Online Dating Overview

Need a date for the holidays? This is the place to start. Maybe you're new to online dating sites, or you've tried one site and you're looking for other options. Our reviews couple in-depth analysis of each site, with the experiences of a male and female tester who signed up for each service and provided us with their opinions. For more information, check out our full reviews and comparisons, as well as our online dating FAQ.

Step #1:
Fill out your profile

First you have to let the world know what you're like, and the kind of person you're looking for. Different dating sites handle this differently, of course, but when you're getting your profile ready, it's like getting ready for a night on the town. Choose a photo, fill in your likes and dislikes, and sketch out your preferences. Dating sites like Match.com, eHarmony, Chemistry.com, and PerfectMatch.com focus on personality analysis to help develop match recommendations. The trick here is to be honest, both about who you are, and what you want. See some extra tips for filling out your online dating profile here!

Step #2:
Find a match

Once you've filled out your profile, and maybe taken a quiz or two, it's time to concentrate on potential dates. View their profiles and see how well you match up. Unlike dating in the wild, you get a lot more information about your potential dates up front—and you can decide if they're really worth your time. Once you've found someone who looks like a good fit, start the conversation! Online dating sites make it easy and safe to get in touch with the people you're interested in. Wink, flirt, nudge, and message your way to a deeper conversation. Click here to learn the dos and don'ts of your first message!

Step #3:
Date!

You don't have to rush into your first date with someone new. You'll probably want to get to know them a bit better before you make your first in-person contact. Listen carefully to your Skype conversations, and if you're still unsure, learn more via a background check. Listen to your heart when deciding whether to take it to the next level. Once you're ready, take the plunge, and make a concrete plan to meet in person. For more about meeting a potential match for the first time, click here.

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how do they compare?
Our Rating:
stars
1

Bottom Line: Intuitive matching system based on complementary personality types, best for those seeking committed relationships


Our Rating:
stars
2

Bottom Line: Large and active group of users, intelligent matching system based largely on similar tastes and interests


Our Rating:
stars
3

Bottom Line: Emphasis on guidance and deep connections, larger users base seeking committed relationships, some people are not accepted


Our Rating:
stars
4

Bottom Line: Fun and playful; great social features; premium features somewhat available without a subscription


Our Rating:
stars
5

Bottom Line: Designed for those seeking committed relationships, combines elements of matching and searching, personality test is less informative


Our Rating:
stars
6

Bottom Line: Customizable experience, overwhelming & frustrating interface, best for people with flexible relationship goals and a lot of time on their hands


Our Rating:
stars
7

Bottom Line: Emphasis on flirting and chatting, good for casual dating, slightly more explicit content, interface cluttered with ads


Our Rating:
stars
8

Bottom Line: Very basic service with instant messaging and chat rooms, best for casual dating


Our Rating:
stars
9

Bottom Line: Constant stream of speed dates, matchmaking "system" yields poor results, nonstop harassment to subscribe


Several of our editors signed up for and participated in each of our reviewed online dating services. They created profiles, took personality tests and used the search and matching features each service provided. They also tested the email, instant messaging and chat functionality, and investigated the different resources and features of each site. Every dating service was evaluated from a male and female perspective, and their separate impressions are included in the reviews. A "Lady's Choices" and "Guy's Choice" award was given to the dating service that won top honors from the male and female point of view. Finally, our editors talked other users who have attempted, successfully and unsuccessfully, to find someone special using an online dating service.


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Disclosure: NextAdvisor.com is a consumer information site that offers free, independent reviews and ratings of online services. We receive advertising revenue from most of the services we review. Our editors thoroughly research and whenever possible test each service we review and offer their honest opinions about each one. We are independently owned and operated and all opinions expressed on this site are our own.