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Choosing an Online Dating Service
by Caroline Mackenzie

Matchmaking features range from the very simple, based on profiles and/or basic wish lists, to the sophisticated, based on personality and other tests as well as more detailed profiles and wish lists.

Unless you’re unusually picky (or just very unusual), these one-click options will typically churn up a good selection of possible matches on a regular basis -- popular dating services attract many new members a day.

You can usually opt to have these matchmaking searches run automatically on a regular basis and receive new match details by email -- another time-saver.

At some services, matchmaking features are part of a complete matchmaking service where the selection process is much stricter, usually because they’re geared towards serious relationships. Typically you’ll receive just a handful of potential partners over a length of time.

For example, eHarmony (designed to help people into marriage) advises clients not to expect more than one or two matches a month.

To accept this level of matchmaking you have to be happy with the idea of letting the “experts” have the final say about who’s right for you and who’s not.

Tests

Online dating services are about much more than dating. They’re also an opportunity to gain some valuable insights into yourself and the type of person you’re looking to meet which could help improve your love life, online and off.

If this appeals to you, choose a dating service with personality and other tests for members to take.

For the most part, larger, well established online dating services have the most insightful and detailed personality tests because they have more resources to put into their design.

Almost all personality tests are free to take and at many sites matchmaking tools draw on the results to find members who are compatible with each other.

So, by taking several tests and judging the results, you’ll get a good idea of which site is going to do the best job of helping you find your perfect match. After all, if the results are a true reflection of what you’re like, they’ll be a true reflection of potential matches too.

Communications

There are two levels of communication to consider when choosing a dating service -- what you get for free and what you get as a paying member. On both fronts, some services offer a lot more than others.

Free communications matter because they let you get to know someone, or at least that the interest is mutual, before you spring for a subscription. (A subscription will let you communicate as much as you like.)

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