If you're travelling you might want to sample a bit more than just the standard tourist sites - most travel experts say that meeting the locals is key to having an authentic experience. So, if you're travelling South Africa which of the dating sites is best. We did some research, and here's a summary:
The hype is true, those on Elite Singles are generally better looking and have better jobs than those on other dating sites. Elite Singles advertise themselves as being for single professionals, with 82% of members being university graduates. I obviously cannot confirm this, but it was in line with my experience.
When I did a Google search for "online dating sites" Elite Singles was at the top of the list of paid search adverts, and came second in the organic search results, after an article on dating sites by Mashable (not SA focused so of questionable value for me). Since Mashable isn't a dating site, Elite Singles is implicitly Google's selection as the number one online dating site in South Africa. Whilst they did not have a lot of matches, those that there were were more relevant than those on other sites and I got a high percentage of replies.
There are 3 ways of getting others' attention:
Elite Singles have a LOT of questions - more than any of the other sites.
I navigated to the site and started the sign-up process. They ask how important your partner's age is, your marital status, my education and my profession. They then asked a long serious of questions regarding the extent to which certain statements apply to myself, e.g.:
And then to choose which of a list of terms apply to myself, e.g.: Good looking, healthy, sexy, introverted, affectionate, curious, intelligent, irritable, restless, competitive and serious. And then to pick 4 similar terms that you imagine others would describe you as being (an interesting angle on the previous question). List emotions which I've recently felt, factors which are important to me in a relationship and things which I'm most grateful for in my life.
There were 3 payments options:
I went for the 6 month membership.
There didn't seem to be any way to upgrade to a higher level of membership which was great, as it placed everybody on a level playing field.
There isn't a way to just do a search through their database of members; one has to wait until matches are sent to you.
Initially they selected 7 matches for me, none of whom I was interested in! They said to come back daily for more.
On day 2 (19 Dec 2018):
By day 4 matches had started to dry up - they only sent me 3.
On day 5 they sent me 3 matches, but 2 of them didn't have profile pictures - getting close to the bottom of the barrel.
On day 6 three of the 4 matches they sent me didn't have profile pictures. But I'd started a conversation with somebody; and 2 people had sent me smiles (one in reply to a smile I'd sent, and the other unsolicited - pretty rare for females to approach me, so I was quite thrilled about that).
On day 7 the 3 new matches all weren't based in Cape Town; and after that date it was the same thereafter.
This is a small issue, but it caught me out once. Unlike other platforms, EliteSingles doesn't update things like outstanding messages live - so you have to refresh the page to check if anything has happened. I took a while to email a reply to somebody, and then hit send, but I didn't know that in the interim she had sent a subsequent email. (in
I had a date at House of Machines in Cape Town with a really adventurous lady, who had travelled the world, served in Afghanistan, hiked many trails and eventually decided to settle in South Africa.
Tinder has a range of ages, although much more focused on younger ages than the other platforms, covers the full spectrum of races, and has the biggest audience. It's also free - there are paid options, but unlike most other platforms, the free version provides sufficient functionality,
You can divide the ladies into several categories:
It is simple to use - you swipe left if you don't like somebody and swipe right if you like somebody. If they also swipe right then you can message them. But there are some peculiarities which will help you get more out of it:
What's pretty neat is that they show you how close people are to you. I set the maximum distance, and then can choose - if somebody is attractive but stays 150km away, they may be worth making the effort for; whereas standards may be lower for those who live closer by.
For a bit extra you can boost your profile - ie come up first when the ladies have to choose. I'm not sure why, but I've noticed that when boosting I do get matches, but there is a high proportion of scammers.
A stunning gal matched up with me, saying she wanted to hookup; she started asking for revealing photos. I requested a voice note first, which "she" wouldn't give. It's likely there was some male behind the scenes orchestrating a blackmail scam.
