Our Top 10 Dating Picks of 2016
We’ve put a lot of effort into comparing the best dating sites out there, all to help you find the person of your dreams. Before you move on to the reviews, however, you might want to take a glance through this quick-start guide to online dating.
Best for Singles Who Are Seeking Both Casual and Long-term Relationships
Think of online dating, and Match.com wouldn’t be far behind. As one of the oldest and the largest dating website, Match.com has a huge upper hand over its competitors. Add to that, it constantly updates its features and functions to ensure that the website can continue to serve the changing dating preferences of its existing and potential members.
Best for Professional Singles Seeking Stable Personal Relationships
Elite Singles is the ultimate website for career-driven professionals who are seeking long-term and fulfilling dating relationships, and with members in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the UK, finding stable love should not be difficult.
Best for Heterosexual Singles Seeking a Lot of Matches for Casual or Serious Dates
The dating website that can equal to Match.com in terms of popularity, eHarmony banks on its success stories. Through its impeccable matching system, more than 430 couple members get married each day.
Best for Mature Singles Seeking Long-term Commitment, Companionship, or Casual Date
Who says love is only for the young? Our Time is a dating website specially designed for mature individuals who could be looking for another chance at love, seeking companionship or friendship, or enjoying their twilight years with someone who share similar interests and personality.
Best for Christian Singles Seeking Matches Who Share Similar Faith
Any dating website agrees that faith is one of the most important factors for compatibility. For those who are looking for potential partners who share their same faith, Christian Mingle is it. One of the biggest, if not the largest, of all Christian-based dating websites, it allows all users to enjoy dating that’s within the tenets of their spiritual belief and guidance.
Black People Meet
Best for African American Singles Seeking for Companionship, Love, and Dating
Black People Meet stays true to its name: it opens its doors to all African American singles who are looking for potential partners for dates, long-term commitment, or even similar interests. It is a welcoming community that embraces people of various sexual preferences, something that isn’t offered by some popular dating websites.
Best for Singles Seeking for Fun, Casual Dating
Be Naughty is the premier website for those who love to flirt, meet new people, and explore the world of dating. The website is filled with so many fun casual tools that ensure everyone can have a great time while finding like-minded individuals to hang out and mingle with, as well as get frisky and sexy.
Single Parent Meet
Best for Single Parents Seeking Dating, Companionship, and Serious Relationships
From the people behind Match.com, Single Parent Meet is one of the biggest and popular dating sites for its niche with almost 2 million members. Further, having one of the cheapest plans out there, it means the website has a very good idea of its customer base.
Best for Jewish Singles Who Are Seeking Love, Friendship, or Date
Although JDate is created mainly for Jewish singles, it interestingly captures the interest of non-Jewish, which makes it eclectic and interactive. While it’s meant to match people of the same faith, the website can also be used to learn more about other people’s culture and personality and, who knows, long-lasting friendship and even love.
Senior People Meet
Best for Mature Singles Who Are Seeking Casual or Long-Term Partners
Love doesn’t know any age, and a great proof of that is Senior People Meet. Although its membership isn’t as stellar as that of other dating websites, it’s one of the most popular in its niche simply because it understands what its users need: a simple, easy-to-navigate interface with very useful features.
Why Try Dating Online?
No matter where you are in the world, there’s a good chance that you’re dealing with an increasingly hectic schedule and a packed, busy lifestyle. This doesn’t give you a lot of opportunity to meet new people –especially not if that’s something that doesn’t come naturally to you anyway.
You’ll find that dating online helps to minimize the effect of business, shyness and reticence on meeting people and making new connections with them. You won’t have to approach a total stranger in a crowded bar – because you’ll be able to send them a message in a totally acceptable atmosphere, instead, safe in the knowledge that they’re already expecting you to do just that.
Plus, you’ll widen your dating pool considerably – it’s a great way to meet and get to know the kind of people you wouldn’t ordinarily come across in your daily life, which is a fantastic way to build a relationship.
How do I choose a dating site?
The first thing to bear in mind is that you should use a site that caters to the kind of relationship you’re after. Don’t hunt for casual sex on a conservative site geared toward marriages, and don’t expect to get true and lasting commitment from somewhere dedicated to helping people find hookups.
Other than that, your priority ought to be to look for sites that fit the criteria we talk about on our front page –that is to say:
- High-quality of search and match features, preferably including both searches and auto-matches
- A decent ratio of people in your demographic to people in the demographic you’re searching for
- Plenty of profiles, a high proportion of which are currently in active use by their owners
- Reasonably-priced memberships, and good value for money on a paid subscription vs. a free one
If you want a good idea of how those things apply to any particular site, all you need to do is read through our reviews and see what other people have said about their experiences there.
