Technology-assisted dating has been around for much longer than you might think. While today we use the power of the internet to find love, the first computer matching program was actually initiated back in 1959 by a couple of Stanford math students who picked the lock of the computer lab to (unsuccessfully) match almost 50 couples.
Since that time, dating services have evolved from telephone chat lines to the apps and websites of today. Online dating is no longer a taboo way to meet people, and almost 50 million Americans have tried their luck at love from behind a computer screen with varying levels of success. America’s love affair with online dating is a testament to its success and very telling of our always-on-the-go way of life.
Not all dating sites are created equally, however, and there are some that reign triumphant when a one night stand just isn’t enough.
Without question, Match is the longest-running online dating site on the web today. Launched back in 1995, Match works by allowing singles an opportunity to tell others about themselves through photos and open-ended writing.
To start the process, simply log onto the website and create a profile. It’s free, and it is also free to browse the profiles of other singles in your area. In addition to searching for your own potential relationship partner, Match uses a proprietary algorithm to match you to others who share common interests. You get matches daily, and can even see who is interested in you before reaching out to make a connection.
If you like what you see, you have the option to sign up for a paid subscription, where you can begin communicating.
OkCupid is another tried-and-true online dating service that’s been making connections for more than a decade. OkCupid was founded in 2004 and became the very first no-cost online dating website. It is free to register for a basic account, which allows you a limited number of “likes” each day; you can even message potential matches, no credit card required. However, there are three tiers of paid subscriptions that give you substantially more control over your profile.
A-List removes ads and allows you to narrow your search criteria. A-List Premium goes a step further by boosting your profile once per day and making you more visible to the best matches. Incognito Mode is for those who would rather stay in the background and browse without being visible to others.
OkCupid is responsible for more than 50,000 dates every week and is mentioned in the New York Times’ wedding section more often than any other dating service.
Christian Mingle is aimed at people who put faith first. What sets the company apart is that it centers on Christian relationships, where users find a mutual connection based on more than merely looks and answers to a generic questionnaire. Singles on the site tend to be looking for a long-term relationship. Christian Mingle boasts the highest marriage rate of any faith-based dating site and reports that 29 percent of Christian marriages that originated as an online relationship started on the platform.
Founded in 2001, Christian Mingle operates on a paid-feature platform like others on this list. It is free to join, but you will have the option of signing up for a one-, two-, or three-month subscription, with the lowest per-month pricing available on longer contracts. More than 16 million users have signed up since the site’s initial launch, including more than 12 million in the US. The movie Christian Mingle features the site.
Christian Mingle’s user base leans heavily toward singles in their 30s and 40s, and is evenly split between men and women.
eHarmony goes to great lengths to help users find “the one.” Founded by Clinical Psychologist Dr. Neil Clark Warren, the site made its first connections online in 2000. Matches are determined based on its proprietary Compatibility Matching System.
Dr. Warren founded eHarmony after 35 years of counseling married couples. He used this experience to create his unique profiling technique, which looks at 29 different areas of compatibility. The site claims to spark a higher number of meaningful connections than other online services, and particularly for those singles interested in marriage. By eliminating matches with fundamental differences, eHarmony significantly narrows the field and can help you find a partner with similar values, sense of humor, and lifestyle.
eHarmony has more than 10 million active users and has recently upgraded to appeal to marriage-minded millennials.
EliteSingles stands out for many reasons. The site tends to attract highly-educated individuals, and reports that 82 percent of users hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. First available in Berlin, EliteSingles made its debut online in 2009 as the dating portal eDarling. EliteSingle’s profiling model uses a psychological approach and is based on the “Big Five” broad dimensions of human personality.
The site offers you the option to sort potential mates using demographic data that goes beyond age, gender, and location. EliteSingles asks questions based on education, religion, and family planning. Notably, each new profile is manually reviewed by EliteSingles’s staff moderators, and inactive accounts are removed, meaning you have a higher probability of connecting with someone actively looking for a relationship.
EliteSingles has more than 8 million active users and offers a Basic and Premium membership option, the latter of which offers unlimited messaging and access to a mobile app.
Coffee Meets Bagel is a relative newcomer in the world of social dating. Founded in 2012, the San Francisco-based romantic network puts an interesting spin on getting to know people online. It is known for its “icebreakers,” which are meant to initiate a conversation based on facts about one another. One example might be if you mention in your profile that you recently traveled to a new country, the site might alert a potential match to ask you about that experience.
Another aspect that makes Coffee Meets Bagel unique is that it offers both free and paid memberships as well as in-app currency, fittingly called “beans.” Beans allow you access to special features, such as rematching yourself to a potential partner that you missed during the short window of time their profile was available to you. You can purchase beans or earn them via in-app activities or by logging in daily.
Coffee Meets Bagel enrolls around 400,000 new members each month and is available worldwide. A Facebook profile is required to verify your account and help you find potential matches via mutual friends.
Now in its eleventh year, Zoosk is another established dating site known for creating lasting romances. Although it is not as in depth as others, Zoosk offers premium benefits that put you in greater control of your profile and matches. Your profile is limited to a 1,500-character description of yourself, but is supplemented with additional sections that allow you to describe your ideal partner.
Making a connection on Zoosk feels a bit like “swiping” on casual dating sites like Tinder, but instead of “liking” based on looks alone, your matches may be filtered according to things that are important to you, such as religion and education level. You must have a paid membership to make contact with another dater.
Zoosk has an extensive network of singles and is available in 80 countries, so it may be a good choice if you are looking to meet new people and spark a romance on an international level.
If you’re looking for a serious, long-term relationship, one of these seven dating apps may be your perfect match. Who knows? The partner of your dreams may be a few finger taps or mouse clicks away!