For our fake dating profiles, we counted how many matches and messages we received in 24 hours. We also noted whether you could block or report inappropriate behavior, how long the profile setup process was, how in-depth setup questions were, and whether we encountered any obvious bots (fake profiles like ours). For sites that require you to “like” users to get matches, we did so to the first 30 accounts we came across.
That being said, services you pay for usually provide some extra user value to justify the price tag. There’s usually more advanced matching algorithms along with other bells and whistles, and because you must pay to use them, they tend to attract people who take online dating a little more seriously. Of course, many free sites have matching systems that work just as well as (if not better, in some cases) their paid competitors, and each dating website or app tends to have its own unique aspect that makes it stand out.
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?
After signing up, Happn showed me 68 users it said I had crossed paths with in the preceding three hours, though I hadn't left my apartment all day. This might be helpful if you're looking to date your immediate neighbors (or Uber drivers), but I don't see the attraction when competitors like Tinder already show the distance between you and other users. Frankly, if I saw a cute guy in a coffee shop, I'd just approach him rather than check to see if he's on Happn. The app seems designed for people who don't want to use online dating but who also don't want to approach people in real life. Pick a lane.
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Match.com boasts a userbase of 17 million active monthly users, all either looking for love right now or just creepily stalking their exes. Either way, that's a lot of people out there you could potentially connect with. Match is a premium service—you can sign up for free, browse users, send "winks" and get matches for your own profile (once you've filled out the lengthy profile questionnaire), but if you want to actually contact anyone and converse with them, you'll need a premium subscription to the service to do so. On the one hand, it sucks that Match requires you pay up just to communicate with other users, but on the bright side, you could argue that making people pay just to reach out weeds out the people who, well, you really wouldn't want to talk to anyway. iOS and Android mobile apps let you take your search for love on the go.
Features for introverts: Instead of swiping, browsing, poking, and messaging your way into someone's inbox only to never hear back, this app will send you a potential match every day at noon. Men receive curated matches based on the algorithm and women will only be presented with potential matches (called Bagels) that have already expressed interest.
Age-based niches: These sites are for people of a specific age. Baby boomers are overwhelmingly turning to the web to find a mate. Sites like Match.com and POF.com offer members a chance to search specifically for the age group that interests you, but SeniorPeopleMeet.com and OurTime.com are the two largest sites designed specifically for the baby boomer market.