Yeah, yeah, I realize this was supposed to be a three-part series, and I’ve already finished three posts about online dating sites. However, I wrote the original intro to this series last April. A couple weeks after that post, I went through my first “three date relationship,” as I like to call them (where the first date goes amazing, you set up a second date, during the second date you get that sinking, “…oh,” feeling, you agree to a third date anyway just to be sure, and by the end of the third date you [and usually, in my experience, the person you’re dating as well] realize this is NOT going anywhere, and you mutually agree to “be friends.” By which I mean, “Never speak to each other again.” I had three of these between late April and early July, for those of you keeping score at home.), and, in a fit of lunacy, decided the best way to “mourn” the loss of that “relationship” (so many quotations in this paragraph. I’m the worst.) would be to throw my credit card at the granddaddy of them all: Match.com.
Because I don’t do anything halfway, I signed up Match’s highest subscription package, which cost the most money up front (a smidge over $100, if I remember correctly. Maybe like $130ish?) but also gave me the most benefits (none of which I remember. Sorry.) and lowest cost per day. This package lasted six months (so, for me: from early May through early November), and I told myself that I would not, under any circumstance, purchase another subscription package in November. If I couldn’t find anyone on Match in six months, I’d be done with it.
I found Match confusing as hell from the get-go. My experience with web-based (as opposed to app-based) online dating consisted exclusively of OkCupid when I signed up for Match, and I expected Match to have the same intuitive design and operation as Match. Not so! Not by a long shot. On OkCupid, everything is fairly straightforward. You can like people. You can message people. You can tweak your profile on a daily basis and/or answer questions on a daily basis to increase your visibility. That’s about it. It’s a pretty easy site to hack, in the “this is how to make the site work for you” sense.
Match? Not so much. To be honest, I never really figured out how to work the system. I had no idea what I needed to do to make my profile more likely to be seen, other than paying to “boost” my profile. I never did this, though one day I had the option of doing it for free for an hour. I tried that, and got probably 20 times more views than normal. Not a single person who viewed my profile indicated any interest, nor did he message me, so as far as I was concerned, that was a pretty useless function.
Like OkCupid, Match features a “match percentage,” that, in theory, tells you how likely you are to get along with another person. Unlike OkCupid, however, where (at least in my experience) it was not all that common to find huge numbers of people that match you at 90% or higher, on Match, it seemed like every single person on the site was a 90% match–if not a 99% match, or a 100% match. What did this mean? I had no idea, but it’s pretty hard to put faith in a system that is allegedly telling you that every person you encounter could be The One.
Match has several different ways of allowing you to indicate interest in another person, none of which I really understood. You could like their photos, a la Facebook. You could wink at them, whatever that meant. Every day, you’re presented with 12 people that Match thinks would be great for you in your Daily Matches (highlights for me: my best friend’s sociopathic ex-roommate, and the brother of a particular Bachelor contestant). You can either say you’re not interested, in which case this person–who I’m convinced must be a completely random guy Match drug up from its list, based on the best-friend’s-sociopathic-ex-roommate situation. I met that guy in real life plenty of times, and I can ASSURE YOU that we in NO WAY should’ve been matched together, regardless of the fact that he’s quite probably a sociopath–has no idea that you were matched with them, or say that you’re interested, in which case Match emails the person to tell them as such, along with sending them a notification within the website, AND gives you the opportunity to flex your creative writing skills right then and there by messaging him/her right off that bat.
In six months on Match, I had four people indicate interest in me via their daily matches (even though in theory, I showed up in someone’s daily matches every day), and I’m pretty sure three of them were neo-Nazis based on their photos. So that was reassuring. (The fourth guy, fortunately, did not give off any neo-Nazi vibes.)
While I would usually get at least one message per week on OkCupid, depending on how active I had been lately, I RARELY got emails on Match, and I don’t mean quality emails (something other than “hey”): I mean emails, period. I’d say my profile views were slightly lower on Match than on OkCupid–though, to be fair, for most of my six months on Match, I didn’t go on all that often–but in terms of profile views:communication, I found OkCupid to be MUCH more productive than Match. In terms of communication:dates, I also found OkCupid to be much more productive. In my experience, nearly every substantial messaging exchange on OkCupid eventually led to at least one date. Granted, I had far fewer substantial email exchanges with guys on Match, but out of the ones I had, only one ever led to a date.
To be honest, I hated Match from the start. Absolutely hated it. Part of my hatred came from not understanding the site–to me, the whole design felt like a relic of late ’00s Internet–but another part of my hatred came from how utterly useless the site felt to me. This is the site people send you to when you’re looking for someone serious, isn’t it?! Why on earth was it only populated by extremely attractive 29 year olds who would never even consider speaking to me, or weirdos from the suburbs who quite possibly have Confederate flags painted on the back windshield of their pickup truck? Because I hated Match, it felt like a chore to use it, so more often than not, I chose to not use it.
Last summer, I read Love in the Time of Algorithms, which I cannot recommend enough to anyone interested in online dating, either as something he or she plans to do, or as just a general topic of research. In that book, I learned that Match is meant to function, essentially, like an online version of printed personal ads, while OkCupid aims more to present you with people it thinks you’ll like. Using Match is like shopping at Macy’s. Using OkCupid is like using StitchFix. In the first instance, you have to sort through thousands and thousands of blouses to find one that works for you. In the second instance, someone does that leg work for you, and send you a blouse they think you’ll like based on what you’ve told them, with varying results. I think if I had known that when I started using Match, I would’ve had a better experience with the site. I was expecting OkCupid for Grownups, and since that is not at all what I got, I became extremely frustrated–frustrated to the point where I didn’t even want to bother logging on at all.
As you’ve probably gathered from all of this, Match did not at all live up to my expectations. Maybe it was just me, maybe it was just the people who I found on the site, maybe it was my age, maybe it was my timing, maybe it’s who uses Match in Chicago, maybe it was my previous OkCupid experience and resulting ideas about how online dating work. Whatever it was, Match was not a good match (worst pun ever) for me, and if one of my friends came to me asking which site I’d recommend for online dating, Match would be at the bottom of that list.