There are hundreds of dating sites on the web, and it seems like the list is growing. But for every dating site, there are thousands of user reviews praising or pummeling the sites; it's not always clear which sites are worth the effort in the great mate chase. Divine Caroline talked to relationship expert April Masini to find the top dating sites for millennials. Whether you're looking for Mr. Right, Mr. Right Now, or as many misters as possible, there is a dating site for you.
Best for No Cost: OkCupid
OkCupid is full of 20-somethings looking for relationships of all kinds, so it's great for people looking to dive into the dating pool without emptying their pockets. Based on responses to a lengthy questionnaire, OkCupid calculates your compatibility percentage with other users. "Brainiac sites like OkCupid, which tend toward math-based equations to find you romance, are good choices for people who think they fall outside the norm to some degree and want a geek who might get lost in the cracks of a bigger site," Masini says.
OkCupid isn't the best choice for people who are looking to get into a long-term relationship; the vast majority of users are under 30 and not necessarily looking for anything serious. "If you're looking for a serious relationship, my advice is spend the money for a paid membership," Masini says. "It shows commitment." But if you're looking for a casual, but active dating life without any of the cost of other dating sites, give OkCupid a try.
Best for Dating Around: Match.com
Free Trial, 3 months for $22.99/mo., 6 months for $19.99/mo.
Volume sites like Match.com are perfect for women who are interested in expanding their social circles and dating around. "Match.com is the big daddy of dating sites. It's sprawling, super established, and like a massive department store, it's got a department for everyone: millennials, seniors, single parents, people looking for fun, and those looking for something more serious like marriage," Masini says. Every day, the site sends users six matches based on compatibility, but it leaves much of the matching up to the user. Unlike the more formulaic dating sites, Match.com encourages users to spend their twenties dating as many people as possible to find what they like in a partner.
Match offers a free trial period. Without paying for a membership, you can create a profile, receive match suggestions, search for potential matches and send "winks" to people. Unfortunately, without a full membership you can't respond to or block other users, use the chat function or see who has viewed your profile. If you upgrade to a paid account, Match.com guarantees you'll find someone special within six months of membership. Although, they aren't exactly specific about what "special" means.
Best for Settling Down: eHarmony
Free Trial, 6 months for $32.95/mo., 12 months for $18.95/mo., 24 months for $11.95/mo.
"eHarmony is a dating site for people who want to get married," Masini says. "This is usually the site folks go to after Match.com overwhelmed them. It's the next step down in size and manageability." There is nothing casual about dating on eHarmony; most users want to settle down and soon. So, if you're looking for a long-term, serious relationship, eHarmony might be the place for you. (Unless, you are gay or your membership is inexplicably rejected, which happens.)
Regardless of it's discriminating taste, eHarmony is doing something right. The site has shown its list of 29 "Dimensions of Compatibility" works as a matchmaking tool for thousands of couples. But you better hope it works for you, because once a member, you can only view people you've been matched with. Still, eHarmony gives users access to thousands of detailed profiles of high caliber matches.
Best for Taking Dating on the Go: Zoosk
Free Basic Membership, 1 month for $29.95/mo., 3 months for $19.95/mo., 6 months for $12.49/mo.
Zoosk claims to be the number one dating app on smart phones, and for a good reason. The app has easy browsing and communication tools that help you connect with local users. "Zoosk is an up and comer," Masini says. "It's a hip, visually oriented site, which tends to attract daters in their twenties and thirties." Organized like most social media sites, Zoosk is easy to navigate and explore. And the more you explore, the better your dating experience becomes. Zoosk's SmartPick behavioral matchmaking engine learns about your dating preferences as you use it.
Like many dating sites, Zoosk offers free browsing and message services. However, it does not let you respond to other members until you pay for a membership, then you can wink and chat your heart out. There have been complaints that Zoosk sometimes matches you with members that are not a geographic match. And communicating with other users can be frustrating if the other user has a free membership. The site doesn't tell you who has paid and who hasn't. Still, Zoosk is a good option for 20-somethings.
Best for Finding Specific Traits: Niche Sites
Costs vary by site.
A large dating site may not be the way to go if you have something specific you're looking for, especially if you're not willing to compromise on that thing. Masini recommends niche sites to people who want to be with someone with a particular lifestyle because it will save time and will match you with singles with similar values. Christian seeking Christians? Try ChristianMingle. Jew seeking Jew? JDate is one of the oldest niche dating sites on the web. Maybe you're just a dedicated bookworm looking for a kindred spirit. Give Alikewise a try.
Dating on niche sites gives you a common ground to start on. If you're not sure what to talk about on the first date, you can always fall back on the topic that brought you together.
Check out our relationship panel's advice for writing the perfect online profile:
April Masini writes the critically acclaimed 'Ask April' advice column and answers readers questions on the free Ask April advice forum.