Match first launched in 1995 and is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of the online dating scene, and its savvy marketing campaigns and continued efforts to help people find true love has greatly helped in bringing online dating into the mainstream.
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Match.com? Is it truly that big?
Current estimations put total Match.com registered users at almost twice as many as its nearest rivals - eHarmony and Pof.com, both of which are very large sites. When one takes into account the fact that it is almost certain that a large proportion of those consist of users who are no longer active, even conservative estimates puts the number of active users in "the millions".
On the Match.com website, it states that they service 24 countries and territories, but statistics found online reveal that North American users make up for slightly more than half of the population.
If dating websites can be thought of as fish-filled seas, then Match.com would be the biggest sea out there, with many more fish compared to the other seas.
No matter how you slice it, those are pretty impressive numbers.
But now comes the big question: Is Match.com a place where you should cast your rod and see what bites? Or are you better off fishing elsewhere?
The registration is a pretty bog standard affair on Match.com. You provide a handful of personal details, much like you would do when registering at any dating website. Once that's done, you're in. Welcome to Match.com, where opportunities for true love await you - but before you can start searching for suitable prospects, you'll receive a prompt to fill in your personality profile.
To get noticed in the world of online dating, you'll need a profile to show would-be dates, no two ways about it. The best step with Match.com (and other dating sites for that matter), is to complete your profile and add some decent photos (the option is there to import photos from a Facebook account) as soon as you join.
New members have their profiles highlighted for a certain period of time - you should take full advantage of this. You don't want any potential interests clicking your profile and finding it's empty. If you have a completed profile, at least they'll have the opportunity to get to know you a little bit more before deciding whether to exchange emails - it gives you an edge because it shows that you've taken the time to write something thoughtful.
Match.com's personality profile can be split into two different parts: the first part is all about you and what you're like, while the second part goes into what you are looking for in a date or partner. It's pretty standard stuff, mostly about your likes and dislikes, your principles and values, whether you expect your partner to make so-and-so income or have such-and-such education and whether such things are dealbreakers for you.
But there is the occasionally entertaining question such as asking you which title you'd choose for a particular book cover if you were given free-reign as the publisher, or what you'd do if you receive a nice fat bonus from your employer (Give it to charity? Go on a shopping spree?)
It should take around 15-20 minutes to write a complete and thorough profile. A well-written profile will always stand out from the rest, so do ensure that you put a little effort into it if you want to see good results.
The Look and Feel
So you've got a taste of the site - but now you're ready to get serious and do some browsing. A good and functional layout is important to any dating website - and Match.com manages to get that down pat. It's not the sleekest and smoothest of layouts, but it gets the job done and ultimately, that's the most important bit.
Options, Options and Options
Ever heard of that phrase about being like a kid in a candy store? Well, that's the way you're likely to feel if you love having lots of different things to try out because Match.com comes with a lot of bells and whistles to play with. Sure, most of them cost you, but at least you have the option of adding it onto your membership plan if you want to.
There are quite a number of features for you to play around with, but we'll go only over a few of them here, and let you have the fun of discovering the rest!
These are keywords that best describe yourself, which you can place on your profile to help make it easier for other Match.com members with the same similar interest to search for you. For example, if you choose to put the MatchWord "cycling" on your profile, when someone clicks on the keyword "cycling", your profile will turn up on a list of people who have the same MatchWord in their profiles. This makes MatchWords a quick way to check to see whether anyone shares your interest. And with Match.com's impressive user count, you're not likely to find yourself alone when it comes to crazy interests (swimming in the Arctic, anyone?)
For those of you who get a little stressed out about deciding what to write about yourself, you might want to consider going with Match.com's ProfilePro service. For a one-time fee, you get Match.com's professional writers to create a profile for you, incorporating all of your personal details, likes and dislikes, etc. What they do is take the stress of having to write your own profile off of your hands, and then proceed to come up with a profile that will get you more hits from the folks that you truly want to meet.
If you're looking for some light-reading on relationships, dating, sex and romance, then you might want to check out Match.com's free online magazine, Happen. As its tagline so emphatically states, "Because love doesn't come with instructions".
Match.com allows you to browse through the members' profiles for free. All you have to do is fill in the normal parameters, like distance from your current location, and you'll get a list of member profiles you can start browsing through immediately. The list will be ordered, with those fitting the closest to your criteria for a date or partner placed at the very top, a feature which you may find improves your profile-browsing experience exponentially.
They will also give you a number of daily matches, profiles chosen specifically because they best match your chosen criteria. With new users registering every day, that means you'll be getting matches from both established and new members - the more the merrier, as they say!
