TV makes meeting people look much too easy. No one expects to live across the hall from their soulmates like Monica and Chandler or to find love at their small town office job like Jim and Pam.
Between success stories from Love is Blind and The Bachelor and Bachelorette and going on first dates via video calls to get around a pandemic, the rules for finding love have officially gone right out the window.
Online dating is hardly a novel way to meet people and is an increasingly popular topic of study. If you’re still doubting the possibility of finding love online, consider this study cited in the MIT Technology Review that found that compatibility was greater in partners who had met online. A similar study found that couples who met online said their marriage was more satisfying than those who met their spouse offline. The thought is that people who take the time to make a profile and answer each bio prompt thoughtfully are looking for the same substance you are, and online dating is your chance to meet them when you otherwise probably wouldn’t have known they exist. We don’t think it gets more serendipitous than that.
If you’ve made up your mind that swiping apps aren’t for you, you can start narrowing down the more full-scale dating sites that have crowds looking for more serious relationships. Millions of people your age are still looking for that person that they really connect with and could maneuver real world situations with. Now that social distancing guidelines have made it easier to weed out people who want to meet up just to hook up, you’ve actually picked a pretty good time to try your hand at online dating. We think Match and EliteSingles could be two of your best bets. Here’s why.
What’s the difference between EliteSingles and Match?
The divergence in goals and targeted age groups between EliteSingles and Match is more black-and-white than that between Match and eharmony or eharmony and EliteSingles. Both are somewhere between the two extremes (the horny apps and apps where people talk about marriage way too early), but they are different dots on the spectrum.
Even if you’re new to online dating, you’ve heard of Match. It’s impossible to miss the commercials filled with cheesy smiles of people who look so in love that you, admittedly, can’t help but wonder if that process could work for you. Match has a booming user base, an impressive arsenal of behavioral scientists behind its matchmaking, and a sense of authenticity that’s kept it not just afloat, but thriving since its debut in 1995. While neither dating site are the number one pick for people in their early-to-mid 20s, there’s no question as to which of these a young person who has renounced swiping apps would gravitate toward.
EliteSingles has a more mature calling. It aims to cater to educated singles looking for a partner who understands the 9-to-5 lifestyle. But that doesn’t mean skimping out on romance and sending you on the most boring date of your life — the compatibility questionnaire still focuses on things you’d look for in a partner outside of their degree. It might take some digging, but the goal is to find someone who respects your ambitious goals while seeing themselves become a part of your life.
When it comes down to it, people who sign up for both have the same general wishlist: Find someone who’s honest, mature, and in it for the long haul. Which site should you commit to to find the person you want to commit to? Let’s break down the differences in experiences on each site.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a prime example of what happens to a relationship where two partners have differing views on working hard. EliteSingles understands that agreeing on lifestyle choices is a huge part of determining your compatibility with someone. Finding a cute person with similar interests to yours is one thing — finding someone you’d feel comfortable having a joint bank account with is harder.
The whole process isn’t as drab as it used to be. EliteSingles has given up the awkward interrogation asking you to determine how “strong” you are or how “sexy” of a person you’re looking for. A site makeover in 2018 tweaked questions to be more relatable to daters in 2020 rather than the early 2010s: short and sweet with significantly less self-rankings that beg people to exaggerate. The tedious stuff is broken up by fun questions like “Do you like sleeping with the window open?” and “Which of these foods would you like the best?” These give the test a friendly feel and make for great conversation starters.
You won’t be set free to see everyone who’s available, but EliteSingles provides enough daily matches to keep you busy. If you don’t have a type, this could be perfect for you (plus, you don’t have to waste your lunch break on endless scrolling). Once EliteSingles pulls people who meet your criteria (compatible income and education with yours, smoking and drinking habits, and desire to have children), your match list will show their basic info, including job title. From physicians, to real estate agents, to engineers, to web designers, it shouldn’t take long to find someone in the same field as you (if that’s what you’re into). If you don’t feel like waiting around for someone who sparks your interest, you can check out your “visitor notifications” that show you who’s been creepin’. After all, it’s much easier to make the first move when you already know they’re interested.
Work ethic, money, and professional schedules can make or break a relationship. The idea of EliteSingles makes total sense for modern daters, but the approach is a bit unsavory. The word “elite” perpetuates the idea that you need a degree to be desirable. If the site made things less about income and more about career-related passions, it could shed some of the elitism without taking the focus off of work ethic.
For a site that puts so much emphasis on degrees and job titles, you’d think it would have a better way of confirming that people are who they say they are. EliteSingles says that it manually verifies each profile to keep scammers and fake profiles at bay, but unless someone is blatantly sending fraudulent messages, it can be hard to catch people who lied about their employment or income. It’s also worrisome that reviews from mention that their suggested matches didn’t match the age range, job type, or location that they selected.
Not into long distance relationships? You’ll have to break that news yourself, because 50 miles is the shortest distance you can set. For some, that’s a considerable commitment — especially for a first date. This also makes it difficult to narrow things down in cities that are filled with professionals, like New York. (The entire island of , and just try to date someone who lives in Queens while you live in Brooklyn. That’s essentially long distance in itself.) People who live in less populated areas could have a hell of a time finding active profiles that aren’t states away. This doesn’t mean every match will be far away, but it may take longer to find someone who you could realistically see on a regular basis.
What EliteSingles costs in 2020
Signing up will cost you $37.95 per month for three months, $21.95 per month for six months, and $19.95 per month for one year, and you’ll need to pay to be able to talk to matches or see non-blurry photos. From a price standpoint, Match’s larger user base and more promising user reviews make it feel like a better deal. However, EliteSingles’ prices used to be much higher and have been cut significantly in recent years.