Zoosk is worth joining if you're looking for the typical active Zoosk member; which is a white lady in her 40s, divorced and has children. It has a small active membership in this genre, including in Cape Town and Gauteng (about 10 online at any one time). The minimum age is 23 (other sites it is usually 18), but there are very few active members in their 20s. there are a massive number of non-active members, and the key to identifying the active members is to go to the "Online Now" area; there are usually about 10 females online at any one time - naturally you're going to have to regularly do this to find somebody.
There's no nice way to exclude those you're not interested in from constantly appearing in the search results (e.g. Online Now); the only way I found was to block them.
I had a good meetup with the lead chemist at a manufacturing firm; a drop-dead gorgeous lady with long straight hair.
Before you sign up for a paid subscription, I suggest going to the "Online Now" area a few times - only sign up if there are a number of people who you find attractive.
This platform is mostly black and coloured, and of all age groups; and there are sufficient Capetonians (who I am most interested in) to have fun. Having gone through a lot of the profiles, there are a lot of overweight people. I'm not sure whether I'm allowed to say this, but there seemed to be a larger proportion of overweight people on Badoo than the other platforms.
You get one chance to change your date of birth, then it finalises to that, and you cannot change it again.
Something which took me a while to figure out is that whilst I could not set my desired age range on laptop's web browser, but I could on the app on my smartphone. Of course there is only one profile, so once the range is set on the app, it also changes on the laptop.
The "people nearby" button is the key to enjoyment. This shows people who are around you and relatively active. These are the people to spend time messaging.
The paid package provides a significant edge, as you can message people without them having liked you.
I had an interesting meetup with a Females Sevens Springbok - a really muscular lady.
I met my ex on Datingbuzz in 2003, and we had a successful 14 year marriage, with 4 beautiful children; and am forever grateful to them for having made this possible. So, I was quite interested to see what it was like these days. It's still a good site, but not as active as it was before (or perhaps I've got less attractive!), and it hasn't changed much (a good thing), other there now being a "First Impressions" option, along the same lines as Tinder, where you can like or dislike somebody based largely on their photo.
I find it irritating when a website clones itself to market under different names, as it sometimes fools me into thinking it's something different and I waste time filling in my profile on the different sites. The following are cloned websites of Datingbuzz:
Datingbuzz is owned by "The Dating Lab".
I quite like this platform, even though I didn't meet a lot of people I wanted to date - it's very well set out.
A mix of races, for South Africans mainly black, but there were quite a few foreigners who contacted most of whom I didn't engage with (I'm not interested in penpals). One let it be known that she was a lady of the night, and I asked the other (from Romania) why she had contacted me: she "saw me".
There's sufficient functionality in the free profile to have a good time without paying. A paid version will allow you to start chatting to somebody before they like your profile (otherwise you need to mutually like each other). You also can't see who has liked you, without paying; which meant that I eventually relented and paid. I paid for 12 months membership at R29.16 a month. Getting into the daily spotlight would have cost an extra R106 per month; I didn't think it was necessary as I planned to be contacting all those I was interested in.
It's got a great search option, with you being able to specify your desired age range, location, and advanced filters like career, education, relationship status, children, body type, smoking, drinking habits and ethnicity.
I really like it that when you view somebody profile you can see the message history; sites like DateClub which don't do this are missing a trick, as one doesn't always remember if one has messaged them.
An interesting feature is that you can see how many times a person's profile has been liked, which provides a feel for the volume which the typical girl has to sift through. It was not uncommon for a girl to over over 2000 likes!
One thing they can improve on is not having men in the spotlight area, or at least not including them when somebody has expressed interest in females (like me).
After about 2 hours of using the site I'd had enough, and was ready to rescind my membership. You'll enjoy Date Club more if you're looking for a black partner; and are willing to put up with its clunky interface; and that it doesn't restrict views to people in your area of interst and target date range. Most participants seemed to be in the 30+ age group.
There is no free version or trial membership for Date Club, so you have to take the plunge and trust them that it'll be worthwhile. On the other hand it's only R2.50 a day; although for long-term members this will add up quickly. A possible strategy is to join for a short while, contact everybody you're interested, and then leave, and rejoin later to see if there is anybody new and interesting about.
