It was the weekend after Thanksgiving and I was in the mood to do some anonymous online dating on account of my stuffing-altered physique. This week’s choice: a Lavalife.com review. I was curious to find out what made Lavalife so popular (in Canada, of all places) and how its online site differs from its original phone-messaging platform. Here are my thoughts.
It felt like a great time for another dating site review, and this go round I had my sights set on Lavalife.com. When I began my Lavalife dating review I can honestly say I’d never heard of the site, but I came to find out it’s one of the largest and most popular online dating sites on the web today. The more I poked around, the more familiar it looked – the site is definitely aiming at my young, tech savvy demographic. I enjoyed my time there and found a few fun features the free dating sites don’t offer, so check out my reviews below.
Wow. At first glance, Lavalife looks more like a NASA control panel than a dating site, but with more colors and clip art. This is one of the first dating websites I’ve been to that uses red in their color scheme which I find kind of weird since red’s, you know, the color of love. Anyway, the homepage claimed that “millions” of singles love the site and featured a pleasing array of natural looking profile photos next to the login box. One of the more in-your-face aspects of the homepage were the two large banner ads at the bottom, one for “Lavalife Voice” and one for “Lavalife chat.” There was lots of talk about sexy texting and hot single guys looking to meet people. I was somewhere between grossed out and intrigued.
I started with the free online dating sign-up option, which ended up being only somewhat involved. After the standard email address and zip code business, I was asked to come up with such creative items as a “nickname” (i.e. my username) and my “opening line” which more than intimidated me. For some reason, a dating service that asks me to position my profile snippet as an opening line had me scared – “opening line” may as well be a four letter word in the real world. Have you ever heard anyone talk about an effective opening line? Yeah, me either.
After the Login:
The login page kept talking about the three different online dating communities available for me to explore, which I assumed meant the website, voice, and chat. Well, I was wrong on that one as the three communities actually turned out to be dating, relationship and intimate. They mean exactly what you think they mean, and I’ve noticed similar segmentation on some of the other date sites around. I know some people use online dating sites to find hook ups with other singles, which is great for them, truly. I don’t, however, and am at least a little skeptical of dating services that try to service both people looking for an “intimate encounter” and daters looking for a white picket fence.
The Lavalife dating site itself was very colorful and fun to play around on…there was a lot more going on than in many of the free dating sites I frequent. It was much more than just a screen full of personal ads, as some dating sites seem to be, which is nice since if I wanted personal ads, I’d buy a newspaper. The News Alert box to the left was great and showed me how many IMs, “smiles”, mail messages, and “backstages” I had – wait, what the heck is a backstage? I didn’t ever have any, so I can only assume it’s some sort of private singles chat function and that Tommy Lee must be a partial owner of Lavalife.
There was a whole section dedicated to telling me about who was online now that was separated into Local, Video, Hotlist, and Smile Received. There ended up being a whole lot of numbers to go over as everything was segmented into the three sections: Dating, Relationship, and Intimate. Speed dating, this is not. Lavalife.com’s matchmaking service even asks users to fill out a separate profile for each of the three sections, which I guess makes sense as you wouldn’t want to use the same sexy lingerie shot for Intimate as you would for Relationship…that’d be a good way to get some uncomfortable messages and strange looks.
Like I said, the Lavalife dating site is chock full of cool things to play with, which the best online dating sites always have. One of the main tabs is called “Party” and upon further investigation turned out to be a scheduled singles chat room. This chat dating function runs 5 times daily and you can even get a ‘popularity score’ assigned to you by other users which sounds less like online dating and more like the high-school locker room, but I digress.
They’re really hyping Lavalife Voice as a dating service, too, as there are links all over the place. Basically, Lavalife Voice is a phone dating feature that allows users to leave sexy messages for other singles that hopefully lead to extended (expensive) phone conversations. It’s a pretty open market as phone dating went out of style around the same time as frosted tips, but honestly, it’s also a pretty natural crossover for those who are already on line dating and want to take things a step further.
Lavalife Mobile, a similar texting function, was also pretty prevalent, as were the links to Click Magazine, which turned out to be a fun digital publication all about online dating sites. There were also several nods to Lavalife Prime, which is Lavalife’s foray into senior dating. Prime is only for singles age 45 and over and operates on the same premise as some other maturity-specialized Internet dating sites like Matchmaker.com.
Pay to Play:
While all of the fun to be had clicking around and viewing photos is free on Lavalife.com, a subscription is required to send messages and do any sort of real communicating with other members. Like other dating services, Lavalife offers an upgraded profile option which for a fee rockets your profile to the top of the results page, making you imminently more viewable. I’ve never found much need for this kind of feature, but messaging is kind of a necessity when it comes to dating online, so if you really like what you see on the Lavalife dating site, you’re probably going to have to shell out the $20-$35 per month to sign up.
I liked Lavalife, with a few caveats. While at first I was excited about all the extras and buttons and statistics being thrown at me, I eventually became overwhelmed when trying to navigate around the site. It’s well designed but I kept getting lost and confused about which of my three profiles I was working on, which could have been embarrassing had I sent a message from the wrong one. I realized I’d been on the site over half an hour before I’d even looked at any single men! The matches, by the way, were less than awe inspiring. The guys were young and casual looking, but I didn’t give enough detail in my profile for Lavalife to truly match me on any kind of deeper level than age and city, which I know from real life means about as much for dating success as whether or not a man and I share the same shoe size. All this taken into consideration, the highlights of my Lavalife review are:
- The site is huge, which is both a positive and negative. There’s a lot to explore, but it’s easy to get distracted from the mission at hand which is…give me a minute… right. Online dating.
- Lavalife.com separates users into three interest categories: dating, relationships, and intimate. While this separation is a good start, some users may be straddling a gray area and have a hard time defining what they’re looking for, exactly.
- Lavalife Voice and Lavalife Mobile are unique options offered, allowing singles to practice phone dating and text dating, both of which I assume are making my grandfather roll over in his grave.
- This site is not a truly free dating site. Some of the most important functions such as messaging are disabled until you subscribe.
Lavalife is a great place to kill some time and meet people in your area. I’m less optimistic as to how well it really works as a matchmaking service, though and how much of the appeal is that it is just another cool website. This reviewer found Lavalife.com to be more akin to a social networking site like MySpace than to other dating sites like eHarmony.com. I had fun clicking and viewing, but I still don’t have a date, and I’m pretty sure I got carpal tunnel syndrome from switching back and forth between the bazillions of profiles Lavalife had me managing.
I like that it took me a couple of clicks to figure out how to subscribe to Lavalife… I was never accosted with “Sign up now!” messages. With price points ranging from $19.99 per month to around $35, it’s an affordable, mid range option that boasts “millions” of single members. The site was easy to use and felt slightly more high-brow than some of the others I’ve visited, which in turn made me feel less sketchy in general about online dating. Lavalife seems like the place to be for those who are slightly more serious about their online matchmaking. And Canadians. Lots of Canadians.Join