January is the busiest time for online dating and one-in-five relationships now start on the web. With internet dating fees making it into the inflation shopping basket, could it be worth paying up for love in 2013?
We’re all so lovely at Which? that there are relatively few singletons, and even fewer daft enough to detail their dating experiences.
Here an anonymous single woman shares her online dating ups and downs…
Confessions of an online dater
Anonymous single woman: My route to online dating has been a bit accidental. After separating from my husband, I was happy being single for some time (with one or two hiccups along the way), but last autumn it was finally time to look for someone to share my last Rolo with (as if).
But this was not before I had some very odd experiences with a singles historic pub tour (at a cost of £15) and speed dating for the over 30s (£20).
I never considered using a free dating site. I thought, and my friends have confirmed, you tend to get more ‘casual daters’. But one friend uses two sites: one free and one paid. She told me: ‘With my paid site, I get contact from guys who are equally unsuitable due to age, location, and err, grooming shall we say, so I have to do a lot of filtering with both sites.’
The beauty of online dating is that you really can find like-minded people who are single. Chemistry, of course, is completely up to chance. Paying £25 a month seems a small price to meet the right person, but it’s the work you put in that makes the difference. I confess, my experience was very positive, or at least amusing, but the sites don’t make it easy.
Getting the online search started
I first paid up to a niche-interest site, which turned out to be connected to many other niche sites, so I was messaged by all sorts of weird and wonderful characters. But it was the influx of ‘private’ messages, which generally started ‘hey gorgeous ladies’, that made me move on.
Then I joined one of the UK’s biggest dating sites. It had a lot more seemingly normal people, and real private messages, but some equally frustrating features. Suggested dates bear too little resemblance to my preferences, the mobile site simply doesn’t work and if you don’t log on all of the time, messages reduce dramatically.
It’s not difficult to find complaints about such sites, particularly when it comes to ignoring requests for cancelling subscription renewals, and even false profiles, so buyers beware.
Too shy to make the first move
I admit I’m not yet brave enough to message people and, from the messages and winks I’ve received, an approximate 0.04% first-date conversion rate may not sound encouraging. However, with filtering I’ve managed to weed out those who simply wouldn’t like wine-swilling, carnivorous, atheist, smoke-hating little old me.
And gents, I have a couple of tips to get a better return on investment. Messages saying simply ‘Whassup?’, ‘How you doin?’ or ‘Hey babes?’ are not likely to get a response. And if you don’t get a reply after five winks, we’re really not interested.
OK, it’s not all bad. I have met two great guys who I clicked with, so I can’t complain.
Will I still be logging in for love in 2013? Well, I couldn’t possibly say. But with many grown-up men telling me they’re too shy to chat up women in bars (and yes, I’m too much of a scaredy cat to make the first move), where else are you going to find your George Clooney?