Lavalife is one of the oldest dating sites on the internet. It began in 1997 and the site has roughly 5 million subscribers. They market themselves as "America's Sexiest Dating Site," and that is a fairly accurate description of it. While other sites focus on dating or serious relationships, Lavalife has options for relationships, dating and intimate encounters; and the site gives subscribers the option of filling out profiles for one, two or all three of the categories. Sort of a jack of all trades of the online dating world, but everyone has their specialty and Lavalife appears to be the master of the intimate encounter category.
"Benefits" is a good term to bandy about with this site, because despite the variation in categories, it appears most subscribers are looking for a friend with benefits. This is emphasized with the photos that appear when you log in, no hand holding couple skipping through a field of daisies here, it's more of, they will need a room in about five minutes. So when you are in a bit of dry spell, haven't had a special someone in while, Lavalife tries to fulfill whatever needs arise.
The profile sections, as would be expected, vary quite a bit. The dating category is essentially all the information you need to give and know if you were just going to meet someone for a casual lunch, not too in depth, but indicators of common attraction and a couple common interests. The relationship profiles are slightly more in depth and expand into the career and children and future goals categories, but do not have any type of personality indicators. The intimate encounters profiles have the essential physical characteristics and then expand to include what turns you on, the myriad types of encounters people are open to and what type of person/people you want to have these encounters with, including profiles for couples.
Matching & Searching
When using the matching and searching functions on the site for the relationship category the amount of potential matches was quite low. When broadening to dating, the numbers increase significantly, and in intimate encounters they went up exponentially. The matches revealed in both dating and relationship categories were matched only on a few levels and did not seem much above the luck one would have in a bar or a party. The matches in intimate encounters appeared to correspond to the criteria much better, but a lot of the members in intimate encounters do not post photos so the physical attraction factor that would be so important there can possibly lead to an uncomfortable moment when photos are exchange. Paying subscribers are permitted to have a photo posted, but hidden from general view for privacy purposes.
Communication is virtually instant with IM and phone options in addition to email. For a female this can be a bit overwhelming, especially since the gender split on the site is 59% male 41% female. Taking an extra safety precaution or two when meeting people in person from the intimate encounters category and possibly the dating category would probably be a good idea. One variation on Lavalife is that free members are able to respond on IM and email to conversations initiated by paying members. The site also blocks access to your phone number when a phone call is made with another subscriber, which is a good safety consideration.
The major portion of subscribers on Lavalife is under 40 and straight. The site has sister sites for gay; Manline, lesbian; Womanline and 45+; Lavalife Prime. The vast majority of the subscribers (58%) are only casual users of the site with a small minority (4%) being ardent users, one will see the same faces consistently.
Something that was extremely useful and entertaining was the article and advice section. There are a broad range of titles and some extremely well written articles with good solid advice, almost enough to expand into an additional website. There does seem to be a lot of advertising that may be necessary because of the free members being able to respond to communication lowering subscription rates. But for those that do pay the $29.99 for one month or $57.97 for three months it is a bit distracting. It may not be the best choice for serious types but when it comes to accessibility to other singles who are looking for some hot, sexy fun, Lavalife is the place to be.
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