Sites that require payment do not automatically deter them. Also see full safety tips on spotting fake profiles. Here, someone gains your trust to demand cash, even using your private photos or webcam footage to blackmail you. If you think you're being targeted, the Metropolitan Police says DO NOT send any money - report it to Action Fraud , or your local police station on if you feel threatened. If you're in immediate danger, call Don't rush into meeting up just because your free trial's about to end or because they 'liked' your profile.
Get to know them properly first - your safety's more important. If it doesn't feel right, move on. Of course, dating websites are a huge boon in the digital age. Used right, they can be fantastic tools to help you filter through thousands of potential matches at speed.
They can get real results - here's a MoneySaver's success story to inspire you. Joined an online dating site and after a couple of months I met Damian. We emailed and spoke online for a few weeks, before talking on the phone most nights. We eventually met up for our first date and have never looked back.
We've now been married nearly two years, and have an week old son. Your profile will be your first introduction to your future match, so here are some key tips to help get it right:. Sell your best bits in your profile, but be truthful. Your date will quickly realise you're not a seven-foot human rights lawyer who rows part-time for Team GB when they meet you. Unless you are, in which case, please email MSE Archna. Likewise, a picture of you seven years ago before you gained a few pounds and lost a few hairs won't impress if it looks absolutely nothing like you now.
The key is if you're looking for a long-term relationship with this person, you won't be able to keep up the pretence long-term. Fibs lead to disappointment all round.
When sending that first message, don't just cut and paste the same reply to everyone. It pays to show that you actually read their profile. You could always compose a standard introduction, and adapt parts to make it specific to each person, eg, "I love the fact that you're into hang-gliding". Steer clear of cheesy cliches such as "nice pic, what's up? Many dating sites offer pricey membership upgrades to bump up their profits. Yet only sign up to a premium package if you need it, you know exactly what it includes, and you'll actually use the extras, eg, a more prominent profile or easier messaging.
Zoosk encourages you to buy Zoosk Coins, which you can spend on extra features such as getting your profile higher up in search results.
It's worth starting off with a basic package to see how you get on, so you don't shell out unnecessarily. If you aren't getting many replies, it could simply be you've picked the wrong type of site for your needs, or your profile needs a bit more polish - see how to make your profile stand out.
Once you're sure you've snagged a winner online, your first face-to-face date is a crucial part of the process to see if there's real chemistry between you. A pal has been very active on internet dating for some time now. One of her rules is that she always tries to meet any date in her lunch hour.
She says an hour's long enough to give you an idea of whether you're both interested. If you're not, it's only an hour to perservere rather than be stuck with someone for a whole evening. Before you sign up, always check the terms to see if it'll automatically continue to take payments once your initial contract's ended.
Sadly many forumites report being caught out by these. If you can't opt out, set a free Tart Alert reminder for the contract's end, or a separate phone reminder, so you remember to cancel if you no longer need it. Even after you cancel, always do a full audit of regular payments to check you aren't still paying. See Cancel Direct Debits for help. If you're looking for a first date venue, a nice cafe or bar's a far more MoneySaving choice than a restaurant.
As you'll only need to buy a drink, you won't have to fork out for a posh dinner only to find they don't live up to your expectations.
Plus you won't feel you need to sit through an entire meal together if you don't hit it off - and if you do, a drink and a chat together can last for as long as you want.
My first date was pretty cheap and cheerful - two drinks in a pub, one of which was non-alcoholic as we were both driving. It was a perfect two hours, one of the nicest dates I have ever been on. If you're new to a paid online dating site, consider joining for one month first to see if it suits.
Then if you think you're in it for the long haul, it could be worth buying a few months upfront to save. Most online dating sites charge less per month the longer you sign up for. For example, on Match. The catch is you're locked in and usually won't get your money back if you meet your soulmate in your first month. If you decide to take the plunge, it's a good idea to set up a separate email address just for any online dating accounts.
Use this for dating site sign-ups and getting in touch with others - this way it'll protect your personal email from unwanted attention if things go wrong, or any online dating site spam. Think twice about using your work email address too.
If you'd rather not use dating sites, you could try other social networking sites such as Facebook to meet friends of friends, as well as the MSE forum see below. Plus there's a wealth of free local groups on Gumtree , from choirs and sports clubs to folk just looking for friends for chats over coffee - just click on your area to find them. Of course, dating existed long before the internet muscled in. If you're looking to meet like-minded people offline, you could try volunteering - there's a useful list of resources to help find placements on Gov.
