UPDATED Jan 2021
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 19 years and 2 3 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.
Facebook dating is live now in Ireland and I got quite excited about this when I first heard about. Facebook already have the users and to introduce dating to their customer base can only work right! And on top of that, there’s a friends of friends feature that shows you the mutual friends you have in common with a potential match. That could work quite well or put you off! It’s something you can switch on or off but I have it on. You don’t see many matches with mutual friends but that could just be me as I don’t have that many Facebook friends. Having used it for a while now, I don’t find it much use at all. It doesn’t quite have the features of the dedicated dating platforms but it’s one to watch.
eHarmony is one of the higher level dating sites. You pay extra for a better quality of experience and a better match. Their system is quite sophisticated and asks quite a lot of question on signup which are designed to build a “Compatibility Report” report for you and help to find you the best matches for you rather than the shot in the dark approach of most other sites. The report it compiled on me seemed quite accurate and is pretty interesting reading. It makes you think about what’s most important in looking for the right partner and what you really want/need. There’s science and psychology a plenty here! Their minimum subscription period is 6 months though which seems like a long time. You can’t cancel before then without paying the full 6 month fee. Even if you meet someone and don’t need it anymore!
Elite singles is very similar to eHarmony in the way they approach things but it’s app and website aren’t quote as polished or full featured as eHarmony’s. I had very few relevant matches. It’s more expensive than eHarmony too and seems to be more aimed at people with highly successful careers and people who think that’s important. I didn’t commit to a full paid subscription.
Musicians Dating Lounge Ireland
The last site is one I’ve made myself! Feeling a bit frustrated that I couldn’t find the type of women I really wanted to, I decided to create my own Facebook group for single musical people where we can interact and hopefully meet someone we can make sweet music with in all kinds of ways! It’s pretty new (Jan 2021) so shares welcome to help get it off the ground:
So I’ve been online dating now for
2 months 1.5 years on and off at the time of writing this update post. 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. eHarmony is the most interesting and on paper gives you the best chance of meeting the right person. It’s a serious dating site and not a place for hookups or flings. It’s for a slightly older age group too, say 30+.
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!
I’ve dated through the current Covid situation. What I’ve found is that there’s a lot less people willing to date because of restrictions of course but one benefit is that you can get more time to get to properly know someone and date in stages, ie – make a connection, chat on the dating site, swap numbers, video call etc.. It helps filter out fake connections and gives you a better chance of compatibility when you finally do get to meet if you’ve interacted with someone in multiple different ways and seen their body language, heard their voice etc.. As of early 2021 though, the online dating scene seems to have gone incredibly quiet, perhaps because the current situation with Covid is worse then it’s been before.
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 😉