Do Dating Sites Work? A No B.S. Answer

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Nope, try something else. KIDDING! We’re completely kidding 🙂 If you’re here, you’re not alone. People always want to know before they invest time and money into online dating whether or not dating sites really work. This is completely understandable.

For most people, online dating and online dating apps are brand new, and they don’t know if it’s something that just works in theory or if people actually find that special someone.

Good news for you; we’re going to dive into that question today. We’ll look at whether or not dating sites (and apps) really work, things that may help them work better for you, reasons they don’t work for some people, and some additional resources to help you better understand the answer to this question.

collage of the 10 best dating apps logos

The Short Answer Upfront – Do Online Dating Sites Really Work?

The bottom line upfront is that YES online dating sites do work. However, there are a lot of caveats to this that can increase or decrease your success rates. These include things like joining the right site, putting the right amount of directed effort into the process, and approaching with the right expectations.

While most people you talk to will have anecdotal stories about whether or not they think online dating works, the reality is that these are just their opinions. The real answer can be found in the statistics. Here are a few stats that help to drive home the point that, yes, dating sites do work.

  • Popular dating site eHarmony states that over 2 million people have found love on their platform since its inception in the early 2000’s.
  • A data study (survey-based) of online dating sites showed that over 60% of people who have used a platform have had a positive experience. The same study did show that nearly 12% of users either got married or entered into a committed relationship through an online dating platform.

Again, though, it all depends on a whole host of factors, which we will get into momentarily. If you’re already excited and convinced it’s worth your time, we did include a list of our favorite online dating sites that you can enjoy now!

RankSiteFree Trial Link 
#1eHarmonyFree TrialeHarmony logo
#2Elite SinglesFree TrialElite Singles logo
#3Higher BondFree TrialHigher Bond logo
#4ZooskFree TrialZoosk logo
#5SilverSinglesFree TrialSilverSingles logo
#6Christian MingleFree TrialChristian Mingle logo

And if you’d like to learn more about whether or not dating sites really work and are worth it, keep reading!


Table of Contents:


How Online Dating Sites Really Work

Often, people have a mental block to accepting that dating sites do in fact work. When we talk to these people, we find that the block is often rooted in the fact that they just don’t understand how dating apps and dating sites actually work. In light of today’s discussion, we thought we’d give you a quick overview. This should help you to see the merits of the process and better understand that it can be a viable way to meet someone special.

Here is how online dating sites work. Keep in mind that things will be different on each site, but here is the general way. Members (like you) join a site and share some information about yourself, what you’re looking for, and a picture of yourself. While you are doing this, other members are doing the same thing.

The dating app then takes all of this information and puts it into a profile for you. Based on your preferences of what you are looking for and what other members are looking for, they show your profile to them and their profile to you. If either of you is interested (or if both are interested in some instances), you can send a message to each other! From there, it is up to you if you want to talk on the phone, meet in person, go on a date, etc.

Does this dating process work? Well, millions of people have had success with it! In fact, the writer of this article met his wife through online dating, so there’s one more to add to the stats 🙂

The bottom line is that online dating is real people looking to connect with other real people using technology to make that process easier and more efficient.

Common Arguments Why Dating Sites Don’t Work

Most people who are asking if dating apps are worth it or if they really work have probably been told by someone else that they don’t or they have their own thoughts as to why not. What we wanted to do is talk about the most common arguments as to why dating sites don’t work and share our opinions on each.

Dating sites are full of scammers.

This 100% depends on which dating app or site you use. Are some of them full of scammers? Absolutely. But the higher quality dating sites with great processes in place do wonders to remove these people. Yes, there will be some that slip through the cracks, but how is that different than when you go to meet people in person? In person, you have no systems trying to verify if the person is real or not. Online, you at least have technology trying to help. And as long as you trust your guy, this is not a reason that online dating doesn’t work.

I had a bad experience dating online.

Often, this is from someone who met someone online who things didn’t work out with. Does this mean that all of online dating is terrible? Does it mean that everyone online is awful? You’re considering joining and you’re not terrible! So that debunks that right away. The same could be said about bars being bad for dating because a lot of people have met people at bars and it didn’t work out. One case does not speak for every opportunity in online dating.

No one sent me any messages.

We’re going to dive headfirst into effort in the next section, but we need to touch on it here. If you haven’t sent a single message to anyone else and just expect them to reach out to you, you’re probably going to start to think that online dating sites don’t work. We’ll get more into details shortly but you have to be an active participant in the process if you want any chances of having success.

