15% of the adult US population have said they used dating sites or apps.
That’s roughly over 48 million people all looking for love—sometimes in the right places, sometimes not so much. But with up to 2500 different options in the US alone, it’s hard to know which ones are the best dating sites for relationships.
This can leave many people stressed that they’re wasting their time on the wrong site while also overwhelmed by the choices available.
So what are the ideal criteria for discerning which site will work for you?
Different For Everyone: Choosing The Best Dating Sites for Relationships
From eHarmony’s 155 question survey to Tinder’s swipe-if-you-think-they’re-cute mechanic, every site is unique.
What you want out of a relationship and what you value are all factors that you need to determine before beginning your search. Essentially, you can only find the best dating site after figuring out what you think makes the best relationship for you personally.
Don’t fall into the trap of basing your decision on what you’ve seen in movies, TV, or even from other people in your life. Maybe your ideal relationship involves time apart from your partner to have your own life (instead of spending all your time together). Or you could be looking for someone is very “lovey-dovey” and showers you with affection.
The right answer is the one which brings you true joy, fulfillment, and means you don’t have to make compromises about who you are or what you want.
Think About the Initial Contact
Women and men (mostly women) are sometimes sent gross, unwarranted messages and images on dating sites. How a site helps you initiate contact is important to consider.
For example, once Match.com has decided your matches based off its algorithms, you can contact any of them right off the bat. This is different to Tinder which filters people by basic traits, their location and only allows contact if both people swipe right on each other.
In the first situation, you’re trusting the system to place you in the right pool of people who will contact you. In the second, you’re placing your trust in your ability to choose matches yourself.
There are also apps which do a combination of this process but that narrows down your options.
It’s Not Weird to Be On Many Sites
Different dating sites have different people on them that you may be missing out on meeting.
Of course, you don’t want to have a ton of sites with tens if not hundreds of matches. You’ll never reach out to all of them. The best approach is to be proactive on a few and ensure you’re confident about each person you contact.
That way you’ll only be managing a few conversations but they will all be potentially high quality. Try to think more about the sites you feel will give you the best matches and go from there.
To Pay or Not to Pay
There’s nothing wrong with paying for an online dating site.
But paying for a site doesn’t mean you’re more likely to find the right person nor does it mean the site is better than free versions.
In this situation, you can make a few assumptions. First, those who are paying may be looking for something more serious because they’re willing to invest money. Second, they may treat their time on the site with better care and be more selective.
However, some people don’t pay because they would rather save their money for other things. Especially if there are other free options out there.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer. You should use the site you feel it is the right one for you.
Look Into the Site’s Main Audience
The good thing is that most sites publish yearly reports of their website’s analytics and data.
What this means is that you can look to see what are the main demographics of people using the site. That way, you can see if it’s full of people outside of your age range, faith, or lifestyle for example.
Taking a considered look at the data will help you make more informed decisions about the best dating site for you.
Unsure? Be General
You may do a lot of research and a ton of soul searching and still end up with no idea about which site will work—and that’s fine.
In this case, just go with your gut, pick a couple of sites that seem like a good idea and then see what happens. The more you use the sites and experiment with others the more you’ll see which give you the best matches.
Over time, you’ll sharpen your knowledge and experience and will likely settle on one or two sites that work for you.
Picky? Be Specific
If you’re very resolute in who you will and will not date then fear not, there’s a good chance your ideal site exists.
Niche dating sites have been around for a while now and more keep emerging as time goes on. Here’s a list of possible options that are out there:
- Religion (Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, etc)
- Sexual Orientation
- Attractiveness (you have to be accepted as good-looking enough by members to get in)
Whatever aspect of yourself is important to you that you will never compromise on is a good place to start.
Reevaluate After a Few Months
Finding the best dating sites for relationships is a personal process that takes time.
But by doing the research and being smart about how you use your time, you’ll give yourself the best chance possible. Check out our lifestyle section for more advice to live your best life.