Any of these situations sound familiar?
You’ve finally convinced yourself to drink the Online Dating Kool-Aid. You sign up for an account and you have to determine how long you want a membership. You’re tempted to do one month and just see how you like it before making a more long-term commitment to an online dating site.
You’ve been dating online for a month. You’ve talked to a few people here or there—maybe you’ve even gone on one date that didn’t turn out to be anything other than a decent meal—but you’re thinking of throwing in the towel. There wasn’t enough to get excited about, much less to spend your hard-earned money on.
You heard you could get a free trial on the online dating site of your choice. It’s only for a couple of days, but you figure that if you’re gonna find love, it has to be in that 72-hour window because you’re not paying more.
Everyone approaches online dating differently. The above are just a few of the comments we’ve heard over the years about online dating. Whether you’re too cheap to pay more, you don’t know how much to pay, or you’re not seeing much success, may we offer a suggestion?
Most experts recommend you give online dating at least 3 full months of all-in commitment (yes, that means paying for a 3-month membership) before you make a decision about its effectiveness. Three months, 90 days, the length of summer—it’ll be over before you know it.
Here are just 3 reasons to give online dating 3 months before you quit:
1. Online dating takes time.
No, that’s not the popular answer, but it’s true. There might be some outlier who sets up an account, pays for one month, and finds the love of their life during Week 1, but that’s not the norm.
The rest of us are still over here fine-tuning our profiles in Weeks 2-4. We want to show our fun side, so we’re finding more profile pictures to add. We’ve been getting a lot of non-Christian winks and messages, so we sprinkle more Jesus in our profile. We realize that when we say we can’t live without our iPhone it makes us sound like we’re tethered to our technology 24/7, so we need to come up with something else to go in that spot.
A lot of us rush through the profile set-up process because we just want to get to the matches to see if anyone piques our interest. Once we get into the system, though, we realize that we could’ve done a better job sharing about ourselves. As we look at other profiles, we see common themes (translation: boring stuff) and things that we need to revise on our own profile so that matches get a better glimpse of who we are. It takes time to tweak and add these things.
It also takes time to determine what we’re looking for in a match. Oh, we think we know when we begin—and to some extent we do. There are certainly non-negotiables for Christians who are searching for like-minded believers. But, beyond that, online dating has a way of making us confront our deal breakers, our biases, and other things we might not have considered beforehand.
For instance, you love to travel and you’ve always just assumed you and your spouse would travel together. A seemingly great guy messages you, but you notice that he says in his profile that he’s a homebody, has never left the state, and has no desire to. You’ve never considered dating a non-traveler, but he’s checked off a ton of boxes in other areas. It seems shallow to shut him down because he’s not a traveler, but it’s hugely important to you. Do you proceed, or do you ignore him? And later, when you run across other guys who also don’t love travel or don’t have the money to travel, you need time to process whether or not this is something you can live with.
Travel could be a minor issue compared to things like racial, spiritual, and denominational differences that could arise in online dating. You owe it to yourself, the other person, and the Lord to slow your roll and not make any snap decisions while online dating.
You also need time to wade through the inactive profiles. Online dating is a vehicle to meet people—a very, very imperfect vehicle. One of the more irritating aspects of the process is weeding out the inactive members’ profiles. Some sites do a better job than others of letting you know when a member last logged in. Because online dating is seasonal for most people—they’ll get on for a while and then they’ll get off for a while—many leave their profiles activated so that they can come back to it when they’re ready. It’s shortsighted to think that a few days’ trial or a month is long enough to really connect.
2. Free trials don’t always give you a full experience.
If you want to take advantage of a free trial to get extra days or to kick the tires of a particular site, by all means, do it. But not every free trial gives you a full user experience.
For instance, eharmony’s Free Communication Weekend (or, as it’s sometimes called, Free Trial) allows you to communicate with members, but you can’t see their photos. The Free Communication Weekend is designed to get you to want more. And it works well because if you start talking to someone and you hit it off, you’re going to want to see his or her pictures. But until you pay up, it’s not a true user experience and you don’t know if you’re even the least bit attracted to the person because you’ve never even seen their face.
Furthermore, once the initial thrill of setting up an online account has worn off, many people stop checking the site or app daily. People get busy and they may check it a few times a week or even only once a week. It might take a little while for people to discover your profile or to respond to you. If you’re only online for the length of the free trial, you’re limiting yourself to who is online at that moment.
3. You’re less likely to get burned out.
(See comment in Point #1 about online dating being seasonal for many people.)
When we talk to people who met online and got married, many of them say they didn’t find love during their first online dating rodeo. Again, some do, but many don’t.
After you’ve been on an online dating site for a month or 2 or 3, it can get old. Reading profiles, sending winks/messages, and ignoring winks/messages from people you’re not the least bit interested in can become time consuming and there’s a limit emotionally to how much some of us want to go through, especially if you’re not seeing the results you’d hoped for.
If you’re spending your money on an online dating subscription, you’ll feel a bit more pressure to make those 3 months count because they’re costing you. Three months is a good number for jumping in and giving it a good try, yet not being consumed (or disappointed) by it year-round.
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