When it comes to the wacky world of online dating sites tend to fall into one of two camps: paid or free. Take a wander around the ‘net and you’ll find sites that charge anything up to $65 a month, sitting alongside those who offer basic membership for nothing.
While a lot of those using online dating sites are going in at the ‘entry level’ free services, they’re quickly finding that the only way to get maximum benefits from any dating site is to pay the subscription and unlock all those extra features. As the largest growth area is among the affluent 50+ age group, the subscription fees are easily manageable in most cases, and represent a good return on the initial investment.
However, the big question for both seasoned and new online daters is which offers the best service? We decided to look into this, and, in our opinion, paid dating websites scored higher in terms of satisfaction. If you’re new to the game and want to know why, read on.
What do I need to know?
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What do you get for your money?
There are plenty of online dating sites that offer a good, free, basic service. However, the clue’s in the description; this is online dating at its most basic. While you might be put through some ‘entry-level’ online personality tests or be able to upload your profile photograph, the chance to interact with other users and the opportunities you are given to develop or refine your profile are severely limited.
At their best, free dating sites may give you a chance to look at other profiles. You may, if you’re lucky, get a free interaction or messaging service as part of your free package. However, not all sites offer this, and you can end up as just another face, silently floating in cyberspace and unable to communicate fully with anyone who catches your eye.
By comparison, paid dating sites send you straight into the thick of the action. After uploading your photo and completing your profile, you’re free to interact with potential dates. Messages can be sent, either publicly or privately, and you can view other users’ profiles, at your leisure. Needless to say an online dating service with a high base of active users is important.
For newbies, many paid dating sites offer advice and support in the form of blogs, articles and forums. When you’re using a free site, the feeling is that you tend to be left to your own devices.
Sorting the wheat from the chaff
Because they don’t cost anything, free dating sites can suffer from that bane of online dating – fake accounts. To their credit, the majority of sites take fake accounts very seriously indeed, and put in place plenty of security measures to protect you from less well-intentioned users. But there are plenty of free sites out there that subscribe to the ‘sign up and get going’ philosophy of online dating. The trouble is, this doesn’t leave much room for background checks or any other form of quality control.
As a result, it’s not uncommon to find fake profiles, dead profiles and even sophisticated and potentially harmful malware links lurking in these waters.
Precisely because there is money involved, you’re far less likely to come across unsavoury types on a paid online dating site. Quality control is important to service providers because, at the end of the day, they want your business. Whether you’re using a dating site or a hookup site, the providers want to give you the best possible online experience, so that you choose them over their competitors.
On paid-for dating sites, background checks are commonplace. You may find that you are required to be active on social media or be asked to provide evidence of your identity. While these might be a minor inconvenience for you, they’re a fantastic obstacle for anyone looking to get into online dating for the wrong reasons.
Does paying increase your chances of success?
Ultimately, your online dating success depends on you. How you interact with others, the quality of your profile and even the standard of your photograph can all impact on whether you’re going to strike it lucky. However, where paid online dating sites have the extra edge is in the little extras that come with a subscription. Click here to find out which dating sites have the highest success-rates.
In addition to helpful blogs, posts, forums and even newsletters, paid dating sites have another ace up their virtual sleeves – dating algorithms. Those online personality tests and profile questions you fill in aren’t for nothing; many dating sites feed this information into dating algorithms and use it to find potential dates that match the criteria you’ve entered about yourself and your ideal match.
Rather than casting your hook into the dating depths and hoping for a nibble, paid dating sites can help to increase your chances by matching you with candidates who share similar interests, philosophies and even cultural backgrounds. These are people who, if you were left bobbing in a sea of unpaid profiles, you might not notice and miss out on finding a potential partner.
Feedback is everything
Dating can be a tricky business, whether you’re doing it in the real world or online. When dates don’t work out, people are often left asking themselves ‘What did I do wrong’? There are paid websites out there that allow other users to rate your profile and even your picture. While this might sound a little daunting, it can be one of the most useful facets of a paid dating site.
If you find that your profile is consistently rated with low scores, then you have the opportunity to give yourself another bite of the cherry and change it. Similarly, if your photograph doesn’t seem to be hitting the mark, you can swap it for another one and see how that performs.
If dating is learning from your mistakes, a paid subscription gives you the chance to present the best sides of yourself, at your own pace, using the feedback provided by those in the same boat.
All of this adds up to an undeniable conclusion – if you’re serious about online dating then choosing the right paid dating sites is a much better option than just sticking to the freebies. By all means, dip a toe in the water with a free site if you’re new to the world of online dating, but once you’ve got your confidence, a paid-for dating site is the only authentic and reliable route to take.