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Top 10 Free Online Dating Sites
Online dating websites usually require you to pay for the services they provide, but there are plenty of free ones around too. This is particularly useful if you're not sure about signing up and don't want to throw money away on something that might not work for you. Like the fee-paying sites, there's plenty to choose from, so how do you know which ones are the best?
I haven't provided links to the relevant websites, since I'm sure you're all clever enough to do this on your own. And of course, as with everything I write, this is personal opinion - mine! So here are my choices of the top ten free dating sites, in no particular order.
1: Completely Free Dating (UK)
First Look: FREE dating site aimed at UK daters, although rather confusingly one of the questions on the sign-up form is about being contacted by members from outside the UK. (In the Help section they state that no-one outside the UK can join, so maybe it's just a trick to catch out those pesky foreigners).
Anyway, signing up is easy and creating your dating profile consists of several pages of tick box-type selections and a bit of writing, beginning with Basic Profile, Personal Attributes and so on. There's also the option to un-tick the boxes for receiving emails, so you can choose if you want message alerts and weekly updates. This is quite usual of course, though many sites don't make those options easy to find, so that's a nice touch.
And then, to my utter astonishment (okay, slight exaggeration) the final section gives you the opportunity to close your account! Well, I had to be picked up off the floor at this point, as this has to be the one of the few online dating sites that actually makes it really easy to opt out. Well done chaps (and chap-esses).
Quality of Service: Sending emails to other members is a cinch and there's the usual My Favourites and Viewed Me tools. Navigating your way around the site is fine, though there are a fair few ads, which can be a little distracting. I did a few searches and there don't seem to be an overwhelming number of daters out there, but of course it does depend on the age range and geographical location you're interested in. There are also Dating Guides, Dating Events and in the Dating Advice section, plenty of ideas to improve your chances of finding that special someone. The In Your Area tool lets you see local dating profiles, and there are handy reminders of profiles you've recently viewed.
Overall Likeability: As far as free dating sites go, Completely Free Dating is as good as any of the others, and it does have a refreshingly open feel to it. Big hearts all round.
2: My LOL (Worldwide)
First Look: Worldwide free dating site for young people with an age range that spans from 13 to 29 years. The video ads which seem to play continuously until you click on another page, are rather annoying, though that might be more to do with my age than their suitability to the website.
Signing up for My LOL is easy and the verification email let's you know that 'your IP address has been logged!' A ploy to deter Internet grooming and such like, no doubt. There are also several reminders about this as you navigate around the site. Along with a host of information and advice about staying safe etc, this would tend to indicate that these people actually do care about the safety of its members. Which is nice. Searching member profiles is easy and you can choose to search any country or combination of countries - I had a quick glance for 18-29-year-olds with profile photos and found more than 60,000 around the world. Narrowing things down a bit, there were about 2,500 in New York, 5,000 in the UK and only 2 in Sweden.
Quality of Service: The site is easy to navigate and there are sections on Music, Quizzes and Fun, as well as Chat Rooms and various options and customising tools. In terms of music and related videos, I have to say that it's difficult to watch anything for long as the previously-mentioned video ads keep butting in. If there's a way of getting rid of them, it wasn't obvious.
Overall Likeability: If I was a young person, I reckon I'd think this site is pretty cool. There is of course a need to take care on sites like My LOL, so think about the information you pass on. My LOL's own guidelines is a pretty good place to start if you need a reminder about Internet safety.
3: Flirtbox (UK and Worldwide)
First Look: Completely free dating site, this is the larger brother of Flirtbox London and if you join one, you can join them all. There are versions for Birmingham, Manchester, Yorkshire, Midlands, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cornwall, as well as the rest of the world.
Once you've completed a user profile you'll need to change your location to whichever area you're interested in, otherwise your profile won't show up in searches. I was a little disconcerted to learn that after simply adding my name and email details, my profile was deemed complete. No tick boxes to fill in, no demands to upload my photo (though obviously those details would help me find a prospective mate). A quick search revealed that only one other member lives in the same county as me, so that wasn't very helpful, though looking further afield, there were a few more folk on the horizon.
Quality of Service: When I tried to access the Chatroom and Messenger facilities, they didn't seem to be working, but presumably this was only a glitch in the system. There's also a webcam so you can upload videos of yourself. Thankfully this was working and is easy to use. Looking through the Discussion Forum, I learned that there's a bit of an issue with profiles being deleted for no apparent reason. This might be because most free dating sites are not as technically advanced as their fee-paying counterparts, so maybe I'm expecting too much.
Overall Likeability: For me (and my location), there wouldn't be enough members to make this one worthwhile, but if you live in an area where Flirtbox is popular, it's probably a pretty good choice. As there's no money involved, there's certainly no harm in signing up for it and if you don't get anywhere, there are plenty more to try!
4: Trek Passions (UK)
First Look: Free dating and social networking site for aficionados of Star Trek, Star Wars and all things sci-fi. If Isaac Asimov and Douglas Adams are on your night-time reading shelf, then this is the site for you. Signing up is easy and email verification takes you to your profile page. There's a very long list of tick-boxes to complete relating to personality, pets, social habits etc, and the system doesn't get angry if you don't fill them all in.
