There is no formula for choosing the right online dating service. In fact, there are many to choose from, and most of them are free to join, although most of them usually charge to grant you access to the more advanced features. I recommend trying several out before you pay any of them.
When you do get ready to pay for an online dating service, keep these things in mind when making your decision.
Type of relationship you are seeking.
Number of registered members (basically your odds of getting a date, the more members, the better odds).
Type of Relationship: Almost all online dating services can be grouped into one of the following categories:
Matchmaking – Geared toward long-term, committed relationships, not necessarily sexual in nature.
Swingers/Sex – Designed for people looking for relationships that are primarily sexual in nature, group sex, swingers’ parties, or cyber-sex.
Alternative – For those looking for sexual relationships involving bondage, S&M, role-playing, etc.
Gay/Lesbian – Catered toward same-sex couples, both romantic and purely sexual in nature.
Ethnic – Sites centered around people of a specific ethnic background, such as Asian, Jewish, or Latino.
Cams/Voyeurism – More like live pornography than actual dating, but ideal for those who are terrified of actual human interaction, cam sites allow people to watch others perform on camera, and some also allow members to perform for others, and along with the models on camera.
Now, you may be interested in more than one category, but these are a good place to start.
This factor depends a lot on the first criteria. The type of relationship you are looking for basically determines whether a huge database is best, or if a smaller, more-specific database is for you. If you are looking primarily for a sexual relationship, and are willing to travel, then a large database is the one you want. If you are looking more for something local, then a smaller selection is better. Some services offer advanced profiling options and a large database, giving you the option of narrowing down your search from a large pool.
You may wonder why cost is not one of the deciding factors, but since almost all dating services worth the trouble charge something for their advanced features, and all of them are fairly close in price, you may as well expect to pay for their services. Most of them charge somewhere between $100-$350 per year, but when you compare that cost to the cost of going out to bars or night clubs, and it quickly becomes obvious that it’s a good value, and you get a lot for your money. The specific features offered by each service vary somewhat, but certain ones are key, depending on the type of relationship you are looking for.
If you are looking at Matchmaking, detailed matching options would be important. If you are going to be online often, and chatting often, look for good chat, video chat, and messaging options. If you are infrequently online, look for email alerts. If you are into webcams, look at their camera features, and the number of members online at any given time.
Like I said, there is no formula, but the bottom line is, do your homework before you pay anyone for any service. Use the free membership to explore a few of them, and then bite the bullet, spend less than you would on a date to a fancy restaurant on a years membership, and start looking.
Will Irvin is the Webmaster for Premier Dating Online [http://premierdatingonline.com], a valuable source for Online Dating Tips, Relationship Advice, and Dating Service Reviews. As an active member of the Online Dating Community, as well as the Online Social Networking Community in general, Will offers a street-level perspective into online relationships, online etiquette, and human relationships in general.