for free members. Photos of other users might not be displayed if you haven't subscribed for a membership, while some sites allow users to restrict access to their profile to paying members only. There are different ways to communicate on sites, and each site has different features and rules.
  8. Matching & searching: another way to communicate with people is through a matching or searching system. You can either search by basic or advanced searches by browsing through the site. Matches are sent to you based on what you specified on your profile. This process can be simple or complex. The more detailed process matches people according to how many attributes or interests they have both checked off. Match.com allows you to specify how important an attribute is for you, and in turn, each attribute is given a weight depending on how the user has specified it. There are also detailed surveys, quizzes and personality tests to fill out which use mathematical algorithms to match up partners. Some sites, like eHarmony don't allow you to search for matches on your own, and send you matches based on the mathematical matching system. eHarmony uses 29 key dimensions to predict compatibility between users and for potential relationship success. These tests usually have about 75-90% accuracy.
  9. Set up a date: once you are ready to go on a date with someone, it is recommended to set up a phone call before you meet the user in person to avoid any issues, such as fake profiles.

Are online dating sites safe?

These days, it is common to meet up with people you have only recently met, either online or offline.

There are several mechanisms online dating services have in place to create the safest environment possible, but it is important to do your own research when choosing a dating site, to play it safe, and to stick to the safety advice offered on the website.

Here are some safety precautions which make online dating sites safe:

  • Dating sites are safe in that you create a username without your full name, surname, and personal details, such as: personal email, address, and phone numbers. The only personal information you share on your profile is your pictures. If someone does a google search of your images, this can lead to your Facebook page and other social networks. Make sure that your personal details are blocked to the public on these platforms.
  • These websites recommend that you create a new email dedicated solely to online dating sites. In this way you can monitor and control online communication without sharing your personal details.
  • Most sites screen profiles and pictures before accepting members so as to ensure the least amount of fake profiles. Some even make very strict photo requirements to avoid spammers.
  • If the sign up process is involved and takes long, chances are that the users on the site are serious about dating and safe to meet with.
  • Report buttons and customer care are accessible and available to deal with suspicious online activity.
  • Monitored communication options before you decide to take communication to the next level and set up a date.
  • There is a detailed safety & security section with advise of all safety measures and the dos and don'ts of online dating including, where to meet for first dates, what to look out for on dates, exit strategies, and several backup plans, such as sharing your location on your smartphone with family and friends. 
  • There are extra security features for premium members or for an additional fee.
  • If the dating site is a member of the ODA (Online Dating Association) then you know you are in good hands. The ODA logo will appear on the site as an indication of membership. Membership of this association indicates that the online dating service ascribes to a code of practice of the industry which sets out rules for honest communication between users, user privacy protection, and a mechanism for reporting suspicious behavior and abuse. 

ODA (Online Dating Association) membership dating site

Dating site member of the ODA (Online Dating Association)

So what do I do now?

Well, now that you have a solid overview of what online dating services entail, we invite you to start by reading our comprehensive and fun reviews.

 

FAQ Last updated:September 28, 2017

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