Trek Passions is part of the Passions Network with over 200 niche dating sites, including Zombie, Vampire, African-American and Horselovers Passions. You can choose to join any, or all of these, at which point you're faced with all the description boxes (one for each Passions site you've chosen - though you can complete them later). They do advise that you create separate descriptions etc for each one and it's useful to know that if you <b>don't</b> fill in the description section, your profile for that site will be deleted.
There are various groups within each site that you can join, such as Star Trek Conventions and Wrath of Con. Worth noting that if you join one of these groups, your photo etc may come up on search engines, though not your contact details.
Quality of Service: There are some nice features, such as the option to create an avatar if you'd prefer not to upload a photo. There's also the choice to search all the Passion sites you've selected, or only the one you're currently on. As well as a Forum section, there's Videos, Books and Games, so plenty to keep you busy while you're waiting for your space ship to come in.
Likeability: There's loads to do on this particular fan-based dating site, and while there weren't a lot of members in the UK, using the facility to search all Passions sites give you a lot more to think about. As Sergeant Phil Esterhaus of the Klingon Police Dept says, "Love long and prosper."
5: Oasis (Worldwide)
First Look: With around 9 million members, Oasis is one of the largest free dating sites around. Joining is very easy and there's no immediate pressure to complete your profile. However, it makes sense to do this fairly soon, as the Matches you'll be shown are likely to be more suitable if you are specific in your criteria.
For instance, if you only want to be contacted by people who live within 20 miles of where you live, you won't be shown matches from members who live 100 miles away. It's also worth checking the Account Settings, as the box for Only allow matches to contact me will be ticked by default. If you un-tick this box, absolutely anyone can contact you, which might be an option if you're feeling optimistic, but from my own experience, I'd have to say it might be a bit of a time-waster.
Quality of Service: You can easily alter your search criteria if you aren't getting many matches, but bear in mind that if you fiddle about with them too much, you'll no doubt find profiles that definitely are not what you're looking for. Contacting members has its own kind of etiquette, which at first I thought was a bit tedious, but it does make sense: members can send a contact request inviting another member to make contact. To do this, you must choose one of their standard messages, such as 'I'm a little shy but would like to chat'. If the other member accepts your request, they'll appear as if by magic on your Contacts list and you can start sending personalised messages.
The Oasis Help section has loads of useful information about search criteria, sending messages and account queries. There are some useful tools as well, to help you keep track of your dating adventures, such as the Notes facility in the toolbar of each member's details. There's also an Oasis App available for i-Phone, Kindle and various other devices, if you're one of those people who can't bear to be without your beloved technology.
Overall Likeability: Considering it's totally free, there's a lot going for this online dating site from those nice people at Oasis. I did try to find fault with it, but I can't. So, as Sergeant Phil the philosopher might say "If you're stuck in Relationship Dessert, keep your eyes open for an Oasis."
6: Smooch (UK)
First Look: Owned by WooWise Limited (who run several dating sites), Smooch is a FREE UK dating site with some PAID extras. The site has a pleasant layout and nice colour scheme, is a cinch to navigate and the text is satisfyingly clear and easy to read. To begin with, you'll be directed to complete your profile. You have to do this before moving on, as the system won't let you pass the proverbial "Go" until you have.
The first section in the profile is a series of tick-boxes (hair, weight, eyes etc), plus your real name and a password. This is followed by the photo page, where you'll be advised that you'll get a lot more responses with a photo, than without, but you can skip this is you wish. The next bit is validating your email - so check your mail and follow the link back to your account, and away you go...
Quality of Service: While there are benefits to be had by upgrading, Smooch can be used quite effectively as a non-paying, or Basic, member. All emails are free to send/read, as are as private chats and quick flirts. Smooch's Terms and Conditions mention the fact that the site may be accessed by members of other (affiliate) dating sites. This of course means a greater number of potential profiles to search, giving you a prospective smorgasbord of possible soulmates.
It's worth noting that those members viewing Smooch from other dating sites may have restrictions on the information they can see about you (and vice versa), depending on the criteria of that particular website. This isn't usually a problem, but it's useful to know that people contacting you may not be doing so via Smooch.
Purchasing credits can boost your profile as they allow you to promote yourself better, send gifts to someone and receive SMS alerts. Credits start at £3.00 for 650, and go up to £20.00 for a whopping 8,750. Credits will elapse after 60 days and are not subject to recurring fees. Becoming a SmartSmoocher however, at a cost of £5.00 per month, re-billed at the same amount each month, so be sure you read the small print. Smartsmoocher's also get 500 free credits and can use the two-way InteliMatch tool, which alerts you to profiles that match your type. There are several other sections to keep you interested, including Smoochables (which members think you're smoochable), as well as links to the Naughty Smoochers and Smooch Bingo.
