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Dating sites come in all shapes and sizes.,but which one is best for you? Read our in-depth reviews and experiences on the UK's top 10 dating sites, so you can make the right choice.
Match is popular for a reason; it's free to use (to a point), simple enough to register, and has one of the biggest user-bases you're going to find online. The downside of that is that there will be as many guys and girls here that aren't your cup of tea - but likewise, you have a massive dating pool to choose from. The thing to remember about Match is that it is all about authentic relationships; so you will have to work through a series of questions on sign up (most are multiple-choice) and things like a profile photo are mandatory.
You'll not find any spammers here - unless they've put some serious effort into it - as site admin verifies every individual profile picture within 15 minutes of signing up. If your photo isn't approved, either because it isn't genuine or doesn't comply with site rules, you'll be booted out until you upload a proper one! In terms of the functions and features, there's nothing groundbreaking here, but everything works seamlessly. That means you can quickly run searches, find a decent number of local singles, and check out their profiles without needing to play any games or spend any time working out where stuff is on the site.
“Established, slick serious dating site. With one of the biggest dating pools you'll find, if it's long-term and mainstream you're looking for, Match is for you.”
Match is pretty easy to use, although you're going to have to upgrade to get much out of the site. The site terms are quite strict, so this isn't a platform for kinky nudes or fake profiles; but is full of real, single people looking for romance.
Signing up is simple enough, and once you've answered all of the questions, you must upload a photo. The questions are all mandatory, but you can select 'I'll keep that to myself' if there's something you're not comfortable answering, or appearing on your profile.
One of the few things I don't like about Match is that it feels a little disjointed in places. For example, you can sign up for Affiny, which is an additional service and asks you to complete a questionnaire. The reasoning is excellent; you answer more detailed personality questions to help Match deliver compatible results, or suggest members they think are perfect for you. This service, however, is separate from Match and you get another email verification email with different branding, which to me feels slightly off. I'm always hyper-cautious about spammers on dating sites, so perhaps that is why I found this a bit unusual.
In terms of usability, Match is slick, and you know this is a site designed to make it as simple to use for even the newest of online daters. All the tools and functions run along the top toolbar, and if you click on your profile photo, the dropdown box gives you all the options you need to manage and make changes to your account or subscription.
To get rid of the slightly annoying ads (all encouraging you to upgrade or pay for an additional service) you'll need to choose one of the membership packages - either one, three or six-months long. Interestingly, six months costs less than three, so if you do decide to sign up, you're just as well choosing the longer duration!
Match is doubtless one of your best bets if you're looking for a long-term committed relationship - purely because of the size of the site, and the number of years it's been around. However, you're paying for the privilege, with some of the highest subscription costs you're likely to find in UK dating.
That said it might be money well spent. You won't find any of the vague, half-completed profiles, or any of the spammers who are there to waste your time and their own. The profiles are real people, and by and large, most members have completed all of the information available so you can get a good idea about whether somebody is right for you before you send a like or start up a chat.
One of the factors that set Match apart is the events. These are paid for, so you won't be invited to a singles party for free, but it does mean that you get a new layer of potential interactions. Given the lack of a niche, the users on Match are very varied, and you'll find gay and straight members here too. I came across a page full of attractive guys immediately on registering, which led me to suspect some of them might be too good to true, but on closer inspection, they all look to be real!
With guys varying from Sparkles to IAmVenom, when I say diverse I mean it - so while you'll get a ton of responses to a search, it also takes quite a bit of filtering to get down to a shortlist of people you'd seriously consider dating.
All in all, it's expensive, it's simple, and it's one of the most popular dating sites for a reason. If you have a specific niche or a preference in a partner, you might be better off with a more dedicated date site. If you're looking for general matches, long-term commitment and an easy to use website, Match is for you.
eHarmony feels like one of the most grown up dating sites I've ever used. Of course, I know they're all aimed at adults, but somehow it seems more polished, more professional, and more, well, adult, than most. Perhaps it's because of the interface - eHarmony has firmly established branding, and aces it when it comes to slick design, non-offensive imagery, and colours that are calming and friendly. Or perhaps it is because you get pop-up reminders when you haven't finished filling in something that feels very close to being scolded like a naughty kid who hasn't done their homework!
