Which Online Dating Site is the Best?
The best online dating sites out there are OkCupid and Match – and eHarmony is great, too. Which should you use?
Simple: the site with the most girls who are right for you.
Online dating is a numbers game. You put time and effort into creating a great profile, searching for the girls who are right for you, and writing quality messages that start conversations. Choose the site that gives YOU the best odds for success from those efforts!
Here's how: create simple free profiles on any that you’re considering, just to see who’s there. I recommend OkCupid, Match, and (if you’re really willing to put in the time to create a free profile) eHarmony.
Check out the userbase available to you on each site. Which has the most girls that are right for you, who really seem like a good fit for your lifestyle, values, hobbies, and personality? That’s the site that will give you the biggest bang for your buck. (Remember, time is money, too.)
Each of these sites has its own pros and cons to consider also…
OkCupid Pros & Cons
OkCupid is my personal favorite online dating sites for many reasons:
Userbase: OkCupid’s userbase is a slightly younger average age than Match or eHarmony. Guys in their 20s and 30s will be most at home here, but it’s still a great fit for men in their 40s, 50s, and beyond. I’ve worked with clients in their 20s through their 50s who all loved OkCupid.
OKC’s userbase tends to lean more to the left than Match’s users do. It’s definitely favored by the more liberal, creative, entrepreneurial, progressive, and free-spirited users – compared to Match, that is. With that, you do find the occasional wayward artists, musicians, and hippies with arrested development – but there are many other successful, professional, down-to-earth left-leaning users, as well as many that fall in the right-leaning, conservative, traditional, or middle-ground categories.
Pros: The bottom line is that OkCupid one of the biggest sites out there. It’s free, so anybody can join it, which results in a huge and diverse population. I love the variety of people on OkCupid and I love that it’s free.
The most compelling reason to choose OkCupid over any other online dating site?
You can message anybody for free, and read all your messages for free (unlike Match and eHarmony – more on that below). As a result, for any message you send, you know she received and has the opportunity to read your message. If she doesn't reply, it's maybe because she doesn't like your message. She maybe is already seeing somebody. Maybe you're not her type. But you know she got the message.
This enables you to get an accurate read on your message response ratio.
One of my clients recently told me that he has the best success rate on OKC because he can see who viewed his profile (for free, unlike Match). Even though those women may not have messaged him first, he knows they were interested enough to click on his profile proactively from their search results. He uses their profile views as a prompt to message those girls, if he’s interested also.
In addition to these reasons, OkCupid is also my favorite from a profile perspective. The helpful prompts for each essay section break down the writing experience and make writing a great profile easy(ish). The essay questions also serve as a great springboard for naturally inserting your personality and sense of humor into your profile.
Cons: The main downside of OkCupid is both the pleasure and the pain of the site. Because it's free, there are sooo many users. As a result, most women are inundated with messages from other guys. While you know that she received your message, your message also has a ton of competition. This can make guys (and girls!) feel beaten down and exhausted occasionally. It’s why your efforts are truly best spend only messaging those who are a great fit for you, with simple, thoughtful messages that ask questions and start a conversation.
Match.com Pros & Cons
Userbase: Match is like OkCupid’s slightly “grown up” sister. The reported average age of Match users is around 35. Again, it’s still a great choice no matter your age. The general userbase of the site does tend to be a little more serious-minded. Match is a paid site, so the women who subscribe are willing to invest in finding a great relationship. They also tend to lean a bit more to the right or middle-of-the-road from a traditional/conservative lifestyle, and religious and political perspective. Just as with OKC, this is a general leaning, and there are plenty of users to the left.
Pros: Match is the “classic” choice in online dating and the userbase is HUGE – millions and millions. The sheer number of people on Match is amazing, and it’s why you’ll probably find a couple of people worth messaging – no matter what your values/politics/lifestyle/religion/hobbies, etc.
Cons: Match is paid. From the outside this doesn’t seem like that big of a con.
But here’s the secret reason why Match could be a huge WASTE OF TIME:
You need a subscription to read, write, or respond to messages. Anyone can have a free profile – but if you do, you can't read messages or write messages. You can only look at profiles.
If you have a subscription, and if you're messaging a woman who does not have a subscription, then she can't read your message.
What’s worse: you have no way of knowing if she has a subscription or not!
