Out of curiosity, I’ve been cruising around on some of the dating sites and thought I would point out a few differences I found in sites that are meant to give the same end result.

Although there are a lot of dating sites out there, I can easily narrow down the possibilities.  First of all, I never sign up for a free site because I firmly believe that you get what you pay for.

Second of all, I never sign up for a specialty site because I don’t want to search for my soul mate in one specific category that would only expose me to people of one income, one religion, or one occupation.  What if I spend my time searching in JustLawyers and my soul mate is on the site JustBuilders and I never find him?

As an aside, when my parents finally got cable last year, they were exposed to commercials they’d never seen on PBS or the other two channels they could get on a clear day with no leaves on the trees.  Only two weeks into the cable subscription I received the comment, “Honey, we saw a commercial last night for JustFarmers.  Why don’t you check it out?  We think that would be right up your alley!”  Since I’m a court reporter that lives in the city, I’m not sure why they thought it would be right up my alley; however, it would probably be right up my dad’s alley as the perfect son-in-law.  Needless to say, my parents are not on the Dating Committee.

I next spent multiple hours of my life filling out the profile questions on a site that aligns you with your soul mate by personality.  I may be single, but I do have a life outside of dating; if nothing else, I could be watching a good Hallmark Christmas movie instead of answering their plethora of questions.  You can imagine my irritation when, after giving  hours of my life to these questions, they told me I had no matches – wait for it – IN THE WORLD.  People who go to dating sites are already feeling sad and lonely.  Being told you have no matches IN THE WORLD could drive people to suicide.  Why even go on?  Maybe they could at least throw me a bone by making up and giving to me someone I will likely never contact…someone that lives in a grass hut on the other side of the world and has no computer.  Maybe then I’d have some hope to hang on to.

Needless to say, I’m not a quitter, and I didn’t let this site get the best of me.  I again gave hours of my life to them by first forming a new e-mail account and then going back and filling out another time-consuming profile questionnaire, this time answering questions like, “Have you ever wanted to hurt someone?” more appropriately.  Voila (wah-lah), I had matches!  You can imagine my joy and sudden desire to go on living.

Unfortunately, my newfound joy was taken away when I realized that I could not directly communicate with my matches until I chose from some pre-picked questions and sent them to them.  If they liked me, they would send some questions back to me.  Are you kidding me?  How immature.  It reminded me of third grade when I’d have my friend hand a note to the cutest guy in the class and ask him to check the box if he liked me.  I’ve come a long way, baby!

Lastly I’ll compare two of the larger sites, one that’s been around since my first online dating days (it rhymes with Catch), and a newbie to me (it rhymes with, er, uh, Whose…k).

As the older site has evolved and become more powerful, they have placed more demands on their subscribers.  For example, Catch now requires you to sign up for a minimum of three months.  For people with commitment issues, like me, this caused my chest to tighten.  Letting me sign up for only one month at a time, Whose…k will appeal to the free spirit in me.

Catch will ask me to commit about 15 to 20 minutes to upload my profile picture, crop it, and to fill out my profile.  Here’s the kicker:  You have to wait for your pictures that you upload to be approved.  You also have to wait for your written profile to be approved.  Every time you change a picture or fix a typo in your profile, you have to wait for it to be approved.  This can sometimes take an overnight amount of time.  We live in a world that wants instant gratification.  If I’m in the mood to sit down and find my soul mate, I want to sit down and find it STAT!  I might not be in the mood for a soul mate tomorrow.

On a brighter note, Whose…k only had me fill out maybe two profile questions, it nicely and appropriately cropped my uploaded picture for me, and, BAM, my profile was up and readily available to Lester101, Turtleman, or IDoDishes.  The only downside to answering the questions was that there was a minimum of 75 words required.  “I like running, tennis, dogs, and saving the world” doesn’t take 75 words, so that puts me in the position of either having to make things up or doing something irritating like writing “blah, blah, blah” 66 times to meet the quota.

Both sites will give you matches.  Upon subscribing, Catch gave me a few a day.  Without charge, Whose…k gave me a SmartPick.  So here’s the super interesting part.  When they cropped my profile picture, they cropped my large dog near my face out of it.  When I looked at my first SmartPick, it was a picture of a guy sharing a tender moment with a large dog near his face.  I found that pretty brilliant!  I still wasn’t interested in him, but I thought it was an impressive match.  Now, my next SmartPick was still on the right track but just varied in species.  It was a picture of a guy with a kitten near his face.  I was more interested in the kitten than the guy; but, if a computer was doing the matching here, it was really analyzing the pictures.

As far as using the features of each site, understandably, Catch will not let you do more than search without agreeing to their three-month (chest tightens) commitment.  Whose…k will let me not only search through an endless array of men in sunglasses (in the site’s defense, they specifically tell you not to post a picture with sunglasses) but they will let me receive both a SmartPick and view “Insights” for fuh-reee!

“Insights” are developed after I surf the lineup of men in sunglasses on the site for a couple of days.  If I pause on a picture or if I click to see more pictures or info on a guy, it records it in their database.  When I click on “Insights,” it tells me the kind of men that like me and the kind of men I like.  For instance, it says, “You attract men who are tall.”  Thank God.  It also says I attract men who are non-smokers, well educated, and listen to rock.  The only part of that that makes me sad is the “listen to rock” part.  It also tells me their astrological signs and then provides a nice color chart.  Then the feature will go on to tell me what kind of men I like.  All I got on this was, “The men you like are, on average, 45 years old.  They usually live within 68 miles.”  Apparently I need to click on some more pictures I like because this information is pretty vague and will make it quite difficult to find my soul mate.  But did I mention that this feature was FUH-REEE?!?

As a last thought on comparison of the sites, on Catch I see a lot of the same people that I’ve seen on it over the last ten-plus years.  When I shopped the men on the Whose…k site for an embarrassing amount of time, I saw only one person that I recognized from Catch or anywhere else.  Now, maybe it’s because I didn’t recognize them with their sunglasses on, or maybe that means that everyone else was “fresh meat,” and that opens the door for all kinds of possibilities.

In a world where people are becoming more isolated and spending more and more time looking at computers and phones than the faces of their fellow humans, I believe that the need for these online dating sites will continue to grow.  Hopefully someone will take the time to look up from their computer or phone to meet their soul mate…who hopefully isn’t looking at their computer or phone.

If you haven’t yet checked out my romance novel, Nine Days In Greece, it’s on Amazon for only .99 for a limited time.