Paid online dating platforms have a lot of advantages over free options like Tinder, Bumble or Hinge.
In addition to potentially introducing you to a whole new pool of people who you haven’t seen on those other apps, they also use complex algorithms to connect you to people with whom you’re a lot more likely to share common ground.
(And, as you’ll read below, in my experience these algorithms work exceptionally well.)
But unlike the free apps, Match or eHarmony both cost a bit of money, so it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each one before you decide which one to invest in.
In this post I’ll do a deep dive to explore both eHarmony and Match in detail, reveal my personal experience using both platforms, and help you answer the all important question:
eharmony vs Match – which one should you use?
eHarmony vs Match.com
Which one is right for you?
An Overview of Each Platform
Let’s start by exploring how each platform works, and dig into each one’s features, pluses and minuses to get a sense of what each site actually does, and (most importantly) what it can do for you.
How eHarmony Works
When you sign up for eHarmony, you fill out a fairly lengthy profile questionnaire, but unlike other dating platforms like OkCupid – where the additional questions are optional – with eHarmony you’re required to answer them right up front.
After you sign up, they’ll ask you dozens upon dozens of questions (I forget the exact number, but it’s a lot) that you have to answer before you can even get to your profile.
Every other user has to do the same, and then based on your answers, eHarmony’s algorithm pairs you with other users who it thinks you’ll be compatible with.
But unlike free sites like OkCupid, where you can scan through the profiles of every other user who has signed up, with eHarmony you can only see the users the site selects for you.
In theory this means that each user you see is more likely to be a good match for you. But in practice, it often means that you see the same people over and over again, while the majority of users remain hidden because the algorithm doesn’t think you’ll like each other.
Who’s on eHarmony?
People Looking for Long-Term Relationships
At the risk of making sweeping generalizations, in my experience eHarmony is used more by people looking for a committed, long-term relationship than by people looking for a short-term fling.
While you increasingly hear stories about long-term relationships starting on apps like Tinder or Bumble, a lot of people tend to switch to eHarmony after using those apps for awhile, because they find that the free apps are better at connecting you with potential first-date prospects than they are at identifying potential long-term mates.
eHarmony specializes in being the opposite: its algorithm is supposed to identify people who you’re likely to be highly compatible with, which makes it more suited to long-term pairings—and attracts people looking for just that.
A Slightly Older Demographic
The other thing to note about eHarmony is that it skews a little older than some of the other apps. Apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge are common with people in their early 20s, but eHarmony is more popular with people in their late 20s and above. (My wife and I both started using it when we were 29—a story I’ll elaborate on below.)
There are probably two reasons why eHarmony skews older. First, as noted above, it’s better suited for people looking for long-term relationships, which is a place where many people find themselves in their late 20s or early 30s.
After spending their early and mid-20s dating around, people tend to switch from dating apps to eHarmony when they want to “settle down.”
The other reason is because of the cost, which we’ll look at in much more detail below.
One of the reasons why apps like Tinder and Bumble are more popular among people in their early 20s is because they’re free, which makes them a lot more attractive when you’re still at a stage in life where money is hard to come by, and annoying things like rent and food keep sucking your wallet dry.
Since eHarmony costs money, the people who are most likely to use it are the ones who have enough disposable income to afford it—which tends to mean people over the age of 25.
Easy to Find Your Tribe
There are a lot of advantages to putting yourself at the mercy of eHarmony’s algorithm and letting the platform find potential matches for you.
First, to borrow a metaphor from another dating site, eHarmony is probably the best pond to fish in if you’re looking for a long-term relationship.
Because of all the factors covered above, eHarmony tends to self-select for people who are more mature, have more disposable income and are more interested in finding a partner for a long-term relationship than one for a short-term fling. So if you feel like you fall in any of those buckets—or want to meet people who do—then eHarmony will probably work really well for you.
Avoid Overwhelm and Decision Fatigue
Another advantage of eHarmony is that it helps you avoid the choice overload and decision fatigue often caused by other dating apps.
In theory, having the ability to scan through hundreds of even thousands of dating profiles sounds pretty appealing.
But in practice, it quickly comes to feel more like a chore than anything else, which can make you feel fed up with whatever app you’re using and less inclined to invest the time and energy required to scan through profiles and try to suss out matches.
But with eHarmony you can only see the profiles of the people its algorithm has matched you with, and it only reveals a handful of people to you at any one time.
By exchanging a higher quantity of people for (in theory) a higher quality, you not only gain access to better potential matches, you also avoid the anxiety and annoyance that comes from spending hours scrolling through profiles and failing to find any diamonds in the rough.
Only a Few Matches at a Time
Unlike other platforms, eHarmony doesn’t allow you to see everyone who’s on the platform, or scroll through at your leisure. Instead, it sends out a small handful of people each day who, based on its algorithm, the system thinks you’ll be compatible with.
This can be great at first since it avoids the overwhelm problem noted above.
