Though society has outgrown most cliché tropes that surrounded online dating in its early years, believing that meeting online can grow into a genuine connection can still be hard. If any dating sites can rekindle your hope that there’s someone out there who wants the same thing you do, Match and eharmony are it.
Technically speaking, online dating amplifies your selection of potential love interests to people you would never have stumbled upon IRL. It’s the obvious next step after you’ve exhausted the qualified singles in your local dating pool, and the pandemic has made online dating an even more ubiquitous way to meet people than it already was. Since social distancing has essentially made hookups with strangers a non-issue, weeding out people who aren’t taking dating seriously is easier than ever.
Still, trusting the process of falling in love behind a screen doesn’t always come naturally —especially if you’ve experienced one too many people who “aren’t looking for anything serious” on Tinder. But it’s not hopeless — we promise. This 2017 study concluded that 39% of heterosexual couples and 60% of same-sex couples meet online, and another 2017 study found that people who meet online are more likely to be compatible and have a higher chance of a healthy marriage (if they decide to get hitched).
Online dating may not be the single variable that changes the dynamic, but it does suggest that people who sign up for sites with reputations for serious relationships (such as Match or eharmony) are down to put effort into a profile because they’re more ready to commit.
If this is the crossroads you’re at, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to first check out two of the biggest names in the business. If you’re trying to decide between eharmony, the site that claims to make a love connection every 14 minutes, and Match, the site that’s been around the longest, there are a few points to consider for each. Both are great for serious relationships, and thanks to an obvious focus on keeping up with the times, both sites appeal to a significantly wider age range and have modernised designs that are much less corny than they used to be.
Dating to settle down has simultaneously been made easier and more difficult in the wake of COVID-19: Easier because it forces you to take things slow and alleviates the pressure of meeting up, and harder because you have no clue when you’ll get to determine whether they’re absolutely abhorrent in person.
Both Match and eharmony accommodated to their lovesick user bases by adding new video dating features. Aiming to keep first dates alive even when your favourite bar is only doing takeaway, Vibe Check and Video Date facilitate video calls between matches without requiring switching to a third party like Zoom — or prematurely subjecting yourself to out-of-the-blue FaceTimes by handing out a phone number.
Other than that, there’s a lot that’s different about these two dating sites. We’re here to help you figure out which one will work for you.
When you think of eharmony, you probably think of marriage. And so does everyone else — that’s the point. This becomes clear during a hefty five-part compatibility quiz. But the weighty questionnaire is what the people want: In 2017, eharmony took the already-downsized questionnaire from 450 to 150 to a meager 50 questions, and users freaked out. They’ve since reverted to a longer questionnaire, staying on track with their original business model as a serious dating site. However, it’s noticeably less corny than it was a few years ago. Its biggest age groups are those 30 to 44 and 55 to 64 and has an almost even split of men and women.
The algorithm doesn’t want you to choose the people you always choose. In addition to the standard questions about why you’re single and why you want a partner, questions about your preferred social situation or where you’d like to live — or whether you care more about travelling than a dream house — are baked in to cover less-emotional factors that can still determine how well you’d mesh with another person. For each profile you come across, eharmony compiles responses into a compatibility score: Anything below 70 is meh, and anything over 100 means they’re a keeper.
Updates to the questionnaire also cover your personal relationship style, but in ways that are probably more accurate than a sliding scale of self-rated emotional stability. One of our favourite tactics covered how you think family and friends would describe you: “Deals with problems in an objective and thoughtful manner” or “Always participates in everything” are two options that can really tell you a lot about someone’s outlook on life.
The combination of the weighty questionnaire and eharmony’s reputation for forming serious relationships means that matches are going to expect you to be vulnerable with someone you’ve never met IRL and maybe even be open to putting a title on the relationship after a few meet-ups. If that sounds gross to you, don’t force it. You won’t have fun, and neither will your matches who are looking for something serious.
The biggest shock? eharmony doesn’t give off overbearing Christian vibes anymore. As recently as two or three years ago, questions about church and God were sprinkled in, even for respondents who marked that they aren’t religious. The site has since updated the questionnaire and barely touches on the topic.
eharmony is confident enough in their matchmaking abilities to guarantee that if you’re not satisfied in three months, they’ll give you another three months for free.
Where eharmony falls short
As of early 2020, eharmony is jointly run by a three-person executive team (CCO, CFO, and COO) rather than a single CEO position, which has led to some notable changes. However, the site hasn’t always felt like a welcoming place to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Following a 2010 lawsuit, their gay and lesbian spin-off site Compatibility Partners has been folded into eharmony’s overall site, but users on Reddit as recently as 2019 say that it still seems more geared toward straight people.
