Chances are, at some point in your dating adventures, you have at least checked out Match.com. Match, founded in the 90's, is easily the most popular fee-based subscription dating service in the world. Part of their initial appeal might be a result of their highly successful media campaign, spotlighting real members on dates, using the slogans, “Why Not?” and “It just works”.
Is Match the Beige Toyota of the Online Dating World?
Dating websites often develop a tone and personality of their own. Match.com offers a middle-of-the-road experience, attracting the average, mostly vanilla citizen, who is looking for the same. This generally isn't the artsy crowd, nor the particularly creative or sexy crowd, like OKCupid. It's not slick or exclusive like Grouper.com, or young and superficial like app-based Tinder. Match resists the sleaze factor often associated with PlentyofFish, and doesn't have any identified niche, like Geek to Geek (Gk2Gk) or BBWCupid. Nope, Match is appealing to ordinary people who are looking for a safe environment to meet a normal person. Match's subscribers usually need to have a job to be able to afford the membership fees, and aren't necessarily within the 18-30 year old bracket. Match is indeed the beige Toyota to Zoosk's Jeep, or Jdate's BMW.
What We Like:
1. An easy to navigate and attractive website featuring not only dating profiles, but articles and forums by relationship experts, real life members, and authors.
2. A huge member base, which increases your chances of meeting someone in any geographic area.
3. The detailed search function
Match offers an excellent search function, which enables fine tuning the criteria for your potential partner.
Example: checking the boxes in a search for men within 10 miles of Seattle between the ages of 35-45, without any specifics yielded 2000+ candidates. When we added a few basic preferences from the many categories--height, weight, education level, ethnicity, and career type, our options for potential matches narrowed hugely, but offered the opportunity to fine tune matches according to specifications. Not enough options? Simply increase the mileage range, lower or increase your age parameters, or decrease the number of specific criteria you are hunting for.
4. Daily Matches
Every day, you will receive 4 highlighted members which the wizard of algorithms deem a higher than normal compatibility based on your two profiles. You have the option to indicate Yes, No, or Maybe. ((Warning: Hit “Yes”, and the other person gets notified))
5. Reverse Matches
Reverse Matches offer the lazy-bones a way to see who Match thinks would be good for you, based on your profile, without you searching. Just click on Reverse, and they show up for your perusal. ((Warning: Results may make you laugh, roll your eyes, or wretch))
6. Date Spark
This is Match.com’s answer to the trend (See our review: HowAboutWe) to get users off their computers and out in the real life laboratory of dating.
Here’s how it works:
- Suggest a style of date (attending a cooking class, meeting at a gaming store for tabletop RPG's, visiting the pinball museum).
- Respond to the date spark ideas that catch your attention. (Helps you rule out someone who likes chess and cards if you are a very active person, or conversely, to check out something not typically in your comfort zone).
- Get off your butt, meet the date, and try something different than just meeting for coffee. Activity dates decrease initial awkwardness because you are engaged in something rather than simply talking.
7. Like at First Sight
This is a fun and quick image-based rating scale of your preferences of the opposite sex.
You are asked to identify which images on a page of photos you are typically drawn to, at first sight. This includes things like face shape as well as clothing and choices of activities. You are then asked who you wish you were more typically drawn to. Choose preferences from various activities and items, including things like dancing or TV, martini or beer, pickup truck or sports car.
“Like at First Sight” fine tunes the algorithms which constantly search the member database, coupled with the search criteria you chose earlier. It's a “checks and balances” approach. “We see what you THINK you want.. but perhaps there are other hidden clues about what you REALLY want”.
8. Stir Events
In selected cities, Match.com has launched a series of hosted events for their members to meet up in a social settings, trying to taking some of the awkwardness out of a 1:1 situation, and allowing a natural environment for singles to meet. This trend towards social and group dating can be seen on sites such as Grouper.com. However, read one funny blogger's experience of her Stir date here.. that didn't quite go so well.
What We Don't Like:
1. It's kind of a mixed blessing, joining a fee-based online dating site. Obviously, requiring the public to cough up a good chunk of change means that the members are generally pretty motivated to find a match. Plus, by charging a fee, you weed out a lot of the skank factor, or at least those that are emotionally disturbed enough not to hold down a job. On the other hand, there are some decent free online sites that are..well.. free.
Match is relatively expensive, with the "value plan" subscription at $119.94 x 6 months, or $239.88 annually. Try it for 3 months for $68.97.
2. Difficult and maddening subscription cancellation policies.
MANY members complain about difficulty cancelling a subscription. It's important to know that once you commit to an installment membership, as seen in our pic above, you are obligated to complete the number of payments prior to cancelling. To make matters worse, memberships are auto-renewed, unless you contact Match, giving them a "reasonable amount of time to process the action", which is a non-discoverable period, even after substantial searching.
3. Free Basic Memberships--Suck!
Match offers a widely advertised free "Basic Membership", which sounds good, but during this time, a user can create their profile, search/view profiles, and send Winks, but cannot actually contact paid or trial members to initiate contact. The only exception is when a paid member initiates email communication, free members may reply.
By the way, we also think that a big reason Match.com's membership is so elephantine is because many "members" are simply profiles of people trying out the free features of Match, only to abandon ship when they find they can't really communicate within the site. But the place marker of their profiles, pics included, remain intact, thus enticing others to contact these profiles, and for the Basic Member to receive email notifications enticing them to return to Match to retrieve messages or winks from the scads of eligible singles who have contacted them.
4. Trial period of membership requires your credit card, which, then auto renews if you forget to cancel or don't give "reasonable notice".
Should You Join Match?
Realistically, most people we know start out being a member of one dating site, and then hedge their bets by joining an additional site to double their exposure and their dating pool. If you're thinking of trying out a fee-based dating site, let it be Match.com, even if simply for the reason that it's sheer size can offer you more bang for your buck. Don't bother joining as a free member, since you won't be able to do anything more than poke around, and you can't actually contact anyone who interests you. Try the trial membership (not basic, but trial) only if you are quite clear that you will need to cancel the auto-renewing feature WELL in advance of the expiration date.
We recommend that you join one paid site, and one free site, and see what you like best. Why limit yourself to a beige toyota when you can lease the Toyota and the little red sportscar over at OkCupid or Zoosk?