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Dating services

This page is a collection of resources which help with the unique challenges of selecting and using a dating service. If you know of other resources not listed please feel free to send me a note of them and I'll get them added.

Dating services - the good, the bad and the ugly

I've been involved with dating services for a long time, since the birth of the industry in the early-mid eighties. During that time I've watched it go through many changes, not least of which is it's image.

In 1990 dating services were commonly considered to be only for the lonely and desperate, and advertising budgets were focused on changing that image. Twenty years and a bazillion advertising dollars later, dating services are now a sensible and convieniant alternative to meeting people in bars.

Statistics on the industry vary and many are somewhat distorted, however currently it's estimated that around 45% of the population will have an online relationship (most from dating services) at some point, and 60% of those turn into physical relationships.

For many however, online dating still has a bad reputation. Only 25% of people would recommend it to a friend, and this is most likely due to the potential risks and challenges involved, largely revolving around honesty and expectations.


It's easier to be bold and flirtatious online, there's less fear of embarassment or being rejected. Even normally shy people can become remarkably bold and forward when they feel semi-anonymous.

You can get to know someones personality before becoming focused on physical appearance.

It's convenient, you dont need to get dressed up to use an online dating service.

You can be whoever you want to be. There's a fine line between optimistic self improvement and false advertising, but for many it's tempting to shave off a few years or a few pounds ;)


There's less obligation to be honest about things. This can range from the harmless to the fantastic. How many people who list rock climbing as a hobby have been rock climbing in the past 10 years? Probably not very many!

Concepts such as emotional affairs blur the lines between right and wrong when it comes to being intimate with people - and in many ways it's made cheating a lot more common.

It's not uncommon for people to use doctored or even fake pictures of themselves.

It's easy to imagine someone as being perfect when you only interact remotely. There might be no chemistry if you met face to face.

Ultimately it's a long distance relationship, requiring a lot more trust and patience than more traditional relationships.

As with any growing industry, dating services have also attracted numerous parasites trying to cash in, offering inferior and sometimes blatantly dishonest services. You can't throw a stick without hitting a website reviewing online dating services - usually created by customers who have used multiple services, and discovered just how much they pay for referrals.

Dating services have also attracted a subset of users who can only be described as professional predators - posing as members, starting friendships, and scamming in numberless ways.

Do dating services work?

Certainly they can. Most are excellent at providing a steady quantity of matches. However their success rate for creating long term relationships is often very small (hence you never see it advertised).

It's easy to match two people who live in the same town and both like watching soccer, and have the same favorite color. That doesn't mean they'll be attracted, or fall in love, or even like each other!

One of the main reasons for this is that dating services ultimately don't know what makes people fall in love - and it turns out they don't need to. Their customers judge their service based on how many matches they get, and how fast they get them - not by the end results.

Improving the quality of matches via any technique ultimately detracts from their profits. They want you to meet new people every month. If you fall madly in love with the first match they give you, then they don't make nearly as much profit as if you stick around for a while.

It's a double whammy for them - not only do they lose your subscription fee, but they also have two less members on their books - members being both their 'product' to sell, and their main advertising feature.

If a dating service advertises x million members - that's not x million people who have joined this month looking for a partner, it's x million people who they haven't found matches for after 3-18 months, yet they use it as their main selling point! Advertising can be ingenious sometimes.

The average membership period for most dating services is around 5-6 months. The percentage of people who leave without finding a partner is highly confidential (when you think about it, this is what they should be advertising if they want to measure their success).

Most people who leave do so to go to another dating service - hence nearly all of them offer services under multiple different brand names.

Overall, they're selling a dream, just like the lottery, and of course you can't win if you don't buy a ticket. As long as you go in understanding that the odds of meeting your soulmate are fairly low, and focus on enjoying meeting new people while maintaining a healthy dose of skepticism, then it's a win:win.

Recommended ebooks

relationship ebook

Loving your long distance relationship
A three book bundle for long distance couples to help overcome the specific long term challenges they face.

It includes the emotional issues faced during the relationship, and real life examples of couples who have made it work - and what their secrets are. One particularly good section highlighted how the experience is very different for women versus men.

Recommended online relationship websites

If you would recommend any websites dedicated to helping face the issues and challenges of online relaitonships please let me know!

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