Match.com, established in 1995, is one of the biggest and most popular online dating services. It is also my personal favorite.
Match advertises heavily on television and other media, and has a huge membership, estimated at over 20 million users worldwide with over 4 million located in the US., and is also available in 24 countries and in 15 languages.
Because of the quality of the television ads, the overall quality of the service, and the fact that the majority of members are looking for a serious relationship, Match is largely responsible for bringing online dating into the mainstream.
Match’s Mobile App version
Match can be used on your smartphone, using a free download available on Google Play or Apple App. The mobile version of Match is identical to the desktop version, except that MatchPhone ( a feature for paid members only ) can only be used on the Mobile App.
Match offers both a free version and a paid version. Match paid memberships require subscriptions of either three, six, or twelve months. You can pay by credit card or with paypal.
For paid members, Match does not restrict the number of messages you can send a day or the number of matches you can have. The only limitation is that the algorithm seems to be set up so that it does not match members who have a large age difference.
Match free version features
The free version allows people to get a good idea how Match works, and allows them access to many of the features in the paid version. These include:
- Creating a profile, which can include up to 26 photos
- Viewing profiles of other members
- Sending “likes” or “winks”
The free version of Match does not allow users to get matches, or send or receive messages. unless messages are sent to them by paid members who have subscribed for a extra cost “add on” (more below).
I have seen free members put their email address in their profiles so that other users can communicate with them without being limited to the Match portal. It is possible that Match will eventually discover and delete free profiles which contain emails addresses as this seems to be an attempt to game their system.
Match additional paid version features
- Paid members can send messages to other members
- There is an instant messenger function available
- There is a chat room available
- You can see who has viewed your profile
- Your profile will be included in “daily matches”
- You are provided an anonymous phone number (“Matchphone”) that you can use to talk to other members or text them without giving out your real number
- You are able to browse “invisibly” which gives you more control over who will be messaging you
Match Guarantee for Paid Subscriptions
Although there are no refunds, If you sign up for a 6 month subscription, at the end of the six months, if you have not found anyone, Match will give you another six months for free.
Signing up to Match
Signing up is quick and easy. You can get started without any account verification or without putting in your credit card. You are required to submit at least one photo, and you have to provide your birth date, gender, sexual orientation, and your country and state. You also have to complete a short questionnaire.
You can sign up using an email address or through Facebook. If you use Facebook the signup is quicker as the program pulls information from your Facebook profile. You may or may not want this.
After you have provided this information and picked a username, you will be sent to a helpful page builder that helps you to quickly fill out a profile questionnaire, which includes things like height, body type, relationship status, if you have children, etc. You are also “required” to compose a brief bio or about me section of up to 100 words.
Except for this section, the whole process takes probably less than 5 few minutes, and is purposely made easy for you.
For the free version of Match your photo or photos do not have to be approved, you become a free member immediately after completing the profile questionnaire and upload at least one photo. For paid membership your photos have to be approved.
The Match.com online dating portal
The Match portal is state of the art, has a clean design, and is simple and easy to learn yet it is packed with powerful features.
The mobile version is a small download and works very well too.
The Matching Process and Match’s Algorithm
There are several ways to find matches. Once you have signed up you will get up to 7 “daily matches” a day automatically. These are presented one at a time, similarly to Tinder, and you can either “like” or “skip”.
You are provided with your prospective match’s age, location, height, body type, and whether they have children, along with a compatibility score (see below). If you wish, you can open up their entire profile before you have to decide.
If you “like” a profile you automatically save it, and the person you have liked is notified. If you “skip” the program serves up the next profile in line. This works similarly to Tinder.
There are three basic and helpful ways that premium (paid) users can use to get matches. They are:
Appearance (as described by members in their profile
- Background/ relationship status
- by any keyword that you put in.
The Match algorithm will also generate a compatibility score for each profile, based upon your respective responses to the profile questions. It will also suggest 3 other members who the algorithm believes are “similar” to the first profile.
This was very useful to me once I decided I was looking for a traditional Asian female, as, true to its word, it would serve up similar profiles.
You can also use the “reverse match” and “Mutual Match” search functions.
For the basic search, in order to get matches you search based upon what you are looking for. For reverse match, you search based upon how well you meet other members’ search criteria.
For mutual match you search based upon how well you meet their criteria plus how well they meet yours. Probably mutual match will give you the fewest number of matches.
The Match algorithm
The algorithm is set up to initially match you based upon your profile answers to the required questions, as well as your age and location. But, as you use the service and start liking and messaging people, it keeps track of your choices.
In many cases, a user’s choices are different from what they say they are looking for, and the algorithm will adapt to serve up profiles based more on the user’s actual choices.
How Match.com is different from most other online dating services
Match, along with its competitor Eharmony, has gotten a reputation for being a dating service where there are many high quality people looking for serious relationships.
