Love Online


                                             A Synopsis in Digital Dating by Lisa Bernier

Internet dating used to be the byword in “ewwww,” and “really? you’ve stooped so low?” These days however, that stigma has disappeared. Now it’s commonplace to use a virtual cupid to make a love connection.

However, where do you find your web matchmaker? There are dizzying amounts of sites (not to mention commercials), all touting they have the means to find you your One True Love. Never fear, dating peers! We here at Unbound have taken a look at three popular sites, and have written about one gal’s experiences (mine) with each, so you can decide which is the best fit for you!

OkCupid.com

PROS:

There are many things that are excellent about this site, but the one I like the most is the one my bank account also finds endearing: it’s free!

It’s an easy-peasy sign up, just fill in the quick info pop-up and presto, change-o, you have an account! From there, you can further “complete” your profile for “compatibility” by answering a number of questionnaires, as well as filling out standard info and adding pictures. The site encourages you to add as many pictures as possible.

The site also is user friendly to many types of romance. Girl-Boy, Girl-Girl, Boy-Boy, hook-ups, relationships, dating, the site connects them all. I personally have two friends who have used the site and come out on top. One is now in a serious relationship with her now boyfriend, while the other uses the site mainly for hook-ups (and she’s very satisfied with what she’s found).

The site also has decent privacy levels in place. You can browse people without them knowing you’re looking at their profile. You can also choose to accept or reply to messages, and you have the ability to block another member from you profile.

CONS:

Because it’s free, and because it is open to everyone plus his cyborg mother, the site has it’s fair number of, er, less than savory types as well as fake profiles (I know for positive about the latter, because once at work when my friend and I were bored we created a fake profile just for kicks. Don’t yell at me, we were THAT bored). Also, the site tends to skew in favor to women. If you’re a lady and sign up, your inbox will be flooded in a matter of minutes. If you’re a guy, it’s much like the real world--you have to approach them.

Binary Heart

Match.com

PROS:

Ah, Match.com: can anyone forget those black and white commercials, showing gorgeuos people doing gorgeous people things, all the while falling in love in about 2-3 minutes.

Being one of the most well known and popular online dating sites, you can be sure there are plenty of people using it (and therefore, plenty of variety). It’s also free to sign up and browse others profiles and pictures. However, the free stops when you want to contact them. Then you have to sign up.

One of my friends has used both Match.com and Eharmony, and she prefers the former. She’s found normal, decent guys who take her on normal, decent dates.

Privacy levels are standard, and it’s easy to block people who may harass. There is also a questionnaire, but again, how much you fill out is up to you.

CONS

Being a very popular site, it can get crowded and you have the small fish in the big pond effect. The site layout is also extremely overwhelming, and the SPAM factor is high. It also tends to an older-ish crowd, those looking to finally settle down, get married, and pop out kids--if you’re looking for something casual, this may not be the site for you.

Also, it’s not free if you actually want to USE the site to date people. The price depends on the amount of time you sign up for, and while they aren’t astronomical, it’s not exactly easy on the wallet if you’re a broke student, or a struggling new grad.

howaboutwe.com

PROS

The new kid on the block, howaboutwe is as hip as a Williamsburg free-trade coffee house. Fun, easy to sign up for, easy to use, it has such features as “Speed Dates,” “Dates Near You” (includes a map) and “Daily Dates.” The site is free up to a point--if you want the unlimited, complete service, again, you have to pay.

Naturally, with its cool vibe and modern approach to dating (the site helps you find matches not just according to your profile info, but to “date ideas” you have), it skews towards a younger crowd. The Map feature also lends itself more to casual dating or hookups, though you can find long-term relationships as well.

(Note: Howaboutwe also recently came up with a “Couples” site, which allows couples to curate “date ideas” near them every month. It features multiple date types, and is basically LivingSocial/Groupon just for couples).

CONS

You have to pay for the full she-bang. Still, the free option offers a lot, and though the prices aren’t bad, unless you’re a hard core dater, it doesn’t seem worth it to upgrade to the complete version.

While the concept of the site is interesting (activity based instead of strict compatbility), it remains to be seen how well the site does. Since it skews young, it seems to attract those who like to be active and aren’t necessarily ready for THE ONE yet--but are more than willing to hang out with the one of the moment/nextfewmonths/maybeayearortwo.

The skeeve factor on this site also seems to be low, but since most of my friends are just dipping their toes into the howaboutwe waters, the jury still remains mostly out on this one. Still, it’s fun to try and worth a browse through or two.

CONCLUSION

There are as many different dating styles as there are websites, and you can find war stories about any of these sites. However, whether it be meeting online, in the grocery store, or set up on a blind date, it’s good to know that you’re not alone in your dating quest--and that instead of having your mother try to set you up with the checkout boy at Home Depot (yes, this did happen to me), you can set yourself up with merely a click!

Lisa Bernier is a writer based in NYC. When she's not typing away, you can probably find her by locating the nearest dog park, and there she will be, ogling all the cute dogs. She also occasionally does an Improv scene. Follow her @pilrimkim on Twitter.


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