Whatever the reason, it inspires confidence. I don't mind being told off for forgetting to complete a box if it's going to nudge me in the right direction to find love and happiness. Because that's what eHarmony is all about - it's not here for quick flings or naughty hookups, it's here to help every single person find long-term, sustainable relationships. Everything I have seen at eHarmony makes me feel sure that by giving it time and trusting the process; they'd be able to do just that.
“One of the originals, and still one of the best. eHarmony knows what it's doing when it comes to love, and does it seamlessly.”
The first positive is the ease of signing up. I'd expected an excruciatingly long and complicated personality quiz. Still, you can sign up directly through a Facebook account, thus importing much of your details and making the whole process very quick and straightforward!
Next, you will need to work your way through a Compatibility Quiz - but it's a lot simpler than I'd anticipated. Some of the questions do seem a little strange (I honestly have no idea why my preference in circles will dictate the right husband material for me!). However, they're fun. It took me about eight minutes to complete, rather than the twenty eHarmony suggests you set aside.
While the initial questions and quiz are mandatory, uploading a profile photo isn't so you can always leave that bit till later.
Once you're in, the site is simple to navigate and well laid out. Home, Matches and Messages all run along the top toolbar, with the main sections on the page giving you previews to new matches and recent visitors who have checked out your profile.
I have to explain now that you won't be able to see any real detail unless you subscribe and choose a membership option - the profile images are blurred out. You also need to complete at least 50% of your profile to be able to send a message or use any site features. For me, that makes sense - eHarmony isn't a site for quick flings; it's here to help people find meaningful relationships, and if you can't be bothered to fill in your profile it doesn't say much for your staying power!
Overall, eHarmony is very easy to use, and it's as I'd expect from a site that's been around this many years. The crisp white background, simple menu options and balanced layout are easy on the eye and intuitive to navigate.
Let's be clear - eHarmony takes a bit of effort. The subscription costs are not the cheapest by a long way, and you're pretty much required to sign up to a membership to get any use out of the site. It also requires you to complete the Compatibility Quiz, and add a minimum level of detail to your profile before you can see any of your matches, and does take a bit of time to work through the initial registration process.
The thing is, I respect this process. It's very easy to see a free dating site or be suckered in by photos of attractive singles (who purportedly live just down the road). But when it comes to getting real value for money, I'm far more likely to invest a little bit of time and a monthly subscription fee and expect to receive a valuable service that might make a world of difference to my romantic life.
eHarmony is grown up, and it should be. There are a million dating sites out there who offer baubles and whistles, exciting games and quirky features - but very few have been around for over 20 years and can lay claim to millions of successful partnerships.
It feels like the real deal; the profiles are authentic people, perhaps with some of the typical ritzy filters, but also with the lumps, bumps and wobbly bits we've all got. This is the power of an advanced compatibility algorithm. At the same time, I'm still unclear what the circles have got to do with anything, but I can see that this detailed study of your personality is actually the smartest possible way to meet genuinely viable dates whose characteristics gel well with your own.
Nothing on the platform feels rushed or promises any kind of instant gratification. In fact, the subscriptions start at six months rather than having a crazily optimistic notion that a 30-day account is going to make a tangible impact on finding you the soul mate you dream of!
That said, eHarmony remains with the times. You can see that a lot of thought has gone into the functionality, intuitive navigation, and user-friendly experience. This combines to deliver everything you need from a serious dating site; and if I were looking for a new partner, it'd be one of those sites that would be my first port of call.
I'll be honest - initially, I was prepared to dislike Elite Singles. Probably purely based on the word 'elite.' How do you define yourself as an elite individual? I'd instantly discounted the site, assuming there was some income threshold or education standard I'd need to meet to join. However, there isn't, and the more I explored the site, the more I liked it. Even the largest dating sites can indeed feel like a minefield for anybody over 30 or so. There's nothing so disheartening as checking your inbox and finding it riddled with random messages (and the old explicit image you weren't ready for before your morning coffee!). And so, a specifically designed service for genuine people across the states looking for real connections isn't something to ignore.
