Alternatives to Traditional Dating Sites
As a twenty-something, newly-graduated single woman, I date. On top of going to bars and being set up with friends of friends, I have been dating online. The traditional, well-known dating sites I used, like Match.com and eharmony.com, were priced out of my budget and members tended to be slightly (and sometimes greatly) older than me. They were looking to settle down, which is something I’m not ready for yet. I became frustrated with people pitching the same tired lines that led to nowhere. What I needed was a new pool to dip my toe in.
Thankfully, it wasn’t hard to find sites that had members my own age who wanted the same thing I wanted – to go out and have fun with people who weren’t looking for a husband or wife. And they all fit well with my recently-out-of-college budget.
HowAboutWe.com is about one thing, setting up dates. It asks you, and potential mates, “how about we...” You fill in the rest of the sentence. How about we... “check out one of the Sunday shows at Rockwood Music Hall?” How about we... “bike around Governor's Island?” How about we... “have a drink and listen to some jazz at 55 Bar?” You can post a date and see if anyone wants to join you, or search dates that you could be interested in. Just like the traditional dating sites, you create a profile and can exchange messages before you meet someone. The profile, just like the site, doesn’t ask the traditional questions. Instead, fill in the blanks for “my perfect Sunday” or “my life history in 5 sentences or less.” It’s a paid site, running from only $8 to $28 per month depending on your length of membership.
Zoosk.com is one of the most popular dating sites on the web right now (meaning a big dating pool) and is super easy to use. While it does have the traditional format, it’s “traditional-lite”. The profiles you search are clean and not cluttered by too much information. The best part is the ability to connect your profile to Facebook. This feature allows you to see which of your Facebook-friends are single and looking. I have more than 500 friends, ranging from old camp days to high school friends to friends of friends who I met once at a party, so it’s nice be able to rely on Zoosk to keep me updated on who is single. The service also lets you be the guide: you search, you pick, and you decide who you want to message. If you’re really busy and on the go, the Zoosk app is for you. It allows you to search, message and even update your profile directly from your phone.
The Chatroulette of the dating world, SkyCandy.com is for those that like to speed date, but don’t have time to get out to events. You use your webcam to connect to other people and talk to them for a few minutes, all from the comfort of your home. Potential suitors aren’t able to hide behind profile pictures, you see and hear them in real time. SkyeCandy.com even has “happy hour” Video-Dates feature that lets you pick who you want to be matched with and how many dates you want to go on in your speed round. Just make sure there’s nothing too revealing in your background once you click the “Video Date” button! Want a second date? You can share your Skype, AIM, and Yahoo! Messenger username or get more personal with Facebook and Twitter.
It’s dating, networking and making friends all in one place while doing something everyone loves - eating out. On GrubWithUs.com, you can join groups that interest you, like a local book club, a group of professionals in your industry or one of the singles groups and then you can either see if any of your groups have set up a dinner event or make your own. You can even connect the site to your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and have friends go with you to a meal. You pay online when you reserve your seat at the table, which is always 4 or more people (alcohol is separate and paid at the restaurant), so you don’t have to worry about splitting the bill. While the prices are great and the site has groups in cities all over the world, there are few restaurants to pick from and no options for using a restaurant not listed on the site.