More people than ever are using online dating services to find their perfect match. Many early service users felt stigmatized by general society. Now much of society appreciates selecting potential dates from the comfort of their home or office. Oprah Magazine featured a story on the positive aspects of online dating. According to Match.Com, over 20,000 new people register on the site each day. An eHarmony commissioned study indicated that two percent of marriages in the United States are between people who met on their site.

It seems like online dating services spring up on a daily basis. One can only wonder about the validity of claims for each site. If the glowing comments from satisfied customers are simply manufactured hype. This article reviews some popular dating sites. Learn what they really offer in order to make an informed decision regarding use of their services. All services listed have been used by the author. No individual company is being endorsed.


Started in 1993, Match.Com currently claims revenue of over $342 million dollars. Many are familiar with the company due to its position as the provider of online dating services for Yahoo. Members create a free online profile indicating likes, dislikes and what they are seeking in a potential mate / date. The site uses registration responses to screen all members and make the best match. Correspondence cannot be read and pictures cannot be retrieved without a paid profile. Paid members can access profiles and send correspondence, but it seems futile if the recipient does not have a paid account. Legal issues have ensued over customer billing and member screening. As of 2011, all member profiles are checked against the National Sex Offender Registry.


In 2000, eHarmony started providing online dating services for people seeking long-term relationships. Company founder Neil Clark Warren worked as a psychologist and wrote a number of relationship books. Specialized software leads members through a series of questions designed to reach the core of what they are seeking in a potential mate. The site does not offer same-sex matches. Paid and unpaid members are matched. Paid members may send correspondence to unpaid members asking them to upgrade their status and begin communications. Unpaid members cannot respond to any correspondence until deciding to upgrade their membership.


Zoosk online dating services used a series of commercials to poke fun at the dating process. The company started in 2007. Ads claim one can use the site for dating, to find love or just browse. Free registration allows members to browse profiles. Communicate with others via email or instant messaging using an upgraded membership. It would appear many Zoosk members are simply there to browse. During the author’s time on the site there did not appear to be many paid members.   


OkCupid provides free online dating services. Started in 2004, Time Magazine listed the company as a Top 10 dating site in 2007. The matchmaking questions of eHarmony and Match.Com are combined with the casual atmosphere of Zoosk. Members complete a series of questions, called ice breakers, after finishing registration. Site administration and site members create ice breakers. Material ranges from tame (“what’s your favorite time of year?”) to provocative (“how many times a day must you have sex?”) Being able to view the other person and read about them for free before initiating contact or responding to an email is a huge benefit. Many members appear to be casual browsers, simply looking for casual hookups.


PlentyofFish began offering free online dating services in 2003. Members can only reside in certain countries. Lady Gaga and Britney Spears featured the site in their music videos. Reporting $10 million in revenue, 10 employees handle company business. Volunteers monitor site forums and sort new member photographs. After interviewing current members it appears the site is popular with crowds seeking casual encounters.