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Choosing an Online Dating Service
by Caroline Mackenzie

The problem with choosing a dating service is choice -- too much of it! There are hundreds of services. To choose a dating service that’s right for you, you need to be clear about what exactly you’re looking for.

As a newcomer to online dating, unfamiliar with all the options, you might be a little hazy on this front. Here’s a rundown of the main areas in which dating services differ which will help you draw up a dating service wish list to compare sites to.

Relationship options

One of the most obvious things to think about when choosing a dating service is what kind of relationship(s) you’re looking for.

Some services, including top dating sites like Yahoo! Personals (singles dating) and eHarmony (soulmates) focus on one type of relationship only. The advantage of choosing a dating service that’s dedicated to a particular type of relationship is that everyone will be on exactly the same page as you are in terms of intentions.

If you’re not clear what your intentions are, you might be better choosing a dating service where members can pursue different types of relationships within the same site. Again there’s no shortage of choice.

However, at some multi-relationship services it’s not immediately clear who’s looking for what and up to you to figure it out, using the search tools. If this sounds like trouble (and it can be), choose a service like Lavalife which has separate communities within the site for each type of relationship.

Members

Think about the type of person you want to meet. Are you open-minded, in which case a mainstream service will be fine, or do you have a lengthy list of “must haves” regarding your perfect match?

If you have set ideas about the type of person you’d like to meet, finding them in a mainstream service could be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

(By “mainstream”, I mean that members are as diverse as the general population.)

Instead, consider choosing a relationship service that specializes in bringing people together who have something very specific in common -- religion, political beliefs, ethnicity, body size, certain lifestyles, you name it. Simply run a search for “dating (or matchmaking, or marriage)” plus whatever you’re looking for (vegetarian, republican, biker…) and it’s almost certain you’ll find a relationship service to match.

Matchmaking features

Dating sites have thousands if not millions of members so good search tools are important. However, it’s still up to you search out your perfect match and not everyone has time for this.

Luckily many dating services have matchmaking features (more sophisticated search tools) that will help you find “the one” quickly and easily.

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