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|Hayley Matthews • 3/11/16|
The Short Version: With in-person sessions, 24/7 advice, and frequent feedback, Dating Ring and its team of professional matchmakers are like your dating-BFFs — ones who know everything about you, what you want in a date or long-term partner, and how to find him or her for you. From crafting the perfect profile to choosing your best photos to searching thousands of potentially compatible singles, they put the human element back into online dating and take the pressure off you — so you can “spend your time on dates, not online.”
Advanced matching algorithms have changed the way people online date, allowing singles to sit back while a computer does the work. And while that’s great for some people, there’s an alternative for those who want all of the convenience of online dating without losing the human touch: Dating Ring.
Founded in 2013 by Emma Tessler and Lauren Kay, Dating Ring is a personalized dating service with experienced matchmakers who become like the best friend you always needed, one who gets you so well that she knows exactly what you’re looking for in a match — and has the ability to introduce that person to you.
Open to straight, gay, lesbian, and bisexual singles and available in five cities (with plans to expand), Dating Ring takes the weight off your shoulders with its simple 4-step system. Emma and Director Shearly Markowicz were kind enough to walk us through that system, introduce us to their expert matchmakers, and give us their thoughts on offering a personalized matching alternative.
While online dating can involve a lot of steps (picking the right site, creating a clever profile, agonizing over your photos, filling out questionnaires, searching for perfect matches… the list goes on!), Dating Ring’s matchmakers eliminate those steps for you and work their magic in just 4:
Dating Ring also offers profile creation, with your best photos chosen for you, which is a common speed bump daters have trouble getting over.
“One way we rectify that is we have them upload their best 20 and we pick them for them. People have found that to be extremely helpful because putting your best picture forward is really important,” Shearly said.
And there are even more perks you can take advantage of as well — like invitations to national singles events and close contact with your matchmaker, who provides frequent dating and relationship advice.
“People get answers within 24 to 48 hours tops, and it’s like having your own matchmaker on hand,” Shearly said.
Probably the most valuable component of Dating Ring is the consistent feedback loop between clients and matchmakers. This allows the matchmakers to form trustworthy relationships with clients and get better at what they do on a daily basis.
“We try to treat this like a friend introducing a friend, and we try to improve upon that by having them let us know what they thought about the date,” Shearly said. “It gives us a third angle that helps us make more accurate matches and get to know our members better.”
While some avenues for dating focus more on flashy features and elaborate algorithms, Dating Ring focuses on you and getting you the results you want. Dating then becomes about simply having fun and enjoying meeting a great person — maybe even your soulmate.
“Dating is a high-impact sport. People get burned out because of all the swiping and the messaging and the radio silence, and you’re inundated with choice, which at first seems really exciting, and then it’s just really exhausting,” Emma said. “People don’t have to do that much with us, so it’s a very refreshing option to talk to a matchmaker, wait for a match, and tell us what you thought. It’s almost no effort for even more reward.”
Having qualified and relatable matchmakers is very important to Dating Ring and plays a key role in the daters’ success. They care about your particular dating needs just as much as your best friend would, and they take the time to help you find the relationship you’ve always wanted.
Emma and Shearly — who studied sociology and anthropology at Guilford College and business administration at the University at Buffalo, respectively — and a majority of the 9 matchmakers have degrees in relational subjects like psychology, communication, and therapy, and all of them have years of experience in the matchmaking field.
“There are certain industries that tend to lend themselves well to matchmaking,” Emma said.
With so many unique skill sets, the matchmakers are able to bring something different to the table and assist daters in their own way, whether they’re interacting with clients online, in person, or on the phone.
“It’s also important that they’re intuitive. Sometimes people are saying one thing but they mean another — we find a way to translate it,” Shearly said. “Finding people who have that insight has been an important part of our hiring process, and everyone who’s come to us has had that passion.”
Shearly and Emma weren’t always in the dating industry, but they did always have a knack for matchmaking.
Emma was working as a sexuality specialist and was also very familiar with online dating, including its pitfalls. She went through several bad dates herself (one guy even spent the evening inundating her with pictures of his mom’s cats), and her wheels began to turn.
It didn’t take long for her to realize that she could do better with every aspect of dating — and she could help others do better, too. So she combined her professional and personal expertise to create Dating Ring with fellow matchmaking junkie Lauren Kay, who’s also an adviser at the company.
In Shearly’s case, she was initially in the life settlement business, but as a social butterfly who was constantly setting up her friends and co-workers, she knew matchmaking was her true calling.
That calling didn’t come to fruition until she was working with her sister in salon management, listening to so many women complain about their dating lives. Having been through a few awful dating experiences of her own (alien-themed date, anyone?), she had the drive to improve her dating life and the dating lives of other singles.
“That’s when I realized I needed to go back into the online dating world,” she said. “It’s something I’m passionate about. It’s what is most interesting to me.”
She was working behind the scenes at matchmaking firm when she saw an ad for Dating Ring and reached out to Emma. They’ve been colleagues, and friends, ever since.
“I never thought in a million years that we’d be at this point, but I’m very proud of us,” Shearly said.
Dating Ring’s vast and varied clientele means you’re more likely to meet that special someone.
A bulk of them are successful professionals and artists who are typically career-oriented, and their ages range from 18 up to 70, with the highest concentration being around 35. The gender ratio leans slightly more female, which should be even more of an incentive for men to join. While currently every member is in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, or Washington, D.C., you can sign up to receive an email notification when Dating Ring comes to your city.
You’re also given 3 membership options, so you can choose the one that best meets your needs:
Working with Emma, Shearly, and the matchmakers at Dating Ring feels just like asking your closest friends for dating guidance, and that’s what we love about them. What they’ve got in the works right now includes improving upon their methods, expanding to more cities, and hosting more singles events — and the people they help will always come first.
“We’re looking to fine-tune our product and the way we match and create other features that can make dating more seamless for people — that’s our main goal and objective,” Emma said.