Why We Love It: Even though this service is online, it’s unlike any dating site you’ve used before. Simply finish the sentence “How about we …” with your favorite place to go on a Sunday afternoon, or a new restaurant you’ve always wanted to try. Let your imagination run wild, and don’t hold back. Each day the site sends dates you create to other members with the same interests, while also sending you dates that might spark your curiosity. You can browse the site anytime for all the dates people have proposed, and it’s up to you to choose how many you go on. Worried about coming up with a good rendezvous? The Datetropolis gives a list of predesignated dates that you can send out no sweat.
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Why We Love It: Literary junkies, rejoice! Alikewise is a unique dating site that pairs members based on their bookshelf. Unlike other sites, Alikewise is devoid of questionnaires and checkboxes. It’s for those who like discovering people as much as they like discovering books, the site says. It may lead to a few great dates or even a friendship. Bonus: It’s free.
Cons: Hobbies are great conversation starters, but for those looking to expand their dating experiences, a niche website like this can pigeonhole the user.
Why We Love It: eHarmony does the matching for you—no browsing required. The perfect site for a no-nonsense type of gal. Matches are made on the basis of core values and personality and character traits, which the site determines by your answers to various questions.
Cons: The questionnaire is so in-depth, it can take up to 60 minutes or more to complete.
Why We Love It: Spark.com is an open community that combines the power of computer-generated matches with the flexibility of browsing members on your own. The “Secret Admirer” game allows you to choose a member you’d like to meet. The best part? Spark will anonymously ask if they’re interested in you. Message boards, chat rooms and a Color Code system help you form deep and meaningful relationships.
Cons: Membership renews automatically. If you decide not to continue, your credit card will still be charged.
Why We Love It: The site caters to those looking to get back in the dating game after a split from a longtime partner. For those overwhelmed with the vastness of the Internet, Meetcha provides one-on-one matching and even offers group “dates.” PODS, or People Out Doing Stuff, allow like-minded individuals with shared interests to “meet up in great places.”
Con: Like most sites, Meetcha requires a membership fee to join. Involvement with the site is based on the package level you purchase.
Why We Love It: Nerve jokingly calls itself “the first dating site for humans,” but we think there’s some truth behind that statement. Unlike most dating sites, your Nerve profile changes daily. Updated with the answers to questions like, “What did you do last night?”, Nerve users get a chance to see the quirky personalities behind the profile. No lame “about me” paragraphs here.
Con: The members tend to live primarily in the New York City area.
Why We Love It: The site’s unique matching system, Duet, pairs members based on personality, lifestyle, values and preferences. One of the fastest-growing Internet dating sites, it caters to older, more serious daters and not those looking just for Saturday-night plans.
Cons: The profile can be quite lengthy, and the site lacks an instant messaging interface for members to connect.
Why We Love It: Dr. Helen Fisher, the site’s chief scientific adviser, spent three decades researching “why love makes us go weak in the knees.” While other sites match you based on background and interests, Chemistry.com invades your innermost thoughts and asks you to evaluate the length of the fingers on your right hand. (There is a method to their madness.)
Cons: The site does not perform background checks, nor does it allow you to search for users.
Why We Love It: No questionnaire to fill out. Instead, users complete profiles, where they can express themselves through various free writing sections. Profiles may include up to 26 photos, as well as selected preferences regarding the person you’re searching for. With the click of a mouse, members can instantly see photos and read about potential matches in their area.
Cons: The site stresses that it’s “free,” but there is actually a membership fee once you fill out your “free” profile.
Why We Love It: Lavalife is perfect for those looking to go at their own pace. Three unique communities—dating, relationships and intimate encounters—let you browse singles through forums, polls, videos and much more. Join all three communities or choose the best fit for you.
Cons: Signing up and searching for members is free, but you must purchase “credits” to make a love connection.
Why We Love It: It’s free, and signing up is easy. You can answer as few or as many questions about yourself as you’d like. Even better? The questions are made up, and picked, by users like you. Contacting other members is free, and you can search the site as you please.
Cons: Since joining is free, members of the site run the gamut from people looking to play the field to those looking for their M.R.S.
Why We Love It: A U.K.-based operation, the site is rooted in the philosophy that “what really matters is what you like, not what you are like.” Similar to Alikewise, which pairs people according to their book preferences, Tastebuds lets you browse users based on their favorite music. The site makes it easy to message and block users and lets you hide your profile from the main feed when you need a break, without deleting it forever.
Why We Love It: Zoosk is a global platform that can run as an application, widget and embedded feature on social networks like Facebook and MySpace. It’s the only dating site that allows users to connect across multiple social media platforms, casting a wide net when you’re searching for singles in your area.
Cons: No matchmaking involved; users have to reach out and make their own connections.
Why We Love It: Meet your potential mate while making pizza, learning to sail or sipping some wine. This social networking group takes the awkwardness out of dating by hosting monthly events that put singles in a lively setting with other successful individuals that share the same passion. “Dating should be fun and wonderful and about getting to know someone,” says Hattie Grace Elliot, founder of The Grace List. Initially starting the business so she could meet someone, Elliot now boasts an accomplished, attractive and adventurous clientele. Her trick? She picks places and people with a certain caliber in terms of age, demographic and success. “It’s about putting yourself out there and getting involved in something you’re passionate about,” she says. “You’re likely to meet your partner in crime that’s equally as passionate.”
Con: Elliot meets every potential member face-to-face. If you aren’t someone she would set up with one of her friends, then sorry, but you’ll get the boot.
Why We Love It: This team of experts takes all the tediousness out of online dating. To start, they get to know you—your interests, personality, background, experiences and current goals. From there they create accounts for you on the various dating sites that fit best. Don’t fret, ViDA writes your profile for you and even picks the most flattering photo. Once you’re up and running, the ViDA team goes through countless profiles to find you a great match. You approve any messages that are sent out, and the team proceeds to make connections with your approved candidates. After arranging your dates, they get you up to speed on what they’ve been doing behind the scenes and then send you on your way.
Con: Having a full-time team can be pricey. The premium package has a $200 startup fee, plus $720 per month. Want even more time dedicated to you? The executive package has a startup fee of $400, plus $1,440 per month.
Why We Love It: Meetup groups are a social way to connect with people in your town around mutual interests. If you go to www.meetup.com and search something like “Detroit singles who love to travel,” “Denver singles hiking” or even “New York single parents must love dogs,” you’ll find dozens of groups of like-minded people who gather regularly to merge their hobbies or passions with their search for a mate.
Why We Love It: This site really proves there’s a niche match-making site for everyone. Scientists—or those just interested in the field—can form a brainy love connection. Plus, a one-year membership is a steal at $65.00.