TL;DR: Don’t let the fact that it’s nearly 25 years old fool you — match continues to be one of the best dating sites for all ages. It’s a great happy medium between marriage-centric eharmony and hookup-centric Tinder, and is constantly being bettered with new, modern features to grow with the market.
Lemme just state the obvious real quick: Dating is a pain in the ass.
Blind dates are awkward, people ghost or just want to hookup, and using “I’m too busy with work” is way too easy of an excuse. This is probably a pessimistic outlook, but sometimes, it genuinely seems like your chances of finding a partner dwindle by the day.
If you’re one of those people who has simply succumbed to the idea of being a crazy cat person because “real love isn’t out there,” listen up: match wants to change your mind.
We’re all somewhat introverted when it comes to dating, but that’s what online dating is for. Unless you’re brave enough to strike up a conversation in person and don’t give a crap about rejection, we can all agree that serendipitous, waiting-for-the-right-person-to-appear-IRL type of dating isn’t all that successful either. Match’s most recent Singles In America survey (which polls over 5,000 people who aren’t match users) found that the number one place people meet is online — so you’re in good company.
Online dating isn’t a game. It’s literally changing humanity.
The stigma attached to online dating is only there because, in most people’s minds, online dating either means desperately looking for a spouse or desperately looking for sex. While some sites are definitely like that, match is the place where you can find a serious, long-term relationship without the looming pressure of marriage. (Seriously, check out these success stories.)
match is also here to offer a sliver of hope: They guarantee that you’ll find someone in six months, and if you don’t, they’ll give you six months for free. Debuted in 1995 (five years before eharmony), match is the mother of all dating sites with more than 20 years of perfecting the matchmaking game. This means that it’s not just another one of those sites that you give up on after a month. match has gained the trust of an estimated 35-39 million unique monthly visitors, giving it one of the the largest user bases of any online dating site from Gen Z to millennials to baby boomers. If Elite Singles feels too stingy for you, you’ll be glad to know that 91% of match users attended college or have a college degree.
match is one of the only OG dating sites to compete with Tinder’s army of users, and has a better ratio of men to women than eharmony and OkCupid. Women are likely more encouraged to join a site that they know other women are on, and since 44 percent of users are women (reported as of 2016), there isn’t that uncomfortable sausage party vibe like on other sites.
See? You’re not doomed to be single forever — there are literally just a lot of fish in the sea, and you may just need help sorting through them.
- 1 Creating a profile takes way less time than you think
- 2 match’s homepage is well-designed and user-friendly — and that’s rare
- 3 Finding a match
- 4 People on match take dating seriously, and it’s awesome
- 5 Another way to meet people: match hosts group events IRL
- 6 match wants to help users navigate dating (and ghosting)
- 7 There’s a free option, but without paying you can do next to nothing
- 8 Good for: People ready to commit or who want a lot of options
- 9 Bad for: Impatient people or those who just want to hook up
- 10 The downsides
- 11 The alternatives
- 12 The final verdict:
Creating a profile takes way less time than you think
When you think of dating sites created back in the day like match, you probably think extensive questionnaires, cringeworthy forms about how honest or loving of a partner you are, and an all-around lengthy sign up process that is, honestly, lame as hell.
Finding someone who shares your values is just as important as finding someone with good communication skills and the rest of that mushy stuff.
Surprise: It’s truly not that bad, guys — and I’m usually a cynic about this stuff. (I almost opted out because of how poor the design of the landing page is, but I promise it’s not a reflection of the rest of the site) Of course, it’ll take longer than two minutes to set up your profile, but if you join match looking for something serious, you’ll appreciate the extra depth.
They’ll ask you the basics about yourself: Physical appearance, religion, if you smoke or drink, etc., and give you a range of responses that aren’t just a hard yes or no. They’ll also ask about your interests and hobbies, with choices like traveling and sight seeing, wine tasting, cooking, nightclubs and dancing, politics, religion, and volunteering. Because while the mushy, deep stuff is important, match knows that your romantic partner should also be your best friend.