Ethnicity is a big deal in South Africa, so I must point out that the members of DateClub are 99% Black.
It is only via the Profile Search functionality that you can narrow your search down to the correct age range and province. But being able to search in the same Province isn't specific-enough, as for example it's difficult to date somebody from Oudtshoorn if you're staying in Cape Town. Really, the only people I want to see across the site are females from Cape Town in my age range, and it shouldn't be necessary to hit search to find the target market.
To be honest, I'd never heard of Date Club; so whilst investigating what South Africans were searching for on the web in terms of online dating, I was truly surprised to see "Dateclub" right there at the top (via Adwords Keyword Planner):
Their website, www.dateclub.co.za, advertises "R2.50 / day subscription"; and says that on subscribing you can:
There's even a Johannesburg based support line, +27-11-507-4630. The Ts&Cs says that Dateclub it is owned by "Bopelo Trading Limited". Bopelo seem to have covered the full spectrum of needs from bibleclub.co.za to hookups.co.za! They all share the same support phone number!
To join DateClub you need a cellphone number. After entering my phone number they sent me an SMS requiring me to reply Yes or No to join. I didn't want a cellphone bill with a R2.50 bill each day for DateClub rubbing it in my face that I'm single, so initially decided not to join; but changed my mind as otherwise this article wouldn't provide enough guidance!
After replying they SMS'd me: "Welcome Passwd 63220 Click www.dateclub.co.za/menu.php R2.50/day. To cancel SMS STOP CLUB to 31025 Help 011 507 4630."
After keying in my phone number and password on the website, they asked for my ID number (to verify that I'm 18) and my Nickname. I filled in my ethnicity, a short description (the dreaded!), sex, that I'm looking for a serious relationship, my status and my postal code.
I then got to a main menu. I read the online safety advice, then navigated to the Introduction. Then I went to the gallery and added 2 photos of myself.
I then went to the Live menu; I even saw something about me: ""Preston, Male seeking Female, 37 years old, Virgo, lives in Western Cape has just joined. Welcome him".
To get back to the main menu there's a Home button, which is at the bottom left of each page (a bit non-standard - I was expecting it to be at the top left).
I then went to the Wishes page, various wishes were:
In the Buddies section, I had no buddies :( Oh well, Rome wasn't built in one day.
Scammers & beggars:
At this point I realised that some people hadn't been online for weeks, so I changed my search setting to "Online Now". Unfortunately this only brought up 1 person, who I could see from the photo that I was not attracted to.
One attractive person I couldn't contact at all, as she'd made her profile private.
The next person I tried to send a nudge to, and got a warning that this would cost 50 DateClub credits.
I then got a "Buddy Request" from a 61 year old male living in Ceres, which I rejected - I'm here to date females, not to make male penpals!
Although there weren't many females in my chosen genre, those that there were were quite active, and I got 4 messages back.
Initially there were no matches in the "Fun Matches" section. I added a Match guarantee for the next day, by spending 100 of the 250 credits I had. The next day 2 fun matches arrived, but neither were attractive.
Dateclub doesn't send any emails out, so you need to regularly check whether you've got messages.
Somebody had marked their mood as being "depressed", and I contacted her to see what the issue was. The answer was "Nvm" (Never mind). She later explained to me that she was using Blackberry, and could use it to work Dateclub without having to pay extra for the internet, like with Whatsapp.
There are loads of profiles on be2, I don't know where they get them from. But most profiles don't have photos, and there is a very low reply rate, so I suspect many of them are dead profiles (even though they're flagged as "new"!). A lot of people released photos for me, but there were very few messages sent; even though I tried to engage a lot.
be2 has very few members in their 20s, some in their 30s, and the vast majority being 40+. There are mostly whites; but a fair number of blacks too.
As usual, the online now area is a good spot to find people who are actually active on the site.
There are not many people on this platform.
