free online dating sites

Whether you are in a small town, a large city, or somewhere in between, meeting people is hard to do. I’ve had this conversation with several of my friends over the years since high school/college and we all agree that once you are out of the fish-tank environment where no less than 1,000+ people your own age are in close proximity at all times, it is difficult to meet anyone.

Whether you are in a small town, a large city, or somewhere in between, meeting people is hard to do. Click To Tweet

My Embarrassing Attempt at Meeting Someone in a Small Town

For a time in my early 20s I lived in a small but extremely charming town in Maryland. After graduating from the town’s college and living on my own for four months I realized that I was quite lonely. I decided that it was time to give dating a try; only I didn’t really know how to go about meeting people. In college and high school it was relatively easy to meet people my age. Being out on my own in the general population with no scheduled classes or social events made it seem almost impossible to meet someone.

One of the only social outlets in this town was a bar down the street from the apartment I shared with a college senior. During a Thursday night special I marched myself down to this bar, convinced it was the only way I was going to ever meet someone. Slightly embarrassed to be sitting around by myself with a half-emptied glass of gin and tonic—the graduated college student still living in the college town—I eagerly stared at the front door as one by one perhaps ten of us “townies” gathered inside. I scanned the room at my prospects, realizing that most of the people were much too old for my liking. A few college students wandered in but they did not really catch my eye. And then…there he was. Not Mr. Right, not even Mr. Handsome…just Mr. Only-Possibility-in-a-Small-but-Charming Town. I turned my focus onto him, convinced that he was my only option.

While I did not catch his eye that night, I came back the next week in hopes of a “chance encounter”. No luck. I got up the nerve to ask the bartender if he knew anything about this guy from my description—a few inches taller than me, shoulder length blonde hair, in his 30s, cleft chin. I found out where he worked—miraculously just buildings down from where I worked—which led me to change my 5 minute commute route by a few streets to account for the possibility of a drive-by sighting (question to younger self: did I think we would exchange numbers through the windshields?). It was pathetic. By the time I actually “ran into him” at that same bar weeks later all I could do was stare at that chin and slowly back out of the surrounding group of people to leave. Turns out, up close I wasn’t even attracted to him.

Free Online Dating Sites

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner I thought I would take the time to share that frightfully embarrassing story as well as discuss online dating sites. While the larger online dating websites each tout the most love and/or marriages in their lovey-dovey commercials, something they do not typically advertise is the cost of their service. Depending on how many months you sign-up for in advance, you could be paying between $19.95 per month (for 12 month sign-up) and $59.95 (for a single month sign-up) on eHarmony.  Match.com will cost between $16.99 per month (for 6 month sign-up) and $33.99 (for single month sign-up). This could be a good deal for you considering the possible reward. However, I would like to list some free online dating sites that you might want to give a try before opening up your wallet.

As our world becomes increasingly digitized it only seems rational that dating (or at least meeting someone) would have an online option as well. Should you choose to use an online dating site, please be extremely careful when meeting up with people (you can find tips for safe online dating here). If I were still on the dating scene I think I would stick to the old-fashioned way of meeting people. Then again, had I not met Paul perhaps I would have been driven onto an online dating website after a few more Thursday night happy hours at that bar.

Do you use an online dating service? What is your review? Care to share any embarrassing dating stories of your own? 

Free Online Dating Sites

Cartoon courtesy of Cartoon Resource.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 10 years, her money work helping people with how to save money and how to manage money has been featured in Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.
17 replies
  1. krantcents
    krantcents says:

    As an “old(er)” married (44 years) guy, I don’t think I would use online dating. I think I would look for people who had the same interests as I do and just meet people. I know easier said than done, but I think I would have more trouble with online dating. I hope I am never in the market,

    Reply
  2. Vanessa
    Vanessa says:

    I once calculated the number of English-speaking, 6ft+ single men over the age of 25 with jobs (couldn’t factor out for straight men unfortunately…) and arrived at a bit over 8000. 8000 men is not a lot to choose from and so online dating is a MUST

    Reply
  3. Jon @ MoneySmartGuides
    Jon @ MoneySmartGuides says:

    I met my girlfriend on Match. It wasn’t my first time on the site, I had signed up for a few months before with no luck. I also tried Plenty of Fish. Since it’s free, it seemed to me that is where all of the “low hanging fruit” was. By that I mean, many were not into a serious long term relationship, more of a hookup here and there. At least that was my experience.

    I would advise anyone using the sites to clam expectations. Yes, it’s great to be able to find many others your age that are looking for love as well, but it’s no guarantee you’ll find it. Rejection stinks just as much when you reach out to someone and don’t hear back from them.

    Reply
  4. Jon
    Jon says:

    Ive tried online the online thing as well, but since I saw all this “catfishing” going on Im scared their going to turn out to be a lonley over weight man sitting at his computer trying to pretend he’s a model…def scares you lol. Seriously, how can you “date” someone you met online and never once use skype??

    Reply
    • FruGal
      FruGal says:

      I recently saw several episodes of Catfish. Great concept for a show (these two guys do a documentary of one person meeting the person they have been talking with for long periods of time over the internet…usually it doesn’t end the way they want it to).

      Reply
  5. carol
    carol says:

    My husband and I actually met through a free, local online dating site. I’d tried others with very mixed experiences and was ready to give up on it and then met him. 9 years later and going strong!

    Reply
  6. CashRebel
    CashRebel says:

    I’ve recently started using okcupid. I was really surprised at how normal the people I’ve been meeting are. I guess I didn’t expect it to work so well.
    I can’t think of a good reason to pay for a service that’s free elsewhere.

    Reply
  7. Stefanie
    Stefanie says:

    I live in New York City and it’s still difficult to meet people the old fashion way. I recently created profile with OKCupid, or as one of my girlfriends calls it, “OKStupid”. I know people who’ve met significant others through the site, but there’s so much crap to sift through. I’m starting to think online dating might be one of those things where it’s worth the splurge to get better quality.

    Reply
  8. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    These days, it doesn’t come as a surprise to discover a lot of individuals looking for love and romance online. Yes, we’re into the digital world quite deep now with almost everything available on the Internet.

    I agree with your post that online dating sites can be quite pricey, just for the sole purpose of meeting someone. I believe there are still plenty of better ways to meet people, such as joining organizations, taking up new hobbies and hooking up with same-interest groups, getting out there and having fun, networking with people in your same field or in your very own community, and many more… These traditional ways are still better.

    Nevertheless, if you’re set on trying out the online dating scene, you should at least have a go at one of the free sites. Meeting people should not cost you anything. You can also try being more active in social media and perhaps meeting friends of friends.

    When spending, always think twice if the purchase is really worth it.

    Reply

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