“Sometimes there is nothing that clicks whatsoever,” says Julien Nguyen, a 30-year-old software designer from Austin, Texas, who has used Bumble and Tinder. “Sometimes whatever chemistry we had just fizzles out.”
Perhaps being in the market for a mate can’t be compared with using other services. Michael Norton, Ph.D., a professor at the Harvard Business School who studies consumer behavior, thinks so. Online dating is different from shopping for, say, a sweater, he explains: “Once you decide on the sweater you want, you can get it. But with dating, the sweater has to agree, too.”
Another reason for the low satisfaction scores may be that “most dating sites have some misalignment between profit model and user experience because they are financed through subscription fees or advertising,” says Scott Kominers, Ph.D., a junior fellow in economics at Harvard University. In other words, there’s no incentive for them to make the experience speedy. If you find your life partner on your first date, the site doesn’t make much money off you. Our survey found that among respondents who stopped online dating, 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women said they did so because they didn’t like the quality of their matches. Perhaps that’s why, among those who said they had used multiple dating sites, 28 percent had tried four or more.
But our research also found that online dating, however painful and time-consuming, often does produce the intended result if you use it well-and persevere.
You can find the right person more effectively by choosing the right site, which means determining the demographics it caters to and figuring out whether a large or niche site will best serve your needs. Our survey found that OkCupid and Tinder, both free, were more popular among millennials than Generation Xers and baby boomers, who were both more likely to use a paid subscription-based dating website or app. And we found that the free sites generally did marginally better than the paid ones visitantes lex, presumably because they offer a better value.
“You’re generally going to be best off starting your search on the ‘Big 3′: Match, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish,” says Scott Valdez, founder of Virtual Dating Assistants, which helps people write their profiles and then manages their accounts. “Those are among the most popular dating sites in the world, and when you’re fishing, it just makes sense to drop your line in the most crowded ponds.”
That’s generally true unless you have a particular guiding factor, such as religion, race, or politics, in which case you can go to a niche site like JDate or BlackPeopleMeet. Kate, the government analyst, has started using Tastebuds, a site based on music preferences.
Many dating sites rely on matchmaking algorithms the same way that Netflix uses them to recommend movies. So if you live in the Denver area, you’re a single heterosexual man in his 50s who loves to travel, and you don’t believe in astrology, your matches may reflect women who have similar interests. Apps like Bumble, Grindr, or Tinder use things like your location and sexual preference. Tinder is set up more like a game, where you swipe left on photos of people you’re not interested in and right on ones you are. If the interest is mutual, you can send messages to each other. Because these apps are based on proximity and users don’t have to fill out lengthy profiles, many of them have a reputation for promoting hooking up rather than creating lasting relationships. “It’s a myth that some sites are better for relationships while others are more for hookups,” she says. “There are people of different intentions on every platform. It’s more important what your intention is, and approaching the technology with that mindset.”