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Dublin: 15 °C Saturday 20 September, 2014

It’s January, and Ireland’s singles are looking for love — so what are the options?

Of course, you’re perfectly entitled to be single and happy — but for anyone on the lookout, well, here’s some of the places to look…

Cara Hartmann, whose eHarmony cat enthusiast alter ego 'Debbie' became a viral sensation.
Cara Hartmann, whose eHarmony cat enthusiast alter ego 'Debbie' became a viral sensation.
Image: Cara Hartmann via Youtube

THE FIRST MONTH of the year is typically a boon time for dating websites, as singletons people who are single look to start afresh after a month of socialising and family get-togethers in December (who has time to find a soul-mate when there’s office Kris Kringle presents to buy?)

Come January, ads for the some of the biggest global dating service brands gradually replace those Guinness ‘White Christmas’ TV spots, while the same companies bombard news outlets with press releases aimed at steering casual daters onto the internet.

One such story from Match.com this year pinpointed 5 January as the most popular day of the year for internet dating. The dating site generally sees a 25 to 30 per cent boost in traffic between Christmas and 14 February, and their survey even went as far as to pick 8.57pm on 5 Jan as the most likely time to find love online.

So what are the options for Irish people looking to find someone to love, date, or even just to distract them from the fact that it’s still winter?

Is everyone going online, or are more traditional forums the best option? TheJournal.ie takes a look at the options — and the costs involved…

Costs nothing (but time)

Online, the old reliable Plenty of Fish remains ever-popular in the Irish dating world. It’s main advantage being that it’s absolutely free to use.

POF differs from some other well-known dating sites in that it allows prospective users to search for matches before setting up an account (essentially letting them ‘check out the talent’). Casual users are allowed scroll through several pages of profile before being told they must sign up to continue using the site.

The tactic has paid off over the years — the site has a huge number of Irish users (a random search for 29-year-old women within ten miles of Wexford throws up 152 accounts, for instance — not entirely scientific, but it certainly indicates the popularity of the service).

Several single people who spoke to TheJournal.ie for this piece said they had also turned to another free site recently — Ok Cupid, citing a more up-to-date design as one of the main reasons.

For those looking for a halfway house between a full-service site and the real-world bar scene, the relatively new dating app Tinder has been proving popular with college-age and early 20s daters since its launch in late 2012.

Pretty much the digital equivalent of ‘hot or not’ — the app finds people nearby who are also on Tinder, and connects them only if both parties swipe the screen to indicate they’re into the other. The app now sees some 350 million swipes a day worldwide, with Ireland having one of the highest adoption rates.

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So, sometimes stock photos can be pretty disturbing [Image: Shutterstock]

€ to €€ options

Of course, there are a whole array of dating sites out there, and many daters choose to opt for a pay site as a means of weeding out the time-wasters and window-shoppers.

For instance, a six-month subscription for Match.com will set you back €12.90 per month — while a comparable membership with Elite Singles (which aims itself at graduates and professionals) costs €19.95 per month.

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Authentic photo of a real couple in love at the beach [Image: Shutterstock]

€€ to €€€€

For some, the prospect of filtering through dating profiles can seem just a touch too impersonal, while others simply cringe at the prospect of having to encapsulate all aspects of their personality in three paragraphs and 12 eye-catching keywords. (More than half of all Irish POF users seem to begin their profile with the phrase ‘Don’t really know what to write here…’ while almost all seem to run out of hobbies once they’ve worked through the list of ‘socialising, music, cinema…’).

Luckily for some, speed dating is still a thing — events specialists GetOut.ie are one of the largest companies on the go offering such singles nights, and they’re capitalising on the pre-Valentine’s rush with a raft of nights planned between now and 14 February.

The speed-dating nights costing between €20 and €29 per person; events in Dublin take place in either Cafe en Seine or Howl at the Moon, while in Cork and Galway the venues are the Long Island Cocktail Club and the Skeff Bar, respectively.

GetOut.ie owner Hugh Redmond told TheJournal.ie that January was always a bumper month.

“It seems people wake up after the hangover and burst out of the gates — so we’ve a lot of events planned for the next few weeks. We would do mix of online dating and in-person events.

“Now, there are a lot of mixed emotions people might have about the online thing, but certainly there’s no substitute for face-to-face contact and that emotional connection.

“We’ve run over 500 of these events in the last seven or eight years, and you can tell there’s definitely a lot to be said about the first 30 to 60 seconds when people come in contact. Most people will agree that attraction happens really quickly.

While unable to put an exact figure on the success rate, Redmond said he’d had three wedding invitations in the last year from couples who had met at GetOut events, and that one couple he knew of had just celebrated the birth of their first baby.

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Stock-image models do their best to look relaxed and natural, despite the presence of comically oversized wine glasses [Shutterstock]

€€€€ +

At the upper end of the market, introduction companies like Two’s Company offer “professional and confidential” matchmaking services for clients ranging in age from their late 20s to mid 70s.

Membership starts at around €500 — but according to to founder Jennifer Haskins, members get some unique benefits for that initial outlay.

“So far as I know we’re the only service to have the policy that we only offer membership to people if we think they’re suitable and that there’s a high likelihood we’ll find a match — so for some people that might be a big plus.

“We also maintain a 50-50 balance of membership, something most agencies cannot do — and it’s difficult to do too. It just means we have to be more careful and keep the figures in check month to month.”

Haskins said the company’s clientele ranged from young professionals to older members who might be separated, divorced and widowed. Members who successfully sign up go through a four stage process, starting with an informal interview, and continuing with the generation of their user profile, followed by a first introduction and subsequent feedback session.

“People come to us because privacy and confidentiality might be of major importance for them. Others might simply want somebody to look after the romantic end of their lives.

“We tailor make packages. You might have people who have less specific criteria, but you would also have people who, for instance, would prefer someone who has no children, who plays golf, even who plays golf from a certain handicap — people have some very specific requests.



Thankfully, most Irish dates aren’t quite this specific in their criteria (Youtube: dvderif)

Of course, this being Ireland — failing all of the above, there’s always Coppers…

…  There’s always Coppers.

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[Screengrab via RTÉ/Republic of Telly]

Read: RTÉ’s new dating show features your most awkward family photos

Read: Woman enlists the help of an entire town to find guy she met in bar

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