Many users put a lot of thought into their bio section and include a lot of information as to what they are like and what kind of person they are looking for. A large majority of paid members are college educated.
This applies to Eharmony too, but Match and Eharmony work very differently.
While Eharmony uses very long and detailed questionnaires and has an algorithm that does all the matching for you and provides you with a relatively small number of supposedly highly compatible matches, Match allows you to be in control of your dating “campaign”.
Match has now introduced an option where members can upload your ID and will get a “verified” badge on their profile, which serves to show other users that they are legit.
When I was using Match, one of the most helpful things about it was that users were encouraged to give specific information about what kind of partner they were looking for, such as height, body type, and income (they can also say “no preference”).
So, for example, if you’re a man who is short or average, you won’t waste your time messaging a woman who says she is looking for a man between 6 feet and 6 feet 10 inches tall.
Because I was looking for non- materialistic woman (and they do exist!), I almost never messaged women whose profiles said they were looking for someone with an income of over $300,000, $200,000 or $100,000. Over $50,000 was Ok because this could mean that she just wanted a man who has a job.
However, once I almost lost out on a good match. For whatever reason I did message a Chinese woman despite my “rule”. When I met her in person I asked her about her profile and she told me that she really didn’t care about money but that a friend had actually filled out her profile for her because her English was bad. Apparently the friend thought it would be good for her to find a man with money.
What it is like to actually use Match
Since I was an active paid member for over a year, I have personal experience about what it is like to use Match.
Male users seem to greatly outnumber attractive women
Perhaps men are just more active on the service and send many more messages than women.
Despite the 50/50 ratio of men to women, attractive women (or women with attractive pictures of themselves) are typically inundated with messages.
This makes it somewhat difficult for men, who have to be very persistent and put time and effort into their profiles and messages.
When you first start out you get a temporary popularity “boost” and you usually get a lot of matches. You can also pay for a one hour “boost” in popularity. I never used it, but I understand that people who do know when the best days and times to use it.
If you are attracted only to women who are 10 years or more younger than you, you can run into a problem with the portion of the algorithm which restricts matches to people with large age difference. This can definitely reduce the pool of matches that you have.
I have seen many female profiles where they have given an inaccurate age to Match when they signed up but somewhere in the bio they give their real age and state that they gave Match was for “search engine purposes”.
These women tend to look much younger than their actual age, and I am assuming that they don’t want to be screened out by the algorithm when most men care more about how then look than their actual age. I tend to think that these women are smarter than the others and I would consider this “tactic” as a plus.
Despite these issues, although I am only an average looking man, I had a lot of matches and overall very decent results with Match. Over the year or so I was a member I must have had close to a hundred matches, went on at least 30 first dates, had maybe 5 short term relationships, one engagement that didn’t work out, and I met my present wife.
You will occasionally get messages from women in different parts of the country or the world.
Women’s photos are often inaccurate
A significant percentage of American women put up photos that are either very old or so poor in quality that it is hard to see what they really look like. I wouldn’t be surprised if men do the same, but since I didn’t date any men, I have no way to know for sure.
With the traditional Chinese or other traditional Asian women that I met their photos were always accurate.
Once I started dating Asian women almost exclusively, I got a couple of messages from women who were in China, using a translation program. They seemed very nice, but apparently had no way of getting a visa to come to the US. They did not seem like scammers.
A lot of the “likes” and “favorites” you get may be fakes
I found that I was getting “likes” , “winks” and was “favorited” but when I messaged back the women didn’t respond.
It was hard to tell but in view of the “bots” issue (see below) it seems likely that a lot of the likes or winks were from bots or possible Match employees (also see below).
There are occasional “bots”
When I was a member I saw some obvious bots. They were quite easy to spot.
They usually had only one picture of a very beautiful young woman, and when you looked at “her” profile the answers to all the questions about what kind of man you were looking were either “no preference” or, for example, for height would be 4 feet to 7 feet tall or something ridiculous like that.
It was rumored at the time that Match had created the bots in order to attract more paying users.
You can contact free users if you are willing to pay for extra features
When I was on Match I was a paid member, but was unaware that Match does not tell you whether other members are free members or paid members.
If you message a free member they are unable to see your message or respond to it. They will be notified by Match that they have received a message from you, but when they try to reply they will be directed to a sign up page.
As a paid member It is possible to pay for an extra feature that allows you to send and receive messages from free members. Having never used it I can’t say for sure if it works.
I have seen articles that suggest that it does not work, perhaps because free members are conditioned to believe that they are unable to respond to anyone without paying for a membership.
If you don’t live in or near a big city and you have decided to subscribe for a paid plan, you may want to pay the extra few bucks for this add on and see how it works.
Match’s “Stir” Parties
Because Match is so big, has so many members, and is very profitable, they can afford to host member only parties, at least in the bigger cities. When I was a member I went to maybe 3 or 4 of these, mostly at the beginning of my membership.