I liked that everyone I matched with was a similar age, that I could use an excellent map tool to identify where I live and how far I'm willing to travel. I liked that the personality questions were short, sharp, and to the point. I liked the simplicity of the site layout and how I didn't feel overwhelmed with games and features that they detracted from the whole point of being on the platform. And I liked that I felt as if there was a real chance that some of those matches might be people who I'd enjoy going out for lunch with, and wouldn't be chatting with guys half my age, or traveling 'musicians' who I'd not really be keen to start a family home with.
“Relatively high prices, but a premium service to match. Elite Singles does what it says - matches professional users to their ideal date."
While my usual skepticism applies to how users have answered their personality questions (I cannot believe that so many people do charity work and volunteer!), I think that Elite Singles offers one of the best sites for people over 30 - and up to any age - who are seeking love, romance, and real dates with real people.
It's not cheap, but the numbers speak for themselves, and I'd happily sign up for six months to have a decent chance of being one of those 2,000 couples a month made through Elite Singles.
Let's start at the beginning; account registration. Elite Singles is well designed and user-friendly, and while you do need to answer a seemingly unending list of multiple-choice questions, it took me about eight minutes. You click on the box that applies most to your preferences or personality or select an image. However, it's worth adding that it feels a bit like a job interview - I've never been asked how 'industrious' I am as a dating site criterion before!
That said, in most cases, you can click on 'I'll answer later' and come back to it. It's worth remembering that Elite Singles isn't in quite the same niche as generic dating sites and is aimed at professionals looking for like-minded partners. I feel slightly uncomfortable entering my income bracket. Still, I appreciate that this is of tangible benefit to many singles who want to meet someone with similar aspirations and life goals!
Here's one of my favorite things about this platform - at most stages, you can click on a little 'Let Us Help' tab, and receive guidance about creating a stellar profile. There are blogs, information links, FAQs, and tips. For me, that's a big plus, as every dating site is different, and sometimes it's a real struggle to think of how to answer something or work out what sort of profile is going to give off the right vibes.
Now, there's not a lot of use in having a free membership account. Profile images are blurred out, you won't get premium match suggestions, and you can only send 'smiles' and 'likes.' However, once you do upgrade, the matching process is one of the best I've used. It's not just about location, age, and personality type - but about details such as whether you've got kids, whether your partner lives a similar lifestyle to you, and whether you'd have a real opportunity to build a life together. In my opinion, Elite Singles is asking all the right questions.
The Elite Singles premium membership prices seem a little odd; you can save a whopping 42% by increasing a three-month membership to six months! If you upgrade from six to twelve months, that's only a further 5% saving. Perhaps that's because most members find a six-month membership enough time to meet their perfect match - and therefore, a year's membership isn't as popular?
In any case, it's not cheap, and free membership is available but has so little functionality (profile photos are blurred out thumbnails) you're going to need to subscribe to get any value from your membership. For my money, it's probably worth it. There are millions of free dating sites out there - and some excellent ones! - BUT if you are looking for exact matches, people with a similar lifestyle to your own, and want a premium dating service that has a realistic likelihood of finding you a date you'd actually like to go on? I'd say Elite Singles is money well spent.It's not so much about the cost and more about value for me. As a woman on the 'wrong' side of 30, I find many mainstream dating sites full of 20-somethings wanting a hookup, even when that's not really the demographic of the service.
By charging premium prices, Elite Singles has created a platform where it stands apart as a dating service that is only suited to singles looking for a genuine connection. Over 90% of members are aged 30+, and about 82% went to university. While I fall into one of those two categories, I feel like I've found my tribe here, and the members are much more likely to be people I'd be happy sharing my time with than I've seen on most of the dating sites out there.
Provided by the same people who gave usElite Singles, this site isn't about your academic prowess, but is a platform for the mature divorced and widowed who are looking for love a second time around. Their homepage abounds with photos of happy, good-looking mature couples which are an inspiration to achieve the same.
Launched around 2002, and in its present shape and form since 2012, this site purports to have 1,000,000 UK members, with 100,000 members joining worldwide each week, the lion's share predominantlyUS. They claim to match 2000 couples each month.
"A sister site to EliteSingles, SilverSingles is reasonably priced and caters exclusively to the over 50s."
In order for the clever personality programme to send you the perfect matches, you must fill it in.
