Passing notes in high school may have helped you score your first kiss or your first true love, but the dating world has become a bit more difficult to navigate in the years since "Beverly Hills 90210" or even "Gilmore Girls" taught us the ins and outs of l-u-v.
If you're looking to find love or companionship in 2017, you've probably at least considered online dating. Whether you're in college, just out of a relationship or looking to find a partner to enjoy your retirement, the virtual world has a slew of dating websites and apps waiting to hook you up.
Which site is best for you and what's it like to use them? The Source Weekly put together the basics and gathered first-hand experiences that will help you decide which one (or two or three) to sign up for.
(Note: names have been changed at the request of the individuals who participated.)
If you've done any research into the virtual dating world, you've heard about Tinder. It's one of the most popular free apps and uses Facebook to help you create your profile in minutes. This location-based app initially claimed to be the key to finding true love when it was launched in 2012, but has since earned a reputation for being best for hookups because of its short profiles that rely heavily on photos. Heard the term "swipe left" recently? That refers to Tinder's swipe-style mode of accepting or rejecting matches based mostly on appearance.
Tinder also offers a paid membership that provides fun but unnecessary extras ranging from $9.99 to $19.99. While the media enjoys grinding out article after article about how it's leading to the downfall of the dating world, the public seems to disagree as more and more people join this new approach to dating.
A Tinder Experience
Sarah has been on Tinder for a year and has gone on several dates. She says, "I think it's fun! I've met some real losers, like this one guy who took a call from another woman he was going out on dates with in the middle of our first date. At the end, he asked me if I'd go out with him again. I said no."
Sarah didn't let one bad date get her down though. "I like meeting new people without expectation and Tinder makes it easy. Some dates are good, some are bad and some have led to friendship. I'm not sure I'm ready to find 'the one' yet anyway."
If there is such a thing as an "old reliable" dating app, Match.com is it.
Launched in 1995, its creators tout the website and app as pioneering the online dating industry. Match has an enormous and diverse worldwide user base and an extremely high success rate.
Expect to fill out an extensive profile when you sign up, taking approximately a half hour to complete. Match uses algorithms to help you find your true love and sends you matches on a regular basis.
While Match.com offers all of the tools one needs to find success on a dating site, including chat, e-mail and a Tinder-like Discover option, you have to pay for a full membership in order to enjoy many of them. The subscription price, which ranges from a $41.99 monthly fee to a $20.99 per month yearlong subscription; maybe a bit hefty with other free options available.
A Match Experience
Jon met his true love on Match after a short stint of failed experiences. He says, "I had my profile up for about a year before meeting Jane. Several of my previous dates had been a bit awkward when I realized upon meeting that the images people had used for their profiles were super old. I didn't even recognize a couple of my dates." When Jon met Jane, he knew it was love.
"Jane was exactly who I had expected, except even better. I knew I was in love when I looked across the table at dinner and caught her intensely studying the menu. Then I noticed that the menu was upside down. I was pretty sure food wasn't what was on her mind."
Jon and Jane have been together for three years.
OkCupid welcomes people of all genders and relationship styles. It has one of the most expansive gender and sexual orientation profile options for users to choose from. In December of 2016 the site even began catering to non-monogamous arrangements and the polyamorous community by allowing couples to link their profiles and list themselves at "seeing someone," or "married," and then search for additional partners.
Users fill out an extensive profile and answer a series of questions that allow the site's algorithms to match them. All of the communication tools, including email and chat and an app for your phone are free, however, you can purchase different membership levels that come with added features by paying anything from $9.95 to $34.90 per month.
An OkCupid Experience
Amy was one of Mary's first dates. She says, "We met on OkCupid and chatted for about a week before meeting for coffee. The site made finding a match in a city with a relatively small queer community much easier and the first time I saw her I was hooked!"
Amy and Mary have been dating for six months.