This is the main reason why I have a tough time recommending Match to clients. You might put a ton of effort into finding people that are right for you. Spend time writing thoughtful first messages. But you’re sending your message out into a potential black hole. If you don’t get a response, you don't know if she didn’t reply because she didn’t she didn't receive it (because she did/did not have a subscription), or if she just didn't read it, or if she wasn't a good fit for you/you weren’t her type. It’s shooting blind and it hurts your success rate – with no logical/practical way to increase it.
The other con to Match is that the profile is daunting to write. The main self-summary section is one big, open-ended question – with three or four very small prompted essay sections. As a result, many users of the site write general descriptions of themselves because they don’t have the great writing profile prompts like those on OKC or eHarmony provide. It’s hard to find specific things in common and unique conversation-starters on really generic profiles – the fuel for really good first messages – which is another real down-side of the site.
Caveat: If the userbase on Match is truly the best fit for you, don’t worry about these cons too much. Each site has its own set of unique cons. Just choose the best overall fit for you.
eHarmony Pros & Cons
Userbase: eHarmony is a unique site and truly a personal choice. The premise is that you only can view users who have been matched to you by eHarmony. Depending on your preferences, and even your region, the number could be very small – or plenty to choose from. As with Match, eHarmony is a subscription site. This means that its userbase tends to be more serious and are willing to invest time and money to find a relationship.
Pros: I like that eHarmony takes control of your matches – it focuses your efforts and energy and you don’t have to waste time sorting from hundreds of results, and you don’t "get" to obsess about “grass is greener” options. You get what you get. That can be useful – as long as there are enough people for you to choose from, that is. It’s great if you live in or near a city, not so great if you live in a small town (take it from me 5 years ago, who had about 8 matches total).
The eHarmony profile is also one of the best. I love writing profiles with clients who use eHarmony. The profile is similar to OkCupid in that it makes writing about yourself fairly easy with lots of interesting prompts for sharing unique, specific details about yourself. This is what sets you up for writing a great profile, and also serves up useful information in girls’ profiles for great conversation-starters for your messages.
Cons: If you live in a small town, or have very specific preferences for the person you would like to meet, you may get very limited results matched to you by eHarmony. It’s also a paid site, which is a con if you’re on a limited budget.
Dating Apps Pros & Cons
Although this article is about which online dating site you should choose, it’s worth mentioning apps as a way to support your dating website efforts.
Which dating app is best? Again, it totally depends on you.
Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, and Happn are the most popular apps. Again, check out the users available to you to get a feeling for the app. You don’t have to use all of them – or any – but chances are that you’ll find one or two worth spending time on.
Pros: Dating apps are so popular that they can be a great way to widen your reach to people who may not be using the same websites as you – or not using sites at all, just apps.
If you prefer texting – or quick, short, back-and-forth style messaging – you’ll probably prefer apps to certain online dating sites. You may notice when users on a site like OKC or Match prefer this style, too. They'll send quick, short messages as if they're texting. On the flip side, some people send short but thought-out paragraphs – like a real message rather than a text. It’s clear what their preferred communication style is, and you can adapt. But…
Cons: On dating apps, it's text style communication only. That is a fit for some people's communication styles. For some, it's not. Personally, text conversations drive me crazy in real life, so when I was using Tinder, I just didn’t like it. I best connected with guys when I wrote a couple of lines, asked a couple questions, and took time to think about my response – rather than constant back-and-forth texting.
Another con of dating apps is that the “profile” sections are so limited that it can be hard to find conversation-starters on a limited profile. Plus, there’s the reputation some dating apps have for hookups. This definitely depends on the app and the norms of the area you live in. If you’re not looking for a hookup, just say so briefly on your profile.
Caveat About Apps: All pros/cons considered, it's smart to have an app as a secondary strategy, just based on their ability to widen your reach. (If you can deal with the text-style conversation, that is!) Check out this article for more advice on texting on Tinder and this article for working dating apps to your advantage.
So, Which Online Dating Site is Right for You?
Then, supplement your efforts with a dating app – or even another site that’s a good fit for you. Lots of my clients use eHarmony or Match as their primary site, and supplement their efforts with OKC because it’s free. Or, they use OKC and supplement with a couple apps, or a more specific special interest online dating site, like www.MeetMindful.com.
At the end of the day, don’t stress the site too much! If you notice after a couple months that you are not getting the results you want, change up your game by evaluating your profile and messages, or by trying out another site.