As we’ve previously alluded to, the membership base of individual sites usually reflects that site’s overall ethos. For those who want to search for someone to marry, for example, eHarmony or Chemistry.com are both great choices – eHarmony even measures its success in terms of the number of couples who actually walk down the aisle together.If you’re after something much more casual – someone you might know for only one night and probably won’t know for the rest of your life – you should check out somewhere geared more in that direction, like Spark or Tinder. For people who don’t want to define their goals in advance and would rather just meet someone new and see where it goes, it’s a good idea to look for somewhere with as large a user base as possible – like Zoosk or Match.com. Dating Site Price Structures
You should give careful consideration to how much of an investment you’re willing and able to make to online dating, but you should also bear in mind that if you want to be successful you’re going to need to pay. Free dating sites like OKCupid are absolutely packed with scams, hasslers, trolls, flamers and other undesirables – not to mention thousands of people who are never actually going to reply. If you want to get anywhere, you’re going to need to buy a subscription to a reputable site.
Search Options and Matching Algorithms
Everywhere has its own way of matching you with potential dates, so you should take a little time to educate yourself about the effects of the algorithms the various sites are using. OKCupid’s is very thorough; Zoosk’s is very personalized; eHarmony’s is very tried-and-tested, if their one size happens to fit you. There are a lot of options.
Security and Privacy
While there are some people who would rather openly express themselves online there are also many others who would rather keep private things, such as their identities, private. This is why the best online dating sites have a variety of security and privacy settings available to its users. You will find that some websites do not require you to have a public profile just to browse other profiles. Some sites like Match.com offers its users special expanded features for public profiles that help draw in additional people who could be possible matches. If privacy is what you prefer, then make sure that you know what, if anything, it limits for you. Some sites like PerfectMatch, will hide your profile, thus you won’t get suggestions on possible matches. The privacy settings can usually be changed within your profile section on many of the top dating websites.
These days, most dating sites offer three ‘levels’ of communication. They vary from place to place and everywhere has their own name for them, but it usually goes something like this:
- Most sites will let you indicate interest in someone almost silently by clicking a button that sends them a message usually called something like a ‘wink’, ‘nudge’, ‘like’ or ‘flirt’. The other person will then probably have a look at your profile, and do the same back if they like what they see. This gives you an excellent opportunity to gauge potential interest before you take the plunge and send them a message to get the ball rolling.
- Messages themselves are the stalwart of online dating. They’re a little like email, or like PMs on Facebook; you can send a message to someone and they’ll get it in their on-site inbox. This is by far the best way to start chatting to anyone new.
- If you’re looking for the next level of online communication, there’s then generally a live chat or IM service for real-time conversation. It’s now increasingly common for these IMs to include a voice and video chat function, making it easier than ever before to decide if you’re attracted to someone before you meet up with them in real life.
Special Dating Site Features
Gimmicks aren’t what you need to make a lasting and worthwhile match, but if you’re torn between several sites it’s a good idea to consider their extra features before you make your decision. Match.com, for example, offers an excellent mobile dating app that will let you make matches and talk to people right from your smartphone, while Chemistry.com is able to offer free help and advice from a real live expert while you’re building and refining your profile. If you’re looking for something slightly more introspective eHarmony offers a free personality quiz that will teach you a lot about yourself and about what you want and need from a relationship, which plenty of people have found useful while they’re working out where to go from here. Every site has a gimmick of its own – it’s well worth looking over these added features and having a think about just what you want to get from your online dating experience. Besides a date, of course!
Successfully Finding A Date
Of course, all the tools and gimmicks in the world aren’t going to help you if you don’t make good use of them. If you’d like a little advice on getting started, there are actually only five things you need to remember.
1. Use A Good Photo
Your photo is everything, and nobody is going to take you seriously without one. Don’t post one that’s sexualized, and don’t use one that’s too edited or airbrushed – a candid shot of you doing something you love to do is usually best, if you have one that you like enough.
2. Create A Detailed Profile
Always tell the truth on your dating profile – but that doesn’t mean you can’t play up your best qualities and sell yourself well. It’s important that you always use proper spelling and grammar if you want people to think that you’re taking this seriously and that you’re trustworthy and mature.
3. Patience Is Key
You’re not going to be lining up a date every night, especially not right from the off. Have a little patience, and get to know people a bit before you meet up with them offline.
4. Be Safe
Make sure that you’re aware of the ins and outs of online safety, particularly as regards meeting up with strangers offline. The dangers are unlikely to happen, but they are definitely real.
5. Have Fun
Remember that you’re doing this for fun – it’s not a job, and you shouldn’t let it stress you out or take things too personally.