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Peter lived for nearly a half-decade in China, including two as a Peace Corps volunteer, and is the author of Socrates in Sichuan: Chinese Students Search for Truth, Justice and the (Chinese) Way. It is the intention of his blog to foster the sort of intercultural understanding necessary for long term relationships.
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What About Those Free Dating Sites?    

By Peter V
2775 Views | 6 Comments | 3/9/2014 1:10:19 PM

In his eBook “Online Dating in Seven Steps,” John states that free online dating sites pretty much follow the old adage “you get what you pay for.” While I had no reason to doubt him on this, I am also an empiricist, the sort of person who needs to find things out for himself.  This has gotten me in trouble more than a few times in my life, starting in Catholic grade school. My inherent skepticism was not appreciated then, and people have not exactly warmed to it in the ensuing years. And so it was with the free dating sites. I just had to see if the situation was as desolate as it was depicted.



Mingle2



When I googled “free international online dating” Mingle2 came up as the first entry. I had never heard of Mingle 2, which describes itself as 100% free international dating. And I will give it the truth in advertising award: it was one of the few sites that allowed members completely free contact with others on the site. There is an upgrade option, which claims to be able to “increase your chance of meeting someone by 300%” by doing things like highlighting your profile in searches. At this writing, the service cost approximately a modest $8 a month.  My first hint that it might be lacking as an international dating site came with the search function, Most dating websites that are serious about being used as an international dating site demonstrate a geographic sensitivity to the country. For example, if you wanted to date a Chinese woman, a site that was seriously focused Chinese women would have a search by province or city. Mingle2’s search allows only a search by country option. This isn’t necessarily a drawback.  Search by region is just a sign that the site cares about a country enough to at least list its provinces. Obviously, Mingle2 does not want to be bothered with such things. The lack of interest seems to work both ways. When I ran a country search on 38—45 yo females in China, I came up with a grand total of 31 matches. That seems a rather small sample for a country of 1.3 billion.



Zoosk



POF (plenty of fish) and Zoosk rank second and third in terms of overall popularity of all dating sites. That’s saying quite a bit—especially in terms of how awful these sites are. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with Zoosk,. While Zoosk depicts itself as free, it seems there is really not much you can do there without either buying “coins” or becoming a member. I have not figured out the coin scheme except that it costs money. Supposedly you can use coins to boost your profile or unlock the Carousel. The Carousel. Another thing I haven’t figured out. They send you pictures of women and you are supposed to say whether or not you are interested in meeting them. Except nothing seems to happen when you press “yes.” I take it this is what the coins and are for. Or joining, which costs $20 a month, although the price goes down the longer you join for. As I said, not much of a free site. It is these gimmicks that really irk me.



Zoosk started as a Facebook app, which may be all you need to know about it. It seems designed for a younger crowd and more for social networking than serious dating. What undermines it as an international online dating tool is the search function. It is simply not designed for you to be living in one area and searching in another. If you are, say, living in Tucson Arizona and are interested in online dating in China, you have to change your location to China if you wanted to search in China. And yes I have done that. But I still have not figured out how to communicate with any of the women.



POF (plenty of fish)



After Zoosk, POF seemed promising. It truly was free, even if it was a bit of a pain to sign up for since it requires you take the “world famous POF personality test” which I would dub the world famous POF Pain In the Ass, although a veritable breeze compared with the torture eHarmony puts you through (see my previous blog).You are asked again and again about an endless onslaught of statements whether you disagree, somewhat disagree, somewhat agree, agree:My religion is important to me/basically I am a happy person/I would rather eat dinner at home than in a restaurant/my ideal vacation is on a tropical island. And so on.  But once I slogged my way through there were indeed plenty of fish, I mean, women. The search function allowed you to target the provinces like Sichuan and big cities like Shanghai. And the messaging was completely free. I had no trouble finding twenty women to shoot off messages to. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. No responses.



This seems to be the common reaction. Here is from a review site best-dating-sites-guide.com



"Not only did PlentyOfFish.com miss our Top 5, it was the worst dating site we’ve ever experienced. And that says a lot. The 12 weeks we wasted on PlentyOfFish.com could have been better spent doing basically anything. We could have curled ourselves up into a ball in our parents’ basements for 12 weeks and had a better chance of meeting women. Better yet, we could have gone out to a gay bar each night of the week for 12 weeks and had a better chance of scoring a date…with a female."



So my piece of free online dating advice, which you know if you have already read John's book, is to avoid the free online dating sites. But I would be interested in hearing about other people’s experience with these sites, or with any free sites.


Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 6 of 6) 1
#2014-03-09 13:42:43 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Peter, thanks for confirming what I have suggested in my book. One free site, a little closer to home, that you don't mention is DateinAsia. In truth, as free sites go I think the search mechanism is better than most.

And when you send out messages you get lots of responses. Unfortunately about 95% of those responses turn out to be scammers. It is a real ongoing ordeal to try to weed out the one real person from the endless parade of scammers.

Through Google Adwords we used to advertise both on DateinAsia and POF, but we gave up on both of them because we slowly realized that almost every member we got from either one of them was a scammer.

Just more proof that on free dating sites you get what you pay for. Nice article!

#2014-03-11 20:12:34 by anonymous9198 @anonymous9198

I tried other free dating site or chatting site, because it is free, so people are not serious just play around. I think only serious ones pays.

#2014-03-19 20:43:12 by anonymous9363 @anonymous9363

I wouldn't get too confident about this site. There are a lot of scammers here as well, and I wish management would weed them out with some simple tests

#2015-03-03 11:57:23 by larry424 @larry424

@Larry424
I have been on POF for about a year now, the only time i get an answer to a message is when i pay 40.00 for 3 months membership. i'm no longer on the site, but i still get my matches every month, I wish these people look at there email and when you say cancel then do it.

#2015-11-07 18:05:44 by jonno @jonno

If Mingle2 allowed for a more narrow search of Chinese provinces, you would have gotten 2-5, hence the reason they don't:o.

#2015-11-07 18:16:59 by jonno @jonno

I got very little response a couple years ago on domestic Match.com with a 25-35 age range when i was 50. (talk)

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