Going through Facebook this week I came across a great variation to the very common question about which is the best dating site.  

The exact question was:  “Best dating apps.. with the least amount of creeps??? Haven’t been on a dating app since my early twenties..”

So let’s get to a real answer.  What made this variation stand out is the fact that it is very specific about a particular criteria that defines “best”.   

Dating Sites Are Like Forums

You can find a forum for every interest under the sun… just like dating apps/sites.  Whether it’s general interest, sports, video games or getting kinky there’s at least one dating app/site or at least a dozen forums for what you’re looking for.  Either way there will be all kinds of people… some are not really into it but want to observe, some are nothing short of fanatical, some want to sell you something, others are cool, well adjusted people who are just right.  

The biggest difference is that where dating apps/sites are concerned there’s money involved and companies want to stay in the black so for some of the smaller companies there could be some unscrupulous behavior.  That being said it makes sense that the larger and more well established companies (and more generic/general interest) have enough legitimate users to not need to resort to padding the user base with bots or fake users. Dating sites are a business and they only make money by keeping you along for the ride.  

So How Do I Avoid This?

The short answer is… you don’t.  The way you get the relationship you want is by understanding how the play the system to your advantage.  The dating sites want you to treat this as a “numbers game” and offer some resources which will tell you exactly what I will if you dive into researching it like you’re going for a master’s degree.  Play it their way and the house wins because either way they keep you paying for their service and if you win they’ll happily claim credit for your relationship.  Here’s the ultra-condensed version of how you succeed with online dating pretty much regardless of the site.

  • First and foremost above all other things you need to be abundantly clear on what you are looking for.  The rule I use with people is:
    • Up to 3 deal-breakers (these are severe, like I would, without hesitation stand up and walk out on an otherwise ideal date if this came out)
    • 5 ideal specific traits (and only five, this is not a job interview and if you come in with a long list or a vague set of notions you’re never going to meet anyone who fits)
  • Who you are, what you stand for, and what you are bringing to this relationship

With this knowledge you can begin to decide on what site has the best chance of finding the type of person you’re looking for.  If there’s a specific site for one of your top five traits then look there.  A couple of tips…

  • Use a search engine to ask the approximate number of users of the site you’re thinking in your area, city, county, or state.  While user data is not public the search engines can give you some general info as to whether this is a viable option for the area you’re willing to search.
  • New, smaller and niche apps/sites are going to have less people overall so on these sites be ready to be open and versatile.  These sites are also more likely to have bots or “padding” accounts.  More info to connect on is good and ask specific but open ended questions.  If answers seem odd, vague, or evasive then assume its a bot and move on.
  • Larger, well-established general sites are going to be all about getting very specific and standing out.  Be boldly and unapologetically you (this can take some work but it’s totally worth it). 
  • In both cases be ready to “play the long game” by being consistent while limiting interaction with the app/site to one to two times a day.  
  • Expect that a response to any outreach could take up to a week and if it leads to nothing that’s okay.
  • When a conversation does begin your primary goal is to see if this could be a friend (nothing more).  I tell everyone I help that the first date is “proof of life” and “do you vibe?”… that’s all.  It keeps expectations healthy and realistic.

The ability to pace oneself and keep expectations in check is a critical skill set to avoiding the hype and taking this journey in stride.

Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Dating has changed immensely in the past twenty years and I’d say even even more so in the past five years.  One thing hasn’t changed though… if you want to meet singles you need to go where the singles are and right now that’s online.  The sites/apps are businesses but by knowing how their systems work you can totally make that work to your advantage.  

Get clear, know what you’re looking for so you know where to look, pace yourself and manage your expectations and you’ll find some astounding results.  Need a hand? Reach out. I’m always happy to help.


Richard Strother is also The Widower’s Wingman.  After losing his best friend and wife in October of 2018 after 20 years together Richard decided to find a new path that put all the best of his skills to use.  After finding the most incredible relationship and helping several others do the same he started The Widower’s Wingman to continue helping men who’ve lost find their amazing and life altering relationships.