Why use online Dating Services?
There are an estimated 14 million single people in the UK - impressive and depressing depending on your viewpoint considering the UK population is only around 60 million and a fifth of those are under 16. It seems to be getting harder to meet people and to keep relationships going - in the last 30 years the number of people living alone in the UK has doubled and the annual rate of marriage has fallen by around half.
Why is it so hard to find someone special?
In this day and age, with busy lives and other priorities, opportunities for coming across like-minded, unattached individuals seem to be less. If you live where you grew up you may think you have exhausted the local population of singles. If you have moved somewhere new it can be hard to meet people outside the workplace. You may be tired of friends introducing you to a long list of unsuitable partners. You may have come out of a relationship and just don't know where to start. You may be just too busy to socialise as much as you would like. Just the mere thought of the roller coaster of the dating scene may be just too exhausting. Online dating provides us with a means to see who is out there from the comfort of your own home. If you have a particular aim - marriage, a bit of fun, finding someone in uniform, sharing a hobby, maybe something a little kinkier...the internet has something, or someone, for everyone...and all for just a few clicks of a mouse.
What's so good about internet dating?
Ever been out repeatedly with someone before finding out they are a child-hater when you were hoping for 6 kids? Or you were hoping for a bit of a fling while they were doodling their name entwined with yours on their napkin? More often than not, a dating site profile can tell you more about a person than you would find out about them over a course of several blind dates.
The taboo is slowly lifting...almost everyone seems to know someone who met their partner online, and if those are the ones you know about, just think how many must have done so and are still keeping quiet about it! 7 million Brits use dating sites - that's half of the estimated single population, and climbing - and those are just the ones admitting to it!!!
Before you start:
- We recommend setting up a secondary email account - such as a free yahoo, gmail, or hotmail account. Depending on which dating sites you go for, you may get a fair number of emails from them - some sites send periodic lists of matches, others let you know when someone in your immediate area matching your criteria has signed up. More annoyingly, some sites will send general info emails and tidbits. Either way, you may not wish to block up your personal email inbox or, worse still your work one (!) with these emails, so best get a dedicated account.
- Profiles with one photo, or more of the site allows it, will generate significantly more interest from other members, so have a few digital photos ready to upload.
Choosing a site:
There are a few things to consider when choosing which site you wish to sign up to:
- Do you intend to sign up to more than one site? Many sites will let you browse their listings so you can a feel for the site design and the number/type of people who are members. You may wish to sign up to a mainstream site and a niche site at the same time - a useful strategy if you have a specific audience in mind.
- What is your budget? More expensive sites often offer a dating service rather than just being a medium for meeting people- such as a scientific matchmaking service specifically for individuals seeking a serious relationship only. Mid-range sites often have a large database of profiles. The cheapest sites may have an apparently high number of members, but are they serious profiles, and are you going to be subject to spam as they make their profit by selling on your details?
- What are you looking for? Friendship? Romance? Marriage? A bit of fun? We have arranged the sites we recommend in tables here according to their speciality. They are:
- General - mainstream dating sites
- Age - sites mainly for older singles
- Casual - fun flirty sites, and sites for individuals seeking 'casual' encounters
- Ethnicity/Religion - sites that either allow you to limit your search by ethnicity or religion or are only open to individuals of a certain ethnicity or religion
- Free - sites that are free to use (again, beware here, there a good chance you'll become a spam magnet)
- Scientific matching - sites that match you with suitable partners based on a scientifically based personality test
- Friendship - sites that are for meeting new people, as friends, or travel companions etc
- Gay - sites for gay/lesbian/bisexual users, and transsexual, transgender, transvestite sites
- Professional/education - for if you are looking for an intellectual, well educated, or high earning partner, and those for specific professions - airline pilots, military etc
- Single parents - sites for single parents only, or sites offering that option in their search engines
- Size - sites for BBWs and tall individuals or those seeking them
- Local dating - sites offering profiles in terms of their distance from you or dating events such as parties and speed dating
- Special interest - looking for someone to dance with? Someone who also loves their Harley? Look here...
- Speed dating - sites that offer dating events - speed dating, parties, nights out, and often have an online dating aspect too
Starting out in internet dating is very straightforward, despite the bewildering array of sites, and potential dates on offer!
||1. Choose a site, or several sites that meet your needs - a general dating site with a good number of other members is a good place to start, or choose one that is specific to your requirements - such as dating by age group, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, location, educational background, etc.
||2.Browse the sites to see what (and who) is on offer - most sites will let you look around before you have to pay anything.
||3. Register and build a profile. Include a photo - profiles without photos get far less interest. Try to be honest - no point saying you're 6'4" and 22 years old if you're not - if you go on a date they are likely to notice...
||4. Now you're ready to go - either start sending messages to interesting members or sit back and wait for them to come to you.
||5. Want to take the next step and meet your new internet friend? See our dating tips for advice...
Dating tips and safety:
Obvious as it sounds, its worth repeating NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR ADDRESS OR PHONE NUMBER OR EVEN PLACE OF WORK UNTIL YOU ARE SURE YOU CAN TRUST SOMEONE. Again, we don't even think you should give out your permanent or work email address initially when it's so easy to use a free account. Certainly never put anything in your online dating profile that might leave you vulnerable either.
NEVER meet dates in their house or yours - always meet in a public place, and it is advisable to make sure someone knows where you are going, with whom and when you expect to be back.
All the dating sites have their own advice on safety and dating tips, so once you've picked a service you should check for further advice on online dating.
Statistics from Proximeety.co.uk, the Guardian, 2-in-2-1.co.uk and National Statistics online.