The screens are simple, and clean, and it isn't cluttered at all, as these things can sometimes be. As a Basic member, there weren't too many options, so it is actually easy to get around. There is a link to Support, and some FAQs and a history of the company.
Once you realise that you can't actually see or email anyone without paying, you do sort of get used to reading about people instead. Because the matches do seem quite relevant, it does lead you to becoming interested in paying for a membership.
There was no evidence of a mobile App in my logon, but one is available for IOS and Android on iTunes and Google Play Store. You are also able to register using the App.
SilverSingles must have an automatic moderation system, as my photo was up in seconds, as was my profile. All this will be no small undertaking with100,000 people joining each month.
A notice about Customer Support is located at the bottom of the screen. There are simple FAQs and an email address.
SilverSingles seems like a clever tool with a simple interface. The Questionnaire does seem to do a lot of behind the scenes work, to deliver to your desktop suitable matches, that actually are. You can still tweak height, age, distance etc. to fine tune your matches - or broaden them out if you aren't getting many. The questionnaire not only seems to select candidates quite close to the mark, but also gives a good story on what their behaviour, interests and views are likely to be. All to be investigated on the first date! Definitely worth a try.
It took some hunting, but we found out that Ourtime is owned by the same people who own Match.com. The similarities are staggering, and it is at times hard to differentiate between the two sites except that Ourtime focusses exclusively on the 50+ age group and has around 200,000 active members (UK). There are subtle differences as you dig deeper, and it does have a more niche feel, suited to its target membership group.
"Owned by Match.com, Ourtime offers a more intimate dating site, exclusively stated for the older population."
As soon as you get started, you are offered a telephone support callback – handy for seniors who might not have fully grasped how complicated it can be to join a dating site! The fairly quick questionnaire, photo upload and basic registration details are straightforward, and you can have a look around whilst your email address and details are being verified and moderated.
Endorsements from the press and online encourage you to move on through the site and the promise of activities, including cultural outings and afternoon teas lulls the ‘young’ over 50s into a sense of entering a fun new lifestyle.
Once into the database, all is exactly the same as the Match site. There were many profiles to view – of an appropriate age range and distance. Email notifications flowed to the designated email account notifying of Views, Messages, Matches and Winks.
There are Favourites (only with Matches)for unpaying members, with Winks, Views and Messages available to paying subscribers. Both memberships can play the matching game, now called Blender. There are events, although few and far between, and you can search for your desired partner’s area/age/body shape etc,
We looked into the Affiny service –which is offered on both Match and Ourtime. This is a personality/character profile questionnaire to offer more accurate matching. Once you have completed the questionnaire,which you are allowed to keep whether you pay or not, you have to subscribe to this site (a sister site) in order to benefit from the personality matching facilities.
A mobile app is mentioned if you purchase a six month membership, but we couldn’t find any links to it on the site, nor on the internet!
We found no evidence of a blog or magazine on dating issues or topics, only the articles in the HELP FAQs section.
Ourtime are keen to ensure that you feel safe and secure, and have FAQs on GDPR, assure you that profiles are verified by a team of dedicated moderators, welcome members to report fake profiles, send warnings and are able to remove members if they don’t meet the Ts and Cs. There are articles on security in HelpOnline, including how to arrange a first date and what to look out for in a profile.
Help and Customer Care is found at the bottom of every screen as well as in your Account section. Help includes plenty of FAQs – a UK phone number available 9 – 5 Monday to Friday as well as a mailbox, where you enter your issue and are guaranteed a response in 24 hours –mine arrived in an hour, although it wasn’t a comprehensive answer. The Online Help (FAQs) is comprehensive and issues and processes are comprehensively covered.
Ourtime offers a more intimate dating site, exclusively stated for the older population, which is a good thing. The members would mostly be ‘second time around’ and Ourtime have ringfenced this population from the 20–45 age range. That said, the apparent omission of a mobile app to a population who might have more time to spend on their mobiles, might need to be addressed. The site is as functional as the Match site, and still offers variety to its niche market, as one of the largest and well known UK sites.
As the online dating sector looks set to reach a value of $1,754 million in 2020, authenticity remains the most significant barrier to market penetration, particularly for smaller sites and niche brands.Read Article