My favorite part was that they allowed you to specify what you want in a partner: You’ll choose which of those same personality traits you’re looking for in someone else and rate how important they are to you. For instance, I’d prefer someone who doesn’t smoke cigarettes, but it’s not a deal breaker — match lets you specify that preference exactly, and if you choose “This is a deal breaker,” they won’t give you potential matches that had that in their answers. This is a super simple way to make sure you’re at least somewhat on the same page as someone and gets the surface-level things out of the way. This means that those awkward conversations don’t come up two months into the relationship. Finding someone who has the same values as you is just as important as finding someone with good communication skills and the rest of that mushy stuff.
The initial questionnaire only takes above five minutes, and bam: You’re set up with an account, ready to meet matches. However, there’s a ton more stuff you can add to your profile to give potential matches even more info. Adding more is optional, so you can totally be mysterious if you want — but if you’re picky or want to avoid future disagreements, I’d suggest filling out some more sections.
There’s no weird sliding scale that makes you rate how honest or good at communicating you are, and I love that. (Seriously, who’s going to admit their faults and say “Yes, I’m a liar and horrible at talking about my feelings”?) Instead, match will ask you to fill out some more things about your home life, hobbies, and interests in a conversational manner that just seems really chill. It doesn’t feel like a traditional online dating questionnaire at all, and that’s a good thing. In my opinion (and from what I’ve heard from others), a lot of people are hesitant about online dating because spilling all of the deep stuff right out of the gate is just too much pressure and too much work.
It might seem strange that they’re not asking anything about the deeper parts of a relationship, but personally, I think that is so tacky — and what match is doing is clearly working (or they wouldn’t be the most popular dating site on the internet).
match’s homepage is well-designed and user-friendly — and that’s rare
If you’ve been on other dating sites before, you know that homepages are like jungles. Notifications for 10 different ways of messaging pop up, blinking ads with naked parts interfere with clicking on things, and potential matches are plastered everywhere. Having a lot of options is obviously a good thing, but when there’s a collage of singles with infinite scrolling, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
match’s interface keeps things simple: You’re shown one match at a time, only have five tabs across the top, and there’s no scrolling — actually, there’s barely any scrolling. Everything you need to get the full experience is right in front of you, clean and organized in a way that makes the process calming instead of overwhelming.
There are a few ads, but in my opinion, they don’t really interfere with the user experience. Yeah, they’re annoying and slightly distracting — if you have so many users paying monthly to use your site, do you really need ads on the home page? But, I digress — the ads are just shopping ads, and they’re not the obnoxious “There are hot singles in your area” ads.
Finding a match
Similar to Tinder, match will show you one profile at a time, and you can decide to match them or skip them. (Unlike Tinder, match gives you significantly more information on the person, so it’s not just the blind swipe based on whether you think they’re hot or not.)
I have to point out how nice it is to only see one person at a time. When you’re given too many matches at once, you don’t even know where to start looking and might miss someone important during the rush. With one at a time, you’re forced to more seriously consider the person and their intentions, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is part of what makes match so successful.
match will take your skips to gather info about what you like (or more so what you don’t like), and use that information to give you more honed-in matches the next time around in hopes of getting you closer to your special someone faster. You could easily get 10 or more matches within the first day, depending on how active you are.
Aside from the matching game, another way to find interested folks is to check your interests tab. Here, you’ll see other people who have come across your profile and “liked” it, given you a “yes rating” or a “fave” — not really sure what the difference on these is, but it’s basically telling someone that you’re interested without having to wait for them to swipe on your profile. You can also send someone a wink, which is the dating site version of Facebook poking, but more flirty. Of course, you can also direct message people, and people can message you without being a match — which means you’ll have some randoms in your inbox. However, you can filter your messages to block people over or under a certain age (or height) and other specific values. I thought that was a nice touch and a way to keep from getting overwhelmed with 50 unread messages.
