Stats wizards at the University of Bath – ably assisted by Countdown's Rachel Riley – calculated that your chances of finding love on any given day are just 1 in 562 if you leave it to fate.The best way to boost those odds is to join a dating website. But with more than 1,400 dating sites in the UK alone, choosing one is almost as hard as choosing the right person.There are matchmaking sites for wine connoisseurs, people who share your music taste, and – yes – dating for dog lovers. You may assume you'll want to date someone who shares a specific interest, but attraction doesn't work like that in real life. And remember, mainstream sites do let you narrow your search, then expand it gradually to widen the net.
All the services we mention below are separate from each other.
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You may be surprised by the number of specialist dating sites out there.
More than half the UK's 1,400 dating sites cater for a specific group such as over 50s, gay daters and disabled daters.
The study was commissioned by dating site e Harmony, so you might say it had a vested interest, but you don't need maths professors to tell you online dating works. To make it even harder, most dating sites hide their subscription prices until you've waded through a long sign-up process. We created temporary profiles on more than a dozen dating sites and tested their features, user experience and value for money.
In a moment we'll reveal our top seven, along with the fees they'd rather keep secret.In this review we're focusing on services that aim to find you a compatible partner. Chemistry is almost impossible to assess through emails alone.They charge subscription fees and make you wade through epic questionnaires because they want to filter out casual browsers. Information like your mum's maiden name, your street and even your pets' names are gold dust for scammers. Many sites, including e Harmony and Enable Dating, have secure online calling features that let you chat without having to give away your phone number. If a stranger emails you a ZIP file of songs or photos, it may be perfectly innocent – but it could also be dodgy malware. Meet up soon, so you can be sure there really is a spark.So be prepared to spend an afternoon spilling your heart out as part of the sign-up process before you can get anywhere near other members' profiles. The thrill of connecting with someone online can easily make you drop your guard. If the person you're chatting to keeps putting off the chance to meet, ask yourself why. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or gets abusive, don't hesitate to report them to the website. If you're in the UK, make sure your chosen dating site follows the Online Dating Association code of practice. Two of the best-known dating sites, Match and Dating Direct, are both now owned by French company Meetic and are effectively the same thing, but will happily take a subscription fee each.Enter the site's name into the ODA's free 'Check a site' tool to find out if it's registered. Many newspaper and radio dating clubs, for example Classic FM Romance, The Telegraph Dating and Smooth Radio Singles, also use the same database as each other.Match's sister site, Affinity, uses the same database but adds e Harmony-style compatibility testing.