With an estimated 1,000 online dating sites in existence, it can be hard to sift through all the options and decide which is the best site. Being able to know how to evaluate a dating site is essential in the decision process, and it will bring you that much closer to finding a good match.

Top 10 Best Rated Online Dating Websites & Services

POF.com, also known as PlentyOfFish, is an online dating site headquartered in Vancouver. It is one of the biggest dating sites with over 90 million registered users across the globe. It is also available in 5 different languages.
Mingle2 is a membership service of which users pay to be a part. It was originally a service called JustSayHi, but the site transitioned to Mingle2 in 2008 and now works with many populations of singles.
OKCupid is one of the most popular dating sites and is free to sign up initially. It works with special algorithms that match users with potential dates. Launched in 2004, OKCupid works with many populations of people.
Zoosk is a singles dating app that uses a behavioral matchmaking engine to pair users who its system indicates will be a good match. The app is available in over 80 countries and has over 27 million searchable members.
Match.com is one of the biggest dating services in the world. It launched in 1995 and is now available in 24 different countries. Members set up a profile, upload photos and can then search through profiles to find a good match.
Chemistry, a dating site that is part of Match.com, is designed for people who are seeking help in getting to know someone online before meeting them for the first time. It has over 8 million users on its online database.
EHarmony began in Santa Monica in 2000. It uses a compatibility matching system to link up people with complementary personalities and lifestyles and has worked with millions of users over the past 15 years.
Cupid.com is a dating site that allows members to search its site to find potential partners who share their same spiritual needs and desires. It encourages users to choose people to date rather than be matched with them.
OurTime.com is a unique dating site specifically catered to people over 50. The company focuses on the interests of people in a certain age range who want a place to feel confident and comfortable while seeking a potential date.
Matchmaker.com is a dating service that has been operating since 1996. It focuses on singles in their 30s and up from all over the country and has thousands of men and women in its database that it helps to match.

Mark BrooksOnline Dating & Matchmaking Contributing Editor

Harvard Business School graduate, Mark Brooks, has been an expert in the Internet dating business since 1998. He is currently the CEO of Courtland Brooks, a consultancy agency for the Internet dating industry, and runs OnlinePersonalsWatch.com. He prides himself on being a New Media Futurist and can be reached at LinkedIn.

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What features matter most?

How much does it cost?

It is important to decide how much you can afford to pay before committing to a site.

  • Total cost: An online dating site might be free, or have different payment levels. If there are different levels of membership and payment, check to see which features are included in each level and which features you find essential.
  • Frequency of payments: The membership price might be a yearly, monthly, or quarterly amount. Recently, there has been many mobile dating apps that will let you pay by the action instead of by a set amount of time.
  • Canceling the plan: It is important to read the fine print and to find out how easy or difficult it is to cancel a subscription. Getting trapped in an online website that isn’t producing viable dates can be frustrating.

What is the matching process?

Online dating websites offer a variety of methods on how to search for a mate. Some mobile apps will match you with people based on criteria, including age, gender, and geographic proximity. More traditional sites may offer anything from a simple search to a highly specific advanced search. Some more seriously minded sites request that members fill out elaborate compatibility questionnaires. Deciding which process is right for you will largely be determined by whether you’re looking for a casual friendship, relationship, or a lifelong partner.

  • Geographic matches: Most dating sites offer a chance to look for the closest possible match. However, if you are currently looking to meet someone in close proximity, many of the mobile dating apps will provide you with your best results with little to no cost.
  • User-generated matches: Unless you are using a site specifically meant for a casual or very serious relationship, it has become an industry standard to offer members the chance to whittle down the potential matches. Dating sites do this based on preferences such as income, smoking and drinking, if the match has kids and whether he or she has ever been married.
  • In-depth compatibility: There are some dating sites that ask members to fill out detailed questionnaires designed to choose matches based on compatibility. eHarmony and Match.com are two famous examples of this type of dating site.

Is the dating site niche?