People on match take dating seriously, and it’s awesome
Most singles on match are surprisingly genuine. You might get a few corny pickup lines (totally innocent, though), but other than that, it’s mostly people being friendly, introducing themselves, or asking a question to get to know you better.
If you’re tired of getting gross messages on Tinder, this is going to be a breath of fresh air.
You can tell that they took the time to check out your bio and took your interests to heart, which is certainly a nice alternative to most messages you’ll get on swiping apps. Considering these people are paying a decent amount of money per month to use this site, you can pretty much assume that they’re on it to find a genuine connection and not just mess around — so it’s not a surprise that the messages are calm, cool, and collected (by that I mean they’re not asking you to go have sex later). If you’re tired of getting dirty messages on Tinder or someone asking for nudes as their opening line, this is going to be a breath of fresh air.
After you upload even one picture, you’re pretty much guaranteed to receive a handful of messages within minutes, which is a serious confidence boost. match’s member base is so robust, and what those members are looking for in a partner varies so greatly — nobody can be everybody’s cup of tea, but on match, you’re sure to be someone’s.
Another way to meet people: match hosts group events IRL
One of the coolest features of this dating site are the match Events. Paid members can attend local events (based on their zip code) and meet up with users from the same area in public places for a chance to mingle and meet members you may not have come across on the site. Some of my options were speed dating at a local rooftop bar, a beer tasting and brewery tour, a beginners sword skills class (serious The Bachelor date energy), and a few webinars for people looking for relationship advice. If you usually have bad social anxiety, just think of this as a gathering for people with social anxiety who can all be anxious and awkward together.
match goes above and beyond the usual dating site features to up your chances of meeting the one.
Honestly, I love this idea: Meeting with a group in a place like a bar is a seriously low-pressure way to meet new people who are looking for the same thing as you, and if you’re really too nervous to ask someone on a first date, one of these events would be a great time to meet up in a chill group setting. Someone will host the event, of course, so it won’t just be this awkward free for all, and they’ll make sure that everyone gets introduced without it feeling unnatural. Plus, if you’re traveling or going on vacation soon, match also offers the option to check out local events in other areas — just change your city at the top of the “Events” section. match genuinely goes above and beyond the usual dating site features to get you out of your comfort zone and up your chances of meeting the one.
The most recent addition, AskMatch, is a free dating advice service that lets you pick the brain of a dating coach via a one-on-one phone call. Just launched in May 2019, the service was (unintentionally but unsurprisingly) an immediate hit with millennial men. Though far fewer women wanted to participate early on, men getting “smarter” about on-screen romantic endeavors could benefit straight women, too.
A consistent struggle for many hetero daters is that there are too many men and not enough women, or women simply don’t respond. A 2018 study found that women are 40 percent pickier when it comes to seeking a partner online, and coming off as a creep to the few women who are online is way too easy. (It’s why Bumble’s unique requirement for the woman to initiate the conversation has drawn so much attention.)
AskMatch wants to change that dynamic: From planning first dates to working through issues like ghosting and showing emotions, frustrated singles can boost their game and learn how to navigate the waters of relationships both online and IRL. Based on the early surge in male interest, match CEO Hesam Hosseini told Business Insider that he hopes the service will help men learn to open up about dating and relationship struggles — something that, he says, women are more comfortable with. New York City was the guinea pig, but match plans to go nationwide with the service in 2020.
There’s also a cool feature called “Missed Connections” that uses your location to help you find matches whom you’ve potentially crossed paths with in real life. Kind of weird, but it gives a sense of excitement to everyday errands — and “I saw the love of my life in the Starbucks line every morning and didn’t even know,” will be a good story to tell at your wedding.
There’s a free option, but without paying you can do next to nothing
You can technically use match without dropping a cent. However, like almost every other acclaimed online dating site, the free version is borderline worthless. Free members can post photos, send and receive winks, conduct searches, and use the Tinder-like matchings system. That seems like a good gig — until you realize that free members can’t message people.
