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|Kara Pound • 1/26/18|
The Short Version: Drawing from years of collective experience in the dating and relationships space, The Dating Gurus deliver practical advice to singles of all stripes — from those new to the dating scene to seniors looking to get back into the swing of things. Founded by Lee Wallender and Sharon Kroll, a real-life couple who met seven years ago via OkCupid, The Dating Gurus believe dating is not only a journey to learn about another person, but also an exercise in self-exploration. Based in Seattle, the blog broadcasts the unique perspectives of a couple living what they preach to readers worldwide.
It’s been more than seven years since Lee Wallender, a successful online content producer and self-professed mid-century illustration art buff, and Sharon Kroll, an experienced Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a passion for matchmaking, met through the online dating service OkCupid. The couple’s first date was at a Seattle tapas and sangria bar.
“I had been married and divorced twice before I met the man who would become my future husband,” Sharon wrote in an article.
Sharon and Lee’s tapas date turned into a committed relationship, and, five years later, they’re headed for matrimony after a romantic proposal on a beach in Waikiki. The duo recognized they were among a growing population of couples who’ve gone from profile browsing to wedding vows.
“We created TheDatingGurus.com in 2012 after experiencing first-hand the challenges of navigating online dating and have watched it grow,” Sharon said. “Every day, we hear from people who are frustrated and looking for help, and nothing gives us more satisfaction than helping our readers.”
Together, Sharon and Lee are the driving force behind The Dating Gurus, a comprehensive online platform housing information on all things dating and relationships. The site offers advice-driven articles and review blog posts ranging in content from how to perfect your all-important dating profile to which of the top dating platforms are worth your time and money.
“Online dating doesn’t have the stigma that it used to have,” Sharon said. “I think people have started to figure out how to use it in the way that works for them. Although I do hear from my friends and colleagues that ‘online dating is not for me,’ or ‘I’m more of a face-to-face person.’ But, meanwhile, they’re not dating. I’d like to help demystify how to safely and satisfactorily use online dating for people who haven’t done it before.”
“Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” became a popular phrase following the release of the 1992 book of the same name by American author and relationship counselor John Gray. While we’ve learned over the past few decades that men and women are not nearly as different as once thought, it’s fair to say that both sexes can offer different perspectives on how to successfully make online connections.
“After we got together and went through the exploration of different sites, we had a sense that there was a need for more information about relationships and dating beyond the actual matchmaking sites like OkCupid and Match.com,” Sharon said. “We decided on a lark that we could make a better site than many of the profit-driven and formulaic sites flooding the internet. Our hearts were in it since we had personal experience from navigating this world ourselves.”
TheDatingGurus.com is not your run-of-the-mill dating and relationship advice platform. Co-written by Sharon and Lee, the site offers an eclectic aesthetic rooted in vintage and mid-century modern design. The writing style, while conversational, is also unique.
“Many of our articles are written with a bit of wry humor instead of that droll writing style that you see so much,” Sharon said. “We like to insert a bit of ourselves into many things we write so readers can get a sense of the real person who is writing. Lee tends to shoot straight from the hip, and I tend to be more thoughtful and write from a therapeutic point-of-view because of my background as a licensed clinical social worker.”
It seems like a relatively easy task; write a few hundred words describing your likes, dislikes, passions, and fears and turn it into a perfectly crafted dating profile to attract the partner of your dreams. Well, for those of us who have attempted to do just that, creating that all-important dating profile is more like trying to start a fire without flint rather than igniting a bonfire with the toss of a match.
“I find that people really can’t write about themselves,” Sharon said. “We’ve actually done quite a bit of profile rewriting — especially in the earlier days of our site when we had more time. It’s gotten a little bit harder to do profile rewriting, but I do it on occasion. The difference between a person’s ‘before and after’ profile is pretty remarkable with the results that they get.”
For those who prefer a more do-it-yourself approach to writing the perfect dating profile, TheDatingGurus.com offers more than a dozen articles with advice centered on everything from “5 Tips: Inject New Life Into Your Stale Dating Profile” to “Ladies, Your Dating Profile Photo Is Wrong, But Let’s Fix It.”
In the article “Zing! Three Types of Dating Profile Headlines (Guaranteed to Grab Attention and Get Results),” Lee and Sharon advise that “humor tends to attract some attention” and suggest funny headlines such as “Brilliant Novelist Wanna-Be Searching for Muse” or “Eats the Middle of the Oreo First.”
And, for the middle-aged single who thinks he or she has nothing new to learn, the article “Dating For Over 40 and 50? Forget What You Think You Know” is eye-opening.
“I’d say that our most popular article, by far, is one that I wrote about dating headlines,” Sharon said. “We’ve written a bunch of offshoots since then and really want people to understand the importance of making their profiles different from any of the standard profiles that you always see.”
There are literally hundreds of top dating platforms swimming around the web. From well-known sites, like OkCupid and Match, to lesser-known niche sites like Farmers Only and JDate, online dating can be painstakingly time-consuming if you don’t know where to look.
“Lee and I found out firsthand how difficult it is to weed through everything,” Sharon said. “We initially started our site as a fun project to collaborate on as a couple, but ended up enjoying it so much and found that we were helping so many people that it’s been a passion that’s lasted more than a half-decade.”
One of the main components of TheDatingGurus.com is the site’s Dating Site Reviews page, which reviews dozens of the top online dating platforms. In an article titled “Match.com: Beige Toyota of the Online Dating World,” Lee and Sharon write, “Match offers a middle-of-the-road appeal, attracting the average, mostly vanilla citizen.”
Sure, some sites attract more mainstream members of society, but there are plenty of platforms out there catering to the out-of-the-box thinkers and thrill-seekers such as LargeFriends.com and SoulSingles.com.
“Sometimes people just hop on a dating site, and they’re just hoping to meet someone without giving it much thought,” Sharon said. “We have a mixture of age groups on our site that we’re looking to help from new daters to senior daters. We’re not just gearing our content towards the 20-to-30 age bracket.”
For Sharon and Lee, TheDatingGurus.com is a labor of love stemming from the forever love they found in each other via online dating. Armed with personal experience and hours upon hours of research, The Gurus are working to help others find similar results.
“I find attraction and chemistry so fascinating,” said Sharon of why she continues to build TheDatingGurus.com. “Relationships, particularly romantic relationships, have been a passion of mine throughout my life and personal career as a clinical social worker. I knew that I wanted to help others find what we’ve found.”
Sharon reports that although a majority of the feedback and queries they’ve received has been from US men, but the site’s articles, reviews, and advice is geared toward everyone.
“We’ve gotten emails from all different kinds of people,” she said. “Some are simply thanking us for online dating profile help or help with how to choose the right photos for their profile, or to give us their feedback on experiences with various dating apps and sites, to praise for our open and honest writing style. Either way, it’s an absolute joy to hear how we’re helping change a person’s perspective on how to best create a profile that reflects who they are.”