If you have a very specific set of interests, there are many sites that may cater to your niche. Some of these niche sites are Farmersonly.com, MillionaireMatch.com, Geek2Geek.com, JDate, Dandy, Pinksofa.com, ChristianMingle and PositiveSingles.

  • Demographic niches: These sites can cater to people who are only interested in dating within a specific religion, income level, race and more.
  • Lifestyle niches: These sites focus on daters looking for matches based on attractiveness level, occupation, same sex relationships, people that are STD positive and more.
  • Age-based niches: These sites are for people of a specific age. Currently Baby boomers, those over 50, are overwhelmingly turning to the web to find a mate. Sites like Match.com and POF.com offer members a chance to search specifically for the age group that interests you, but SeniorPeopleMeet.com and OurTime.com are the two largest sites designed specifically for the baby boomer market.

What are the privacy safeguards?

Depending on the dating site, all other members might be able to see your profile and message you. Check to see what safeguards are put in place by the site, and which ones you can enable to limit those who sees your profile.

  • Limiting who sees your profile: Does the site allow just the bare minimum of your profile to be seen in search results? Some sites wait until you favorite, wink, or in some way OK a member before they can see your whole profile. That said, it is important that you only share information in your profile that you are okay with a stranger being able to see.
  • Keeping the search results wide open: If your goal is to meet someone in the immediate future for a casual drink or get together, the best option would be mobile dating apps like Tinder, JSwipe and many others. These apps allow you to quickly find similarly minded people. On most dating sites, you can use a sort feature to see which members are currently online right now and available to talk.

Is the dating process safe?

Most dating sites have become extremely good about policing their members for negative or unsafe behavior. There are several sites that offer additional levels of security including background checks and photo verification.

  • Social Verification: Many sites employ a method known as social verification to help prevent wrongdoers from gaining access to you. This goes above and beyond just asking for your email. Many sites now ask you to verify your identity through your FaceBook or Google+ login. This, combined with highly trained scammer prevention teams, have made online dating safer than it has ever been.
  • Photo Verification: Several sites now offer members a chance to prove their identity by sending additional material. This includes emailing a photo of the member, holding a piece of paper, with a set of numbers that has been randomly generated by the site. Other members do not see this, but it allows the site's staff to confirm their identity.
  • Safe from hackers: Check to make sure the site has employees SAFE technology so your vital information is safe. If it is a paid site, make sure it is a secure site before entering your credit card information.

What are the main features?

The features of the dating site should be the features you want and will use, especially if it is a paid site. These features could include private emails, proximity search, chat rooms and more.

  • Features to help refine search results: Look to see which features will help whittle down the pool of suitors. These are keyword searches, mutual matching, reverse matching, the ability to save and favorite certain profiles and more.
  • Mobile applications: Most dating sites now offer a mobile version that can be downloaded through the Apple or Android stores. When considering a site, it is best to also test their mobile app to see if it can help streamline your dating experience. Additionally, there are several dating apps that only exist in the mobile format. Before downloading, it is best to check for recent reviews on their download pages.
  • Communicating with members: Dating sites and apps allow you to communicate in several ways ranging from "winking at someone" to setting up a video chat with a prospective date. Research which methods are available on a site and make sure they fit with your needs.
  • Outside events: An online dating site might set up outside events such as mixers or speed dating to pair members. There might be an extra charge to attend these events, or it might be included within the price of the membership.

What are different types of online dating sites?

Traditional Dating Sites

These sites have the broadest appeal and generally the largest membership bases. They tend to attract a wide variety of members with personal goals that range from a casual fling to a serious lifelong relationship. Some of these sites include Match.com, OKCupid and POF.com.

Casual

These dating sites are geared towards people looking to meet up with someone for drinks as friends, or more spur-of-the-moment dates. Some of these sites include HowAboutWe, Tinder and Badoo.

Marriage or long-term relationship

These are the dating sites that delve into compatibility and really try to find a love match for their members. eHarmony and ChristianMingle.com are two leaders in this category.

Niche

Focusing on a narrow pool of candidates, these online dating sites help match people up with someone of a similar religion, profession, or sexual orientation. Examples within this category include Jdate for Jewish singles, Geek2Geek and Farmersonly for farmers and the people who want to meet them.

