Coffee Meets Bagel hopes to offer users better-quality matches by sending curated matches, or "bagels," each day at noon. They suggest ice-breakers for first messages, and the profiles are more in-depth than Tinder. For people who like a little extra hand-holding, CMB isn't the worst option. However, I found the app confusing to use, with too many features and too many gimmicks. I shouldn't have to look up online tutorials to figure out how to use a dating app. And why call matches Bagels?
OkCupid.com creates a unique online dating site environment by putting heavy emphasis on member participation. Matches are identified by your profile and your responses to a series of questions generated by other users. Each match question is made up of four parts: the question, the answers you’re willing to accept from your matches, a rating of how important the answer is to you, and an optional explanation of your response. The more questions you answer, the smarter OkCupid gets at recommending matches for you. It is free to use; paid options are available that include additional site features. While OkCupid is a free online dating site, users can pay (starting at $4.95 a month) to filter out people who are unattractive or overweight. An unusual, possibly controversial feature.
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eHarmony was one of the pioneers in the online dating space, and -- while I haven't personally used this one -- we all remember the pitch, thanks to years of TV commercials: The service matches couples based on "29 dimensions" of compatibility (as determined by a thorough relationship questionnaire). While you can review the profiles of your prospective matches for free, you'll need to pay to unlock the full features of the service. But that comes with a guarantee: If, after three months of paid membership and communicating with at least five members, you're not satisfied, eHarmony will refund your money. Despite a rocky road that eventually involved a high-profile lawsuit, the site finally added same-sex dating in 2013, too. I have mixed feelings about using the site myself, but the site is at least technically more inclusive now.
The site operates based on search, rather than any fancy, undisclosed matching algorithm. This means you can search the entire member database, and the number of members you can see in a week, day, or hour is never limited. Profiles have various areas to express your personality, and can be made as detailed (or brief) as you want. There are also useful questionnaires that give you insight into your own personality traits and compatibility skills, meant to help your online dating game regardless of the site you end up using the most. The site incorporates seven ways to discover other people, the most useful of which is with standard or advanced searches (done by who's online, by city, by new users, by contacts, and by favorites).
Tinder is a bit less of a comprehensive matching site the way you might think of one. It's a little more...to the point, as it were. It's a mobile app only (iOS and Android). You're presented with images for each of your potential matches, and with a swipe or a tap, you can either dismiss them entirely or add them to your "like" list, full of people you may want to contact for a date. You have to log in via Facebook—Tinder uses Facebook to do its heavy lifting, and uses your likes, shares, and other profile information to help match you up with other users. Once you do though, you're off to the races liking and dismissing people. If someone you liked likes you, then you can communicate. If not, keep trying. It's probably the simplest approach to online match-making ever, kind of a blend between an online matchmaking site and speed dating.
Match.com has a free version, but the general consensus is that you'll need a paid subscription to have any luck. That's a hangover from the early days of online dating, when paying for membership to a site meant you were serious about settling down. But my friends and I have long since come to the conclusion that you might be a little too eager to find a significant other if you're paying to get dates, particularly given the abundance of free dating apps. There are definitely paid features on some dating apps that are worth the price, but I've yet to be able to justify shelling out cash for love.