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The Cheap-Date Guide To The Sites

Whether you’re working later hours (if you have a job) or counting pennies (if you don’t), the practical appeal of online dating is undeniable. Here’s how to maximize your return on investment.

CRAIGSLIST

THE ANTE: Basically a free digital personal ad.
BEST FOR: People who want to be in control of their own online persona; old hippies who want to hook up but still don’t know how to text.
DON'T BOTHER IF: You’re finicky about bedbugs, STDs, cheating husbands, serial killers.
CAVEAT DATER: Without the questionnaires and metrics of other sites, you only know as much as someone is willing to tell you. Which means you’d expect a relationship of about the same caliber as a couch you’d get off the site: a little worse for wear.
RED FLAG$: Phrases like “I am a college graduate looking to go back to school in about four months” invariably mean “I’m unemployed” and possibly even “I’m on parole.”

FACEBOOK

THE ANTE: Lets you connect with people in your circle without seeming desperate.
BEST FOR: Anyone who graduated from college after 2004; divorced baby boomers who want to track down a college sweetheart.
DON'T BOTHER IF: You want some semblance of privacy.
CAVEAT DATER: College sweethearts often have spouses and kids on Facebook, too.
RED FLAG$: If he’s holding a Pabst (ultra cheap) in every profile picture—clearly he has yet to enter the real world; if his relationship status reads “It’s complicated” (duh); if he’s offended that you won’t friend him.

HOWABOUTWE

THE ANTE: Lets you propose an activity rather than sell yourself—but you have to pay the membership fee ($35/month or $96/year) if you want to see the response.
BEST FOR: Techie types who know a lot about a lot of things—but not much about dating.
DON'T BOTHER IF: You think “VC” means Very Cute.
CAVEAT DATER: It’s hard to tell how well that startup is doing, so don’t pick a place that’s too pricey.
RED FLAG$: He wants to escape down the coast in a convertible and “see where it takes us.” Could be he’s running from tax auditors.

OKCUPID

THE ANTE: The site’s quirky (and long!) questionnaire gives a much better sense of someone’s personality—with no fees and no down payment.
BEST FOR: Tech-confi dent twenty somethings who are serious about dating but fear getting tied down (no wonder it’s so popular here).
DON'T BOTHER IF: you hate having your witty, endearing messages ignored.
CAVEAT DATER: Past the recent-grad crowd, things get a little iffy: swingers, couples looking for a third partner, philanderers, and so on.
RED FLAG$: He lists “napping, thinking about the Sierra nevada, ambitiously climbing my way to the bottom of the Special ed business, slowly making my way through The Wire in the “What I’m doing with my life” section. no mention of a job means there’s no job to mention.

MATCH

THE ANTE: The classic dating site that does the work for you, flooding your inbox with daily matches. but to someone who canceled her Netflix when the fees went up, the $19.99/month tab may seem steep.
BEST FOR: Novice online daters and people trying to figure out what they want in a mate.
DON'T BOTHER IF: Your photos aren’t flattering.
CAVEAT DATER: This is the go-to site after a big breakup, so be ready for rebounders and people who want the perks of commitment without the actual commitment.
RED FLAG$: He’s not really “looking for love,” but he’s got two months before his subscription runs out and he’s “going to ride it out and play my cards when they’re delt.” (actual profile, typos included.) because nothing says romance like being honest about how cheap you are.

JDATE

THE ANTE: Meet the Jewish girl/guy of your dreams, for $20+ a month.
BEST FOR: People who are tired of having mom set them up with the children of friends of friends.
DON'T BOTHER IF: You’re not willing to convert.
CAVEAT DATER: Shiksas have been known to troll the site for the good Jewish men. If she marks “I’ll tell you later” when asked if she keeps kosher, chances are she loves lobster and bacon.
RED FLAG$: Users have to make the following vow: “I promise to never send money, ask other JDaters for money, or share financial information with anyone I meet on JDate.” Which only makes you wonder what kind of behavior prompted such standards.

eHARMONY

THE ANTE: The questionnaire is designed to gauge the “inner you” rather than whether you prefer The Hangover or The Artist.
BEST FOR: The ready-to-say “I do.”
DON'T BOTHER IF: You’re still sowing oats.
CAVEAT DATER: Even a great profile will get fewer matches than other sites, though the matches that do happen may be of higher quality. Patience is a virtue.
RED FLAG$: Your potential match can’t chat on the phone because he/she didn’t pay the subscription fee. either he’s not financially stable enough to afford $23/month, or he’s too much of a tightwad.

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