After all, the world is full of them and they're fairly evenly divided in terms of gender, height and so forth. They're not perfect but they're better than ordering brides by mail or submitting to your mother's idea of who your perfect match is.
Just like other means of meeting candidates for romance, dating sites are fraught with peril. You could meet people you don't like, people who don't like you, people who are boring or even downright dangerous.
But the same is true of just about any other method of meeting people. Ever ridden the subway? What it comes down to is that there are risks in everything so as long as you take the obvious precautions -- don't meet strangers in dark places, don't send money to someone you've never met and don't reveal all your personal information in a single gush -- online dating is probably less dangerous than crossing a busy street or trying to clean out your gutters on a windy day.
One thing's for sure -- there's no shortage of dating sites. No one really knows how many there are but the answer is somewhere in the thousands. Like people, they come in all shapes and sizes.
Some are free, others are pricey. Some take everybody, some are selective. Many cater to individual tastes -- there are sites for gays, Jews, Christians, equestrians, millionaires, Hispanics and old white people. There are even dating sites for virgins. Here's a sampling to get you started.
Local Dating in Baltimore, MD
We're not saying these are the best sites for you -- that's something you need to decide for yourself -- but like examining puppies or seaside condos, looking can be half the fun. Might as well get started. Successful Singles Remember how we said there were sites that cater to every demographic slice imaginable?
Well, here's one that specializes in New England, a locale that can be a little forbidding and frosty to the uninitiated.
Other Maryland Cities:
Fittingly for a site in a region that cherishes its history and traditions, Successful Singles has been around sincewhich is not quite the Colonial Era but actually predates the Internet as we know it. Successful Singles even goes so far as to announce that it is not an online dating site, instead proclaiming itself to the "the premier social introduction service in Boston.
The approach seems to work with the upscale client base it's targeting. At ConsumerAffairs, we don't hear much about Successful Singles but what we do hear is pretty positive.
Joined Successful Singles and met women that were interested in having a long-term committed relationship. If the prospect of spending a New England winter by yourself is a chilling prospect, Successful Singles may be the answer.
It's Just Lunch uses an approach similar to Successful Singles, offering to pair up compatible couples for lunch or a drink after work. Describing itself as a "dating service for professionals," It's Just Lunch also uses a personal counselor approach, hoping to find just the right chemistry in each situation.
With offices in major cities, it's not restricted to a single geographic area. The reviews we're received at ConsumerAffairs the last few years have been largely positive, like this one from Michael of North Carolina: The dates have all been delightful, professional women. I have enjoyed my experiences, and have made a connection with one of the women. That may sound like a lot and while it may be true that money can't buy happiness, it may at least make the down payment.
No matter how much or little you spend, being too rigid in your expectations or specifications can lead to frustration. One negative review we read said the client wanted to meet no one older than 32 and became angry when one date turned out to be The world is a big place but perhaps not quite big enough to be so inflexible in our choices. Contracts mean what they say. If a dating service says it will introduce you to two people a month, it's not realistic to expect it to produce more than that.
Lifemates Maybe it's just that folks really are friendly or at least very cold in Canada and unusually grateful for human warmth but for whatever reason, Lifemates Canada seems to have a stellar record of forging new alliances. Events and Adventures Lunch is OK but what if you want to go skydiving or horseback riding? That's where Events and Adventures comes in. Operating in nine cities, Events and Adventures organizes a series of events each month for its invitation-only clients.
Each month is packed with great event choices: I had a great time at the Extreme Adventure Course up in Flagstaff There have been a lot of nice people. To join, applicants must be successfully interviewed and must certify that they are single.
I went bowling, I went to both singles mixers, both party buses, movies. But my favorite was the Halloween haunted house party bus. They all have a personal "facetime" element as well -- you have to meet, or at least talk to, a human being to be accepted. It's what we might all a "pure Internet play" -- everything's done online, nearly anyone can register and what happens after that is up to you. It's perhaps the difference between using a personal shopper at Nordstrom and just going online and buying something that looks about right on eBay.
As you would expect, this creates a lot more room for error. On the other hand, it's a lot cheaper -- nearly free, in fact. Like any do-it-yourself project, usine a site like Match. Take Poonsie of Gaithersburg, Md. I recognized Nigerian accent in phone and told them I was going to report them. They cancelled their accounts and now I can't find them in Match.
It's a good thing Poonsie came to her senses but lots of others don't. This is the kind of thing that can happen on low-cost, mostly unmoderated sites so it's essential to be on your guard at all times. Even in the best circles, things are often not what they seem and online, they can be truly dreadful, even dangerous.
You might meet up with someone like George of Farmington Hills, Mich.: I am an admitted violent offender with a police record.
I keep getting emails from match. We haven't verified George's claims but if you scroll through the 1, consumer reviews on our site, it becomes quickly apparent that, while there may be really great people lurking on Match, there are quite a few others who probably would not make great luncheon companions, let alone lovers.
On the other hand, it's also true that there are lots of great opportunities just waiting to unfold on Match. It's easy to forget this, since it's generally the people who are disappointed who are most likely to go public, while those whose search is successful aren't as inclined to tell the world about it. A close friend, I was told, is in a serious relationship that grew out of Tindera site that operates much like Match but on a somewhat smaller scale.
My immediate response was that nobody ever tells me anything. My daughter assured me that in her circle of friends in Los Angeles, everyone just assumes when new relationships spring up that the people met online. Everybody's too busy working and going to auditions," she said. OK, you're paying somebody to do it, but it's the same principle. Back in my misspent youth as a reporter for large news agencies, I tended to move every year or two. Valuing my liver, I didn't want to hang out with other journalists, so I prowled what we then called alternative weekies -- New Times, the Village Voice, etc.
I also tried mountaineering clubs, sailing lessons and sports car racing.
Actually, there weren't many women racing sports cars but at least we lonely guys got to drive fast without getting in trouble.
I met several significant others this way, not to mention quite a few insignificant others. An easy way to get started is to read the reviews on our site and others. Do this before you sign anything.
Connect your existing OkCupid account
You would not believe how often we hear, "If only I had read your site before I Only then should you provide your credit card number or fork over any cash.
Finally, as in all things, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Things may work out great in the end but you will most likely need to make course corrections along the way. Everyone has setbacks but all's well that ends well and, as they say, it's not over til it's over. Stay up to date with important consumer news: Hood ConsumerAffairs' founder and former editor, Jim Hood formerly headed Associated Press Broadcast News, directing coverage of major news events worldwide.
He also served as Senior Vice President of United Press International and was the founder and editor of Zapnews, a newswire service for radio and television. Social and dating Meeting people should be easy.