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What is a Dating Service?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 16, 2024
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“Dating service” is a broad term used to encompass a multitude of websites, companies and matchmaking groups that seek to help single people find and meet potential romantic partners. These services can be based on location, religion, nationality, or simply lifestyle compatibility. Although dating services have their roots in matchmaking traditions throughout human history, the industry has seen a tremendous boom in the online era, spawning dozens of services geared toward helping you find a mate, or at least a date.

Some dating services aim to create couples that share the same faith. For personal or cultural reasons, this type of dating service may be valuable to people that consider religious faith as one of their major personality traits, or do not date people outside their religion.

In some cultures, people eschew dating websites in favor of traditional matchmaking dating services or personal ads in culturally based publications. Matchmakers, such as those found in Jewish and Indian traditions, are often charged with arranging a marriage, rather than simply hooking up singles. Culturally-based matchmakers often do research on both participants and their families, to ensure that the match is harmonious across multiple levels.

Many dating services that aren't culturally specific tend to base their matchmaking on personality questionnaires. Participants can be asked all manner of personal questions, from income level to race preference. Collating the data from questionnaires, these services can then give you a list of people you are most compatible with, based solely on your answers.

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual (GLBT) communities are far from ignored in the dating service world. While some mainstream sites, such as Eharmony, exclude gay members, others, like Match, welcome clients of all orientations. There are also a variety of services available primarily for GLBT singles.

For face-to-face dating services, consider searching for local companies that hold events for singles. In recent years, “speed dating” has become a popular way to meet potential matches while avoiding the awkwardness of blind dates. In speed dating, a person moves from table to table, spending a few minutes with each available participant. After everyone has met, each person submits a list of their preferred partners to the organizers; if there is a match, the organizers give contact information to both parties.

Another new and rather controversial type of dating service is called “Sugar Daddy” or “Sugar Momma” seeking. Through these services, young and attractive singles can seek out an older, wealthy person to contact. Typically, the older person will “spoil” their young partner, spending money on them or providing them with a luxurious lifestyle. In return, the younger partner may be asked to perform a variety of functions, from simple companionship up to romantic relationships. Critics consider this type of service dangerously close to prostitution, but proponents argue it is a mutual beneficial relationship based on the needs and personal arrangements of the participants.

In the past, using a dating service has sometimes had a negative connotation, as if the participant has failed at dating the “normal” way. But as modern life grows increasingly complicated and busy, dating services are now an efficient and often convenient way to search for partners. If you would like to try a dating service, research your options carefully before choosing and be sure to always use basic precautions when giving out personal information or going on blind dates. While using a dating service may not guarantee finding your soulmate, it can certainly help smooth out some of the bumps on the road to love.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGeek. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By KoiwiGal — On Feb 14, 2015

@browncoat - The thing is that so many of us live in very lonely worlds right now. Modern society simultaneously gives us access to more people than ever before, while removing our need to interact with them.

So any dating service that can help people to meet each other and get to know each other, who might not otherwise have had the chance, is a good thing.

By browncoat — On Feb 14, 2015

@pleonasm - I do think they have a point in some ways. Human beings rely quite heavily on their intuition when it comes to people, and even more heavily on "chemistry" when it comes to dating. And chemistry is very difficult to pin down or figure out when it's experienced without real interaction. You can't witness facial expressions or get an overall impression of a person with all your senses. I don't think it's necessarily more dangerous if you are careful, but I also think it's probably not as successful as meeting someone at a bar and hitting it off.

What online dating services do is allow you to connect with many more people without having to rely on physical signals alone, which widens the pool sufficiently that, in the long run, it is more likely that you'll be able to meet someone compatible.

By pleonasm — On Feb 13, 2015

I think it's wonderful that internet dating services have begun to be so mainstream now. I had a lot of fun meeting people on them back in the early days, about a decade ago now, when meeting people online was still considered quite a strange thing to do and I was warned many times that I might be meeting an axe murderer or a pervert in disguise.

I'm not sure why people thought that it was any different from meeting someone in a bar. In fact you would know less about the person in the bar than a person you've exchanged letters with for a while.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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