Overall Likeability: Some of the adverts on the site are a little off-putting, but certainly don't merit a black mark against the Smooch folk, so I'd have to say that as free dating sites go, this is a pretty good one. As Sergeant Phil Esterhaus might have said: "Let's be smoochy out there."
7: Nude Web
First Look: Free adult dating site. As usual with this type of site, many of the profile photos are explicit, including a huge number that depict various sex acts. This doesn't mean that you have to start taking pics of your own naughty bits to upload to your profile, but there does seem to be an expectation of openness. There's also the option to upload videos.
Quality of Service: Navigation is simple, though it can sometimes be a little tedious getting back to where you started without losing your search results. Messaging is easy, and like many free sites, there's generally quite a few viewable messages from other members too. Maybe it's just me, but I don't really want to know what other folks have been saying. Anyhoo...
Overall Likeability: Adult dating sites that are fee-paid are usually, it has to be said, a little more advanced than the free sites, but as they go, this one's about as good as the rest of them.
8: You Free Dating
First Look: Free worldwide dating site that has a clean, relatively tidy look to it. Signing up is moderately easy, though you do have to complete all of the first section before you can retrieve your verification email and get into the site proper.
Searching is straightforward and there seems to be a reasonable number of profiles to look through. The bulk of the members hail from the US, UK, Canada and Australia, and there's a list of dozens of other countries to try too, though most of these are strangely uncontaminated by actual members. The site claims more than 42,000 members which, while it's not a small number, is certainly not huge for a worldwide site. Having said that, it's still relatively new, so there's plenty of room for expansion.
Quality of Service: There's an interesting Interview section which poses a variety of questions for you to answer, such as 'If you were stranded on an island, what are the 3 things you would like to have with you?' This is handy if you're not brimming with inspiration - just add something for each section and there you go! (Your interview will be added to your profile as soon as it's been approved). One thing that was a bit irritating - every time I clicked on the My Profile button, a message came up saying 'Please come back later', which is not encouraging. It's also worth mentioning that you can edit your preferences in the Edit Account bit, to receive (or not receive) notifications when you are sent messages/when new members join etc.
Overall Likeability: It's fair to say that You Free Dating does what it says on the tin, although the website does come over as rather functional and I can't help feeling that a little colour would make the world of difference. Anyhoo, apart from that, it all seems quite jolly.
9: Get Your Coat (UK)
First Look: Free UK dating site that mysteriously changes from Get Your Coat to Free Dating UK. GYC is run by Paul Roberts and, rather unusually, there's an interesting section on the site development, including news on a forthcoming adult version. The site is well laid out and the colour scheme works well. The icons are clear and make the whole thing very easy to navigate around.
Quality of Service: As to creating a profile, there are pages to complete on My Appearance and My Educating and Interests and so on. These must be filled in before you're allowed to move on to the fun part. There are two spaces in the final section for you to fill in relating to who you are, what you're looking for etc, and this is the only bit you can leave until later. As always, I'd recommend filling these in at the outset, as it's easy to forget about them.</p>
The Message Settings can be changed if you don't want to be hassled with emails and instant messages, which is handy, and there's an Agony Aunt bit where you can view questions from other members, or pose your own (though it wasn't working when I tried it). The search facility is easy to use, and you can email members via the navigation column on the left hand side. There's also a Guestbook (often a feature of free dating sites), that shows recent comments from other members, and typically, many of these are lacking in finesse. I've yet to see a guestbook with nice, pleasant, interesting comments. Anyway...
Overall Likeability: Whatever this particular dating emporium calls itself, it's certainly one of the more eye-catching of the free sites. There are some nice features and there's a good cross-section of profiles. As usual, I'd have a good look at those in your preferred area/age group as a starting point, as there wasn't much to look at in my own geographical neighbourhood. Apart from that, as Sergeant Phil the Love Prospector would say "Dig in and have fun, but let's be careful out there."
10: Be Social
First Look: Free dating site based in Ontario, and aimed at daters in Canada and the US. Signing up is easy and the layout is clear with straightforward navigation, though the Help section doesn't give any clues about how to use the message facility, which I'll come back to.
Quality of Service: As a member, you'll be awarded Koins for completing sections of your profile, browsing Connections photos, and adding yourself to the Spotlight. These koins (or coins, as it's spelled elsewhere on the site) can be earned by logging in regularly, Liking Be Social on Facebook, and starting new conversations. How the coins are utilized isn't as transparent as it might be, but it seems that they can be used to send virtual gifts and such like. Search criteria can be narrowed down using the Advanced search tool, where you'll find several tickbox-type options. Rather irritatingly, the message tool didn't seem to be working when I tried it, so I can't comment on how useful it is. There's also the option to send Ice Breakers, but again, this was problematic.
It's worth noting that it's refreshingly easy to deactivate your BS account, edit your email settings and so forth, which can be an issue on some dating sites. The profile photos are a good size too, and there's a good spread of members across the US and Canada.
Overall Likeability: Apart from the difficulty with the message tools and the slight lack of clarity about Coins, this looks like a pretty good deal. Go spend.