More than one million singles have logged on to the Lavalife, which claims to be the online dating site "where singles click." Cute. So hold onto your hats, folks, and get ready for this: whatever you're looking for (Date? Relationship? Fling?), Lavalife.com will hook it up. Amen to online dating.
All cynicism aside, here's what Lavalife has going for it: the site separates users by what they're looking for, casual dating, a relationship or an intimate encounter. Other sites boast similar breakdowns but Lavalife goes one step furthur, using the same system to organize articles Click, its online magazine. Lavalife features a city guide, as well as LavalifePrime for singles over 45. An unscientific Love Buzz survey found that most regular members range from early twenties to late thirties.
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You can filter proflies by age, location, interests, and applications (such as those with web-cam access) but the profile format itself is pretty bland. As on other sites, members sell themselves with a headline alongside their picture (nine out of ten openers include some derivative of "Looking for someone special,"), and an open-ended section, which is a minefield for shameless self-promotion. One member claims: "I look much younger than my age, enjoy walking on the beach and holding hands under the stars." And we're sure he's the only one.
Otherwise, profiles include the basics (ethnicity, religion, body type, etc). When subscribers find an attractive profile, they can flirt by sending a smile, IM, or e-mail, or requesting/granting a "backstage pass" to view additional pictures.
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The user-friendly site has pastel, color-coded category tabs and a search side bar. Instant messages appear in a top banner, visible while browsing and, again, categorized by what type of encounter you're looking for. Besides the lipstick-red logo, the Lavalife page is not as hot-looking as you'd expect (considering the name). But if you can't take the heat Lavalife has a call-in dating service, too.
Lavalife's biggest perk is access for non-paying members. With a free login name, you can send smiles, backstage passes, and respond to contact from subscribers who pay $29.99 for one month, or $56.99 for three. Freeloaders can't initiate e-mail or IMs, see who's viewed their profiles or use LavaLife2Go for mobile access ($4.99/month). And here's a hint: No need for a membership if you're only seeking intimate encounters -- you'll get a slew of IM's and e-mails without. Happy browsing.