But over long periods of time it can become a bit frustrating if you feel like the algorithm doesn’t have a strong handle on your preferences, or is being a little too rigid in its selection of who it sends you.
Another paid site, Match basically splits the difference between OkCupid, which provides open access to all profiles, and eHarmony, which doles out matches based on its algorithm.
Like OkC, it allows you to see all users who have signed up, but like eHarmony it also makes a point of sending you users that it’s selected for you based on its own algorithm.
The result is a pretty happy middle ground that gives you the best of both worlds: the flexibility to see everyone, with the potentially time-saving recommendations provided by the algorithm.
Who’s on Match?
In terms of strict demographics, here’s how Match breaks down their membership:
- 25% are under age 30; 48.6% are ages 30-49; 26.5% are age 50+
- 74% have some college or college degree
- 67.5% non-smokers, 23.6% smokers, (8.9% did not answer)
- 46% do not have children, 23% have children who at least sometimes live at home, 21.6% have children away from home, (8.8% did not answer)
- The 50+ age group is Match.com’s fastest growing demographic
(I couldn’t find similar stats for eHarmony, but I suspect that the percentage of people on eHarmony under the age of 30 is even lower than 25%.)
What They’re Looking For
In terms of what people on Match are looking for, in my experience people on Match are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum that ranges from “casual hookup” to “perfect life partner.”
If Tinder is where you go to find someone for a fun, casual and non-committed fling, and eHarmony is where you go to find a more serious, committed relationship, then Match is where you go when you’re somewhere in between the two and want to keep your options open.
Keep Your Options Open
If you find yourself thinking that it might be nice to find a relationship that’s a little more serious or stable, but you don’t want to close the door to fun short-term flings just yet, Match can serve as a one-stop shop that could potentially serve both purposes.
Combination of Algorithm and Openness
The other nice thing about Match is that it essentially splits the difference between OkCupid, which gives you total freedom to peruse the profiles of all its members, and eHarmony, which only shows you the matches that its algorithm churns out.
Based on the data you’ve entered in your profile, Match uses its own algorithm to identify people it thinks might be a good match for you, then sends you links to their profiles. But it doesn’t limit your ability to see other profiles.
As a result, you’re free to look around and message as much as you want, but the system will also make some recommendations that might help you direct your efforts.
I mean… I guess the name is a little on-the-nose?
Maybe this is my own personal bias coming into play, but personally I don’t see many downsides with Match. The combination of an algorithm that suggests potential matches with the ability to peruse profiles and discern for yourself makes it one of the most appealing and effective dating sites on the market, at least for my money.
And, yes, it will cost you a bit of money (read the section below on cost to find out how much). But as I noted in my intro, oftentimes making the switch to a paid service is well worth the money since it gives you access to a pool of people who, by investing in a paid dating platform, have shown that they’re a little more serious about meeting someone great.
Anecdotal But Interesting:
My Own eHarmony/Match Success Story
Before I go any further into the analysis of eHarmony and Match, I just want to quickly explain my personal experience with both platforms, and reveal my bias.
I used both services pretty extensively, and it would be no exaggeration to say that, in my particular case, both platforms improved my life in ways I could never have imagined. Why?
Because I matched with my wife on both eHarmony and Match.
Yep, it’s true. Michelle and I were both using both services simultaneously, and both algorithms matched us together at around the same time.
I ended up messaging her through both services (once I found her, there was no way I was risking her not seeing my message), we agreed to meet up for our first date, and the rest is history.
That puts me in the unique position of having found an equal amount of romantic success using both platforms, which I admit is probably unique.
I wouldn’t necessarily recommend signing up for both platforms, but if you can afford it, it sure can’t hurt.
In fact, it might be one of the best things you ever do. It definitely was for me. (My wife’s still on the fence…)
So with that personal anecdote of the way, let’s take a look at how other people have assessed both Match and eHarmony’s value.
Reviews of eHarmony vs Match
What do other people say about each platform?
While I’ve had super positive experiences using both platforms, I’m under no illusions that what worked out really well for me (and, I would say, reasonably well for my wife) will work for everyone.
So let’s take a look at what a few of the top reviewing sites and aggregators have to say.
Over at DatingAdvice.com, eHarmony received a 4.7/5 rating from Editor-in-Chief Hayley Matthews.
“eharmony puts together comprehensive personality profiles to connect singles with eligible dates who have similar backgrounds, temperaments, and life goals,” Matthews writes. “On average, eharmony is responsible for 542 marriages a day in the US — or roughly 2% of all new marriages.”
Meanwhile, over on Mashable, writer Leah Stodart foregoes the star ranking and echoes my own personal experience with eHarmony.
In a review titled “A long, annoying sign-up process makes for a long, happy marriage,” she sums the site up perfectly:
“eharmony is no AdultFriendFinder, but they’re not Christian Mingle either,” she writes. “If you can ignore the slow pace, it’s where marriage-minded individuals can go to find people who take dating as seriously as they do — and where it’s okay to be a hopeless romantic.”
Match seemed to fair better pretty much across the board.