These were half way decent. The venues were good, there was a good turn out and as I recall an equal ratio of men to women. You have to sign up and are logged in when you get there. So you can use the mobile version of Match to look at the profiles and pictures of everyone who attends.
If you have time, you can look up the attendees’ profiles before you decide to approach them (of course with all of the bad pictures you might not be able to recognize them after all). If there was someone who looked interesting but you didn’t get a chance to talk to her, assuming her pictures were accurate, you could find her and message her later.
I only remember meeting one woman at the Stir parties that I went out with. I found that the attractive women were probably inappropriately young for me, and the ones who were age appropriate I didn’t find too attractive.
Another issue for me with the parties is the same issue you always have in singles bars, singles parties, and clubs, where you see someone attractive and she is already talking to someone else or is in a group.
It seemed that, for whatever reason, the type of women that I liked didn’t go to the parties. But the parties were fun to go to if you didn’t have anything else to do.
Safety and Security
Match does not require any verification for either the free version or the paid version. But, , because only paid members can send messages, there are much fewer bots, fake profiles, scams and scammers than on most other dating sites.
I also have not heard of any users having their credit cards hacked or their identities stolen. The only issue that does come up is that Match has been accused of trying to “trick” you into upgrading to a paid membership, and the paid membership will renew automatically on the expiration date unless you cancel first.
Match encourages members to report abusive conduct and makes it very easy to do so, and has a reputation of investigating and kicking problematic members off. There are also different options where paid members can filter out certain types of emails.
Obviously you have to exercise caution and common sense when you are talking to or meeting strangers.
Consumer Reviews and Complaints
The following are reviews I have located from trusted and unbiased consumer review sites:
As of the date of this post, Consumer Reviews is giving Match.com a rating of 3.1 out of 5. If that seems low keep in mind that most people who post reviews do so because they are dissatisfied. Relatively few people will post a great review just to “pay back”, unless they have been specifically asked by someone to do so.
Most of the bad reviews I saw had to do with the automatic renewal of subscriptions and slow customer service.
Site jabber gives March.com a terrible one star rating. Negative reviews were for the same reason as the negative reviews from Consumer Reviews, but there were also a lot of reviews by users who complained that they weren’t getting matches.
Reviews also complained that Match keeps profiles on the site long after users have cancelled their subscriptions, and that Match does not tell you which users are free users, so that you waste your time messaging users who are unable to respond.
Some of these complaints may be legitimate, but I think a lot of it has to do with your geographical area. I used Match from New York City and did not experience any of these problems.
I believe that many users who did not get matches or did not get good matches probably either lived in small towns or else had relatively poor profiles.
Some tips about optimizing your profile
There have been entire courses made about how to get the most out of your profile. I will just give a few tips that I have used with good results on Match.
Your profile pictures
For better or worse, the most important thing about your Match.com profile is your pictures. Of these the featured picture is the most important of all.
Your feature picture should be a head shot. It should also be recent enough that it actually looks like you. You should consider having a professional take it. If you want to DIY use a high quality camera and have as many pictures taken as possible until you get a good one. Some people are photogenic, others are not. I am not.
By the way research has shown that the male photos that are considered to be the “sexiest” have unsmiling models. The same research says that male photos where the man is not looking straight into the camera do better.
You can and should test your feature picture out. The best way is to borrow a friend’s phone and open two free Tinder accounts. Make them virtually identical except for the featured photo. Then swipe right on each phone 100 times in a row, and compare results. You can repeat every day for 3 days.
While Match allows you to upload up to 26 pictures you probably should not. I would stick to 4 or 5 pictures. The featured picture must be a head shot. There must also be one full body shot.
The other two shots should preferably be one with you doing some kind of sports related activity, and one with you in a mixed male and female group of friends, co-workers etc.
Your bio is also very important on Match. Users who like your pictures will probably read it.
I have two suggestions. First, if you are a man, sign up for a free account as a woman. You can then look at male members’ profiles to see how they handled the bio section.
You are looking for profiles that really stand out in a good way, and you are looking to see what cliché stuff the rest are putting in there that actually hurts their chances. When you write your own profile, avoid the cliche, and as to the good stuff you can then either be completely original or you can steal ideas from good profiles.
The second suggestion is that, instead of talking about yourself, put less in your profile about yourself and make it mostly about the kind of ideal person you are looking for, that is, if your ideal person does not consist of 36-24-36 measurements, long blonde hair, or something else superficial.
If you decide to try this method, I suggest you make it sound more like a love poem than a laundry list.
Based upon my experience, the experiences of other people I know, and the online reviews I found, I consider Match.com to be one of the very best dating sites for people who are looking for a serious relationship. Your mileage may vary if you live outside of a big city.
You still have to be careful about who you meet on the site, and you have to make sure that, if you are going to cancel your paid subscription, you do so before the renewal date.