The entire point of match is to meet someone IRL and find a lasting connection, and that’s gonna be pretty difficult if the only way you can communicate with someone is through winking. Free members also do not have access to match’s group events, which is a huge bummer as that’s one of the coolest things match offers.
A paid subscription is pretty much essential if you want to do have any kind of worthwhile communication. match follows the whole “the longer you stay, the cheaper it is” policy, but exact prices fluctuate constantly. As of Aug. 2019, here’s what you’re looking at:
Subscriptions may seem pricey, but when you consider that places like eharmony or EliteSingles ask you to pay $40 or $50 each month, match’s prices suddenly don’t look so bad. (This article from Vox explains why it’s worth it to pay for sites instead of opting for freemium apps.) Check back for deals around the holidays (AKA cuffing season) and in January and February, which are the most popular months for dating site sign-ups.
Good for: People ready to commit or who want a lot of options
match’s user base is massive. It’s the place to go if you want a lot of options or if you’re tired of falling for the same type of person. Variety is guaranteed, and it’s fun to see how many people out there are in the same boat as you. It makes you feel less crappy when you know that there are 30 plus million folks out there who are also still single, and it’s just nice to know that if it doesn’t work out with one person, there’s always someone else ready to meet you.
There’s a difference between wanting a long-term, serious, monogamous relationship and wanting to get married ASAP. For those who aren’t looking for a spouse just yet and thus can’t see themselves signing up for eharmony but who are also so over Tinder, match is a good compromise. match boasts the perfect levels of serious and fun, offering a spot for people to express exactly what they’re looking for so that there’s no confusion down the road. Its almost-even split between men and women also makes it a less intimidating environment for everyone involved.
If you’re someone who appreciates a clean design, you’ll be more than happy here.
We have to give a shoutout to match’s UX designers: The site actually looks nice. If you’re someone who appreciates a clean, minimalistic design, you’ll be more than content here. For those who’ve grown accustomed to design-forward sites and apps, match hits that mark. It has all of the stuff you need, and none of the stuff you don’t. The desktop version is good, but the smartphone app version is even better.
The app will show you your daily matches all at once instead of one at a time, so you’ll have to scroll — but the Discover tab is where the app gets a little jumbled. Everything still looks clean, but it’s basically endless scrolling of the profiles within the distance you’ve set (no compatibility figured in), so this is probably used more like Tinder. Regardless, the app is user friendly and makes it easy to do some swiping or searching on the morning commute or while waiting in line at the store, and makes using a dating app feel cool — not like a desperate old person begging someone to marry them.
Bad for: Impatient people or those who just want to hook up
Nope, sorry. This isn’t the place to find a friends with benefits situation, and you’re going to look pretty strange if you slide into someone’s messages and propose that. Most users will mention what they’re using match for in their bio, and I have yet to see someone say that they’re looking for something casual. No one is going to shell out $30 a month to find a hookup. They can do that for free at the bar.
Match is a place to meet someone special who you genuinely want to be monogamous with, and if those aren’t your intentions, skip match for now. And don’t get on here and lie about your intentions. Really, don’t be that guy (or girl). If you’re someone who ghosts easily or just want a fun night, try AdultFriendFinder or Tinder instead.
This isn’t the place to find a friends with benefits situation.
match takes time. With over 30 million monthly visitors, I’m sure you can guess that it takes a while to sort through them and finally come across your soulmate. That comes with time. match guarantees that you’ll find someone in six months — not one month. It’s physically impossible to get through everyone on the site in a short amount of time. Since it’s a site for serious relationships and not just hooking up, it could be very possible that matches will be hesitant about meeting in person until they’re sure that they’re interested. Overall, the process is just slower, and if this is something that is going to annoy you, we’d suggest a site where more immediate action is encouraged.
match is a great dating site for millennials and more mature people alike, and if you’re young and looking for someone in their early to late 20s, you have plenty of options. However, I would love to see match do some advertising toward the younger crowd like OkCupid does. OkCupid markets specifically to young people (especially those in the LGTBQ+ community) and there’s no question that the marketing alone gives it a leg up on places like match.
