When I started dating again there was only one option. It was the internet or nothing. I have social circles, but they’re largely married and their social circles are largely married, and as I’m way too old and uncool for the bar scene, that was it.
I did online dating a decade or so ago and not too much has changed between now and then. Though one major thing is that it’s no longer horrible and shameful to be dating online. It’s now seen as reasonable and generally preferred to any other option. I recently read someone argue that online dating was bad because you immediately ruled people out. This made me wonder if they’d ever realized how many snap judgments we make about people we see in person.
I’ve learned that while I can’t tell a lot about someone based on their profile, I can get a good idea of our compatibility. Someone who keeps their answers minimal, says virtually nothing about themselves, goes on and on about how they’re looking for a “drama-free” woman, insists their partner be adventurous and well-traveled, insists their partner be fit and athletic, insists their partner be anything really–these are people who aren’t going to click with me.
I like thoughtful people, with extra bonus points for wit and smarts. None of that has to be book smarts, in fact I find snootiness unappealing, but it goes a long way towards the kind of conversations we’ll have. And for me that’s a big deal.
Recently I expanded my search to include both OKCupid and Match, the two most popular places to go. And for those of you who may be curious, I thought I’d share my findings in a head-to-head comparison.
Size of Pool: Match wins this by a long shot. It didn’t take long for me to feel like OKC kept showing me the same people.
Quality of Pool: About even, probably. There’s a lot more to say, but you’ll get it in some of these other answers.
Searchability: OKC wins. Match lets you put in plenty of specs, but I don’t look for specs in a person. I can find an exception to almost every rule. I’ve dated amazing guys without college degrees, low incomes, and unusual professions. I tend to do very little excluding, so searching is not too helpful for someone like me. If you’re particular about height, weight, race, income, etc. it can be more helpful. (However, be prepared for lots of lying. The number of guys who’ve said they were 5’9″ and then showed up and were exactly as tall as me–I’m not quite 5’6″–has been many. I’ve even seen guys on Match list every race, I don’t know if they don’t follow directions well or didn’t want to be left out of someone’s search based on race.) OKC lets you search on compatibility, and I know it’s hard to trust at first, but after a little while you start to realize that it does pretty well.
Engagement: Match gives you so many ways to engage… and yet I’ve found people there quieter and less responsive. You can Favorite, Message, Like or Wink or any combination of those. All of them will notify the other person you did so. And while men complain that women are unresponsive, I have a pretty long list of “Favorites” that I keep so I can remind myself to send them a message, but hardly any of them have responded to me favorite-ing them. OKC, however, is much better. Almost too much. I get more unsolicited messages, though many of them are from people I find interesting. Chat is commonly used, although you do have to watch out for people trying to talk to you all the time. But overall I prefer OKC.
Usefulness of Profile: Another OKC win. Its profile prompts are more interesting, even if they’re also more obnoxious. They give you better answers that tell you more about a person. And it’s Question section, even if many of them are ridiculous, also gives you a lot of information about a person, especially when it comes to some political or ethical issues that may be dealbreakers for you. Match is so blah that it leads to lots of dull profiles with little information. I don’t really care what someone’s “Favorite Hot Spots” are.
Nerd Quotient: I can’t tell if there are really more nerds on OKC or if it’s just that Match shows me a broader group of people. I can tell you that if you’re looking for a guy with a beard who rides his bike to work and lives in Somerville, you will find a million of them on OKC.
Ease of Use: Another win for OKC. Match’s menu bar has so much stupid stuff in it that I cannot keep it straight.
Exposure to People: Match takes this one. Sure, I find OKC’s search by compatibility relatively decent, but Match emails me a list of 24 people a day and I usually click through all of their profiles. I may only see 1 or 2 that look interesting, but it’s definitely involving me regularly more than OKC does. The thing I like best about OKC, though, is it sends you a little message to tell you if someone you may be compatible with is looking at your profile.
Blocking Ability: Haven’t had to use it yet on Match, but I did have a guy on OKC who kept making a new account after I blocked him, which I would then block, and then the cycle would continue. The block works and I did flag or report him each time this happened. I know it’s kind of impossible for any online dating site to ban a person since they can always make a new profile under a different email address, but the blocking ability makes me feel safer. Match does let you block and hide as well, convenient for when you see someone you know IRL and you don’t want to keep running into them.
Cost: I’ve found the free OKC is just fine. Free Match is not. If you don’t pay for Match it’s basically useless. However, Match does give you a guarantee that if you haven’t found someone in 6 months you can get the next 6 months free. I’ll let you know if they stick to that…
Responsiveness: Obviously this is subjective since I only pick out certain people to contact, but I do believe that if I find someone who looks interesting I shouldn’t wait by the phone. So how has it gone when I’ve reached out? My response rate on Match is abysmal. My rate so far on OKC is pretty decent, about 50%. I am hoping my average on Match improves, I’ve officially stopped contacting anyone who says they aren’t interested in people with kids (people who say they’re not often contact me anyway so I was pretty loose at first) and hopefully it’ll get better, but overall people on OKC tend to be much more into the idea of actually meeting and talking.
Creepy Factor: OKC is higher, for sure. I’ve received more than my fair share of emails inviting me to be “the lover of an older man” or the third to a married couple. OKC in general has a higher quotient of nontraditional relationships, including a good number of poly folks in a big city like mine. So if you’re really opposed to that type of thing or find it horrifying, OKC is probably not a good fit for you. I find those emails aren’t coming often enough to bother me. Match, on the other hand, is high on the boring quotient. Be ready for plenty of profiles that try and show off their personalities by such gems as “I’m just as happy going out as I am staying in.” I actually have a more traditional profile picture on Match where the people are more traditional and a quirkier one on OKC.
So overall I prefer OKC, but right now I’m not content to stay there. I may feel differently a few more months into Match, but I mostly joined Match to add to my pool and it’s certainly done that.