Who's it for?

Anyone struggling to find a partner in their day to day life

A 2013 study shows that nearly 60% of all new marriages in the USA started with the couple meeting online. The explosion of Niche and mobile dating solutions has made online dating more convenient and efficient than any other time in the history of the industry.

Recently relocated

Meeting people in a new town can be challenging. When you haven't found local friends or aren't sure which spots are the best to meet quality singles, it’s oftentimes easier to dip your toe in the online dating pool first. This is also a good way to get to know people in your new town and meet friends, not just potential romantic partners.

Busy Singles

Whether it is your work schedule or just a hectic life, online dating offers a convenient 24 hour a day solution for people in search of new friends, dates, or more.


What do the experts have to say?

  • Match.com

    Match.com is one of the biggest and best-known online dating sites in the United States. It has been helping singles find partners since 1995, it now serves people in over 24 countries with sites in 15 different languages.

    • Profiles may include several photos: Users can provide photos of themselves in various settings as well both full-length photos and headshots to provide the most accurate information about themselves for potential matches.
    • Advanced search algorithm: Users can choose both physical and value-based attributes to search for, improving the quality of the matches they find.
    • Anonymous email network: Users can email potential matches through Match.com's own messaging service, allowing them to keep their identities and contact info private until they are ready to share it
    • Partners with sites in various countries: Match.com partners with personal ad sites in several countries so that international users can find their perfect match.
    • Profiles are screened before being posted: Match.com staff screens profiles and photos before posting to ensure only appropriate information makes it onto the site.
    • Best for People looking for long-term relationships, people looking for short-term relationships, and people looking for a large dating pool.
  • Fidelity Dating

    Fidelity Dating offers online dating services to people who have been cheated on in past relationships and for those who seek honest and faithful relationships. The company is run by two authors who are experts on infidelity.

    • All users must be single: Users are required to attest that they are not currently in a relationship in order to sign up with this service.
    • Can search for free: Users can search profiles without signing up; they just need to provide their zip code.
    • Allows all users to search for either male or female partners: The site allows users to search for same sex partners and opposite sex partners, and can note which gender they are searching for in their profiles.
    • Can filter profiles by preferred activities: Users can easily find compatible partners by choosing from a list of activities and hobbies they enjoy.
    • Facebook sign in: Users can register and sign in using their Facebook account rather than choosing a separate username and password.
    • Best for Newly single people and people seeking long-term relationships.
  • Matchmaker.com

    Matchmaker.com, launched in 1996, is one of the oldest dating sites on the Internet. The company is intended for users 35 and older.

    • Free membership: It costs nothing to join Matchmaker, making it is one of the best options for anyone looking for a budget-friendly matchmaking option.
    • Relationship focused: The company is focused on pairing people looking for serious relationships, which means users won't be disappointed by users with different expectations.
    • Local pairings: The site requires users to enter information about where they live or where they are located and offers users potential pairs by proximity, which makes it easy to find singles in a specific area.
    • Complicated algorithm: Matches are made by a complicated algorithm that takes into account more than 50 aspects of a person's personality, making it more likely to find a good match.
    • Multiple religious included: Matchmaker.com can pair people based on their religion, and there are people of a wide variety of religions on the site; the site has specific sections for users who are Christian or Jewish.
    • Best for Single young people looking for a relationship, and divorcees or widows/widowers looking for new love.
  • Date2020

    Date2020 is a completely free online dating service that operates based on the idea that 21st century dating is different than dating prior to the digital revolution. It offers psychological questions to help eliminate incompatible partners before users receive matches.

