The people behind The Dating Gurus are couple Sharon Kroll and Lee Wallender of Seattle, Wash., who met after spending years plowing through online dating sites and apps with limited success.
The duo offers reviews of online and mobile dating sites as well as advice about relationships and the best way to write and create an effective dating profile. Mr. Wallender is a writer, while Ms. Kroll has worked as a social worker, enabling them to combine his creative and her clinical skills to help people navigate the online dating scene.
Below, we've chosen a number of online dating websites and had The Dating Gurus give us their reviews of them. Leave your ratings and comments and see if you agree with the experts.
Reporting: Janice Crompton
This app, which is focused on Christians, promises to "Find God's match for you," but specialized apps like this one can be limiting. The membership of 1 million users is composed of 76 percent Caucasians. The male/female ratio is 44/56 percent, according to website data.
While we love the idea of niche-based dating apps, Christian Mingle misses the mark. Plagued by complaints of numerous zombie profiles, predatory billing practices, and site breakdowns, it's a wonder that Christian Mingle is still running.
Billed by three New York City sisters who founded the app in 2012 as "the only dating app that women love," Coffee meets Bagel is one of the apps that uses Facebook, but this one matches couples based on mutual acquaintances on the social media site.
This "Tinder-lite" dating app only offers 1 match per day, so add to your arsenal without making it your primary dating app. Uses your Facebook to connect you only with friends of friends and offers an internal messaging feature (instead of your personal phone). Huge growth since inception in 2012. Warning: Not for the impatient.
This app is geared for those who are the salt of the earth, who espouse the rural, country lifestyle — or as the app's creators say — those who understand the mantra, "City folks just don't get it."
This niche site attracts people who are more interested in traditional values than in finding a hottie. Members range from rural-loving city dwellers to real-life cowboys, ranch hands, and farmers. If your daily vocabulary includes the words "folks, pickup truck and hard work," and you'd rather go winter camping than fly to Palm Springs, this might be just the spot for you. Or maybe you just want a sexy cowboy. Warning: Grammar police beware.
An alternative to Grindr, this app is aimed at creating a romantic match. Gay.com also is used by its more than 3 million members to chat, meet new friends or arrange other activities.
Your choice: relationship, dating, or hook-ups are available on this feature-filled, fun and interactive site. Indicate your preference for physical types (Bear or Twink) and body mods, (Tattoos/Piercings). Join one of the online communities to chat. Lets you do more without upgrading membership. Warning: This is not a vanilla dating site.
The app says, "Finally a boyfriend your family can believe in!"
Invisible Boyfriend gives you something to show mom during those tedious Thanksgiving dinners: real-world and social proof that you're in a relationship — even if you're not — so you can get back to living on your own terms.
For a mere $25 per month, you receive 100 texts, 10 voicemails, and 1 postcard from an anonymous person pretending to be your boyfriend. Beyond bizarre. The Dating Gurus were rendered speechless as we tried to fathom who would actually engage in this charade. Real people are paid pennies to provide texts and calls, and still others send selfies for use as another's invisible love interest. Warning: You will have to live with yourself if you do this.
Known as "Tinder for the Tribe," J-Swipe is for Jewish singles and is very similar to Tinder in that it lets the user select a match or move on with a swipe on their device.
Mazel Tov! Your Jewish mama dances the Hora every time you swipe right on this new app (which requires access to your Facebook) and connect with another member of the tribe. Attracts a younger crowd than JDate, has good looking members, and like Tinder, is strictly an app, rather than a website. Warning: Non-Jews are not verboten here, so don't come kvetching to us if you are approached.
While Meetup isn't a dating app per se, it is used to bring together people with similar interests — including singles. Users can join or create real-world adventures and activities for singles or couples.
Social networking at its core, as in...actually meeting other people in person to socialize and network. Endless opportunities to meet other singles in settings that don't necessarily scream, "Look at me! I'm dating!" Meetups offer photos of members, and indicate who may be attending. Consider including non-dating/single categories ranging from the popular dog-park playdates to the unusual Atheists Sunday Coffee Worship. Tip: Some Meetups attract more same-sex attendees--i.e. wine tasting = females--so use this to your advantage.
The OKCupid app uses algorithms to match people based on responses to at least 50 key profile questions, though there are hundreds of available questions.
OKCupid is like the coolest, smartest, and funniest person at the cocktail party. Largely serving the under-40 urban population, OKCupid was one of the first dating apps to use sophisticated algorithms to match you up with someone you might actually like to be with. Highly recommended. Warning: Too many Cupidites love to hang on the site and chat but don't want to actually date in person.
This app for singles over 50 provides matches for people interested in companionship, a date to the opera or just a pen pal. A profile is free, but there is a premium membership starting at $11.99 per month.
If you're not bothered by "Dad" jeans or the fact that the fellas sure look a lot older than their female counterparts, then you may be fine with OurTime. Although the site's tagline has long featured ages 50+, there are younger members, depending on your location. Lots of customer service complaints related to billing. Warning: Mature daters are not immune to taking shirtless bathroom selfies and using names like StLouisStud.
Plenty of Fish started as an online dating service and in 2010 launched into mobile app, which accounts for approximately 85 percent of the traffic on its site. In 2011, however, 30 million user accounts were hacked and the company's lax security features were blamed.
Like Mother always said, "You get what you pay for." And since you pay nothing for Plenty of Fish, you get practically nothing. If you're old enough to remember how trashy MySpace was in its first few years, you'll understand the quality of users that you'll find here. Warning: Plenty of Fish is a notorious hook-up zone.
Often criticized as an app that promotes hook-ups instead of relationships, Tinder has been called the world's most "painfully honest" dating app because it relies on personal appearance to determine level of interest.
Dead-dumb simple, photo-based app offers the largely 30-and-under crowd equal opportunity for hook-up or dating in their 'hood. Authenticates via Facebook. Helps if you're drop-dead gorgeous or Photoshop-clever. Warning: more addictive than bacon.
This is one of the few dating apps that charges a fee for the lovelorn. Because users pay $30 per month after a trial period, unsolicited messages or scammers are largely nonexistent, as are people who aren't serious about finding a match, according to online reviewers.
Largely a non-site (nothing to see here, folks!), Zoosk's main business strategy appears to be to ride on the online dating slipstream created by far better sites like OKCupid and Tinder. Warning: Zoosk's convoluted pricing structure will run up your credit card bill and leave you in tears.