Match is one of the longest-running digital dating services. Founded in 1993, it is old enough to legally drink and rent a car, and it predates most AOL email addresses. Match has had many years to bake, and there is a lot to like about it. The interface is finely tuned, signup is easy, and you are not allowed to create a half-baked profile. It is not the cheapest dating app, especially if you want to take advantage of its full feature set, but if you are looking for a life partner, Match is the best and an Editors’ Choice winner.
Cost of a Match
You must pay if you really want to play. Your free, basic membership lets you see who’s out there, receive daily matches, message a handful of personalized picks, and send likes (clicking a heart on a profile), but going beyond that is for subscribers only. Once you pony up cash, you get access to see who has viewed your profile and who has liked you. Maybe most importantly, you can also see and respond to emails. You are going to have to pay for any feature that involves actually connecting with a person.
Monthly subscriptions start at $44.99, but they get progressively less expensive the longer you commit to the service. You can also boost your profile to the top of search results for 60 minutes—try it once for $5.99 or buy a 10-pack for $3 each. Match’s monthly fees are more expensive than most other dating apps. OkCupid’s most expensive monthly plan is $19.99, and Plenty of Fish lets you communicate with other members for free.
Getting Started With Match
People who remember Match from its early stages may be familiar with its desktop version, but the service has successfully jumped into the modern era with both an iPhone and an Android app.
Match asks two big questions up front: What are you looking for and where do you want to find it? After inputting the preferred gender of your partner and your ZIP code, you have the option to log in via email or Facebook. Then, you add some other top-level information, including age and first name, and you are ready to build your profile.
Interspersed with the personal info inquiries are questions about what you are there for—are you just browsing the meat market or are you looking for something lifelong? The app also asks for your height and current relationship status. Do not worry, you can choose “I’d rather not say,” if you so desire. No judgment.
Then things get more personal—Match wants to know the number of kids you have; whether you want kids; what your education level is; whether you smoke and drink; and details on your ethnicity, religion, salary, and interests. Then comes the dreaded bio section. Try to get away with writing a bare-bones self-description and the app will prompt you to try harder. Once you complete this section, you do not get to simply publish your profile. You get a note saying that it is under review by Match staff. This is an added layer of protection that most other apps do not offer. Of course, you must also add a photo, and it has to be of a real human, too. A photo of, say, last night’s dinner will get rejected.
Once you are done talking about yourself, it is time to tell Match what you are looking for in a companion. You can choose preferred age (from 18 to 70-plus) and height (4 feet, 4 inches to 6 feet, 10 inches), as well as specify body type, ethnic background, faith, and marital status. Finally, you can choose whether you are OK matching with someone who has kids or someone who smokes.
One annoying feature of this process is that if you want to go back and make a change, you have to completely finish the survey first. That said, once you finish, it does feel like you have answered enough questions to better pair up with a like-minded user and are not just casting a huge net into the dating pool. Compare that to Zoosk’s anemic profiles.
The entire process is quick and simple, and it progresses naturally from what are probably the most important items on your list (your desired mate’s age and whether they have or want kids) down to the more picky stuff (smoking, drinking, and ethnicity preferences). In addition, you do not have to answer every question to finish the process. In theory, though, the more questions you answer, the better chance you have of finding the perfect match. Email onboarding is smartly paced as well—one welcome email, one note to let you know if your profile info is approved, and then a few check-ins over the following days.
Interface and Profiles
You are now almost to the part where you get to see who’s waiting for you. Naturally, Match asks for your money once you have invested some time in the setup. At this point, if you try to go back rather than subscribe, you lose all your hard work. You may think that there is no easy way to avoid spending money at this point—after going through the full signup process, you are pushed to a screen where the only option is “join.”
It turns out, though, that this presentation is more of a trick to get you to pay up. Once you get to that Subscribe screen on the app, you are actually a member—you can log in and begin browsing via desktop without paying for a subscription. In addition, when you close and reopen the app, your profile will be saved, and you can start browsing.
If you want to tell Match even more about yourself, there is a Topic section, which helps you add personality traits and anecdotes. This is a helpful tool to let people know more about you without writing an extensive essay. Topics include your bucket list, your current obsessions, and your craziest travel stories. You can display up to three topics on your profile. The prompts offer examples, but you can write whatever you want in the box.
You can also add more photos, see who’s viewed you, and check out events available to members (for a fee, of course) like escape rooms, speed dating, or even cruises and ski trips. Events everyone will be happy to return to once it is safe to get together again.
Once your profile is complete, it is time to see who is out there. Match’s search function is simple and satisfying. The Discover function has many filters that let you quickly change the basics—if you signed up as a man seeking a woman, but wanted to mix things up on a Friday and search for men, it is quick and easy. The filters also save each time you search, so it does not keep throwing you back to square one. In addition, if you return to the search page after clicking into a profile, it doesn’t return you to the top of the results—you go right back to where you left off.
Viewing profiles is intuitive and easy. You will probably first want to check out your potential match’s photos. The app makes it easy to scroll through them either within the profile or in full-screen mode if you want to get a closer look. It is nice that profiles serve up more than just the basics. In addition to the stats already mentioned, you get subsections like Favorite Things and Favorite Places to Hang Out.
At the bottom of the screen, Match serves up similar profiles to the one you are viewing. However, these do not seem to be filtered well: You might get served profiles in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, despite looking for people within a few miles of Chicago.
The one thing some may find slightly creepy is the Missed Connections feature—using location info on your phone, the app will serve up people who have been in your general vicinity recently. This might be appealing in some circumstances (if you spend time at the gym or the library, for example, it might show you folks with similar interests) but it may also have you looking around when getting off the train to see if anyone looked familiar.
Social Distancing With Match
Dating apps are in a tough spot as the COVID-19 pandemic forces everyone inside, happy couples and lonely singles alike. Encouraging physical dates between strangers is pretty irresponsible these days, so Match has beefed up its virtual dating features. With Vibe Check, people already in a conversation can initiate a live video chat session if both partners agree. You can easily block creeps after the fact. You can also ask Match’s panel of experts for advice on dating while distancing.
Match’s new Dates feature, while useful for dating even in a world without a plague, should also come in handy at any time. While chatting, you can privately let the app know if you feel serious about a potential partner. If both parties are ready to go to the next level, they can move their conversation to the separate Dates section. With true intentions out in the open, Dates helps you plan next steps, such as discussing first date preferences. It also helps you easily ignore other distracting conversations to focus on this one promising shot at true love. If you do not feel comfortable meeting in person yet, Dates offers unlimited video chat.
Match is the flagship product of Match Group, which also owns Hinge, OkCupid, and Tinder. Now that Match has these video dating features, they should come to those apps, too. Bumble, eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish (also owned by Match) offer video chat. Hinge helps you coordinate a video date, too; you just have to talk on a separate app. Alongside Facebook Dating, and Facebook also has the new Tuned app to connect quarantined couples.
Making the Connection
Match has been around for more than two decades, and we have staffers who met via the service and been married for more than 10 years. More than most other dating apps, Match requires a lot of information from you. That is what sets you up for success, though. The more you tell the app about who you are and what you are looking for, the more likely you are to find that special someone. Match is one of the oldest players on the field, and it is still the strongest, making it our Editors’ Choice dating app for people looking for love. Check out our other Editors’ Choice, Tinder, if you are in the game for a quick hookup.
Robust, vetted profiles
Excellent filtering tool
Profile approval is not instant