    • Uses complex algorithms to match users: Users answer a series of psychological questions that determine compatible matches.
    • Daters grouped by potential: Users are given a relationship ability score based on their answers to the questions, they are then matched with others who have similar scores.
    • Emotional stability and other factors: This company goes beyond similarities in lifestyle, Date2020 tries to match people who are likely to be able to sustain a relationship.
    • Onsite email system: Users can keep their email addresses and phone numbers private while contacting one another so they can retain control over their personal information.
    • Free registration: Users can register and try out the site for free, although they need a subscription to initiate communication with other members.
    • Best for People looking for a long term relationship and people who are frustrated with traditional dating.
  • OkCupid.com

    OKCupid.com is a free site that offers members the ability to upgrade their experience by subscribing to a premium membership. Created in 2004, the site serves millions of members through a unique profile format and optional question and answer section.

    • Unique profile format: Many dating sites only ask members to tell a little bit about themselves and who they are looking for. OKCupid makes it easier to learn more about prospective dates through open ended profile questions including six things you can't live without, what you are good at, what you are doing with your life, what you like to do on a friday night and more.
    • Thousands of optional questions: OKCupid has a unique feature that allows you to answer as many or as few multiple questions on topics ranging from values and relationship goals to personal hygiene and basic math skills. You can then compare your answers to those of people whose profiles you are viewing.
    • Advanced search algorithm: Users can choose both physical and value-based attributes to search for, improving the quality of the matches they find. Some criteria are only available via upgraded membership.
    • Anonymous email network: Users can email potential matches through OKCupid.com's own messaging service, allowing them to keep their identities and contact info private until they are ready to share it.
    • Profiles are screened before being posted: OKCupid.com staff screens profiles and photos before posting to ensure only appropriate information makes it onto the site.
    • Best for People looking for long-term relationships, people looking for short-term relationships, and people looking for a large dating pool.
  • eHarmony

    eHarmony is the largest dating site geared specifically towards long-term relationships and marriage minded singles. They claim to be responsible for over 500 new marriages every day in the US.

    • In-depth entry questionnaire: eHarmony asks all of its members a little more than 300 multiple choice questions before allowing them to enter into their ranks. This in-depth questionnaire is geared at giving the site enough information to help provide you with qualified potential matches.
    • No Searching: In sharp contrast to other dating sites, eHarmony does not allow members to search directly for matches. Instead, it uses the answers from the questionnaire to provide you with a selection of daily matches that should be compatible with your needs and desires in a partner.
    • Guided Communication: Instead of sending off an email or wink like you would do on most sites, eHarmony takes members through 4 steps of guided communication before allowing you to continue with open communication with a new match. The guided communication is designed to help assure compatibility and that you don't waste energy on bad matches.
    • Best for People looking for long-term relationships and marriage.
  • POF.com

    POF.com, also know as Plenty of Fish, is the largest completely free online dating site.

    • No Charge: While there are upgrade options available to further enhance your experience, POF.com is the largest dating site that allows you to have a completely free dating experience.
    • Profiles may include several photos: Users can provide photos of themselves in various settings as well as both full-length photos and headshots to provide the most accurate information about themselves for potential matches.
    • Advanced behavioral search algorithm: Along with allowing members to perform basic or detailed searches, POF also reacts to the profiles you choose to click on. In future searches, it will then refine your results by bringing you results that match both what you are asking for and what you are looking at.
    • Anonymous email network: Users can email potential matches through POF.com's own messaging service, allowing them to keep their identities and contact info private until they are ready to share it.
    • Profiles are screened before being posted: POF.com staff screens profiles and photos before posting to ensure only appropriate information makes it onto the site.
    • Best for People looking for long-term relationships, people looking for short-term relationships, and people looking for a large dating pool.
  • PositiveSingles

    PositiveSingles is the leading online dating site for singles who have tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease. Along with its dating component, PositiveSingles is an active support group and educational resource for its members.

    • Unique Niche: There are many niche interests that can still be served through more mainstream dating sites, but PositiveSingles provides a safe space for people who would have trouble with other sites due to privacy concerns and stigma surrounding their conditions.
    • Online Support Group: Along with its standard dating features, PositiveSingles also offers a wide variety of chat rooms and forums. Many members use these areas to discuss issues in their life and seek comfort and support from others who can empathize.
    • Privacy: While you can complete a basic search with a free membership, PositiveSingles requires that you have an upgraded membership to see certain parts of a match's profile or to contact them directly. This greatly increases the level of security and privacy for members of the site.
    • Best for People who have tested positive for an STD/STI, and are looking for friendship, short-term or long-term relationships.
  • OurTime.com

    OurTime is the largest dating site created specifically for the baby boomer market.

