Online dating sites use market metaphors to match people.Match metaphors are conceptual frameworks that allow individuals to make sense of new concepts by drawing upon familiar experiences and frame-works.Users of an online dating service would usually provide personal information, to enable them to search the service provider's database for other individuals.

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This metaphor of the marketplace – a place where people go to "shop" for potential romantic partners and to "sell" themselves in hopes of creating a successful romantic relationship – is highlighted by the layout and functionality of online dating websites.

The marketplace metaphor may also resonate with participants' conceptual orientation towards the process of finding a romantic partner.

The highest scoring dating service was Facebook, which uses the personal homepage genre, the message board genre, the weblog and directory genre, as well as utilizing the Circle of Friends.

The second highest scoring, Second Life utilizes virtual worlds, message boards, chat groups and profile pages to allow people to contact in a three-dimensional environment.

More recently, the impact of social networking on online dating has been featured on the Questia online research website peer reviewed article ""I Luv U : )!

": A Descriptive Study of the Media Use of Individuals in Romantic Relationships" The most popular platforms are Twitter, Snapchat, Linked In and Instagram.

Other sites are more specific, based on the type of members, interests, location, or relationship desired.

A 2005 study of data collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that individuals are more likely to use an online dating service if they use the internet for a greater amount of tasks and less likely to use such a service if they are trusting of others.

As online dating's population becomes larger, sites with specific demographics are becoming more popular as a way to narrow the pool of potential matches.

The 20 most popular dating sites in 2006 as ranked by Hitwise include j (for Jewish singles), Christian Mingle.com, Christian Cafe.com, Man (same sex introductions), Love From India.ini, Black Christian People Meet.com, (for Latino singles), Asian People Meet.com, and (for Indian singles).

Also, this model generally allows users to switch between free and paying status at will and without having to do anything, simply providing advanced features for a set period of time whenever the according payment is received.