If you do decide to join, you’re looking at £29.90 a month for a six-month plan, £11.95 a month for a 12-month plan, or £8.95 a month for a 24-month plan. (Prices change and are discounted frequently, but usually remain in this ballpark. You probably won’t be paying less than £20 per month unless you join for at least a year.) It’s an investment, but we’re hoping that the premium price weeds out people who wouldn’t be joining for the right reasons. Would someone just looking for a hookup really want to drop this kind of money on a one night stand when Tinder exists?
Where Match wins
With upwards of 39 million unique monthly visitors, Match has one of the the largest user bases of any online dating site and includes singles that run the gamut from Gen Z to millennials to baby boomers. As of 2018, a quarter of the site’s users are under 30, another quarter are over 50 — the site’s fast-growing demographic. The number of users who don’t have kids and who do have kids is almost perfectly split in half, as well as the number of men versus women. This data fluctuates year after year, but you can count on avoiding the sausage party that happens at many other sites.
Match rivals eharmony’s guarantee by doubling the number of months they’ll throw in: If you don’t find someone in half a year, they’ll let you peruse the pool for the rest of the year without cost.
The initial questionnaire takes above five minutes, and bam: You’re ready to see who’s out there. A majority of the questions don’t even touch on honesty or communication — Match is more interested in scaling personality traits that could cause disagreements, and how important select traits, interests, or goals are to you in a partner. The hands-off approach ensures that you won’t be paired with someone who you have nothing in common with, but emboldens you to do the digging when it comes to communication styles, emotional stability, and the nitty gritty stuff. For singles who aren’t particularly confident in another person’s ability to rate how honest or caring they are, Match lets you decide who’s actually cool and who’s way too cheesy for your liking, even if they share your goals and values on paper.
The way that your pool is narrowed down is, well, pretty much up to you. First, you can opt to be shown one person at a time and swipe left or right. As you swipe, Match keeps track of your skips and picks up on patterns about what you like (or what you don’t like) about the people you came across. The matchmaking algorithm uses that information to provide more honed-in suggestions: Are you looking for someone who communicates like you or someone who balances you out?
If you’d like a bit more power over who shows up, hitting “discover” lets you jump into the pool head-first with a Facebook-like search. Here, you can filter people by looks, hobbies, lifestyle, and more. It’s more freedom than eharmony supplies, though getting too filter happy could accidentally snub a gem.
Where Match falls short
The less-guided experience can get chaotic if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Match shuffles through millions of people in a day, and you have to sit back and let Match learn your swiping habits (while maybe tweaking your distance limits) and let the algorithm develop a sense of who you’d dig past some surface-level agreements.
Speaking of chaos, there are almost too many ways to show interest on Match. There are profile likes, photo likes, winks, favourites, “yes ratings,” and more. Though these give you a heads up about whose eye you’ve caught and could soothe some rejection paranoia, this many icons and notifications can be confusing. If you’re not into the back-and-forth game of passive aggressive compliments, this might be more annoying than helpful. But if you’re shy and need a reason to make the first move, these extras could be a point in the right direction.
The commitment is certainly reflected in their prices. At £29.99 per month for a one-month plan, £19.99 per month for a three-month, or £9.99 per month for a six-month plan, it’s unlikely that someone who’s not looking for anything past the friends with benefits stage will slide into your DMs.
Choosing between eharmony and Match comes down to one thing: How much control do you want over who pops up in your feed?
Both are focused on meaningful connections past hooking up and have proven their ability to do so. Both have a relatively even split between women and men, age groups (including large pockets of people in their 20s and 30s), divorcees and people with kids, but you can feel good about people’s intentions on each: Both sites have a reputation for creating meaningful connections past hooking up and have proven their ability to do so. Your friends who aren’t ready to settle down would probably never consider signing up for Match or eharmony, and it’s probably safe to assume that the general public understands those boundaries, too.
You might like eharmony better if you’re a serial red flag ignorer or have no clue what you want. The compatibility score is an enormously useful tool that lets you know how well the pro matchmakers think you’d get along with someone (and if you see a number like 60%, it could even be a way to get the awkward conversations out of the way before you get too invested). Though eharmony may push you to meet folks who feel like a risk, it’s the type of “opposites attract” situation that could help you become a better partner. The more structured approach means business, and this is the place to go if you’re trying to meet the parents or move in together as soon as possible.
You will have to get over eharmony’s patchy past of being less inclusive than it is today.
You might like Match better if you’re freshly graduated from Tinder or Hinge and want to dabble in the more full-fledged dating sites while still maintaining control over who you see. Match listens to your boundaries and lets you ease into the idea of potential matches being chosen by someone other than you. The way that Match keeps tabs of your behavior and tries to realign its suggestions based on what the “yes” group has in common (or what the “no” group has in common) is good news for people who know what they’re looking for.
You’ll have to get over Match’s splatter of notifications for winks, likes, favourites, and too many other random ways to show interest that feel more scammy than romantic.