A lot of fish in that ocean
This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on August 20, 2004
The slightly naughty truism that could always be said about the Internet was that the only people making money online were the pornographers.
And for a good, long time, that was true.
No more, though.
Not only are Amazon, Yahoo and Google profitable, but there is more scrambling for the singles dating market than for anything else online.
And while each of those remains a very busy place with lots and lots of singles trying to find someone to spend the rest of their life with (or, in the case of LavaLife, someone with whom to play Charlie Sheen meets Heidi Fleiss), there are an increasing number of competitors in what is a very crowded niche.
But everybody wants to find that special someone and as my grandmother used to say, every pot has a lid. So there's unlikely to be a thinning of the ranks from online dating services anytime soon.
American Singles has been around awhile, and should have been included in our first go-round. It's pretty comparable to Yahoo and Match there are plenty of categories to indicate your preferences on. If not as in-depth as eHarmony, it's also not as cheesy or superficial as LavaLife. And it seems to have achieved that critical mass of members to where you get enough possibilities to make it worth your while (and at $25/month, it's in the same general league as Match and Yahoo).
Cupid Junction seems to have positioned itself between LavaLife and Match.com. It's not as cheesy as LavaLife, but not quite as grounded as Match.com.
The biggest weakness of Cupid Junction is how thin the screening process is. Finding someone who matches up with you is a bit more of a guessing game here there are simply too few categories to fill out.
They do seem to have a large and active membership, though, and you can sign up to have new matches e-mailed to you every day.
Competition for eHarmony
eHarmony has tried to set itself apart as the most serious of the online singles services, more of an online matchmaker than dating service. Filing out the profile questions on eHarmony takes a good long time, because they're trying to get a handle not only on your likes and dislikes, but on your psychology on the theory that compatibility has more to do with that than whether you like moonlit walks on the beach, cuddling in front of the TV or taking vacations to faraway islands.
But the profile process at True is just as exhaustive as eHarmony's.
Further, True offers its women members even more peace of mind than any other service (all of which protect your anonymity): It does background checks to make sure the men aren't already married, and don't have a serious criminal background.
Heck, the welcome screen at True warns criminals and the already-married to take a hike. I suppose that won't stop the serial user of women, but it will at least stop the casual jerk. (Of course, if you women would stop falling for the smooth-talking con men and take a look at more of us nice guys who maybe get fumble-mouthed around you and maybe don't know how to dress all slicked-up, you wouldn't have this problem!)
True also offers all this for about half the price of eHarmony, putting it more in league with Yahoo, Match.com and the rest of the industry in the $20-$25/month range.
And True (which used to be known as True Beginnings) seems to have as large a membership base as the others; at least, there were hundreds of women within 50 miles of my home in San Diego County.
Animal lovers only
Perhaps the most unusual of the online dating services is one dedicated to pet owners. Animal Attraction lets you choose your potential life mate not only by likes and dislikes, but by pet compatibility. A quick search showed several dozen women nearby, so it's not struggling to find enough members. If your pet is your life, this might be the place to look for that special human you're seeking.
© Copyright Jim Trageser
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