AT THIS time of year, you may be tempted to explore the world of online dating. The longest-established Christian online dating service is Christian Connections. But here is the first problem: what is a Christian? The service also includes profiles of Unitarians, people who say they never go to church, one person who identifies more as Buddhist, and at least one “medium and healer”.
I challenged Christian Connections on this latter profile. “We do try to keep an open mind with regard to an individual’s faith and how it forms the basis of their Christianity,” they replied. “In this instance, the member does state that she is a Christian; so her account would be permitted unless we were made aware of information that suggested otherwise.”
That aside, one of the strangest things about using Christian Connection — or any dating app — is that the initial search feels very much like a slave market. Admittedly, the slaves have put themselves in the shop window; but users are still making an initial choice based solely on people’s appearances: something that makes me uncomfortable.
Christian Connection does not have a comprehensive search facility: on the website, you can search by age, location, denomination, height, and whether he or she smokes or has children; but on the app you seem to get just a random selection of faces. On the app, you can see profiles, and read and respond to messages, but the website also lets you see who has looked at your profile and keep track of “waves” — a way of sending a simple hello — that you have sent.
It is free to create and view profiles; and a free account allows you to send a wave, or one of three pre-set messages. If you want to send personal messages, you will need to subscribe at £24 per month, with options of £48 per quarter, or £64 half-yearly.
An alternative is CDFF, or Christian Dating For Free: “the UK’s largest 100% free Christian dating service”. Two weeks after signing up, however, the list of people who have viewed my profile show that the majority are overseas: in Brazil, Singapore, Kenya, Indonesia, and Fiji. These are hardly convenient places to start dating.
There are many secular dating apps, including eHarmony. It was recently rebuked by the Advertising Standards Authority for its claim that its matching service was “based on science.” But users do have to answer a lengthy questionnaire to complete a profile. It offers monthly free trials, but this is somewhat misleading: you can create a profile, complete the questionnaire, read other people’s profiles, and send messages; but you cannot see other people’s photos. And, despite what I said earlier, the way a person looks is part of attraction: with the free trial, you are messaging in the dark.
Subscriptions range from £131.97 for three months, to £359.88 per year.