By Rachael Jones, Guest Contributor
If you’re going to be using an online dating platform to look for romance, it only makes sense to use the one that gives you the best chance for success. How can you even tell though? Every dating website will tell you about themselves in a way that makes them look like an emissary of Cupid, but there are a few criteria you can apply to any dating platform to see if it’s right for you.
First of all, think about what you want. Are you planning on easing yourself back into the dating scene, or are you hoping for an online match that ends in exchanging rings? Would you prefer to meet someone within a 50-mile radius, or is proximity a non-issue? If you just want to chat for an hour or two, maybe a video cam chat site like CamSurf might be the trick. Each dating site will approach these things a little differently – and now that you know, so can you. Dating profile writers can help tremendously to take you to the next level.
Most of the features below operate on a sliding scale – what’s right for you might not be right for someone else. In other words, there are lots of options, and everybody gets to choose what they like. Now let’s get into the details!
1. Search tools to find profiles with specific characteristics
Algorithms can do a lot of the work in narrowing down the choices, but a search tool can help you get straight to the point. Find out what parameters a dating site lets you search for – is could be just age, gender, and distance, or it could include things like ethnicity, height, and income. If a professional dating expert helps you with writing an online dating profile that incorporates some of these parameters, it can be a tremendous help.
A few platforms get even more specific. OkCupid, for example, lets users make keyword searches. You don’t have to just look for someone who’s tall and well-to-do; you could look for someone who’s tall, well-to-do, and loves Star Trek. If they have it in their profile, it’ll turn up in the search results.
Search tools are awesome for the people who like to take charge of the process. They’re not just time-savers, they’re also a shortcut through all the profiles that don’t quite fit the bill.
2. Filters that help keep unwanted matches to a minimum
If a dating platform doesn’t have a search tool, it might give you filters instead. Rather than searching for matches with desirable traits, you can weed out the users with undesirable traits. A good dating consultant can help with this filter system.
This can come in more than one form. You might be able to personalize the filters on your inbox, to keep users that fit certain criteria out of your messages. Or, you might even be able to restrict messages that come from specific users. People who use frequent profanity, have too many abbreviations or misspellings in their profile, are heavy drinkers, and more can be banned from sending messages.
This is an especially valuable tool if the dating site also allows unlimited messaging between members. Without any restrictions, users could expect to get all kinds of messages from people who are there to kill time just as much as they want to find a date.
3. Safety features that protect you from scammers
While most of the people on any given dating platform are there for the right reasons, a small but active minority is there for the money they can make from romance scams. Most dating sites have teams of people that monitor for inappropriate photos or other Terms of Service violations, but scammers are hard to catch until they actually start trying to con another user. If members can use a report or block tool (ideally both) when they’re targeted like this, it cuts down on the number of romance scammers on the site.
Sometimes people get unwanted messages that aren’t from scammers – it’s just spam. Even though this isn’t as malicious, it can still put a damper on a user’s experience, especially if things start getting out of control. This is a situation in which blocking and reporting really comes in handy.
Another safety feature is photo verification. It isn’t mandatory – and some scammers may even be able to pass the test – but 99 times out of 100 a “photo verified” sticker means that the person in the pictures is legitimate. Online dating profile writers who vet online photos will absolutely recommend that your verify your photo on a dating site---it takes one minute!
4. A matching system that suggests relevant profiles
Search tools and filters might be handy, but that’s only if the matching algorithm is solid in the first place. When you sign up for an account, you’ll have to put in some information about yourself. The dating platform uses that information to pair you with people who have certain similarities. Depending on the algorithm, the similarities it prioritizes will vary.
It could focus on distance, or it could focus on the personality traits that you have in common. It might even “learn” from your past likes, favorites, or messages, and add that data to the way it finds new matches. If the matching system is effective, you’ll be able to quickly refine the types of profiles you’re seeing. The more you interact, the better your interactions will be.
5. A sign-up process that doesn’t waste your time
A lengthy sign-up is only a waste of time if you don’t mind some variety in your recommendations. Dating platforms that are geared towards lasting relationships, like eHarmony, are known for taking more than an hour to sign up for. This is because these types of dating sites want to make sure that they have the right information for the most accurate matches.
If accuracy isn’t a priority for you, then look at a dating app like Tinder. The sign-up is as basic as it gets – name, birthdate, profile picture. There’s room for more, but there’s no need to craft the perfect profile before getting started.
These are the two ends of the spectrum, and there’s plenty of space in between. Once you’ve signed up, take a look at other peoples’ profiles and make sure you’ve filled yours out to about the same degree.