Free Versus Paid Online Dating Sites

Free or paid online dating sites? Do I really have to pay to find matches? Is it worth it?

If you’ve ever asked any of these questions or ones like it, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide we’re going to settle the age long debate on whether free online dating sites are sufficient or if you need to pay the money to step up to the big leagues. We’ll look at both options from a non-biased point of view. We’ll show you the pros and cons of each and ultimately give you our opinion on what is best for you to achieve your goal of finding love.

Free Versus Paid Online Dating Sites

The Allure of Free

We totally get it. If you can get something for free, you should always take it. Right? That’s certainly the allure especially when it comes to online dating or dating of any kind. Dating is expensive. It costs money to take people out for dinner, drinks, or coffee. It costs money to get yourself all dolled up or spiffed out for a night out. It takes time (and your time is money) away from work and other things to focus on dating.

And on top of all that you have to pay even to get the dates to then pay MORE money? Trust us; we get the allure of free. While it may seem like a no-brainer to jump on the free bandwagon, we want to suggest pumping your breaks first. The cliché phrase “you get what you pay for” could not be truer when it comes to online dating. There’s even a Stanford study on this phrase that says pricing can affect how effective a product is for you!

In the next few sections, we’re going to dive into this and walk you through a few reasons why you may want to shy away from the allure of free. It may sound like a good idea now, but it could be costlier in the long-run, both financially and emotionally.

The Perfect Quality Filter

If you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re big proponents of paid online dating sites versus free ones. We aren’t proponents of overpaying, but we do think the pricing plays a role in how successful you’re online dating is going to go.

Have you ever gone on a date with someone that has been recommended by a friend? For most of you, you can probably say that at the very least that date was not as bad as some of the other random ones you’ve gone on. Why? Well, it’s because your friend had already pre-screened the person before they recommended them to you. Your friend (hopefully) acted as a filter to make sure that the person wasn’t a complete bum or a danger to you. Our friends aren’t always perfect, but even them trying does help.

Using a paid online dating site is a lot like this. When you go to a completely free site, you get A LOT of, well, riff-raff. There is no barrier for people to get onto the site which means several things. First, it means a lot of them aren’t going to take it seriously. You’ll end up with a lot of people that don’t really care about the process because they have nothing invested. As you can probably guess, this is not going to be great for you.

Second, when someone pays to join an online dating site, they are letting you know that they have some disposable income that they are willing to dedicate to the process. This means that they most likely are employed or are on some level financially sound. It also means that they are willing to commit to the process. This means fewer flakes and ultimately more success for you.

This filter is not perfect, but it definitely increases your likelihood of success A LOT. The good news too is we aren’t talking about a massive financial investment here. Some online sites you can join for under $10 a month. If you’re not ready to commit less than $10 to something that is going to have a huge effect on your life, you may want to take a step back and reevaluate things. Here’s a list of the pricing for a lot of the major online dating sites in case you’re curious about what type of money we’re talking about here.

Investing In Yourself

We touched on it in the last paragraph of the last section but really want to make sure we hammer this home. When you are putting money into an online dating site, you are investing in yourself. You have to think about what you’re looking for here. You’re looking for someone to spend time with, someone that you’re possibly going to be intimate with, someone that you might let around your kids, or even someone you might want to spend the rest of your life with.

We’re not trying to make you scared of online dating, but we do want you to realize that you’re looking for someone who is going to play some sort of important role in your life. If that’s not worth a few bucks a month to you, then again, you need to rethink some things before you go and put yourself out there.

You should always be looking for ways to invest in yourself, and that doesn’t stop when it comes to your online dating. Whether you’re looking for something casual or are looking for someone to grow old with, you need to be willing to do what is necessary to ensure the best, quickest, and most meaningful results.

Our Final Answer

While we always love a freebie, we know that sometimes something free dating apps can end up costing you more money, time, and emotional toll in the long run. If you choose a free online dating site and end up with someone terrible, not only are you going to waste time, but you’re going to waste money and emotional effort on that person that they don’t deserve.

Are we saying that using a paid online dating site will fix all of that? Of course, we aren’t. What we are saying, though, is that it will decrease your odds of having a terrible experience and increase your odds of finding the special someone you are looking for.

With some things in life, it makes sense to try things out for free first. Online dating is one of those, BUT you have to pay attention here. Trying out a paid dating site for free before you pay for it is much different than trying out a free dating site first. When you try out a paid dating site for free, you’re seeing all the matches and people that have shown their commitment to the process and have gone through that initial filter.

So our bottom line final answer is this…Free dating sites are sadly going to leave you always wanting more and wishing that you had spent the few bucks before you got started. Paid dating sites should be viewed as an important investment in yourself. And to be as brutally honest as possible (only because we love you), if you’re not willing or ready to invest a few bucks a month into finding that special someone, you might not be ready to get out there yet.

If you are though, we highly recommend that you spend your money wisely and don’t overspend on an overpriced dating site that isn’t going to give you the experience you want or deserve. To help you out on your search, we’ve put together a list of our top online dating sit

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Author: Matt Seymour, MSF

Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.