Internet Dating: How do I choose a service?

by JOHN ALLMON

1) General Online Dating Services
 
General online dating services comprise the lion’s share of the marketplace and hold the highest market share. These services give you full access to their member database. You sign up and can immediately browse any profile you want to find. Some services will offer optional tests, quizzes, or guides to help you come across what you’re looking for, but you always have the choice of expanding your search to as wide as you want. Such sites are: Match.com, Yahoo! Personals, LavaLife, American Singles, Udate, and FriendFinder.
 
2) Relationship Services
 
Relationship services were created to assist people who are more serious about finding a “soul mate”. Generally, these services target ‘marriage-minded” people. Relationship services oblige you to fill out an in-depth personality profile that usually takes sometime between 30-90 minutes to complete. Your answers are then used to analyze what type of people you are most compatible with. The service then presents you with only those matches. Not like in General Online Dating Services, you can’t gain access to everyone’s profile except only for those the service finds you best match up with.
Such sites are: eHarmony and Chemistry.com.
 
 
3) Social Networking Sites
 
Social networking sites offer a way to connect and stay in touch with old friends while making new ones. They are also developing into an increasingly more prevalent place to meet people to date.
Such social networking sites are: MySpace, Friendster and Orkut, some minor sites include: Tagged, Facebook and Multiply.
 
4) Niche Online Dating Services
 
Niche online dating services are emerging everywhere. These services look for one common factor that people must share in order to be a part of the service. Some examples would be; CatholicMatch.com, which is a site for people who are catholic. AnimalAttraction.com is for pet lovers. There are apparently hundreds of such sites aimed to connect people who share a specific passion or belief.
 
5) Merging Online Dating Services
 
This is the newest type of online dating service, which combine aspects of the offline and online dating environment. Some of these new services allow you to put a profile on their Website then print cards with your handle name/username and the site URL. When you come across someone interesting you can give them one of these cards and they can then learn more about you online then get in touch with you through the service. In years to come or even in months, you’ll see many more Merging Online Dating Services hitting the market, trying to more closely connect the offline experience with your online experience.
 
How to Do it Safely
 
When dating online, you must take a lot of extra precautions. One should always proceed cautiously when meeting someone online for the first time. Do not give away any of your important personal information which includes addresses, workplace, home phone number and especially financial information. Before meeting an online acquaintance in person, speak with him or her on the phone first. If they seem aggressive, controlling, or angry, then do not accede to meeting them in person. If you do plan a first date, always make it in a public place, and be certain to tell family members and friends when and where you are going. Remember, no matter how trustworthy a person may seem, if they ask you for money or any financial information, immediately stop all communications with them.