Is online dating worth it?

For those of you who have never tried online dating before, you may wonder:

  • is online dating worth your time?
  • is online dating worth the cost?

Let’s talk about it from the perspective of those seeking a long-term relationship.

Is online dating worth your time?

Let’s be real. For most people who try online dating, success won’t be instant. It will likely require time. And when you do “match” with people and maybe go on a few dates, there’s a good chance those people won’t be the one you’re ultimately seeking. But think of it from the other perspective. How else can you potentially “meet” that many people?

Online dating provides more potential matches

You won’t have the same pool of potential matches through friends, work, recreational sports, or by going to bars. We’re not saying to not try to meet people those ways (all good), but there are simply more people “available” through online dating services, especially if you live in a decent size city or region.

Online dating is a more efficient way to meet only those who match what you’re looking for

The word “efficient” may seem a bit “business-y,” but the point still stands: Most people seeking long-term relationships are looking for people who have certain characteristics, interests, hobbies, beliefs or ways of life. When meeting people through other methods (playing sports, joining clubs, going to bars) you usually don’t know those things about people until you really get to know them. With most online dating services (the more serious ones, for sure) you can filter people by the things you’re looking for in a person. So, no wasted time conversing with people who don’t match what you’re looking for. Even for niche dating services, where a certain group of people share a commonality automatically, these added filters help.

Online dating is convenient

If you want to meet people “offline” (which, again, is a great thing to do), that means you have to get out there (join a sports team, club, meetup or go out to bars), but with online dating you can “meet” people without going anywhere. Sit on your couch at home – or jump on your phone while you’re out and about. Especially for those who are a little more introverted, online dating allows allows people to connect with ease.

Online dating allows you to meet people from afar

Many people want to meet people near them, but others are fine with expanding their geographic boundaries in order to find compatibility. This is likely the case for those who live in smaller cities and towns. The “offline” ways of meeting people don’t typically work for meeting people from afar, but online dating is perfect for this. Some dating apps may keep your matches local, but most of the more relationship-focused dating services will allow you to look at profiles from those anywhere in the world. If you browse the “success stories” that many dating sites publish, you’ll notice a decent amount of couples who did not live the same city or region. For niche dating services, this is even more common.

Online dating allows you to better control the conversation

Offline approaches by others can be both good and bad, but the bad ones are harder to rebuff as it’s an in-person interaction. Using dating sites and apps, you can decide to respond or not without any awkward or uncomfortable interaction.

Similarly, certain dating apps allow further control over conversations. For example, a conversation between a man and woman on Bumble must be initiated by the woman.

Is online dating worth the cost?

There are many different types of online dating services, with different pricing models. Long story short: To get the best experience on any of them, paying some type of fee is the way to go if seeking a serious, long-term relationship.

How online dating services are priced

Dating services typically allow you to do some things free of charge (for example, creating a profile), and then you have to pay to do more than that. Some typical pricing models include:

  • Profiles are free; searching/viewing is free; pay to communicate
  • Profiles are free; searching/viewing is free; limited communication is free; pay for full communication features
  • Profiles are free; searching/viewing is free; communicating is free; pay for more features
  • Profiles are free; searching/viewing/matching is limited; communicating is limited; pay for more features

Comparing the cost of online dating to other things

A lot of people think online dating is too expensive. For some, that may legitimately be the case (fully understood), but for others it’s all about perspective.

Look at what you’re spending your money on now, and compare that to the cost of paying for an online dating service. This especially makes sense for those seeking a long-term relationship. For example:

  • How much do you spend on coffee per month?
  • How much do you spend on alcohol per month?
  • How much do you spend on dining and take-out food per month?
  • How much do you spend on taking Uber/Lyft per month?
  • How much do you spend on a night out with friends – per month?
  • How much do you spend on streaming services per month?
  • How much do you spend playing sports per month?

You get the idea. We’re not saying to stop spending on all of those things, especially if they “bring you joy,” but it’s about comparing the cost of those things you’re already paying for, with the cost of a dating service that gives you a far better chance of meeting someone you want to spend time with (possibly for life!)

Let’s take one of the above as an example, and compare that with a monthly membership on one of the more “serious dating” sites, Match. If you buy a cheap coffee (let’s say $2) every weekday, that’s around $40 per month. The average cost of one Uber/Lyft ride is around $25 (to get back home you’re looking at a total of $50). Enjoying a meal at a pub can set you back maybe $35. Now compare all of those to a monthly membership of an online dating service. For example, a Match membership may set you back $40 per month (and much less if you buy more than one month at a time).

The point: You can have one month of full access to a popular online dating service for the same cost as what you may spend on coffee in a month, what a night of Uber/Lyft costs, or what a relatively cheap meal out would set you back.

Those things are fine to spend money on, but the the online dating service membership opens you up to meeting a bunch of people, some of whom you will enjoy their company – possibly one being for the rest of your life.

A cost-benefit analysis of online dating memberships

Pardon the “business-y” language again, but let’s compare the cost of an online dating service with the potential outcome. Those more “serious” online daters are looking for a solid long-term relationship – one that can turn into a partner for life.

Especially for those who are in their 30s and 40s, these type of relationships become more desired. For many it’s time to “settle down,” possibly looking to start a family.

You know where this is going. Spending $40 a month (remember, the monthly charge can be much less if you buy multiple months at once) opens you up to a large pool of singles – of which you can usually filter by many categories to hone in on those you feel are more compatible. Basically, a minimal monthly spend puts you much closer to finding the person you spend the rest of your life – and having a family – with, if that’s your goal. Taking it a notch down, even just the dates you go on may even make it worth it — i.e. just the fact of meeting new people and enjoying a few nights out.

Don’t forget: There are many online dating sites and apps out there, meaning if the first one you try isn’t working out for you, there are many others you can try. With the freemium model many have, you can usually hang out for free on many and then only pay when you feel there’s potential.

For those seeking a serious long-term relationship and are in a good financial position, paying for one or more online dating services is a relatively minimal cost, when considering the potential outcome.

Make the most of your online dating membership

Have you decided to pay for a membership? Make the most of it. Number one is spending some time on your dating profile. If you want to attract the best, you need to present yourself as best you can (without stretching the truth). The basics being:

  • Post great photos (just you; head shot plus other full body shots of you doing something fun; no cars or hunting/fishing kills).
  • Provide descriptive answers (“I like to travel” is weak compared to you describing some places you’ve been and why you loved them).
  • Be honest: No point in wasting anyone’s time.
  • Check spelling/grammar: No excuse – this is so simple to do.

When reaching out to others, start the conversation off right with a great question or comment, and be positive and confident!

Good luck!

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