Don’t let the fact that was born in the ’90s fool you — continues to be one of the best dating sites for all ages, including millennials. We spoke to Katie Blanchard, an account supervisor who works with Match, about demographics for 2020: 19% of users are 18 to 29, 44% between 30 and 44, and 37% are over 50.
In July 2019, Match released its ninth Singles in America survey, which offers a peek into why dating sites like Match aren’t completely off the table for younger crowds. According to the survey, 70% of Gen Z and 63% of Millennials are searching for romantic love, and they’re apparently the most optimistic group of daters in America when it comes to their confidence in finding the kind of love they want. While the demographic breakdown shows that Match is still a top contender for older adults and seniors, it’s nice to see the masterminds putting effort into understanding the younger wave of singles.
Though Match is obviously trying to facilitate deeper relationship than sister apps Tinder and Hinge, it has been smart about choosing “cooler” aspects that’ll keep it competitive. Users are blown away by the warm interactions and meaningful advice they’ve received from AskMatch: a free one-on-one dating coach service that receives consistent praise in reviews on the App Store.
Around the time of peak social distancing, Match introduced VibeCheck, a video call feature that lets users go on virtual date without giving a phone number or username for Zoom. In-app video calls are a quick way to make sure you’re not being catfished and offer a compromise if the person on the other end wants to meet up immediately.
The interface is no longer an outdated web browser condensed to fit on a five-inch rectangle. The graphics and amount of words on each landing page have been cleaned up to be more intuitive for users of all ages, while appealing to younger folks who dig that minimalist white background look. The app shows one match at a time and only has a few tabs across the top. The desktop version offers a few different ways to search for matches (like looking at everyone who’s online) but is still easy to navigate.
The questionnaire has also been overhauled to keep questions sensible and focused on personality traits, hobbies, and immediate reactions to real-life situations. Match wants to ensure that couples aren’t sparring about whether to have a kid or backpack across Europe, which is just as important as the mushy stuff. If you don’t mark an interest in any outdoorsy hobbies, there’s a much lower chance you’ll have to swipe left on multiple people who think the best photo of themselves is one holding a dead fish. You can also mark which criteria are deal breakers.
Folks who’d prefer to try the freemium version before paying might be sold on Match just because of this change: Free users can now message their Top Picks. Previously, free users couldn’t message anyone, and their only form of communication was winks, profile likes, yes ratings, and other little Facebook poke-like pings.
Where falls short
What’s the point of offering perks to free users if you’re going to hassle them about a paid subscription regardless? Match still has some growing up to do when it comes to scammy profiles and pervasive ads. A from the FTC alleged that Match was using fake love interest ads to get more free users to pay for a subscription by allowing known scam profiles to invade inboxes of well-intentioned singles. (Steer clear of notifications like “You caught his eye” that immediately send you to the payment page.) No dating site is completely free of fraudulent profiles, regardless of how tight their security scans and manual verification processes are — but we feel like Match could chill with the spammy pushes for credit card info.
Remember those winks, yes ratings, and profile likes we just mentioned? Those kind of passive-aggressive, notification-spamming icons were fun in the early days of online dating and MySpace, but modern-day daters have outgrown them. While the knowledge that you caught someone’s eye could give you the confidence to hit them up first, we think Match users would much rather have clean, concise ways of contacting potential life partners for the first time.
One glaring blind spot in Match’s impressive demographic breakdown? The lack of support for non-binary users. Men can search for men and women can search for women, but those two gender options are the extent of your choices.
What Match costs in 2020
Once you get sick of only being able to talk to you Top Picks, paying for a subscription can put you in the driver’s seat. You’ll have to fork over $35.99 per month for a 1-month plan, $19.99 per month for a 3-month, $17.99 per month for a 6-month plan or $15.99 per month for a 12-month plan.
While we appreciate the idea of EliteSingles, we aren’t in love with the execution. The lack of consistency in terms of matches syncing up with your expressed preferences — the thing that you’re paying a dating site to do — is a turn off. We can’t imagine that a busy, working person would want to use their free time fine-tuning matches that should already be fine-tuned, especially when proposed matches are so far away that a relationship couldn’t even be considered.
Match does a much better job of listening to users — whether that’s by following their criteria (for the most part) or by making user experience changes to the site that better suit today’s online daters. The addition of features like Vibe Check and AskMatch are proof that Match wants to stay competitive with newer apps. However, Match has yet to rid itself of invasive prompts asking people to pay more.
You might like Match better if you’re freshly graduated from swiping apps and want to dabble in the more full-fledged dating sites while still maintaining control. Match listens to your boundaries and lets you ease into the idea of potential matches being chosen by someone other than you. The way that Match keeps tabs of your behavior and tries to realign its suggestions based on what the “yes” group has in common (or what the “no” group has in common) is good news for people who know what they’re looking for.
You’ll have to get over Match’s splatter of notifications for winks, likes, favorites, and too many other random ways to show interest that feel more scammy than romantic.
You might like EliteSingles better if you put your romantic endeavors on hold to focus on your career and, now that you’ve completed school and are comfortably employed, are looking for a life partner who’s at the same point in their life.
You’ll have to get over EliteSingles’ snooty rhetoric surrounding education and income, a questionable verification system when it comes to confirming that people actually have a degree or a certain job, and less-than-stellar reviews of the Android and iPhone apps.
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Sign up for Match.
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