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Service Reviews

This site wouldn’t be complete without reviews of e-dating services. I’ve polled a number of friends with online dating experience to come up with reviews for four major e-dating services. Since there are plenty of other services out there that my friends have never used, I need your help toreview additional services. If you’d like to help other readers to find a good e-dating service(or avoid the bad ones), please fill out the this survey. I’ll incorporate your feedback into this section.

A few words of about this section: The quoted prices reflect month-to-month memberships. Prices are generally lower if you purchase multi-month packages. Descriptions of the specified features can be found in my features section.

Sites currently reviewed:

Price $20/mo.
Reputation Big
Features Search , Match , Chat , Wink , Voice Messages , Hotlist
MJ says The E-Dating Warehouse. If you live in a small town, have very specific requirements, or like your messages by the gallon, Match is for you.

Founded in 1995, Match holds the Guinness World Record as the biggest dating site onthe Internet with somewhere between 8 and 15 million members, depending on who you ask, of which 1 million are paying members. It’s an e-dating warehouse where you can pretty much find whatever you’re looking for, but it might take some work. If you live in a smaller city, Match may be the best bet simply because it has the biggest selection, whereas smaller sites may not be well represented. But Match’s strength is also its weakness: it may be too big for you. It can take some work to separate the wheat from the chaff. When TR joined match, she was flooded with 70 emails in her first 48 hours membership, and some people have complained of too many generic emails.

Profile questions:

[TR: Match’s customer service sucks. They automatically renew your membership, so when my 3-month membership expired, they charged me for another 3 months without warning, even though my profile was hidden.When I found out and tried to cancel the next day, they refused to refund my money and only offered to pro-rate the fee by about half. The customer service guy was also a complete asshole.]

Price $50/mo.
Reputation Scientific soulmate finder
Features Personality Matching , Chat
MJ says A hefty fee for dubious methods

eHarmony’s shtick is “scientific matching”. It was founded by a Ph.D. who claims to have devised a mechanism to measure compatibility scientifically. You fill out a million questions, and the computer finds people who fit your personality. Sounds like a bullshit to me, but I’ve never tried it. One of my friends who has used eHarmony was dissatisfied with her matches. She felt that the site just didn’t get her. TR recently spent over three hours filling out five hundred very annoying multiple choice questions, and then decided not to pursue the matches that were picked for her. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with the picks, but you don’t get much information at first, not even a picture. To see pictures, you have to go through several more stages of question answering and message writing. Needless to say, you have to pay the subscription fee in order to get those stages, and at $50 a month, eHarmony is not cheap.

[TR: eHarmony still tries to send me matches even though I never paid and indicated on the profile that I don’t want them to send me matches.]

eHarmony’s marketing campaign focuses on helping people to find their soulmates. As a result, it tends to attract serious-minded members. A guy once responded to a friend of mine’s light-hearted getting-to-know-you email by writing that she didn’t seem to be very interested. This facet of eHarmony seems more important to me than the personality matching technology. Regardless of how well the technology works, the service is most appriate for people who are ready to settle down and don’t want to mess around with casual dating.

Profile questions:
Far too numerous to print

Nerve Personals (aka Spring Street Networks)
Price $1/credit, 1 credit to contact someone
Reputation Well-read hipsters
Features Search , Match , Chat , Wink , Voice Messages , Hotlist
MJ says Cool, literate, and artistic but pretentious. Beware of snake woman.

Nerve Personals/Spring Street Networks is my favorite online dating service and the one that I have used the most. Several years ago, the Nerve folks spun off their successful e-dating business several years ago into a company called Spring Street Networks, which powers dating services for a number of publications including Esquire, the Onion, Salon.com, the Village Voice, and of course, Nerve.com. (Time Out Magazine used to use Spring Street, but they’ve switched to Yahoo Personals.) If you join any of these services, you’ll have access to profiles from all members of the Spring Street Networks.

As you might expect from a service associated with so many publications, Nerve attracts a lot of people in media: writers, artists, editors, filmmakers, and aspiring musicians. My ex-girlfriend’s Nerve profile exhorted band members to look elsewhere. Another friend of mine complained of being inundated by film editors. Because of all these literary, artistic types, the profiles tend to be witty and articulate, and many of the pictures are artsy, but beware of pretension.

In addition to the normal categories of “Single” and “Divorced”, Nerve includes “Married” and notably, “Discrete”. For that reason, it’s not for everyone. 

Nerve is also less expensive than the other sites and great for people who send targeted messages. There is no subscription fee. You pay $1 for each person you contact, although you have buy credits in batches of at least 25. If like me, you only contact a couple of people a week, it’s quite reasonable.

[TR: I still have 24 credits left from responding to one wink!]

Profile questions:

Price $0.25/credit, 5 credits to contact someone
Reputation Young professionals
Features Search , Match , Chat , Wink , Voice Messages , Hotlist
MJ says Shiny happy people holding hands

Lavalife markets itself as a dating service for young, attractive, fun-loving professionals, and it’s members fit that mold, more or less. Sample headlines: “YAY! Having fun in Manhattan rules!”, “Open-minded, fun girl looking for exciting mate to share laughs”. Like Match, there is only one essay question, so the profiles tend to be generic.

Lavalife also makes a big deal about it’s three unique communities: Dating, Relationships, and Intimate Encounters. Essentially, LavaLife consists of three dating services rolled up into one. Each community has a separate set of profiles, and the profile questions are different. If you want, you can post in all three. Members from one community can also contact members of another community, which means that members of Relationships may receive explicit messages from members of Intimate Encounters. 

Like Nerve, Lavalife uses credits, rather than subscriptions, which is cheaper and cuts down on the bulk mail. The instant messaging feature, however, allows users to send as many messages as they like for an hour, so you may get bulk-instant-messaged.

Profile questions:

Price $35/mo.
Reputation Jewish
Features Search , Match , Chat , Wink , Hotlist
MJ says Jews-R-Us

JDate is the other site that I’ve used. It’s the best site in the world for one and only one thing: meeting Jews. In addition to the ordinary e-date criteria, you can specify your religious denomination, kosher practices, synagogue attendance, and ethnicity (Ashkenazi or Sephardic). You will not find a larger quantity of eligible Jews anywhere else. When you search for profiles in the New York area, you’ll likely get a list that maxes out at 500 and can take hours to browse.

That said, I don’t particularly like JDate. The questions are bland, and members tend to answer them blandly, without the slightest hint of irony. In New York, the service tends to attract a homogenous crowd that lives mostly on the Upper West or East Side and migrates en masse to the Hamptons every summer weekend. If that’s your thing, then JDate is definitely for you, but I prefer a more diverse mix.

You should be aware that even though the vast majority of its members or Jewish, there a few goyim on JDate. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with non-Jews posting on JDate, but if you’re tempted, you should be upfront about it. There are many JDate members who really do want to date only Jews, and lying about your religion is obnoxious and most likely fruitless. More on dishonest profiles later. As far as I know, I have only once been contacted by a non-Jew, and she was honest about it, but I have a friend who once went on several dates with a guy before she discovered he wasn’t Jewish. The giveaway: he was creationist.

A JDate subscription is $35 per month. You can post a profile for free, but unfortunately you can no longer see or respond to any messages unless you’re a subscriber, so it’s basically useless if you don’t pay.

Profile questions: