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And we found that the free sites generally did marginally better than the paid ones, presumably because they offer a better value.

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“Our real-life and online identities are more and more interwoven.” Because of this cultural shift, online dating sites now have unprecedented reach into our lives. Reams have been written about online dating, but as far as we know, no one has put the sites to the test.They are gatekeepers to a massive population of potential partners; they control who we meet and how. So Consumer Reports decided to survey almost 115,000 subscribers about online dating and their experiences with it.She signed up for JDate, an online dating site for Jewish singles.“All kinds of people are doing it,” says Caploe, 54, a publisher who lives in New York City.Online dating is different from shopping for, say, a sweater, he explains: “Once you decide on the sweater you want, you can get it.

But with dating, the sweater has to agree, too.”Another reason for the low satisfaction scores may be that “most dating sites have some misalignment between profit model and user experience because they are financed through subscription fees or advertising,” says Scott Kominers, Ph.

If you find your life partner on your first date, the site doesn’t make much money off you.

Our survey found that among respondents who stopped online dating, 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women said they did so because they didn’t like the quality of their matches.

Perhaps that’s why, among those who said they had used multiple dating sites, 28 percent had tried four or more.

But our research also found that online dating, however painful and time-consuming, often does produce the intended result if you use it well—and persevere.

In fact, people over 50 are one of the fastest growing segments.