Best online dating in the UK
November 17, 2008 8:17 AM   Subscribe

What's the best online dating site for the UK? Details, annecdotes, and answers to other little questions welcome.

I've read many of the other questions but it seems a lot can change (Nerve and others aren't what they used to be) and several answers only apply to the US (Impersonals looks great for me but there's only a dozen or so people in my area). A lot of other recommended sites have very few UK people.

If there's more than to recommend, do they have particular characters? Is one just for extra-marital affairs, chavs, high-flying professionals or MySpace teenagers?

I've learned a lot from AskMe (how to write a profile and first email, don't take non-repliers personally, etc) but is there anything else I should know? Is it true that everyone lies a little and I should go ahead and add 2 inches to my height and forget the 8lbs I put on over the summer (and expect the same from people I find)? Are there any other unwritten rules (such as social-drinker really means moderate drinker and moderate-drinker means lush...or do people that smoke cannabis still tick 'no' on the drugs question) I should know about? If I'm just looking for "casual dating" now but open to the possibility that it becomes something serious which boxes should I tick?

If it helps, I'm a amicably divorced male in his early thirties who wishes Impersonals had a bigger following in the UK. Not in London, but close enough to travel for the right person.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Ah, I've been out of this for a long time but here goes:

- OKCupid is pretty cool as long as your area is well specified for, it seems to cater for a more sassy crowd than the others, plus it's free. Easily, it's the best free one.

- Plentyoffish (I always say plenty offish!) is pretty much a catch all. There is an absolute ton of people on here, but due to it's free access and fairly unsophisticated interface, you will find a lot of chavvy types (single mums with 3 kids from 3 dads (who themselves probably have their own profile)), badly tattood people and frankly, a ton of matches that are probably damaged goods. You may have to look for the best with this site, but you can pretty much guarantee if anyone is remotely appealing to you, she will have been mailed over 1000 times. That said, I know of a friend who had a successful match through this site and they're still going strong.

- - expensive but has a good reputation, it seems the almost rediculous subscription fee is a good enough firewall to keep a lot of the flotsam out, and does seem to be fairly good at matching people up.

I'd say try them in that order, keep an open mind and of course be open to other means of dating. :)
posted by rc55 at 8:44 AM on November 17, 2008 has a lot of members. feels very friendly and has a nice twist on things - it's my favourite of the ones I've tried. The twist for that one is basically that you have a friend write your profile for you. You then get the chance to comment on it, thank the person for all the flattery and say what bits have been exaggerated a bit much. Guardian Dating has been fairly well recommended for a slightly more intellectual middle-class market, but has limited reach outside London. There are those with niche markets but they pretty clearly sell themselves to that.

I've never heard of people specifically lyingexaggerating about things, but I don't need to lie about my weight and if I lied about my height it'd be pretty obvious at the first real meeting. Just fill it in fairly honestly I'd say. Don't worry about it too much. MSF aside, all the profiles can be changed easily (MSF is the exception as you didn't write that profile in the first place...)
posted by edd at 8:47 AM on November 17, 2008

Udate worked out well for me (six years ago). No idea what it's like today.

As for lying, it really depends on what you want. If you're serious about meeting the right person and pursuing a relationship, any untruths are going to trip you up eventually.

I don't recall there being any 'code' as such on these sites; you always have to assume that people are going to try to portray themselves in the best light they can, and even tell outright porkies in a few cases, but I don't remember meeting anyone who seemed radically different from their profile.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:27 AM on November 17, 2008

Oh one more thing. You probably got this already from the other AskMe questions but this bit of advice is so important it's worth mentioning again. Put up a photo. Yes, it's embarrassing if a mate finds it, but you can embarrass them back cos they had to be looking at the site to find it. You will get much much more interest with a photo.
posted by edd at 9:37 AM on November 17, 2008

One woman I used to work with used Dating Direct with reasonable success (and by that I mean she's the proud owner of a large engagement ring).

One of my friends is using He's been on a couple of dates and there have been no horror stories so far.

Having never used such a site myself, I have no idea.
posted by mr_silver at 10:10 AM on November 17, 2008

Seconding Udate , but I was on it five years ago, so no idea what it's like now. Always best just to tell it like it is, IMHO.
posted by Chairboy at 10:24 AM on November 17, 2008

I'm quite a fan of OKCupid, although it does depend on where you live. I'm in a very small town, and the pickings are pretty slim. So I tend to end up talking to people from at least 400 miles away, sadly. But hey, internet friendships can be fun.

I would avoid lying if you're looking for anything other than a one-night stand. (And even then it's not the best idea.) It'll just come back to bite you in the arse. Also, it makes you look lame. (I just looked at my ex-boyfriend's profile on OKCupid (where I met him) and noticed he'd exaggerated his height by at least a couple of inches. Silly boy.
posted by badmoonrising at 11:47 AM on November 17, 2008

The Guardian's dating website - Soulmates - worked for me (a mid-20s male on the south coast). Had a MUCH better selection of women (imo, of course, ymmv) than other things I tried ( and OKCupid mostly). Also a much better pay system - you can do pretty much everything for free, except send messages. I found the matches it came up with a lot more accurate than other sites. After trying Match, OKC, and Soulmates for a few months, I eventually went on dates with 2 women through SM (and none from the others), and the second of the 2 women turned into an amazing relationship (our Soulmates match rating was like 97.5% or something, so pretty accurate I'd say!). We're celebrating the 1 year anniversary of our first date this weekend, in fact.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:55 PM on November 17, 2008

Are there any other unwritten rules

The main unwritten rule I'd say is how people handle "rejecting" people they're not interested in. The rule is - if someone you're not interested in sends you a "hey, want to chat/go on a date/whatever?" message, just ignore it and don't reply. Likewise, if you see someone you think is cool and message them, but they don't reply - leave it. Don't send follow-up messages asking why there was no reply, or asking if they got your message or whatever. Either they're not interested, or they can't afford to subscribe, or they're dating someone else, or they've stopped using the website - either way more messages are not going to encourage a desirable response. The idea is that it really sucks getting (or having to send) a "sorry I'm not interested in you" message, so this "rule" of non-response avoids that unpleasantness entirely.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:05 PM on November 17, 2008

It's a minor point, but none of these sites have a "hair shaved so close I'm bald but not actually bald" option. It's important, dammit.
posted by vbfg at 2:24 AM on November 18, 2008

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