Whether looking for friendship, a weekend date or a marriage partner, millions turn to online dating companies. Some specialty sites cater to niche groups, pairing people interested in others from their religion, age group, hobbies, sexual orientation or physical disability.
Initial sign-up is usually free with most online dating firms; free member status often allows singles to post photos and basic information about themselves and receive details about others.
However, users typically must purchase subscriptions in order to access a broader range of services, including the ability to contact other members. The company promotes what it says is a scientific approach to matching singles, based on compatible values and personality traits gleaned from a lengthy questionnaire that new members must complete during registration.
Another major cyberdating company, Match. One month of service with Spark. Paid subscribers can search for partners based on keyword descriptions, receive pre-selected matches based on their preferences, or both.
Many companies cater to niche groups. Niche sites exist for singles aged 55 and older[ 5 ] , deaf singles[ 6 ] , dog lovers[ 7 ] and plus-size singles[ 8 ]. Online Dating Magazine[ 9 ] spotlights some of these sites. Online Chat What should be included: On some dating sites, both free members and paid subscribers can search for compatible people based on various personality traits, age and other indicators.
However, some sites permit non-subscribers to only view a person's basic information. For example, on SeniorMatch. Paid subscribers can search by more specific criteria. Most company's websites include safety tips for cyberdating, as does Online Dating Magazine[ 11 ] , an independent consumer watchdog publication.
Online Dating Magazine also lists prices charged[ 12 ] by some major dating sites and also carries site reviews[ 13 ]. Many companies do not give subscription prices before people have completed the free initial sign-up process.
Nearly all online dating services extend discounts to people who sign up longer term and pay the full amount up front. Shopping for online dating: However, eHarmony also operates a separate dating site for lesbians and gays, CompatiblePartners. Subscription charges automatically renew after the initial period ends unless the company is notified to cancel a membership and stop the charge.
Be sure to check the terms of service to understand when cancellation notifications must occur. Many have this information on their Help or Frequently Asked Questions page.