It's possible to get into big paid music festivals for free through volunteer schemes - see the Free Festivals page for info. Or you could ask a close friend to set you up with an eligible single friend they think you'd get on well with. Some inspiration from the forums:. Ask your friends or families if they can introduce you to someone they know very well, who is single and searching. It has worked for my husband and I, we were matched by a friend many years ago.
See the Where to meet people on the cheap hunt for more ideas. If you're really looking to impress, try the Cheap but romantic gifts forum discussion or if it goes really well, see the great Free ways to say 'I love you' hunt. One of these couples met in our virtual pub, The Money Savers Arms , where many MoneySavers go to meet like-minded people online. People tell us it's a great way to meet folk if you're on a budget or have money issues, as there's no awkwardness. If you're new to online dating, or have tips from your own experiences you'd like to pass on, the Marriage, Relationships and Families forum's a great place to share success or horror!
Remember it's a public forum - don't post personal info. Here are a few words from Fatboy and Wiggly's story to inspire you:. Five years ago I stumbled upon MSE looking for cheaper car insurance. Online dating's a hugely mixed bag. Many horror stories aren't due to the dating sites, but the person you've chosen from 'em. So be aware not everyone on there will have the best intentions see safety tips , but don't let the odd dodgy date put you off.
See these as a funny story to tell the grandkids once you've found your match. To show you it happens to the best of us, here's a story from our forums please do share yours in our Online Dating Tips forum discussion:. One guy bored the pants off me, turned up with his lunch down his top, nursed one pint for two hours even though I offered to buy him another told me he felt I wasn't wham bam enough for him by email but would give me another go.
Needless to say I just ignored him. It took a further two emails being ignored for him to get the drift! There are loads of ways to easily cut dating costs.
Plus as they're more thoughtful, they're likely to be more successful than a bog standard meal out. For a cultured date that doesn't cost a penny, we've full listings of Free Museums and Galleries , or try our Free Festivals guide to see if there's one nearby. Or you could bag free audience tickets to their fave TV show, free or discounted cinema tickets or get Cheap Zoo tickets. Forumites on the Cheap date ideas and Dating in debt discussions have loads of tried-and-tested dating recommendations.
A few to whet your appetite s:. Skip the expensive dinners. The best date I ever went on was a drive to the coast, a walk along the wind-lashed beach, followed by a cream tea in a pub by a roaring fire in winter. It was one of my first dates with the man who is now my hubby. Go for a picnic at your local park.
Bring a blanket, a picnic basket packed with your favourite cheese, grapes, wine and some chocolate for dessert. Bring along a book of poetry and take turns readings love poems to each other. Some of my favourite moments with my now husband weren't expensive. When we walked along the river at night Me and my other half are skintaroonies, but every couple of weeks we go to Orange Wednesdays at the pictures.
We get a nice evening out and it costs buttons. Very impressed when a guy I liked knew my fave chocolate and had some waiting for me for DVD night. Worryingly, a BBC One Panorama investigation broadcast in August found several big dating sites had been using fake profiles to lure in paid sign-ups, with new users reporting receiving bogus messages that disappeared when they joined.
A Channel 4 News investigation reported similar instances of dating site trickery. It's illegal for a dating site to create fake profiles to generate cash. Trading Standards told us: If you're dating online, sadly there's little way of telling the real profiles from the fake.
Some of the fake images were reported to be taken from social networking sites without consent or old pictures of celebrities. We've not heard of Martin's being used - there's probably a reason for this If you're concerned, you could try a Google Images search to see if the profile image comes up anywhere else on the net.
So if your new hunk is actually just an old picture of George Clooney in his 20s, move on. This won't always work, so the key is not to get too attached before you've struck up a proper conversation with them. Sadly there's no specific regulator for online dating agents, so contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 04 05 06 if you're concerned you may be being targeted by fake profiles, and it'll contact Trading Standards to investigate.
The Information Commissioner's Office ICO is also looking further into unscrupulous practices from some online dating companies. If you're worried your personal data's being used without your consent, contact the ICO. If you're out for a meal with your date, ensure you've a restaurant voucher to whip out when the bill comes.
As well as saving you both cash, it'll show your date you're good with money too. Don't feel bad about doing it. In our Is it OK to use a voucher on a first date? Some of the past reticence was that vouchers were perceived as only for low-end eateries, yet that's long gone. If it was me paying and using a voucher, I'd take the bill over to the till or bar and pay there, rather than doing it at the table. For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 10m who get it.
