Although our survey found that no dating site or app sweeps online daters off their feet in the satisfaction department, Ok Cupid is rated highest overall by respondents, and Grindr, a free app for gay men, is also near the top.Some experts argue that paid sites attract more serious users.“That’s the real issue—how happy are people with their interactions on the dating sites,” says Scott Kominers, a lecturer in economics at Harvard University.On a site like Ok Cupid anyone can send you a message, whereas on the free app Bumble or on Tinder or e Harmony, only people you are matched with can get in touch.Both kinds are popular, so you can’t go just by that.
In the meantime, the bottom line is that while some users think quality does come at a price, there are benefits to free dating services as well. “I typically recommend Match because I’ve found it gives you better quality,” says Jodi Manfredi, who writes online dating profiles professionally.“I’ve always assumed that putting anything behind a pay wall makes it more attractive and weeds out the casual users and trolls,” agrees Joseph Lynn, a Chicago man who used e Harmony and Match as well as a few free sites.Let’s face it, navigating online dating is a whole 'nother ballgame these days, and there are a bunch of different options and boastings on offer from the best dating apps. An endless roster of actively seeking singles (even ones with really niche preferences) are accessible on your commute, and profiles are swamped with Uber ratings, food preferences and requests that we follow these complete strangers on Instagram (like we weren't going to stalk you anyway). And we're not in it for a few swipes then tapping out, either, with the average dating app user spending 191 minutes of their precious time searching.Forty-eight percent said Match, a paid site, but Plenty Of Fish (free) and e Harmony (paid) tied for second most popular, with 23 percent apiece.But in terms of overall satisfaction, our survey found that free dating sites actually score a touch better than paid ones, probably because they're a better value.“The fact that e Harmony matched me with several women with whom I shared common interests led me to believe that I was seeing more quality matches.” At the same time, you shouldn’t write off a site just because it’s free.Even Tinder, despite its reputation for attracting users seeking causal romance, may deserve a more open mind.“If sending messages had a price or you could send only a fixed number per day, people you contact online would know you had to give up something to do so, which would incentivize better behavior,” he says.Perhaps beyond just charging for messages, sites could adjust the price according to how high quality someone's engagement seems to be.