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Single this Valentine's? The best online dating sites and apps decoded

10th February 2014

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With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Kelly Klein, founder and CEO of Student@Home, shares her pick of the best online dating sites in the UK today and offers her top tips for staying safe online.

Online dating has been around since the nineties. Back then it was often regarded as something of a last resort for those who couldn’t find love in the real world. A lot has changed since then. In our increasingly digital world, online dating has become one of the most popular ways to meet a partner and there’s no shame in that. Recent statistics show that one in five relationships in the UK now start on the internet and more than nine million Brits are registered with a dating site.

How does it work?

First you need to choose which service to sign up for (check out our pick of the most popular ones below). Then comes the important part: creating a profile. Your profile is the “online you” and its content will play a vital part in determining your success. Some dating sites only require you to fill in basic info such as age, gender, occupation and hobbies, whereas others go into much more detail.

Creating a good profile

Of course, the more detail you include the more likely you are to find a great match. Be honest about yourself, say what you’re passionate about, write about what makes you unique. It might be an idea to ask a close friend to sum you up in one sentence as a starting point. It’s also good to outline what you’re looking for, although don’t be too picky - a sprawling list of requirements rarely attracts people.

Remember to keep your profile concise – there’ll be plenty of time to ramble over that second glass of wine. When you’re finished, read it over. Check your spelling and grammar (some people find bad grammar a turn off!) and also ask yourself, “Is this interesting? Would I want to contact me?” Once you’re happy with your profile and it’s up and running, you can get on with the fun part – searching for Mr or Miss Right.

Just friends

Remember, you don’t have to be looking for romance to join a matchmaking site. Most give the option of “looking for friendship”. So if you’re not ready for commitment – or just prefer to take things slow – why not start with a search for great companionship?

Here’s my pick of some of the most popular dating sites to check out: 

Who uses it?

Founded in 1995, was one of the first mainstream dating sites. Today it serves 25 countries in more than eight languages, is one of the most widely-used sites in the UK and attracts millions of subscribers.

Is it simple?

Yes. All you have to do is create a profile, check for potential matches and begin sending messages.

What’s the catch? is a paid service, offering packages ranging from monthly payments to six-month contracts. Don’t let this put you off though – by paying for a service you may get a better standard of potential matches.

Check out the latest advert here.












Who uses it?

The new kid on the block, Tinder is a popular mobile dating app that facilitates communication between nearby users. Launched in 2012, its target demographic is men and women between the ages of 18-35.

Is it simple?

Tinder is probably one of the most simple online dating services around. As it pulls information from your Facebook account, there’s no need to go through the process of setting up your profile. The mobile app works by bringing up other users nearby that match your hobbies and interests. All you have to do is select ‘like’ or ‘nope’ to other users profiles by swiping left or right. Simple.

What’s the catch?

You must have a Facebook account to use Tinder – it does this to make sure that you are matched with real people who share similar interests and common friends. Don’t worry though – Tinder will never post anything to your Facebook. Currently, it is available on the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Android devices and a Windows Phone version is currently being developed.

Check out the latest Tinder advert here.
















Who uses it?

eHarmony has also been around for some time, though unlike its counterparts, adopts a more scientific approach. The site uses complex matching algorithms (based on an in-depth questionnaire) to find a partner you’re compatible with. For this reason, eHarmony is mainly used by people looking fora long-term commitment.

Is it simple?

Unlike other dating sites, you don’t have to search for a partner yourself. Instead, eHarmony will find a match based on your compatibility questionnaire.

What’s the catch?

eHarmony does cost more than other services, though if their method works as well as they claim, it may be worth the extra.

Check out some of the latest eHarmony adverts here.













Who uses it?

OkCupid has a huge user-base of all ages and is one of the most successful dating websites out there.

Is it simple?

It is. The registration form is easy to complete and the website easy to navigate.

What’s the catch?

OkCupid isn’t targeted towards a specific age group, however it’s free to use and a great introduction to the world of online dating.













Top tips for safe online dating

Ready to give it a go? Just remember, do not post personal information on your profile, such as phone numbers or addresses.Wait until you feel comfortable with an individual before sharing information such as your phone number, address or place of work.

Bagged yourself a date? For a first meeting, always pick a populated place and tell a friend or family member who you’re meeting, where you’re going and when you’ll be back. My final piece of advice: Just keep your wits about you - in early communications, look out for red flags such as someone being unusually eager, or asking you for bank details.

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