This won't guarantee a hassle-free experience. But it does mean the site has to commit to an industry code of practice that includes honest communication with users, protecting their privacy and providing a way to report abusive members.
If you have a complaint about a company, the ODA says you should contact the dating site directly. While the association can't help resolve complaints, it says it monitors the flow of issues, and may step in if something serious is going wrong. We include whether our top dating sites below are members or not. If you've paid for a subscription upfront but change your mind part-way through the contract, sadly there's little hope of getting your money back.
But if it isn't providing the service it agreed to when you signed up, you might have a case for a refund, or even compensation though it's never guaranteed. You've statutory rights for poor service - and this applies to dating sites too. If you don't think a service has been provided with 'reasonable care and skill', it's broken the terms of the contract, or you've been mis-sold eg, you were told something would happen and it didn't you've a right to complain.
See How to complain for help. If you're in a contract with a dating site, cancelling may breach it, so check the paperwork first. You may need to give it notice, or there may be penalties for early cancellation, which could be cheaper than keeping it going. Also known as 'continuous payment authorities' CPAs , these let firms take cash from your card regularly whenever they think they're owed.
You can still cancel a CPA or a direct debit if in contract, but you'll need to find another way to pay for the rest of the contract. This is because you're only in breach of contract if you stop paying altogether, but not necessarily if you change the way you pay always check the terms to be sure though. If you're still having problems cancelling payments, despite contacting both the dating site and your bank, you can make a complaint to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.
It settles disputes independently and will look into the case on your behalf. See Beware Recurring Payments for more help. It can take a lot of courage to put yourself out there. Yet once you've chosen your site and created your profile, it's time to stop worrying and be yourself.
While it's likely to take time to find your perfect match, online dating sites are ultimately tools to help you increase your chances. Plus the web era means successful relationships that started online are now hugely common.
Never mind finding your soulmate - finding the right dating website can be tricky enough, with literally hundreds to chose from. We've rounded up a few of the best below:. Anecdotally, free online dating sites tend to attract a bit of a mixed bag, as there are fewer barriers. Of course, it depends on the website, but free dating sites generally have more basic features and are less targeted to specific types of daters.
If you don't mind fending off or ignoring any unwanted messages, and you're aware of the online dating scams to watch out for see safety tips , they're a useful way to meet others on the web for nowt.
A massive name in the world of free online dating, Plenty of Fish lets you sign up, create a profile, send and receive messages for nowt. I met my wife on Plenty of Fish and we had a beautiul baby girl in Jan, so it can and does work. It took me two weeks to decide to message her, as I felt she was out of my league looks-wise, but it's the best thing I ever did.
Signing up will take about an hour, as you need to answer about questions as part of its optional 'chemistry' and 'needs' tests. You can also write a few paragraphs about yourself and add up to eight photos. As part of your profile, you can describe your personality in one word from a pre-selected list - which caters for everything from 'foodie' and 'nomad' to 'starving artist' and 'geek'. It also lets you choose potential matches by star sign. You can choose what you're looking for from 'hangout', 'friends', 'dating' and 'long-term', though its intent section lets daters state if they're looking for 'no commitment'.
It's free to sign up, create a profile, and send and receive messages. Yet for those prepared to shell out, it also offers a premium account that lets you see when your profile was viewed by others, and whether the messages you've sent have been read. Very easy to use, and hugely popular with social network addicts, Tinder is a fast-paced and addictive free dating app to meet others on your smartphone.
It's the premium paid-for version of Tinder. It offers users an extended version of the original app, including unlimited right-swipes, likes, and an undo button to recover mistaken swipes. There is also a Passport function which allows users to flirt with potential partners in countries where they intend to travel. It doesn't have a lengthy dating questionnaire.
The concept's simple - download an app, then log in using your Facebook profile. It only shows your profile photos and interests - it won't show your entire profile. Be careful you're happy about the photos users will see. You browse others' profile pics, swiping past any you aren't interested in. If you are, you simply click the 'heart' icon.
If they've done the same for you, you can then send each other messages. The amount of times you can 'swipe right' has now been limited, we've asked Tinder for more information on this. It also lets you set the age range of those you're looking for, find recommendations, and limit your search area to daters within a certain distance from you.
If you're keen on playing Cupid, it even lets you matchmake friends. Be aware you're giving the app access to your Facebook account and pics. As ever, watch out if you aren't on Wi-Fi, as it'll eat into your data allowance. This free dating app allows users to connect with each other as they cross paths in real life, with a range of up to m. It can even show users where and when they crossed paths. It's free to download and uses your Facebook information to build a profile.