Almost immediately after joining they asked me to upgrade & enjoy:
I said no. Then I winked at somebody, must have been the second person I did it too and she said it had made my day. When I realised I couldn't reply to her message I signed up for a 3 day trial at R2.79 per day. Was I conned with a fake profile? This turned out to be a very quiet site, and I didn't get to chat to a single person on it.
Match is an international dating website, with a dedicated South African subdomain at za.match.com. However, there are very few South Africans active on Match, and so I'd strongly advise South Africans to avoid the site rather than likely waste time and money on contacting a very small pool of people, some of whom may not even be able to reply to you, unless you purchase the additional "reply for free" feature. They also inundated me with emails filled with possible matches who stayed in Beijing...weird - I can only imagine that they're big in China.
The "join for free" catchphrase is a bit misleading as there's not a lot one can do with a free profile.
Match's homepage encourages one to fill in criteria to search for a partner, including the province and city you're interested in. After the criteria are filled in, a screen pops up to say that it's "free to look", but you have to register by filling in your email address and selecting a password. It asks for your first name, date of birth (it's oh so tempting to fake this when you're at my age!), and where you live. Then it asks for your height in cm, body type (I need to do some running to remain in the athletic group!), relationship status, number of children, where the children live, whether you want to have chidlren, your education level, whether you smoke, whether you drink (alcohol presumably!), your ethnicity (an important factor in SA, and to lessor or greater extents in other countries), your religion, salary, interests (mine are coffee, dining out, movies, museums, exploring, sports, spirituality and travel). Then you fill in what is NB to you in terms of your partner, eg: body type, drinking habits, education and salary. After filling that in Match provides the option of doubling your chances to find a partner by letting them send out the profile to their sister sites and by allowing your profile to be considered for "member spotlight". Then there was the dreaded but crucial "Tell us about yourself in at least 100 letters" and the upload of photos, which will instantly and ruthlessly decide my fate. There was the option of selecting photos from Facebook which I took up, and was slightly alarmed at seeing all my pictures on a dating website; but felt more relaxed when it allowed me to select from them - I went into my previous profile pictures and chose a few.
coughing signing up I headed to my profile, and immediately discovered that my photo had not in fact been added, and my target age range was also wrong.
I then went to matches, and discovered that it doesn't always get things right - e.g. you might say that you're looking for an asian partner and caucasians show themselves on the list. I guess they have to rely on people's inputs, but one would think folk would know which race group they are (although a good thing too if it's not top of mind - onward to a non-racial world!).
The matches section is similar to Tinder, with a "like" option and an "skip" option; it provides a photo, age, marital status, height, build, children-status and gives a percentage match. Match.com found me a whole 2 matches, both of whom had criteria I had previously marked as non-negotiable. So, in total Match.com found zero matches for me. A complete fail. Unbelievable, and this site seemed to be an utter waste of time and money for me (over R1000 for membership, and an hour setting up a profile).
At 11am on the 18th Dec 2018, even though I'd tried to cancel, they sent me an email saying that they'd found me a bunch of matches:
22 residing in Beijing!
1 residing in Geneva!
1 residing in Abu Dhabi!
I'm not looking for penpals! I've got enough of those already!
On day 3 of my enforced membership (I was still trying to reverse the transaction) they sent me 7 "matches", 4 of whom I had previously contacted (no replies); 2 who were not at all suitable but I messaged them anyways to see what happens, and the 7th was ok and I messaged her too. They also sent me a plethora of Beijing matches.
I then headed to the "Discover" function, and this was a bit more fruitful - about 3 genuine matches and 6 duds. I hit some heart buttons and left some messages. When you search there's a nifty list of pics they place of similar profiles - "more like her", although these might not meet your criteria. I experimented with changing the range; e.g. looking for people within 200km of Cape Town rather than within 50km of Cape Town, but this did not change the list at all. I also tried relaxing the age range I was looking at, but this also didn't make things budge from 9 mutual matches.
There was an interesting feature called "Reverse Match", where I'm a match for them but they're not a match for me! There were 63 people in this list, and I messaged a few of them.
