Online dating: eHarmony vs. Match vs. Plenty of Fish vs. OK Cupid

Which Dating Site is Right for you?

Cocktail party in NYC

 

When I was in college, the high point of the day was coming home to a blinking answering machine, meaning someone called and left a message. Before caller ID, email, voicemail, text messaging, IM, wall postings, and poking there was…a blinking light.

I heard people wondering about online dating and they ask, as if it’s a binary question: Should I do it – yes or no?

However, that’s the wrong approach. The better question is one of degrees: how much online dating should I do?

An online dating site should be on any singleton’s menu of meeting places, which is no longer limited to the local bar or random parties. As with most things, it’s the extremes that come across as weird, such as someone that only does online dating or someone that does no online dating at all.

The way I look at it, it’s like having a relative named, for example, Aunt eMatch that says, “I’ve got a girl I think you might like.” In fact, it’s better; it’s like Aunt eMatch saying, “I’ve got a girl I think you might like – and here’s her resume, a buncha pics, and a writing sample.”

So, which dating site is best for you? Well, I’ve personally used Match, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish and OK Cupid. They all have some similarities as well as some major differences:

eHarmony
Major Difference
eHarmony is front-loaded, meaning that you have to fill out a ton of questions and essays ahead of time before you even start meeting anyone. This can take hours.

Best Aspect
After you’ve completed that first major step of filling out all of those questions and essays, you can essentially sit back as eHarmony sends you profiles of people that it thinks are right for you. I have friends that love this because it takes some of the trepidation out of meeting people; there’s always the sense that “Hey, eHarmony thinks we’d get along.”

Worst Aspect
You have to wait for eHarmony to get around to sending you profiles and you may not be a fan of whom it thinks you’d like. Moreover, if you’re interested in a same-sex pairing, you can forget about that here; heterosexuals only, please. Plus, it’s expensive.

Match
Major Difference
Match is the most similar to newspaper personals – it doesn’t try to be much more or less than that. This means that you’re pretty much on your own; Match lets you put up a personal page about yourself and then look around for others that you might like.

Best Aspect
You can have your profile up in 10 minutes, browse anyone else’s profile, and message whomever you’d like. Plus, there’s no restriction on who you can contact (opposite sex, same sex, anyone at all).

Worst Aspect
Anyone can have a profile up in 10 minutes, browse your profile, and message you. Also, each time you contact someone, you’re essentially starting with a cold introduction and have to write a tailored email/essay to each person. Unlike eHarmony, this means pretty much constant maintenance. Plus, Match never seems to delete profiles – mine is still up after three years of disuse. Consider that before you randomly message someone. Also, like eHarmony, it’s anything but cheap.

Plenty of Fish
Major Difference
Because it’s free, it boasts the single largest database of people. Like Match, it’s a fairly straightforward “personals” oriented website.

Best Aspect
I personally know of one marriage and a handful of relationships from Plenty of Fish because the barrier to entry is essentially zero. As a result of this, there are a jaw-dropping number of profiles to browse (this can also be put in the “worst aspect” category too).

Worst Aspect
Essentially the same as Match.com except that there’s very limited oversight (they only have three customer service staff members as of this writing) and there is a very wild west feel to it. It also looks as if they only have three customer service staff members there.

OK Cupid
Major Difference
Like Plenty of Fish, it’s free, but to get any real use out of the site, you have to go through online activities like answering polls and other questions. By doing this, you create a more data driven – versus opinion driven – profile of yourself. As such, OK Cupid is a bit like a combination of Match and eHarmony.

Best Aspect
Because it’s data driven, you are able to paint a more accurate picture of who you really are rather than who you perceive yourself to be. Moreover, there’s a “fun” quality that pervades the site. If you like fun and games, chances are good you’ll meet someone else who likes fun and games. Did I mention it’s free?

Worst Aspect
You have to answer a number of polls and questions so, like Match and Plenty of Fish, it’s pretty much continual maintenance only a bit more involved.

What’s the right site for you? Well, it depends on your personality.

  • If you like to do a lot of work upfront and then relax, eHarmony is the clear winner.
  • If you find that you play online games like Candy Crush Saga and are used to filling out online polls, OK Cupid is the one for you.
  • Match and Plenty of Fish are good if you just want a traditional personals-like forum to meet other people. If you want a more polished site with some “adult supervision,” Match is probably better for you; however, if cost is key, Plenty of Fish wins over Match.

Final thoughts
If you must choose one, consider OK Cupid as the price is right and you can test the waters before you write a check. A special note for women: for sites like Match and Plenty of Fish, your responses can be pretty overwhelming; it’s simply the nature of the site and men in general. This may be a good or bad thing depending on your tolerance for random email.

Men, since we get comparatively less contact than women on these sites, a good strategy might be to choose one paying site coupled with a complimentary free site: eHarmony plus Plenty of Fish or Match plus OK Cupid.

Regardless, with a good mix of online and offline interactions, you’ll have no excuse for being home on a Friday night.

If you liked this entry, I just wrote a quick little book in April 2014 on how to write A Great Online Dating Profile with 30 tips to get noticed and get more responses – it’s just $0.99 at Amazon, BN.com, and the Apple Store, as well as most other online retailers:

A Great Online Dating ProfileI also wrote a book about first dates with information I just haven’t seen in other books that I learned from three solid years of dating in NYC.

A Great First Date, early 2014

It’s just $2.99 at at Amazon, BN.com, and the Apple Store.

  • You can also read the first 25% of it online now by clicking here!
  • If you’re in the UK, you can visit our friends at: DatingPriceGuide.co.uk for their own take on eHarmony vs. Match.com.
  • Click on the Dating tag to see how my dating life went – the earlier stories are the more entertaining ones, IMHO. You can also click here to find out what finally happened to me.
  • Check out the comments to reach other people’s thoughts on these sites (and maybe leave a thought of your own).
  • Finally, click here to subscribe to this blog OR follow me on Twitter: @logan607

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