It'll show your name, age, job and a few pictures. How big is it? The app has five million worldwide users and has one million active daily users.
Your location remains completely invisible to the other users. Only the location of where you have passed each other is recorded. You can also block and report users at any time. Just like Tinder, you download the app and then log in using your Facebook profile. You can add additional photos from your phone if you are unhappy with the ones imported from Facebook. Instead of browsing dozens, if not hundreds, of profile pics, you'll only see people you've come into close proximity with.
It could be someone you saw during your commute, in your office building or someone living nearby. If you like the look of someone, you can tap the heart icon. They won't know you like them unless they feel the same and tap the heart icon. If you are a match, you can start sending each other messages.
Your phone's location setting needs to be turned on. The app also requires a constant internet connection in order to pick up other users, so be careful it doesn't eat into your data allowance if you're not on Wi-Fi. Finally, just like Tinder, be aware you're giving the app access to your Facebook account and pictures. Men have to purchase "charms", which allow you to send a notification letting the other person know you are interested without waiting to see if they've also tapped the heart icon.
Women get to send charms for free. The site takes up to 48 hours to approve your profile, though. OKCupid is surprisingly slick and user-friendly for a free dating site - though if you want to get rid of the ads, you'll have to pay. I had the most success on OKCupid, which is where I met my boyfriend. I've since recommended it to lots of people - including my mum! She met someone on there too. Completing your profile should take about an hour.
You need to complete an About section with details such as what you're good at and favourite books. There are 50 questions, which can get deep, for example, 'What's your stance on abortion? Unusually for a free dating site, OKCupid says it uses an algorithm developed by mathematicians to match you with compatible partners. Its 'quickmatch' feature lets you rate or skip users at random, while if you've more time, you can go through a list of detailed questions for more specific matches.
It's also got free mobile apps for iPhone and Android. Paid membership lets you view profiles invisibly, see the site without ads, and even search others by attractiveness and body type, if you're so inclined.
Watch out, as paid membership auto-renews. See its Help section for safety info. Mega-popular smartphone app Grindr uses your phone's location to zero in on available men nearby. While often used for uncomplicated hook-ups, it's worth checking out for long-term love as well, as it has such a huge number of users. No complicated psychometric questionnaires here. Just download the app, give yourself a profile name, upload a photo optional , and answer a couple of questions also optional.
It lets you star those you like. Grindr also has a subscription service, Grindr Xtra, which lets you view the site without adverts. As Grindr's often used for casual hook-ups, it's worth chatting first to ensure you both want the same thing before revealing your identity. Only share your location once you feel comfortable. There's an option to connect the app to your Facebook account, so be careful if you'd rather keep your profile photo private.
With so many free dating sites, you might well ask why anyone pays. Yet paid dating websites may attract fewer time-wasters, have fewer ads and better safety features, or have a more tailored approach to matching specific types.
Don't assume that paid dating sites are always best though. All the below offer basic free trials, so it's worth trying these to see if it's for you before you shell out. We've listed their prices below, but it's well worth calling up to see if it's possible to haggle it down. We tried phoning five big dating websites and managed to knock the list price down on two of them, so it's well worth a try. One of the biggest names in online dating, Match. I met my other half on Match.
I paid for one month, only one profile attracted me and it was his. We started chatting over the phone, met up within a week and are getting married next year. I know I am one of the few lucky ones but if it can happen to us, it can happen to others - BettyDebt. Met my other half on Match. We've been together for a year now, he reckons it was the best money he has ever spent, as it was an investment in the rest of our lives.
He signed up for a month and met me face-to-face within 2 weeks after many emails and calls, so jokes about trying to get a partial refund. It has a safety advice section and lets you report concerns to moderators. Setting up an account should take about 15 minutes. There are fewer questions than some other sites, though you can also add a Facebook-style list of favourite books, music, films, etc, which would take an extra 15 minutes.
When you do, you are given the option to swipe up to "like" or "down" to hook up. Ok, so you might get to see three or four profiles every second or third day. It is slightly more the first day. So far, no notifications, no matches, nothing. I click the app in the morning and all I see is a screen advertising another app. Also, there really is no place to say anything about yourself, just a picture. Maybe this is part of the problem.
All you and those viewing you are able to see is a photo. This one has a poorly designed interface, confusing settings, and absolutely no users!
I scrolled through literally 6 people before it ended the user feed. So your account is more or less permanent. Their access to your Facebook info is likewise permanent.
Stay away from this train wreck. This app is only available on the App Store for iOS devices. General bug fixes and performance improvements....
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