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“It's a myth that some sites are better for relationships while others are more for hookups,” says Manfredi.
“There are people of different intentions on every platform; it’s more important what your intention is.” Perhaps the key factor that determines whether you’ll like a site is not the price to join but the kind of people you find on it and how they behave and communicate.
“If sending messages had a price or you could send only a fixed number per day, people you contact online would know you had to give up something to do so, which would incentivize better behavior,” he says.
Perhaps beyond just charging for messages, sites could adjust the price according to how high quality someone's engagement seems to be.
“The fact that e Harmony matched me with several women with whom I shared common interests led me to believe that I was seeing more quality matches.” At the same time, you shouldn’t write off a site just because it’s free.
Even Tinder, despite its reputation for attracting users seeking causal romance, may deserve a more open mind.
Cons: The never-ending influx of possibilities can feel like a bit much: “It almost never stops refreshing, so it was just this constant stream of people,” Busa says.
“I’ve always assumed that putting anything behind a pay wall makes it more attractive and weeds out the casual users and trolls,” agrees Joseph Lynn, a Chicago man who used e Harmony and Match as well as a few free sites.
Kominers thinks online daters could be well served by a service that isn’t quite free but doesn’t involve a subscription fee either.
Inspired by Jiayuan.com, the largest online dating site in China, he thinks dating sites would have happier customers overall if they did away with their current pricing models and charged users per message sent.
Luckily, there are plenty of apps that allow you to bypass much of the dating chitchat in favor of a good, easy, no-strings-attached hookup.
The Cut asked self-proclaimed serial dater Carolyn Busa, 32, to rank the best of the best hookup apps if you’re looking for a little commitment-free fun.
Cons: There’s a lot of overlap with other apps, meaning you’re often swiping through the same users repeatedly: “Bumble and Tinder are the same people, the same pictures,” Busa says.