When I totally relaxed my requirements to the maximum range there were only 34 matches in total.
A possible bug was that I can knocked out after a bit with an error message, "Failed to auto login". I just logged in again.
If you're a full member you can:
When I looked the options were to join for 3 months at R215.77 per month, 6 months at R179.79 per month or 12 months at R129.41 per month. Be sure to note that they will continue billing you at the end of the period for which you signed up, unless you tell them you'd like to discontinue! To discontinue your subscription click the "Account" link on the top-right of the site and follow the instructions.
To ensure that others can reply to my messages, I purchased the "Reply For Free" feature for $39.99 for a year's worth.
Interestingly enough my Kulula credit card was blocked after doing the transactions, by the fraud department. Having decided to cancel my subscription by this stage, I reluctantly let them know that it wasn't a fraudulent transaction, but that I wanted to raise a dispute, as I didn't feel that they had delivered the service I'd expected.
Within an hour of purchasing my subscription and checking out the site on the 17th Dec 2018, I realised that the pool of people was very small, and so I sent a web form to their customer care department (the web form is the only way of communicating with them) requesting that my credit card transactions be reversed.
At about 4am in the morning on the 18th Dec 2018 I got an email from them saying that I'd sent the web form for their US division, and I needed to navigate to the South African one and send it there. I duly navigated there and filled in the form at the spot for the SA division - all very confusing. At 8pm on the same day Match US contacted me again saying that I'd got through to them; and providing me with exactly the same instructions again. I asked for their email address and phone number.
Bitdefender prevented me from navigating to the Victoria Hearts webpage, citing it as being a "Phishing page blocked for your protection".
When joining a website and specifying your criteria for a partner start off by insisting on the best attributes (e.g. not negotiable that they do not drink), and then you will start off by seeing your optimum partners. If you don't succeed with any of them, then you can loosen your standards (eg. change your critieria to also look at people who are social drinkers).
I wish that sites had:
It's crucial to be honest, and you're wasting your time if you're not - no matter what you're like there will be people who like you; even if you're shy as a mouse, there are ladies who like that. My language of love is physical touch, and I let it be known from the outset, I am intelligent and I love intelligent ladies, and from the outset I mention that I have children. By specifying and being honest I immediately reduce the field to those meeting my requirements, leading to less of their and my time wasted.
Here's an example of somebody who was forthright about what she wants: " I'm only interest in Christian white males between 37-45. Please do not respond otherwise. I'm an outgoing person. I'm serious.... only white males between mentioned age apply. No smokers ☺. Only men that are in the radius of about 60km"
Even if you're ugly, you must upload your photos - there are other people who will find you attractive. Don't use trick photography, try show yourself at your usual or slightly below usual; to not waste weeks of interaction only for things to end on the first date. If you've got a child, add them to your photo, or your dog/cat - the ladies love that and it'll scare off those who don't! However, some sites don't allow photos of others, so be careful about that.
Add photos of yourself in different situations - e.g. a casual photo, a business photo and a sport photo.
Use a contemporary photo of yourself now, not before you got old and grey!
Some of the ladies who are heavily overweight describe themselves as being "curvy", whilst a minority aren't overweight but are curvy in a more attractive way.
Use proper grammar and spelling. Doing your writeup in Microsoft Word will help weed out the obvious errors, but you may want to ask a friend to check it for you too. On the other hand if you're looking for somebody who isn't bothered by typos, leave them in!
I quickly realised that I'm at the bottom of the dating heap:
There are very few women who will contact you, you will have to do the hunting around; putting yourself out there and getting rejected a high percentage of the time - that's just how the game works. It is sometimes really, really tough when somebody you find attractive doesn't message back.
Do not ever send moneuy or other financial info to people you meet on dating sites. It's almost certain to be a scam. If somebody does request financial info or money, then report them to the website managers. People on the internet sometimes aren't who they say they are.
One scam is where people say they're looking for domestic work (good looking women), and aim to rob you.