Hayley at DatingAdvice.com gave it a 4.9 out of 5, noting that “Match has facilitated more first dates, relationships, and marriages than any other dating site in existence.”
She also highlighted Match’s “Reverse Match” feature, which shows you a list of users who are looking for someone like you, and “Mutual Match,” the list of people who are compatible with you (according to the almighty algorithm).
Writing from the (obviously) male perspective, the editors at AskMen.com had similarly high praise for Match, giving it an overall 9.3/10 rating, including 9.5 ratings for “Quality of Members” and “Safety,” and a 9.0 rank for “Ease of Use.”
And finally, over at DatingNews.com (side note: I wish “dating news” had been a major back when I went to journalism school), writer Amber Brooks asks if Match.com is still a worthwhile dating site after nearly 25 years in existence, and concludes that in their case experience is an asset.
Giving Match a 4.9/5 ranking, Brooks writes, “You’ll see a lot of positive Match.com reviews out there, and that’s no accident. As the longest-running dating site, Match has set the standard for online dating for decades, and its team knows a thing or two about matching up compatible singles.”
eHarmony vs Match Cost
How do they stack up in terms of price?
Now that we’ve compared their features, looked at who uses each platform and found out what other reviewers have to say about them, let’s get down to brass tacks: how much do these things cost?
How much does eHarmony cost?
eHarmony advertises that it’s free to signup, and that’s true. You can sign up, complete the aforementioned questionnaire and gain access to your profile for free.
While you technically can gain access for free, there is—of course—a catch: you won’t have access to many of the site’s features unless you pay.
In particular, eHarmony will limit the number of messages you’re able to send, so even if you see the profile of someone who you think you might like to contact, you’ll have to pay for the privilege.
Their payment structure is tiered so that the more months you sign up for, the less you pay per month (but the more you pay overall).
- 6-month plan for $29.90 a month
- 3-month plan for $29.95 a month
- 1-month plan for $59.95
It’s worth noting that they also offer a free 3-day trial period, but calling it “free” is a bit of a misnomer. In truth, you have to sign up and pay for your preferred plan type, but if you decide to cancel within the first three days, they’ll give you a full refund.
The catch is that three days is hardly enough time to really test out the site, so unless you decide that you totally hate it for some reason, you’ll probably need to hang around longer—and forego the refund—before determining whether or not it’s right for you.
Your Best Bet
If you’re not sure, sign up for the one month plan to start.
Sixty bucks may seem expensive compared to the other monthly rates, but if after a month you find you don’t like the service or haven’t had time to explore it fully, you’ll be glad you’re not on the hook for two or five more months, and potentially hundreds more dollars.
How much is Match.com?
Like eHarmony, Match also offers the chance to join for free and then upsells you after that, but their free offering provides a few more features.
Once you sign up, you can create your profile, browse other people’s profiles, send virtual “winks” (a quick means of saying hi without having to type out a message) and even send a few messages—but only a few.
From there, Match also offers a tiered pricing plan, but their per-month rates are better than eHarmony’s. If you just want to try it for a month, you’ll only have to pay $35.99, a pretty big discount compared to the $60 eHarmony charges. And it gets cheaper from there.
- $23.99/month for 12 months
- $26.65/month for six months
- $31.99/month for three months
While Match’s 3-month plan is a couple bucks more than eHarmony’s, all of their other plans are cheaper, making Match the more affordable option overall.
Your Best Bet
Again, I’d recommend starting with a month and going from there. One month might not be enough to meet your soul mate, but it’s definitely enough to determine if this platform is worth investing more time and money into.
Plus, the one-month plan is only $36/month, while the three-month plan is $32/month—not a huge difference.
So you can test the waters for a month at $36, and if you decide it’s not for you, you won’t be out of pocket very much. Plus, if you decide to stick around it gets cheaper from there, so your total per-month cost will end up being even lower.
The Verdict: eHarmony or Match?
Which one should you choose?
Both platforms led me to the most caring, amazing, beautiful woman I’ve ever met—and gave us a great “meet cute” story that we’ll be telling at cocktail parties for the rest of our lives.
But, gun to my head, if I were forced to recommend just one of the two platforms, I would say go for Match.
By splitting the difference between free-for-all platforms like OkCupid and the algorithm-only approach of eHarmony, Match essentially provides you with the best of both worlds.
With that said, it obviously comes down to a personal choice on your part, and if you’re at a place where you really want to find a committed, long-term relationship, then eHarmony may be the better option for you.
But whether you’re leaning toward Match or eHarmony, hopefully after reading all 3,000 words in this post (thanks for hanging in there, by the way), you now have enough information to decide which platform is best for you.
Use the buttons below to sign up for the platform that sounds best to you and start looking for your perfect, well… match. (Sorry! Couldn’t resist.)
Irreverent Gent founder Dave Bowden is a men’s style specialist, an Amazon bestselling author, an unrepentant introvert, a (patient, if long-suffering) Toronto sports fan and the husband of a wonderful (and fortunately much more patient) wife.