Friday, 17 May 2013

Should I try internet dating? What is out there and should I pay the high membership fees?

This weekend warrior post will deal with internet dating.  Once I emerged from hibernation after my recent break up and decided to get back on the bandwagon I thought I would expand my dating pool somewhat and so decided to look at internet dating.

Note, as with most of my posts, this will be from an Australian perspective.

Why did I try internet dating?

 Previously I only ever dated friends or people I had met through friends.  I had never really done any organised type of introduction or dating (e.g. speed dating, introduction services, singles nights) however I decided to broaden my dating pool for several reasons:

  1. I found myself constantly meeting the same types of people and this isn't surprising - most of my friends are lawyers, bankers, accountants, economists etc and those are the types of girls I was meeting too
  2. I looked at the probabilities and it doesn't take a genius to work out that the more people you are exposed to the more likely you are to find the right person for you
  3. The social taboo is largely gone from internet dating. I think I was one of the few dinosaurs left who thought there was still a social taboo attached with internet dating.  I took a poll of almost every guy and girl I met (in my age group) over a period of about a month.  I asked friends, family, strangers on the street, waitresses in restaurants and everyone knew someone that had found their partner doing internet dating.  Taboo broken!
What sites are there out there?

Typing 'internet dating' into Google is the silliest thing you can possibly do but after a bit of searching I found that for Australians there are a few sites that dominate the 'mass market' and they are all rather different in what they offer and their pricing structure (that's right - you have to pay).

    • Members: The most popular site in Australia with 2 million members
    • Cost: It is free to join and to browse profiles (note that you can browse the profiles even before joining) however to send the person a message you need to buy 'stamps' which cost ~$4.50 each in order to email a person you are interested in
      • The stamp lasts for a particular period of time (the $4.50 one lasts for one month) and you can email that person with that stamp
      • Note, as with actual dating, the person you are spending money to contact does not have to respond to you so if they have a lot of things on their plate, or are just plain interested you have spent this money for nothing
      • There are other premium membership options which have more bells and whistles 
    • Approach: You can enter the age range and a whole heap of other options you are looking for (right down to job description) when you are looking for a person and it is very 'search engine' like in its approach
  • eHarmony
    • Members: More than a million members
    • Cost: This is the most expensive of the internet dating options and in order to basically do anything you need to be a member.  
      • However once you pay the membership fee (which varies based on how long you join for - $59.95 p/m for a one month membership and $19.95 p/m for a 12 month membership) you can correspond freely with any of your matches
      • The people you contact do not have to respond to you but as your membership is a sunk cost it is easier to 'hone' your approach and try different things out
      • The premium options do not really add any value so you probably just want to stick to the (already) expensive membership options above
    • Approach
      • Eharmony uses quite a different approach.  They claim they match you on personality types based on this incredibly long questionnaire that you fill out.  
      • You cannot browse other people but rather get sent a number of matches each day (between 7 and 10)
        • Note this is the one I joined (I'll explain why below) and 7 to 10 doesn't seem like a lot but trust me it is.  I currently have over 300 profiles that I haven't even viewed
  • OasisActive
    • Members: 1.6 million
    • Cost: Free
    • Approach: 
      • Search engine type approach
      • From feedback from friends include 'you get what you pay for' and 'you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find someone'
      • No real privacy
Which site did I use, why and how did it turn out?

As mentioned above I signed up for eHarmony for a few reasons:
  1. I think the high membership fee is a signalling tool - you signal that you are serious about the dating scene and can afford to pay a little bit more 
    • For all of you who balk at this price - just think about how much you spend in one night going out trying to meet people (and how successful that is)
  2. I liked that I couldn't be browsed by a friend or colleague.  It allowed me to be more honest in the profile that I put up there
I actually found internet dating quite strange but as I got used to it I got better results
  • I found it a little like going through resumes which was a bit odd for me.  I have never approached dating in this way
  • As I got used to it and what I needed to write I started to get good responses from people I emailed
However, as with all things in life, I had been on there for a VERY short period of time, had paid my membership fee for the next 3 months and had started to work out how to get girls to respond to me...when I met someone through a friend in a bar. 

I have therefore never 'successfully' dated on the internet but having done the first steps I would recommend to anyone who is considering it
  • Speak to friends who have done it - they have great tips on how to write your profile and what to write in contact emails
  • Photos are important - let's be realistic here...the first thing anyone is going to look at in your profile are your photos
  • Don't take rejection too seriously...although you have more options in internet dating - so does everyone else so don't take it too seriously.
How have you found internet dating?  Have you had positive or negative experiences with any of the sites above and which did you find best value for money?

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