Why Pay Match.com When Dating's Free Sites Beckon?

Debbie Slowey used to look for love on paid online dating site Match.com. Then she discovered PlentyofFish.com, which provides similar services at no charge. "It was free, and there were more [people] to choose from," says Slowey, a 49-year-old Florida resident who got engaged to a chiropractor she met on PlentyofFish last summer. "If it's free, why would I go to Match?" Singles around the country are asking the same question, creating a quandary for a whole slew of paid personals sites besides IAC Interactive's (IACI) Match.com. Among the most prominent are Singlesnet.com, Yahoo! Personals (YHOO), and eHarmony.com. And while free sites have been around for several years, they're finally amassing large enough followings to give the paid sites a headache. At times during the second half of 2008, PlentyofFish was the most-trafficked dating Web site in the U.S., according to Hitwise.

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