If getting a lot of phone notifications gives you anxiety, I’d suggest immediately updating your email preferences with match after you sign up. Because if you don’t, you will get an email for what feels like any time someone even looks at your profile, and it can get annoying.
If would also be cool if match offered music preferences as one of the things that you can select when choosing what you’re looking for in a match. From experience, I’ve noticed that people who like the same music get along really well. Music taste tells so much more about a person than people realize.
Pro tip: Don’t get hyped on someone just because they claim to be a millionaire. Aside from connecting your profile with a Facebook account if you so choose, match doesn’t really have any extensive security features to confirm that accounts are who they say they are. It’s less likely for a paid site to have people faking profiles (it would take a really dedicated scammer to be willing to pay that monthly fee) but there does seem to be a decent amount floating around match. (Luckily, many have no recent activity and are very obviously not active users.) As MTV’s Catfish should have taught you: Don’t meet up with someone until you’ve at least been able to video chat, ask for their social media, and don’t send any personal information.
Aside from fast-paced swiping apps like Bumble, Tinder, and Hinge (the last two actually being owned by Match Group), match’s obvious competitors are eharmony, OkCupid, Zoosk, and Plenty of Fish. Right off the bat, match has the size advantage. If nothing else, I’d pick match simply because it’s been around longer and has tons of veteran masterminds behind the matchmaking process — having 20 years of experience is enough to make me trust them.
eharmony is all about marriage and features a 29-dimension matching system — the registration process there takes longer and goes a bit deeper, but there’s a reason eharmony has lead to some 4% of marriages in the US. This isn’t to say that match isn’t serious, because it is — it just gives a little more leeway when it comes to people’s intentions.
OkCupid has insanely cool advertising, making it known that they’re LGBT friendly — and the millennials love that shit. I’d guess that more younger people would be attracted to OkCupid because of this, and would also bet that that’s where the most liberal users are. OkCupid also apparently has a way to weed out misogynistic jerks, which is by asking users if the government should defund Planned Parenthood or not. While match will display whether or not someone is religious, there’s not really a way to know their political views without asking them — so if that’s something you really care about in a relationship, you might choose OkCupid instead. Oh yeah, and all of OkCupid’s features are completely free.
IMO, there’s nothing super standout about Zoosk or Plenty of Fish. They’re both user friendly enough (nowhere close to how nice match looks, though), have decent user bases, and have pretty much the same idea as Match — they just don’t have all of the extra features that match has. Zoosk is unique in that it finds matches for you based on your on-site activity rather than asking you questions, which is worth trying. I’d assume that most people on one online dating site have made profiles on multiple dating sites just to cast their net in as many places as they can. If I could only use one site, I’d definitely choose match, but making a profile on these two as well (if you feel like paying) would up your chances big time.
The final verdict:
match is the place to go when eharmony is way too serious and full of people too old for you, and the place to go when you’re tired of Tinder matches hitting you up to have sex and then never talking to you again. It’s truly a great happy medium, and I don’t think that middle ground between friends with benefits and marriage is something a lot of other dating sites consider.
Usually, my main problem with dating sites is their layout and aesthetic — whether it’s terrible fonts, virus-ridden ads, or an overwhelming amount of notifications and faces scrambled everywhere, I always have something to complain about. With match, I didn’t. It’s modern, clean, and completely erases the stigma that dating sites are for old people.
While their guarantee that you’ll find your person (or your potential person, at least) in half a year is comforting, I’m just happy with the fact that match can reassure you that no, all of the good people in the world are not taken, and there truly are plenty of fish in the sea. Well done, match. Well done. You’d think it would be old fashioned and lame as it’s one of the longest sites on the market, but I’m here to say that it’s the complete opposite. I was super impressed by the whole experience.
Sign up here (and feel free to send couples selfies). You got this.