You may have noticed the same names coming up over and over again in searching for online dating services. The big names in internet dating include eHarmony, Great Expectations, Matchmaker, Yahoo Personals, Lavalife, and Match.com. There are a number of newcomers to the internet dating scene such as PerfectMatch.com that are building solid reputations within the industry.
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Great Expectations mixes an online personals experience with more in-person contact. They started as a more "traditional" matchmaking company and have broadened out in recent years to internet dating. Great Expectations is targeted toward professionals, and has a minimum age for men of 25 and for women of 21.
PRO: Great Expectations is easy to use and has a large database of members. Matching is based on compatibility with pre-screening to ensure a quality database. Since the service is geared toward professionals, the matches that Great Expectations makes are usually of a high caliber. Great Expectations also has a lot of "extras" like events where singles can meet one another.
CON: The biggest drawback is that those who live outside a major metropolitan area may not live close enough to a Great Expectations center to be able to participate. Also, since the service is geared toward professionals in a targeted age range, this might not be the best matchmaking option for some singles.
We recommend Great Expectations for single professionals who might want something more out of a matchmaking service. Their site is at .
eHarmony features Dr. Neal Clark Warren of television ad fame. It claims to make matches based on scientific matching principles and 29 levels of compatibility. eHarmony has one of the fastest growing databases of singles on the web.
PRO: Easy to use, free personality test with results. It's good to visit just to take the personality test even if you don't end up using eHarmony. There is a large database of members, and eHarmony uses techniques that specifically match members to ensure compatibility.
CON: The personality test is LONG, so allow some time. eHarmony picks your matches for you, so you can't browse like you can with other sites.
We recommend eHarmony. Even if you don't end up joining it's worth taking the personality test for the insight it gives you. .
Yahoo personals offers the ability to search their database for matches, while incorporating a Premier level of service that allows users to take a compatibility test and find matches based on deeper connections. Yahoo personals allows you to join, post a profile, browse, and initiate communication for free. If you and a match decide you want to communicate further, that's when you have to pay to join.
PRO: Unlimited browsing, so you can "try before you buy." Yahoo's broad appeal and recognized name means a large database of singles. There are a number of search categories, so it's easy to make sure you get - or don't get - the features you are interested in.
CON: Because anyone can post a profile, everyone listed in the database isn't necessarily an active member. Personality typing is limited to Premier members, so this function may be limited.
Match.com has the advantage of being the personals service offered through the America Online service, so there's a broad database of members and a continuous inflow of fresh users. Match.com allows you to post a profile for free and search the member database for matches.
PRO: Over 8 million members and the ability to browse before you commit makes Match.com a pretty good bet. Like most of the other online personals sites, you can create a free profile on their system.
CON: Like many of the other internet personals sites, you have to pay before you can communicate with other matches. Also, since profile creation is free there is a possibility of dead-ends.
We recommend .
Match.com has also recently launched Chemistry.com, a site geared toward using the scientific matching principles which has made sites such as eHarmony so popular. They are currently offering a 7-day free trial of their new service. This is too new for us to rate, but with the free trial it's worth a look! Click for a .
Matchmaker is one of the oldest online personals services, having been around for nearly 20 years. As one of the first internet dating sites, Matchmaker's history has allowed it to figure out what works and what doesn't.
PRO: Generous free trial period allows users to get a feel for Matchmaker. Detailed matching questionnaires and member profiles make this one of the better online personals sites. The popularity of this service ensures a large member database.
CON: Like many of the others, personality profiling is not at the top of Matchmaker's list.
We recommend .