The Big Boys of Online Dating – GTJ Dating Series with Erika E. (week 24)

People ask me all the time, “Which is the best online dating site?”  That is a really hard question to answer because the best for one person might be the worst for another.  Some things to consider are:

  • Price (There are both free and paying sites.)
  • Number of people on each site
  • Age demographic of the site
  • Specific affiliation, like religion, nationality, or race

While JDate might have been perfect for me since I knew I was looking for someone Jewish (you’re welcome, Mom), for some people, Plenty of Fish might be the best option because they aren’t looking for anything specific in a partner.  And a free site is a good way to get your feet wet without putting a dent in your wallet.

I decided it was time to tackle one of these questions: Which site has the most users?  I decided to get “down and dirty with the data,” as one of my favorite business school professors used to say, and I broke the results into two categories: The Big Boys of Online Dating vs. The Smaller Online Dating Sites.  Obviously, I only chose a selection of sites since there are hundreds out there, but this should shed some light on the “how many people” question.

Match.com is by far the biggest site out there, tipping the 16 million mark in the summer of 2011, with Plenty of Fish as a not-so-close second.  eHarmony and Zoosk take 3rd and 4th place, and Chemistry.com and OKCupid (both owned by Match.com) rounded out the bottom of the “Big Boys” list.

While JDate might be the biggest Jewish online dating site out there, the numbers pale in comparison to the non-niche sites, maxing out in 2011 at the 250,000 mark, a mere 1.6% of Match.com.  When you consider that according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics there were 13,421,000 Jews worldwide in 2009, roughly 0.19% of the world’s population at the time, now this number of JDate users doesn’t look too shabby.  HowAboutWe, a new site that aims to get people offline faster through suggesting date ideas as conversation starters, is growing at a fast pace, but everything seemed to take a dive in November, perhaps because people had Thanksgiving and family on their minds rather than meeting strangers on the Internet.

Which site is best?  There is still no definitive answer, and while I’ll always be partial to JDate since that is how I met Jeremy, if you’re looking for sheer strength in numbers, the Big Boys have it by a landslide.

Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people stand out from the online dating crowd and have a rewarding experience. An archive of all of Erika’s columns is also available.  Want to connect with Erika?  Join her newsletter for updates and tips.