Mr. B asks: "I just started reading your About site and I am really intrigued. Thank you for all the information you have posted! However, I have a quick question. I'm in my early 50s, in Ottawa, Canada and I cannot see myself using many of the sites I think would be a fit (e.g. intelligent dating.net) as they seem to be focused on the US market. I have tried POF (many lies, scams, etc.) and eHarmony (too many women simply "quit" after hours spent filling in forms to move things along or they insist on never ending emails without a meeting in person). So, my question is this: what is the best site in Canada for someone like me. I don't mind paying a bit. I am very creative and open, but I don't have a lot of time to kill. I want to engage with some women who are serious about meeting (at some point). And I don't mean women from Russia (POF again ;-) Thanks in advance."
Hi Mr. B! I'm a Canadian too, and while I haven't hit my 50s yet, I do understand your predicament. Let's talk a bit about niche dating sites, dating in countries outside of the US, and meeting someone around your general age.
First off, when you live in a smaller geographical area (I realize Ottawa isn't small, however, it's not as big as say, New York City), trying the niche dating sites - ones with specific kinds of singles in mind - just don't work. For instance, I *love* HowAboutWe and Alikewise (the first winning the 2012 Readers' Choice Awards for Best Overall Dating Site, the second making it to my Top Free Dating Sites list), but there's no one in my substantially large metro area on other site. So what's a single person to do?
As for sites not to try, I'd say you've hit two (POF and eHarmony) that can lead to both love and frustration, depending on your viewpoint and needs. When you don't pay at eHarmony, the back-and-forth can take forever based on their controlled manner of communications, and many folks will wait until a free communication weekend to connect, if they remember to log in during that time. POF, just because of it's sheer size and predominantly free accessibility, is going to attract less-than-desirable folks after more nefarious things. Which isn't to say that either site doesn't have it's benefits or great aspects to them, either - they just don't work for you.
As well, please do take note that it's not unusual for men of any age not to get replies to their dating site communications. Some of us ladies get so many replies to our ads that we're overwhelmed, and get to the point where either we've met someone but aren't ready to remove our profiles, have forgotten, or only answer the folks that interest us. As well, many sites don't purge their databases of members when folks leave or don't log in for 6+ months at a time, so when you are shopping for a dating site, check to see if you can determine when someone last logged in. Still, don't expect a reply every time; you're getting an extraordinary response rate if 10% of the gals you contact reply.
As for dating sites to try, my first recommendation would be my handy dandy Which Dating Site? quiz, which takes your personal information and preferences, and spits out a list (hopefully) of sites I've personally reviewed that fit your criteria. I have yet to add geographical regions to this quiz however, as it's a humongous task, but I'm plugging away bit by bit. In the meantime, here's my top picks for your specific situation, and why:
Match.com: My first recommendation comes with some caveats, so let's get those out of the way, first. I've heard from a substantial number of readers that there's a bit of a bait-and-switch experience going on over at Match, where few people reply to your smiles or emails (normal), but then when your membership is about to expire, you get a slew of communications, and must subscribe to access them - just to discover you can't find those profiles. (...Read More...) Now, with that still in mind, Match has a huge database of members, and they offer features and benefits that other, smaller sites just can't compete with. I'd peruse without paying for a week or two before signing up, and then only try it for a few months at most to see if you get the kind of responses you're after.
Lavalife or LavalifePrime (Buy Direct): Lavalife is a Canadian company, and they offer either their standard site (all adults) with three sections: Dating, Marriage and Intimate Encounters. You can use all three without folks knowing your handle on other parts of the site, and create different search options, photos, profiles, etc. as well. Lavalife Prime is only for the 45+ set, and I haven't checked lately to see the number of folks signed up, but I'll hazard it should have a few lovely matches in your area.
OkCupid: It's no secret that I love OkCupid, and have recommended it ad nauseum to my readers over the years. It's fun, free, and well laid out, and offers a significant number of members in every area I've researched or traveled to - including some pretty remote locations in North America. My only caveat here is that it does attract a younger member base, it's focused on taking tests to determine compatibility (the hour you spent over at eHarmony is more than enough here doing the same thing), and it's definitely more of a quirky site. I've never come across another large dating site with so many bisexual or polyamorous singles, which is of huge benefit to some, and not to others. I wouldn't let that stop you from signing up, but do go in knowing it might not suit your relationship needs.
No matter what happens, do let us know what happens with your search Mr. B. I'd love to hear of your progress, and how or if the sites worked out for you.