Nerve.com is a site based in the United States, with geographic search features and an international site readership. Founded in 1997, Nerve is not solely a dating site, but more of a content hub in the form of “a website and eMag dedicated to sex, relationships, and culture” (Empson, 2012). Because Nerve had an emphasis on content with the dating section as a subsection, it was (and is still) more likely to be attracting users who are part of the young, progressive, “hip” audience that the site seems to target for its blogs and advice columns. Although there were many other dating sites available, one reason I chose Nerve as the source for my sample was its target audience, members of which seemed likely to be more Internet-savvy than average. Another reason was that at the time these examples were collected in 2007, Nerve’s profile format allowed a degree of expressive freedom that was uncommon. The amount of free-form text that users were prompted to supply provided enough material for a substantive analysis.
Match.com was founded in the ‘90s and has been a pioneer in the dating industry ever since. No other dating website has been responsible for more dates, relationships, and marriages than Match. Not only that, but with over 13.5 million people visiting Match every month from more than 25 countries, no other dating website has anywhere near the same reach.
A 2011 class action lawsuit alleged Match.com failed to remove inactive profiles, did not accurately disclose the number of active members, and does not police its site for fake profiles; the inclusion of expired and spam profiles as valid served to both artificially inflate the total number of profiles and camouflage a skewed gender ratio in which active users were disproportionately single males. The suit claimed up to 60 percent were inactive profiles, fake or fraudulent users. Some of the spam profiles were alleged to be using images of porn actresses, models, or people from other dating sites. Former employees alleged Match routinely and intentionally over-represented the number of active members on the website and a huge percentage were not real members but 'filler profiles'.
In theory, dating apps are simply a way to meet potential love or sex partners. These smartphone-dwelling matchmakers can even facilitate experimentation, helping users code for and discover what they want from another person in any given moment. They provide a way to meet people on a user’s own schedule, which potentially democratizes the whole dating process. (Honestly, who can afford to go out every night? Carrie Bradshaw was clearly a con artist.) To look at it from a distance, the future of dating is easy and great! And yet...and yet.
Matching with potential profiles is quick and streamlined—which is good if you’re a busy parent. If there is one thing that is missing from the matching experience, however, it’s learning about your potential match’s children or family situation. This isn’t always something you’d look for in an app, but when the site is geared toward single parents, it’s an important factor.
The experts say: For those who are at a loss as how to sell themselves in 500 words or less, this site offers the opportunity to be described by your friend. It works on the premise your friend can sell you better than you can but they can also embarrass you too. MSF has a more chatty style in the profile and gives you a greater insight into your potential date’s world.
Tried it after my second divorce (you can see I’m pretty good at this relationshipping, eh?) and it was awful. One date basically interviewed me for “next wife and mother” position. I wish I was kidding. The rest was just a barrage of dick pics and come ons. #singleforlife
eHarmony is exclusively for users seeking long-term relationships, and subscribers must be single, widowed, or divorced – separated individuals are not allowed to set up a profile. While the eHarmony site allows only for opposite-sex matching, there is a companion site called Compatible Partners, which is for those seeking a long-term same-sex relationship. The cost of eHarmony in the U.S. is $59.95 for one month, $39.95 per month for a three-month subscription, $29.95 per month for six months, and $19.95 per month for 12 months.
The app is free and there is no desktop version. You can purchase credits separately in the app or pay monthly for the premium version, which lacks any ads and lets you see who has liked you, among other features. It has 4.2 out of 5 stars in the Apple app store, and some user reviews note the app can be very confusing in busy urban areas, like New York City. We're guessing it's also not very effective in less populated rural areas, as it relies on a lot of people having the app on their phone. You can also play the app's built-in game CrushTime, which lets you guess who has liked you from four profiles you've recently crossed paths with.
If the thought of signing up for an online dating service without any help is scary, you can hire a ghostwriter to help you out. You might have even encountered some of these ghostwriters yourself and not have known it. Essentially, writers are paid to build your profile in a way that’s pleasing and more likely to get you dates. Thrillist even profiled an online dating ghostwriter who took details submitted by would-be daters and turned them into dating bios and even conversation starters. If this sounds like something you would benefit from, there are numerous services you can sign up for.