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Internet dating sites
What to know before you start your journey into the unknown...

Internet dating sites are becoming more and more common as a way to meet single people. I myself started to explore this world and the more I look into it, the more I see it's immensely huge. So how can you choose the best dating site for you?

Here I'll explain how they work, then you should do some exploration and research on your own, before you start spending your money to join any of them.

Practical tips and safety first

First of all, if you want to use dating websites, I very strongly recommend you to use a new email address only for this purpose, because you'll start receiving daily emails from them with new profiles and offers and if you join more than one dating website, your mailbox will soon be full.

Also, for safety reasons,

  • don't use your usual or personal e-mail address, on a dating site until you know the person well, that is, in person. Always exchange messages through the dating website. Do not trust somenone who asks you to communicate through your email, skype or similar personal accounts
  • nor give your home or office telephone number or address to anyone you contact on a dating site, until you know the person well. You wouldn't give them to anyone you meet in the street, so the same common sense applies online
  • NEVER, EVER, EVER SEND MONEY to anyone who asks you, even if they tell you a story that sounds so true and you've been exchanging messages for a while. There are scammers who are professionals at sounding convincing, only to take advantage of other people's good nature and wish to help.

You could even use a special mobile phone number only for this purpose. You can find extremely cheap mobile phones and SIM cards, so there is no reason to risk. This way, if you are not happy with your online dating experience you can just stop using that email address or mobile number and nobody will be able to chase you.

Types of Internet dating sites

There are basically three types of Internet dating sites:

  • free dating websites
  • membership based dating sites
  • a mix of free websites with extra features

Within both free and membership dating sites there are:

  • generic dating sites
  • targeted or niche dating sites.

I'll talk here about membership based or paid dating sites to give you some information to orientate yourself and to help you save your money in your search for your ideal partner. On other pages you can read about free online dating websites and what I consider the best dating sites.

Subscription based dating sites

In most Internet dating sites you have to pay a monthly fee to use their service. Some websites let you browse the profiles without registering but, in most cases, you have to register first. This is not a big problem because with most subscription based dating sites you can register for free, search profile, receive messages and other members can see your profile and send you messages. I suggest you do register to have a look and get an idea of how many members there are in your area and get a feeling of the dating website and members style.

However, if you want to send a message or want to read a message you've received, the website asks you to join as a paying member. Obviously, when you are just starting to have a look around, you don't want to join all dating websites that ask you to do so. So, if you don't pay, you cannot send or read and reply to any message.

On the other hand, if you are a paying member, you send a few messages to a few profiles you like, but you don't know whether they are paying members or free members who cannot read your messages and reply to you.

It's very likely that the majority of members are free members (although some websites do tell you who is a paying member and who is not), so you may end up with sending a lot of messages and getting very few replies. If this happened to you, this could be  the main reason. It can be very frustrating especially if you've honestly put some effort in writing a dating profile.

If you decide to become a paying member, they usually charge you a monthly fee. The more months you pay in advance, the cheaper the monthly payment is.

Don't pay twice for the same people

A few of the very big Internet dating sites and some small ones have their own unique database of members.

Other dating websites, instead, appear under different names but tap into the database of another organization, who actually runs the whole business. So, different internet dating sites share the same database and may have almost exactly the same people registered there, apart from some filtering the dating site owner may apply.

How it works

Here's how it works. The main organization is the one that collects men's and women's profiles. Then they offer, to anyone who wants, the tools to create their own dating website with an original name and personalized graphics, using the main organization's database and templates. This way, I could create my own dating service called XY, you could create your own dating service called YZ and we both would be using the same database of dating profiles.

To make it clearer, it's like having a big wine producer who sells its wine to different shops and then each shop places its own label on the bottles they sell. It's the same wine with different names and you could buy the same wine from different shops.

Therefore, if you are not careful, you may join and pay for what you think are two different websites, while instead they share the same people's profiles.

This system is called "white labelling" and it is used not only for dating websites but for many other on-line businesses, like car rental, hotel or holiday booking and other businesses that require a large database of information. It is a good way for anyone to start an on-line business.

The problem with Internet dating websites is that most often you don't know you are going to join two websites and pay twice for the same thing, their system should prevent this but in most cases I've seen it doesn't.

Each dating website should preselect members based on certain characteristics to make the website unique, but in many cases they don't do it.

Bad matches, what is a toyboy?

For example, during my study of dating websites, once I joined a dating website that claimed to be was for older women (they call them "cougars") who wanted to date younger men (they call them "toyboys") and vice-versa (younger men who wanted to date older women). Still, the website contained profiles of men and women of all ages and nothing in members' profiles indicating their age preferences. They even sent me profiles of men 10 years older than me and other times of 61-year old men. Of course, I've nothing against 61-year old men but is that a toyboy? Maybe, if the lady is 70 or 80!

Another time I saw a website supposedly for divorced people, but it also included singles. Another website claimed to be for over 40 people and there were members of all ages, as young as 18.

Have a look at the pictures below, of real dating websites based on the same database (I've made them unrecognisable). You'll see they all have the same template and wordings. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

They all claim they have 2 million members, but it's not 3 times 2 million, it's the always same database!


Internet dating sites sharing the same database

Click on the pictures to see them larger and read what they claim


How to avoid paying twice for the same thing

After you have done some or, better, a lot of exploration about a few Internet dating websites and have decided to join as a paying member one (or more) websites you like, go to the page bottom and find the "About us" link. There you can read the name of the company who is behind the shop front. Otherwise on some sites you can find "Powered by ..." or similar words. So make sure you choose accurately which dating websites you join, unless you want to waste your money and time.

I hope you find this information useful. If so, please share it with your friends, click below.

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