Consumer Reports: Online dating do's and don'ts

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A recent Consumer Reports survey found 16 percent of respondents had used an online dating site or app at least once. (WLS)

Looking for love? You're not alone. A recent Consumer Reports survey found 16 percent of respondents had used an online dating site or app at least once, but the results aren't always a marriage made in heaven. Consumer Reports surveyed nearly 10,000 online daters - to find out which sites can lead to a meaningful match.

Melissa Emsley had been using online dating apps for five years. At first she was hopeful, but after a number of disappointing dates, she became frustrated.

"When you get your hopes built up sometimes to meet the right person and then that chemistry is just not there. It can be discouraging," she said.

And Melissa's not alone. In Consumer Reports' survey, respondents gave online dating sites the lowest satisfaction scores Consumer Reports has seen for any rated service in two decades - even lower than cable TV companies!

"Online dating is different from shopping for other kinds of things like a sweater. Once you find a sweater you like, you get it. With dating, the sweater has to like you back," said Consumer Reports Money Editor Margot Gilman.

But even with so many "dissatisfied" online daters, a surprising 44 percent of respondents who tried online dating say they have had or are in a serious long-term relationship or have gotten married, thanks to dating online.

"I was about to give up online dating completely, when I got a message from Brian. I definitely have that site to thank for my relationship today, so it can work out," Emsley said.

Consumer Reports says you can maximize your results by choosing the right site from the beginning.

"If you're interested in meeting someone who say, likes the same kinds of movies as you do, or follows the same faith as you do, you can probably find a website that specializes in helping you find just that," said Gilman.

But even the best digital match can't guarantee chemistry. That's why it's important to go on a date to meet someone in person early in the process. And just like Melissa and Brian, sometimes it pays off to keep yourself open to love.

Consumer Reports also found that OKCupid and Tinder are more popular among millennials, while Generation X'ers and Baby Boomers are more likely to use a paid subscription-based dating website or app such as Match.com.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2017. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
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