    • 50+: Unlike most dating sites which are aimed at the 18-35 year old market, OurTime puts 100% of its focus on the 50+ baby boomer market of singles, many of whom are re-entering the dating world after a divorce or the loss of a spouse.
    • Simplified dating experience: In contrast to many other dating sites which offer a plethora of unnecessary options, OurTime keeps their interface and searches simple so that they can be used efficiently and with little to no hassle.
    • Paid self promotion: For a small fee, OurTime allows you to bump your profile up so it appears near the top of the search rankings. This helps make your profile more visible to prospective matches.
    • Best for Singles over 50 years of age who are seeking friendship, short-term or long-term relationships.
  • Tinder

    Tinder is a mobile dating app that can be downloaded and used for free. It is currently the largest and most popular dating app online with over 50 million downloads. It is best known for its extremely popular swiping feature.

    • Social Media Login: Tinder uses your Facebook profile as a means of sign up for their dating app. This helps prevent fraud and makes it easy to quickly import information and photos over to Tinder so you can begin searching immediately.
    • Swiping: Tinder's popular swiping feature allows members to quickly move through matches until they find people of interest. If you do not like the profile you are looking at, swipe left and you will not see them again. If you are interested, swipe right. If you accidentally swipe in the wrong direction, you can now pay to unswipe a match.
    • Consent before contact: While most dating sites will let users contact anyone in their membership ranks, Tinder will only allow you to contact someone if you have both "Swiped Right" on each other.
    • Quick local matching: Tinder is most popularly used as a way to meet people the same day within close proximity.
    • Best for People looking for new friends, casual connections, short-term relationships, and people looking to meet someone within hours of first contact.
  • The Heart Market

    Founded in February 2015, The Heart Market is an online matchmaking service that helps users find prospective partners. Their primary platform is hosted on the web, but access to the site is also available on mobile and tablet devices. They strive to make their online dating site as safe as possible by carrying out background checks on all applicants.

    • Profile assistance: If needed, they will write a member's biography using the previously provided profile information.
    • Background checks: They carry out background checks on all applicants, so that members have a baseline piece of mind in knowing that potential suitors are not undesirable.
    • Introduction videos: Members are required to make an introductory video that is up to thirty seconds long, so that other members get a more interactive and engaging feel for who they are.
    • Matchmaking experience: The founder of the company, Misty Hatala-Lebowitz, has many years experience as a matchmaker, so she understands how best to help members find prospective partners.
    • Monthly matches: Every month, members receive at least one compatible suitor from their matchmaker on the platform.
    • Best for Single people looking to date, single people looking for a selective online dating community and single people looking for love.

11 – 17 Best Rated Online Dating Websites & Services

Dating for Seniors is a dating site that works with older men and women seeking to find suitable partners with whom to spend their lives. Members set up a profile and then search the site for compatible members.
Meetic was founded in 2001 and is one of the most prominent online dating communities in Europe. It's free to create a profile and browse through the site's tens of millions of users to search for potential dates.
Date 2020 is a free dating service that is run by volunteers. Created in 2012, Date 2020 helps singles find meaningful, long-term relationships by using psychological tests to match up potential couples before they meet.
Fidelity Dating is a new dating site for singles who want to stay faithful. It was developed to help those who have been betrayed by a partner meet a new partner who has common interests and similar life goals.
Since 2012, Tinder has been matching singles based on their social profiles and geographic location. The catch? Both users must “swipe right” before being matched and are then able to chat within the app.
PositiveSingles was created with one purpose; to have a safe website where people living with STD’s could find friends, a relationship and a community. The site offers information, support forums, dating advisors and more.
The Heart Market is an online matchmaking community that promotes safe online dating by ensuring all applicants have a background check. They offer members profile assistance and find them at least one monthly match.