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Dating online – would you pay to find love?

The word 'love' spelled out in red on a computer keyboard

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 lady with heart over faceAnonymous 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?

Anon happily married says:
5 January 2013

Online dating has pluses and minuses, as do all other methods of meeting people. I met some great people via chance encounters and some not so great, the same applies to meetings I’ve had as a result of online encounters. I suspect there’s a bias towards people saying negative things about online dating.

I met a my wife through online dating. We had a courtship of about 18 months. Then we got married and we’re coming up for our second anniversary. Yes, you can find love online.

I have ‘done’ online dating for a few years on and off.
I have found the free sites to be full of scammers and illicit advances.
I also dislike that supposedly ‘specialised’ sites connect with totally unsuitable members from contrasting sites with no commonality.
I now use a paid site, which is standalone, but is therefore limited in its reach.
On a positive note, I have had a number of ‘actual’ dates with genuine people on the paid sites, although I have not chosen to continue with any of the ‘dates’. Needless to say, the person who I was keen on was unfortunately unable to reciprocate, so ’twas I who got the heave-ho.
Back to the drawing board!

I’m happy to come out and say it unanonymously – I think internet dating is brilliant. It’s a nice, simple, quick way to meet people. I wouldn’t say cost is a factor – I have no problem with the free sites. It’s all about understanding what you’re looking for and not feeling bad about saying no to people who you don’t think you’ll get on with (or, if they’re particularly skeezy or just send messages like ‘hey layyydies’, ignoring them).

I’m not particularly shy, and I don’t have difficulty chatting to men in person, but I am often incredibly busy, and don’t want to spend ages on someone who – if I could ask them a list of basic questions – would very obviously not be right for me. Dating sites mean you can refine things pretty quickly and end up only going out with people if you stand a reasonable chance of getting on with them.

Since I joined I’ve met lots of nice people, two of whom are now really good friends of mine, and one guy who I’ve been seeing for about 18 months.

I know some people moan about the internet getting in the way of our social lives (and when people spend hours tweeting/facebooking and ignoring their friends in the pub it can certainly seem that way!) but I think the internet is one of the greatest tools we have for encouraging human interaction and bringing people together. Now, when are we going to see a Which? Conversation wedding?

I have been on a Free Dating website for years now i am only 5ft 7″tall hence Labelled a short-man in all the time i have only had a couple of Dates i am almost 61years old Unemployed yet i am 100%Debt free a far better catch than a guy earning 20K per year that is incapable of looking after his money.When i put my question to Yahoo answers i had a reply from a Jewish Guy saying well you hardly got a lot to offer a Lady.I put age from 50+to 62 so it shows i am flexible regarding age.I refuse to contact a Fat Lady and there certainly is many over50 who have had children the ones that have not slim and some very attractive but no replies.The likes of Coronation st. does not help because all the men very tall it makes every woman think if hes not 6ft tall hes no good.I refuse to go on fee paying sites so many are scams.

Graham says:
16 January 2013

I have been on several sites and still looking for that ‘special’ someone. I find that as we have got older and have experienced more in life, the more fussy we have become. I have though met some very nice ladies and I have to admit some wrong ones, like the one who was allergic to dog hair and knowing I had a dog didn’t tell me, but she offered to meet me for a walk. Welllll I took the dog, the date lasted about 10 minutes and I drove 50 miles to see her, waster.

My biggest problem is I am fairly well off, not bad looking and retired at 63, have been for 10 years now, but because women see your retired early they assume there is something wrong with you even though you say your fit and active. I would love to put this on the site, but don’t want to attract the wrong sort of person, i.e. gold diggers.

As for the sites themselves, I have had a lot of problems and I would not recommend Mature Dating UK as although hey say they are not sending emails from lovely looking women they are I’m sure as when I joined, I found all the emails dried up, there was never an answer to the ones I wrote too and above all they were not very nice on the phone when I challenged them. However, I have stuck with the Telegraph and find that very good,P of F is not too bad, but if fussy is fussy then women on there are very fussy. It makes me laugh as some of them have been on the site for years and still looking for Mr Right, they will be drawing their pension before long.

P of F is not2bad; but if fussy is fussy women on there are very fussy. It makes me laugh some of em have been on site4years&still looking4Mr Right,GREAT Comment they will be drawing their pension be4 long some are now.Lots of Women so wrapped up in there Grandchildren 1 wonders have they got time4a man?just because one is not working owing2Uncontrolled immigration& being over50+you are lucky2get an interview.I’m 61 likeUgraham i have been on POF quite a while now Unfortunately many women do not live in the Real world i am 100% solvent.I don’t pay4datingsites1 woman sent me an insulting m.s.g. Suzybloo claims2b Medical.If she is she never used her brain i could have committed Harry Carry had i not head screwed on she blocked me so i could not reply. All i ask is she is not Fat not without reason Ive seen the Health effects Mum my sister going the same way costing NHS a fortune rather than offering surgery2them.I am 34″Waist and ifi get lucky
find an active Lady i will lose 2stone walking.Most men or women get advice what2put on there profile i have not got that opportunity.I have tried2explain that inheritance is not an issue as i am not looking2marry again2put sons&Daughters at ease sure a single can do things but a couple can do so much more than just sharing a bed.

Hello Rodney, just a friendly reminder – please don’t make comments that others may find offensive as per our commenting guidelines: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines We don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss others weight here on Which? Convo. Thanks

Hello Partrick so you have rules https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines Then you are saying its OK to tell lies and waste a persons time (inappropriate to discuss others weight here on Which.)Isn’t it wrong to say that you’re Average build when the Ladies Photo Clearly shows she is massively overweight.Females are very Cruel they all want Tall men its a Fact. It goes right through out the Animal Kingdom as well as the Human Race.I am 5ft 7″ 3″ below average height very rare do i get a reply.I do not pay to use a Dating site as i see it just targeting
vulnerable people for easy money.Being on a dating site has been a Lifeline but also a great disappointment to most women are seeking a Rich man not a man for who he is equality women want more and are totally unrealistic seeking Rich mans Far away Foreign Hols.They are living in the past the days of the Cheap Foreign holiday have gone along with unemployment that’s hit men the most because our Manufacturing jobs have moved abroad to cheap Labor Countries.

Hello Rodney, I feel for you, and I agree it’s wrong for you as well, but that doesn’t make it right for us to talk about it on Convo. We just have our rules that we like to stick to, and dating websites have theirs. Thanks and good luck.

I, like Nikki, am happy to say openly that I have been online dating and find it a great way to meet people. I’m quite a homebody (give me my comfy sofa and hot chocolate any time and I’m in heaven!), so don’t have that much opportunity to talk to new people. Online dating is the ideal way to cast a wider net and meet more people than I would normally.

OK, you have to meet a lot of men in order to find one that you click with (people aren’t always what they say they are!). But as long as you see it as a fun way to enjoy an evening out, and meeting someone you have chemistry with is just a bonus, then it’s great.


Karl says:
20 March 2013

I have never used one but that is not to say I wouldn’t. I think they are a great idea and a good possible way of finding someone nice. You can easily refine what interests are more important to you and save a lot of hassle! If it works for you then who cares what anyone else thinks?

Well said. If you’re enjoying Convo – why not register? You can upload an avatar and become a member of our community. It’s easy 🙂 https://conversation.which.co.uk/register