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Dummies' guide to online dating


Library Image.

Library Image.

Library Image.

Are you looking for love? With such an array of online dating websites to choose from, it is hard to know the best places to post your profile ... Alison O'Riordan has done the hard work for you.


User description: Plenty of Fish (POF) seems to be the biggie. People who use this site can be very blunt and those looking for a relationship are quick to get to the point.

You can choose from different intentions on this site including a relationship, casual dating and finding someone to marry.

Age: The average age of POF users is 32, with approximately 25,000 log-ins every day in Ireland.

Advantages: A lot of choice.

Disadvantages: Awash with time wasters and internet-dating junkies whose hobby is roaming online dating agencies, but who never want to go on a date.

Cost: POF is a free service. Remember, people who are paying for an online dating service are going to take it more seriously.

Upgraded membership allows you to see if someone read or deleted your message. It also allows you to upload images, to see what time someone viewed your profile, to experience the site ad-free, and so on.

Upgraded membership is listed in dollars: three months is $6.78 per month ($81.40 over a year); six months is $8.50pm ($51); and one year is $11.80pm ($35.40).


User description: Based in England, this modern site uses the tagline ,"It all starts with a date". It's popular with young professionals.

Age: The core audience is 25-55, but the site mainly targets people in their 20s.

Advantages: You can search for matches yourself.

Cost: It's free to join, and you can create a profile, use the basic search tools, view other profiles and send winks to people you like.

Once you have seen someone you like, you can upgrade to get access to the internal email and instant messenger tools to communicate with other members.

Premium membership offers specialised features such as pre-screen matches.

You can subscribe for one, three or six months, with prices starting at €29.90 a month (three months for €59.70; six months for €77.40).


User description: A sister company of match.ie, this English-based site suggests compatible matches based on the results of an in-depth affinity questionnaire.

It is seeing a significant increase in the number of new online daters in Ireland.

Age: People in their 20s.

Disadvantages: It's not free.

Cost: You can subscribe for three, six or 12 months, with three months for €74.70, six months for €89.40 and 12 months for €118.80.


User description: This is a serious specialised dating agency for professionals looking for a more long-lasting partnership, using the tagline "Find someone really right for you".

It is an exclusive site, for predominantly affluent, educated men and women, and uses a comprehensive 80-question compatibility test to find potential partners for members.

Age: Between 30 and 55. It is for a niche market so does not want twentysomethings surfing its site.

Advantages: Members' photographs are not open for public viewing and a member decides if and when someone sees them.

Disadvantages: It is quite pricey.

Cost: €49.90 for a month's membership or €29.90pm for three.


User description: It has more than 500,000 registered users.

Age: Members' ages range from 18-80, with a target audience of 28-45.

Advantages: It's one of the few sites with a larger male membership, at 41pc female and 59pc male.

Some 75pc of members are looking for a serious relationship.

Cost: Basic membership is free and enables people to create a profile, search for partners and email one another.

Premium members can subscribe for additional features when they want to meet someone, or at the point of exchange of personal contact details, with prices starting at €19.95 monthly, €49.95 quarterly and €129 annually.


User description: It is a friendly, light-hearted and informal site.

Age: Average age of 26-35.

Advantages: The site boasts more than 200 marriages, and thousands more relationships each year. A 56pc male and 44pc female audience.

Disadvantages: It does not have a lot of features and has a predominantly Dublin-based customer base.

Cost: Basic membership is free and enables people to create a profile, search for partners and email one another.

Premium members can subscribe for additional features; when you want to meet someone or at the point of exchange of personal contact details, with prices starting at €19.95 monthly, €49.95 quarterly and €129 annually.


User description: Established in 2007, this site mostly attracts professionals from all backgrounds but is gaining popularity outside Dublin.

It is focused on 'bringing people together' by allowing people to meet online and then giving them the opportunity to meet offline at one of their many social events.

Age: From 20-65.

Advantages: It has more than 10,000 members nationwide. Fourteen couples have met on this website and gone on to get married.

They organise more than 100 events a year which attract thousands of singles.

Cost: The site offers a free seven-day trial when online-dating profiles are completed. Fees are €12pm or €30 for three months.


User description: Only set up six months ago, this site is dedicated to single men and women who want to meet like-minded single people in Ireland.

Age: From 18-35, with a mature dating site for those aged 40-plus at mature.cupidrocks.ie.

Advantages: More than 9,000 people have signed up already, with more male members than females. The site is very easy to use and has been praised for its user-friendly design.

Cost: It is free to view profiles and message people.

For additional features, such as sending and receiving private messages, chatting with instant messenger and seeing who's been looking at your profile, there is a monthly charge of €24.99.


User description: Set up to provide a service to single people who love the countryside and also make online dating more accessible to singles living in rural Ireland.

Age: 18-35.

Advantages: The vast majority of dating sites focus on single people living in cities. CountryMatches helps like-minded country and outdoors lovers meet online.

Cost: It is free to view profiles and have people message you. For additional features, such as adding multiple photos or video chat, the monthly charge is €24.99.


User description: The Badoo community, run by a company in England, is very varied.

It is for those mainly looking for an intimate encounter and short-term relations.

With more than 150 million users all over the world, Badoo is growing fast in the UK and Ireland.

Age: Users are in their 20s and early 30s, with a third over 35.

Advantages: A 55:45 male to female ratio. No long forms to fill in.

Cost: Badoo is free to register and use, but you have the option to make micropayments to boost your visibility on the site and promote yourself, or to subscribe to 'super powers' that give you extra functionality (such as the ability to do advanced searches and send more messages per day).


User description: People who use Zoosk are known as Zooskers.

It is a social dating community set up in San Francisco in 2007 with millions of singles from around the globe using services each month.

Age: People in their 20s.

Advantages: Fun online dating experience available in 20 languages and subscribers in more than 60 countries.

The phone app is very popular, and in 2010 Zoosk introduced Zoosk messenger, the first downloadable desktop applicator ever introduced for a social dating community, where one can chat in real time with other Zoosk users.

Cost: Service enables users to join, browse and send a limited number of messages for free.

In the United States, premium subscription rates are $29.95 for a one-month subscription, $19.95 per month for a three-month subscription, or $9.99 per month for a 12-month subscription.

They are listed in dollars for Irish users too.

You can upgrade to a premium subscription for full access or purchase vital currency to buy select features and virtual gifts.


User description: This website was started in the UK in 2004 to provide a way to match-make single friends but was only launched here in Ireland in November 2011.

It enables friends to join the site together, recommend their single friends and suggest potential suitors, bringing the fun of the regular dating scene online.

Age: Mostly young professionals looking to broaden both their social and love lives, aged from 21-39.

Cost: Becoming a 'free profile' member is an option -- however, you won't be able to send messages to other singles.

You would be able to receive messages, however, and see who they are from.

By paying, you will be able to send and receive mail, and block messages.

You can search for singles, tailor that search and make notes, bookmarks and 'favourites', and invite as many friends as you like to recommend people to you.

Cost: €20 for one month, €40 for three months and €60 for six months.

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