Online dating is big business. You can easily part with a whole wad of cash every month – the ads (and some of the success stories you hear in real life) are very enticing. But you also have a choice between paying for membership and going with one of the many free online dating sites available.
You might think that the quality of men (for lack of a better term) would be better on sites where there is a fee to participate and that guys would be more serious and put more effort into finding dates, if they were paying for the service.
But this isn’t always the case.
There are good, large, free sites which offer a variety of options, including a fair amount of serious daters who want to find a relationship as much as you do. And plenty of women have found love on these sites without shelling out big bucks.
But there are some disadvantages, you should be aware of.
Ads And Upgrades
The free online dating sites have a different business model from the paid sites. They are able to offer a quality service without payment because they receive revenue from advertisers so you are likely to be hit with more ads than you get on paid sites.
You may also find yourself paying for upgrades for priority service (that sometimes makes a huge difference in how easy it is to find dates), so these sites may end up not being quite as free as you thought.
You Need To Do More Sifting
You’ll have to know how to look for the right guy and have your wits about you a bit more when it comes to the free sites.
That’s because a lot of the men on the free sites are just there for kicks and might not be really serious about a relationship. It helps to be clear about what you are looking for in your profile and in your communication with any prospective date. Of course, men can also just say what they think you need to hear in order to get that date, but it will filter some out for sure.
This scenario is true to a certain extent on the paid sites as well. You can’t be sure that all men on paid dating sites are 100% serious, either. There are enough men who will pay the subscription fee because it’s an easy place for them to pick up women. But the ratio of serious guys tends to be higher on the paid sites.
Because charges tend to show up on credit card statements, married guys are more likely to use free dating sites than paid ones to look for hook ups. It’s not that you can be sure that a guy is unattached on paid services (see “Online Dating: How To Tell If He’s Married“) but it’s just another thing to be especially careful of on free sites.
Less Support/Fewer Services
Support and complicated software have to be paid for so you might find less help and less sophisticated searches and matching on free sites. Even so, it’s still easy enough to find what you’re looking for. You will probably just need to do more picking and choosing without the help of software.
It’s not all one sided when it comes to benefits.
Free To Choose
Some of the paid sites have sophisticated matching software and questionnaires with hundreds of questions to ensure you get a good match. That’s all very well, in theory, but do you really want to be confined to what the computer says is good for you? On the free sites, you are free to contact any of the guys there after reading their profile. Sometimes a guy just appeals to you even if he’s not a good match on paper.
Paid sites often have “empty” profiles where guys have already left the site and are no longer active. These profiles are used to make it look as if the sites have more members than they actually do in order to look inviting to new paid users. Free sites are guilty of this to a certain extent too, but it is not as irritating to find that guys you like the look of are not available or to email a few guys and hear nothing back, if you are not paying for the privilege!
If you’re not having to pay monthly for membership of a site, you might feel less pressure to rush into finding Mr Right and can take your time sifting out the good guys and making dates without stressing out about the process. You can’t hurry love, just like the song says!
That has to be a plus point especially if you’re on a limited budget. You can save your cash for actually going on dates rather than spending money to find guys to go on dates with.
There are good men to be found on both free and paid sites. If you’re just starting out, you might want to get your bearings on a free site in order to make the most of a paid subscription in the future. Chances are, you may not need to go for a paid subscription, especially if you go on larger, more reputable free dating sites.
If you have the cash, try one of each type of site, free and paid, to get a feeling for which you prefer. You can always focus on one kind if you find you have a preference after a few weeks.
Of course, there’s even more of a dilemma in choosing the best free and/or paid online dating site. If possible, use recommendations from friends, but if not, you’ll soon get an idea by looking at those you have heard of from advertising. The more ads there are (or the more you’ve heard about them from places like social media) the more profiles the sites are likely to have – and therefore the more guys there will be to choose from.
The only exception would be if you are looking for a specialist site, for example a site with guys of a particular religion or something like that. These will be smaller sites and less well known but still perfect for you. Do a Google search for these.
Over to you: Have you had good or bad experiences from online dating sites? Do you think it makes a difference whether they are free or paid? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
When I did online dating, I always found okcupid (a free site) to be the most fun. Match seemed like a waste of money, being more poorly designed. I would recommend okcupid way over other free sites like Plenty of Fish or Zoosk.
Thanks for sharing your experience Stuart. Personal recommendation is a great way to find the best online dating sites.
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