The History of Dating Sites
Since the first newspaper-based personal ads, people have relied on remote communication to reach out and connect with one another.
While a relatively new phenomenon, online dating sites have become very popular, particularly in the past few years as Internet usage has continued to increase.
Before the first dating sites, in the early days of the World Wide Web, people began to connect with another through online message boards and chat rooms.
One of the appeals of this type of communication was that it was instant, and it allowed users to talk anonymously with one another. In this way, early chat rooms and message boards paved the way for dating sites.
The First Dating Sites
Match.com is credited with being the first dating site, and for paving the way for mainstream acceptance of this type of site. Launched in 1995, Match.com gave users compatibility questionnaires, which it then used to match them with other users.
This basic premise was adopted by other early sites, such as LavaLife (launched in 1997) and eHarmony (launched in 2000). Today, most sites have extensive compatibility surveys with in-depth questions. These questionnaires are usually filled out during registration.
Types of Sites
There are two basic types of dating sites: free and paid. Free dating sites have obvious appeal, but they are not always monitored and do not always screen applicants or guarantee reliability of any information. Paid dating sites often offer trial periods, and they usually provide secure access for their users.
There are also many different specialized types of dating sites. Some sites offer online matches based on ethnicity, while others focus on careers, age, sexual orientation, relationship goals or common interests.
The social stigma once associated with placing and answering personal ads in newspapers was extended to dating websites early in their history, when many people still did not know very much about what they were or what their purpose was. People who used these services were often ridiculed. They were frequently advised not to give out any personal information.
As people became more comfortable with the Internet as a means of communication and self-expression, that stigma began to fade, and more people began to turn to online dating sites. Today, most people say they have either tried an online dating site or know someone who has.
Online dating operators expect the trend to grow as more people spend more time on the Internet, and as niche markets continue to expand.