Unrealistic Expectations

There are zero places on planet Earth that can produce the perfect guy or girl for you in just a few minutes. Sure, it happens rarely, but the norm is that it takes a while to find the right person for you. This doesn’t change with online dating sites, nor do they pretend that is going to be the case. If you go into online dating expecting miraculous things to happen that just aren’t realistic, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And when that failure happens, the easy thing to do is blame the dating apps.

This also leads into your expectations of what you’re looking for. If you’re someone who doesn’t really have life altogether and things are a bit of a mess (that’s okay if that’s the case) but you’re looking for Prince Charming who is rich, handsome, and is looking for someone to pamper—you probably aren’t going to have a lot of luck. Not only do your expectations for the sites need to be inline but your expectations for an ideal match should be as well.

Reasons For Online Dating Success

As we mentioned earlier, the make or break of online dating sites working depends a lot on you. What’s great about that is that it means there are things you can do to increase your success rate. Here are a few of the most important things to consider.

It Matters What Site You Join

Don’t worry; this is not going to be a shameless plug for any dating site in particular. What we want to say, though, is that online dating sites work if you join the right site. Which site is the right site? There is not one site that is right for everyone. You need to find the site that fits your needs the best and is best accommodating to what it is that you’re looking for.

Here’s the shameless plug for our reviews. Check out this list of dating site reviews and look for a site that fits what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for something specific, check out some of the niche sites. There are options like dating apps for Christians, dating apps for nurses, dating apps for singles in their 30s, and so many more.

If you’re looking for something generic, try out one of the more mainstream sites. If you have absolutely no idea what you’re looking for, check out the list of our top sites from the link at the top of this page.

The point is that if you join the wrong type of dating site, you’re not going to have much luck. For example, if you’re looking for a fling and you join eHarmony, you’re not going to have much luck. That site is really only for people looking for something serious, and you’ll be lost.

Additionally, joining a free dating site that doesn’t have the resources to invest in proper security is a losing recipe. Stick to higher quality dating apps, even if that requires you to pay for a premium membership. A small investment can go a long way to making sure online dating works for you.

It Matters If You Put in Effort

Just joining the right online dating site is not the only key to getting dating sites to work. In order for the right site to work for you, you have to be willing to put in some effort. We aren’t saying that you need to commit 12 hours a day to the process, but you do need to be willing to give it the effort it needs to work.

This means that you need to fill out your profile, take the time to upload some photos, and actually look around and find some people to message. When you find people that you are interested in and want to message, YOU NEED TO MESSAGE THEM. We can’t tell you how many people we’ve talked to that say online dating isn’t working and then proceed to tell us they’ve sent out and responded to zero messages.

If you aren’t willing to engage in the process and give things a chance, it will never work for you. You don’t just join a dating site, and Mr. or Ms. Right shows up on your doorstep in 30 seconds. While online dating certainly makes the process easier and more efficient, it still requires some effort from you.

So, Do Online Dating Sites Work?

Yes, online dating sites really work, as long as you’re willing to do your part, with the right expectations, at the right places.

Also, remember that online dating sites are not miracle matchmakers that show you the perfect person within 30 seconds. Be patient with the process and allow the process to work. The whole process of dating online versus dating in person is typically much smoother and way more efficient, but it still takes time for something so important to work.

Join the right site. Put in some effort. Be Patient. You’ll be pleased with the results.


Written By: Jason Lee

Jason Lee is a data analyst with a passion for studying online dating, relationships, personal growth, healthcare, and finance. In 2008, Jason earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida, where he studied business and finance and taught interpersonal communication.

His work has been featured in the likes of The USA Today, MSN, NBC, FOX, The Motley Fool, Net Health, and The Simple Dollar. As a business owner, relationship strategist, dating coach, and US Army Veteran, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base with the rest of the world.

Jason has worked in the online dating industry for over 10 years and has personally reviewed over 200 different dating apps and dating websites and continues to be a leading voice in the relationship and dating community, both online and in person.

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Author: Healthy Framework Team

The Healthy Framework team has a combined 50+ years of experience in the online dating industry. Collectively, the team has reviewed over 300 dating apps and is known as one of the leaders in the relationship advice and information space. The team's work has been featured on Zoosk, Tinder, The Economist, People Magazine, Parade, Women's Health, Her Campus, Fox, and more.