I see myself as somewhat of a pioneer in the online dating realm. I met my ex-wife online back in 2002, not only LONG before online dating became cool but almost before the internet itself! Or at least before broadband became widely available. I had to do all of my online courting via dialup. I’m still paying off the phone bills. I remember hiding the fact that we’d met online for at least 10 years afterwards. The shame! But it seems everyone is at it these days whether they’re in a relationship already or not!
The website we used back in the day was RSVP.ie, long since gone but it had some decent features for 17 years ago. There were profiles with photos and bios, search facilities and the infamous chat room which is were I ran into my wife to be initially. I paid my subscription fee for one month only and didn’t need to extend as I found what I came for within that short period!
So fast forward 17 years and 2 breakups later and I’m back online dating again. So what’s changed? Well for a start there’s an insane amount of websites and apps dedicated to online dating these days. Most people know the main ones or one at least and that would be Tinder but me being me I wanted to do a bit of research into the best ones depending on what you’re looking for so I ended up on the following 7 concurrently!
This seems to be the King and Queen of the online dating sites and the first one you check out if you’re going down that road. For me it’s a little too simplistic and I always heard and thought it was for hookups only. It’s mostly based on looks. You swipe right if you like the look of someone and left if you don’t. If 2 people swipe right on each other then you get to message. There’s room to input some bio text and stats but most profiles don’t seem to bother so it’s purely looks based which makes it hard to see it as anything but a hookup site. I managed one date so far in 2 months on Tinder and it was pretty crap. No hookup and no second date!
Plenty of Fish
I’d heard about this one from a friend of mine who seemed to be having great luck with it. The best thing about it is that it’s completely free to message people. Each profile has a list of specifications such as height, hair colour, age etc but also a bio section where people get to sell themselves properly so it feels more like proper dating that tinder. You can get more features such as swipe matches ala Tinder and the ability to filter connections, see extended profiles etc, but free messaging is all anyone should need really. I’ve had 2 or 3 dates from this one so it’s been the most successful for me so far.
This one is pretty much a clone of Tinder with a few more features but it’s mostly swipe based with little bio information too. I’d say it’s the place to go if you want to hook up with an Eastern European! Messaging can be free depending on the recipients settings, ie – you can choose to be only contacted by premium members which gives a little bit of quality control.
This one is the most expensive and you can do very little if anything with it in free mode. However, it has the most advanced features and possibly the most mature user base. It’s got the yes/no swiping/clicking thing that tinder popularised but also Winking, Favouriting, a very advanced search system and a “Virtual Coach” who helps you find a match! I’ve yet to have a date from here though!
Academic Singles / Be2
This feels like a bit of a scam site to me. You sign up for €20 but the small print says that from the second month on it’s €50 per month. And to cancel your subscription you have to FAX or post a cancellation letter to some address in Luxembourg. I faxed and emailed them and got no reply so I had to get my bank involved to request a charge back and cancellation of any further payments. I’m still waiting to hear the result of that.
Having said all that I’ve actually managed a date from it and it’s a fully functioning dating site, albeit fairly basic. As the name suggests it’s frequented mostly by professionals including teachers, doctors, vets etc.. Very few girls have photos up for some reason though and there’s no phone app.
This is an interesting one. It’s works along the same lines as Tinder and Badoo re swiping but if you match with someone only the girl can message first. That seems to be a filter mechanism against the dick pic brigade but I’m not sure it works well. The users seem to be mostly young professionals. It also has a Best Friend and Business mode.
This is a fairly basic, old fashioned and slightly buggy site but mostly free with free messaging. I had very little interest from anyone Irish. It seems to be mostly foreigners on it. I had a girl from Finland express a real interest in me for example but considering an hours drive down the road is putting me off some girls, Finland is a bit much in terms of distance. A lot of the girls on it havn’t logged in in years so this site is basically pointless. There’s no phone app either.
I just wanted to quickly mention Facebook at the end of this article. Yes I know it’s not a dating site per say but effectively it can be if you like! If users indicate their relationship status (or lack thereof) then why not try connect!? Also, I had the brainwave of maybe running an ad that targets every single girl in a certain age range and certain location who have “Single” in their profile! Too desperate!? I dunno..
I should also mention that Facebook are introducing a dating element to the site soon which could be a game changer. The USA initially then Europe at some stage in 2020. More info here:
So I’ve been online dating now for 2 months at the time of writing. How has it gone? Well, I’ve had roughly at least 1 date from nearly all the sites I’ve tried so it’s hard to say which is best although Plenty of Fish is slightly in the lead.
You see the same people across most of the sites and it always amazes me how bad people are at writing and selling themselves. Photos are mostly diabolical. Despite the proliferation of very good camera devices in everyone’s pockets these days people don’t seem to be able to simply point their phone at themselves and take a reasonable picture. A lot of profile photos are either blurred, too dark, have daft SnapChat filters (40 something year old women!? Come on..), are group photos where you’ve no clue which one they are or worst of all there’s either no photo or a photo of someone’s pet as the only profile pic!?
The single worst thing about all the dating sites though is “Ghosting”. It’s a new term I’ve learned since getting back into this lark and it happens when you match with someone and message them and either you get completely ignored or you chat for a while, even get on well then they go mysteriously quiet, without even the decency and manners to tell you they are no longer interested or have met someone or whatever. I remember this happening 17 years ago when I first tried online dating so some things never change!
The only thing I’ll say in defence of girls who ignore contact is that it seems girls, if they are in any way pretty or nice sounding, will get inundated with messages from all kinds of eejits just looking for a shag, to the point where most girls profiles, rather than using the space to sell themselves use it to request no dick pics, hookups, one night stands, liars, cheats, married men, etc…the list of “what I don’t wants” is endless which just puts an annoying negative spin on everything. Basically, seen one profile and you’ve seen them all. The rare positive and interesting ones that stand out are what attract me but I still get ignored when I message!
The best thing about Online Dating
I have to say that online dating is probably the best and most efficient way of meeting a potential partner in this day and age. It’s just a very efficient, easy and logical way to meet people with similar interests? Yes it’s a bit like online shopping for a partner and feels a little weird initially but you do actually get to meet people in real life eventually and many people have met their life partners online. I’ve not met “The one” yet but I’ve met some cool people, made friends, learned a lot about myself, had some fun and good experiences and I’ve no doubt I’ll meet someone compatible at some stage!
If anyone’s interested, here’s my profile on Plenty of Fish 😉