When you go through these daily matches, you'll have three choices: Yes, No, Maybe (all pretty self-explanatory). If you select "Yes" for a particular profile, you can choose to send them a message, or just do it at a later time.
You don't have to go through the daily profiles, but if you do, your choice will send each profile to the Yes, No or Maybe folder, thus making it easier for you to see and organize your communications to the profiles that you're interested in.
If you like what you see and read, you can start communicating via a "wink", a selectable option that lets the other party know that you're interested in getting to know them a bit more. However, like a lot of other dating sites, a paid subscription is needed to message other members.
Match.com straddles the fence - it's neither ridiculously expensive, nor dirt cheap. A minimum 3-month subscription will cost you $19.99 per month - add an extra $3 per month, and you'll get a bag of other goodies, which includes a highlighted profile and notifications of when the other party has read your email.
Be aware that, although the prices are stated as "per month" on the Match.com website, you will be billed an upfront lump-sum payment for the whole period.
One consistent complaint against Match.com over the years has been against the company's automatic-renewal policy, billed on the website as "Continuous Service". The gist of it is this: unless you cancel your membership before the end of the membership period you signed up for, Match.com automatically renews your membership plan at the end of that period. This is "standard practice" on many dating sites nowadays.
In Match.com's defense, on the page where you choose your membership plans, they clearly state that this is a practice they engage in.
If you've decided to sign up for a paid membership plan, always take note of when your membership period ends, then set up reminders a few days or even weeks before that date. When you are sent a reminder to notify you that your subscription is soon coming to an end, you can make a decision then and there on whether you want to renew or not. If you don't, then just cancel your membership before the end of membership period - by doing so, you could be saving yourself a ton of problems and headaches.
Online feedback from various customers who have used Match.com point towards it being unlikely you'll receive a refund if you do happen to forget to cancel your subscription before it renews.
The Digital Age
Match.com is taking full advantage of the mobile digital age - its matchMobile service is there for you for when you need to "Get your Matches on the go". matchMobile allows you to check your email, look up on who's been checking your profile, and search for potential matches, all on your smartphone. It also offers free apps that have been specifically designed for Android, BlackBerry and Palm. And here's the good news - matchMobile is a free service that comes with all of Match.com's subscription plans. How's that for value for money?
To Sum Up: Is Match Worth the Money?
Match.com is well-known for being the dating website that has the most users. But that doesn't necessarily translate to more chances of finding a partner you'd want to spend the rest of your life with - you're just as likely to meet a lot more people who might look good on paper, but fail to generate any real chemistry when you meet in person.
Sure, they mention that approximately 250,000 people successfully find a partner through the site every year and that this figure is more than double that of the success of other dating sites. But a perusal of the profiles on the site seems to show that a lot of the other people on the site are having fun hooking up and enjoying casual relationships.
However, if you're looking to get back in the dating game (rusty, perhaps?) or you're still at that stage in life where you're all about meeting new people and getting to know them better and engage in a bit of casual dating before tying the knot, then Match.com, with its user-friendly site, smorgasbord of options and add-ons, and yes, high number of active users, could very well be the right dating website for you.
Are you ready to hook your bait, cast your rod and see what this rather large sea has in store for you?
- A LOT of registered users: You might have been told that Match.com has the highest number of registered users in the online dating world. Of course, like any other dating website, not all of the users are active, but even if you take away all the in-actives, that's still a pretty high number.
- Browse Profiles: Unlike some other high-profile sites, Match.com lets you browse other members' profiles. And you can do it for free. This can be a great incentive for those who want to fiddle about the site first before committing both time and money.
- Lots of add-ons and options Match.com is like the optimize-your-computer business of the dating world; there are tons of add-ons and options available that you can add to your subscription plan. Flexibility means that you can choose all, some or none of them.
- Free matchMobile service: For those of you who enjoy the mobility and utility of smartphones, the free matchMobile service at every subscription level is a nice bonus.
- Email Exchange for Paid Memberships Only: This has been listed as a con, simply because it will be viewed as one by those who are just looking for a casual date or hookup. But, it's pretty bog standard in the dating world to require that users sign up for a paid membership in order to exchange emails. Still, one could see it as a pro for those after a serious relationship, since those looking for a casual fling or hook-up might be deterred by the fees.
- Continuous Billing Service Policy: Match.com's auto-renewal policy purports to be that way because they "don't want to interrupt your service and prematurely end your conversations". Sure, that sounds fine - but how many people remember to cancel their memberships at the end of their commitment period? Match.com has been noted as very rarely giving refunds to customers who miss the cancellation deadline.