If you’re in the dating circuit — spending money on meals at restaurants and bars and tickets at movies and…
If you’re in the dating circuit — spending money on meals at restaurants and bars and tickets at movies and museums — then you know how expensive it can be. And unfortunately, connecting with a potential match can be a pricey proposition if you’re looking for love online on one of the dizzying array of dating websites out there, too.
But here’s the catch: If you’re single, odds are you’re looking for love online. A July report from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a peer-reviewed journal, suggests that most couples meet online. According to the report, 39% of the heterosexual couples surveyed met online and 65% of same-sex couples surveyed met online. While using dating websites as a matchmaking tool is no easy feat, there are a number of free options you can use to trim costs. With that in mind, here are the best free dating sites to try this year:
— Plenty of Fish
— Facebook Dating
[See: 9 Secrets to Save Money on a Shoestring Budget.]
With this popular app (also available on desktop), you can simply swipe through profiles — albeit with scant information on each potential match. As you look at photos, you can select a heart icon or an X; alternatively, you can swipe to the right if you like a profile, or swipe to the left if you don’t. If you like somebody who also likes your photo, then you’ll be alerted that you have a match, and you’ll be able to message your potential date. While the app is free, you can pay for Tinder Plus ($9.99 a month if you’re under 30; $19.99 if you’re older) and Tinder Gold (around $29.99 per month, depending on your location and age), which offers additional features, such as a rewind button that enables you to update your selection if you accidentally swiped the wrong way.
Similar to Tinder, Bumble enables users to find a match by swiping right (if you like the person) or left (if you don’t). The major differentiating factor is, for heterosexual couples, the woman must send a message first. Conversely, with same-sex couples, either person can initiate contact. There’s also a premium service (Bumble Boost costs $24.99 a month). With the premium service, you can screen your matches for certain qualities or criteria, like level of education.
While Match does charge a subscription fee for long-time use (about $22.99 a month for three months; $16.49 a month for 12 months, though promotions often available), you can still set up a profile, putting a picture, listing your interests and describing the type of person you’re looking for and search through profiles for free. You won’t be able to contact another person, however, unless you sign up for a three-day free trial period (and occasionally, there will are longer free trial periods available, such as seven days). Just make sure you cancel your membership before the trial period ends, or you will be charged.
[See: 50 Ways to Improve Your Finances in 2019.]
With this popular dating website and app, you can browse profiles and reach out to anyone you want to connect with. If you want to pay for its premium services ($9.95 a month for six months), you’ll receive the website’s advanced search features, where you can search for profiles based on people’s answers to questions the site asks members. With the paid version, you can also see who “likes” you. If you end up liking the person who likes you, you will be alerted that you are a match. However, with the free version, you won’t know who likes your profile until a match is made.
Plenty of Fish
Plenty of Fish, as its name suggests, features a wide selection of dating profiles. Like many dating sites, however, it does have premium membership ($12.90 a month if you select the three-month plan; $6.78 a month for 12 months). You can send and receive messages for free; the premium membership allows users to search more easily, using filtering options such as “education” and “income.”
Facebook recently entered the dating scene with Facebook.com/dating. You can set up a dating profile, which won’t be shared with anyone outside of the Facebook dating app. As an added bonus, you can use your Facebook profile to automatically fill in your profile.
[See: 10 Ways to Save More in 2019.]
Precautions to Take Before Using Dating Sites
Before you sign up for any dating website, there are a few key pointers to keep in mind. “There is never a good reason to send someone you met online money,” says Eric Resnick, a professional dating profile writer and manager of ProfileHelper.com, a website that helps users create dating profiles.
Resnick also advises that if you meet anyone on a dating site, and you feel you’ve met a match, consider meeting in person — within a week. “Most scammers are not local,” Resnick explains. “They might say they are local, or even that they are in another state, but they are usually in another country. They will always have a reason why they can’t meet you in person. If you set a plan for yourself to meet within a week of initial contact, you will not only weed out those scammers, but also the people who aren’t really that interested in meeting you anyway.”
Meanwhile, Laurie Berzack, a matchmaker and dating coach at CarolinasMatchmaker.com, also suggests trying to meet fairly quickly (in a public place, of course, and once you feel you have some chemistry). “Don’t let the conversation linger online. Take it offline and set up a date. You are on there to find a relationship, not a pen pal,” Berzack says.
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6 Best Free Dating Sites originally appeared on usnews.com