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How to land a date for Valentine's Day

Amy and Justin Pounders were married on November 18, 2016.
Photo: Roohi Photography
Amy and Justin Pounders were married on November 18, 2016.

On Valentine's Day, some singles may be inspired to step up their dating game. Going online could be their best bet.

Amy Giberson, now 34, was reluctant to try internet dating again but she decided to give it one more shot in 2014.

She downloaded the Match app and connected with Justin Pounders, also 34, almost immediately. The two decided to meet "IRL" (in real life) days later.

Months after their first date, the couple discovered they had been classmates in preschool, and one year into their relationship Justin arranged to have the young students from their former school hold up signs that asked, "Will you marry me?" In tears, Giberson said yes. They tied the knot last November.

A lot of great love stories begin online. At least they do these days. There are a slew of sites and apps to help singles find love and, for the most part, they work, according to Consumer Reports.

Nearly half, or 44 percent, of those who tried online dating said it led to a serious long-term relationship or marriage, the magazine found. Traditionally known for reviewing products like household cleaners and washers and dryers, Consumer Reports surveyed nearly 10,000 subscribers in the fall of 2016 about online dating and then rated matchmaking sites based on their overall satisfaction.

How to boost the odds with a better profile:
Use recent pictures (taken within the past year) and at least one good close-up headshot.
Show that you're humble through a joke, a self-effacing story or a humorous anecdote.
Keep your profile brief but interesting.
To make a strong first impression, use anecdotes instead of a string of adjectives describing yourself.
Never lie about your age or what you do for a living.
SOURCE: Consumer Reports

"It's clear that online dating websites play a major role in the lives of many consumers — we invest a tremendous amount of time, money and emotional energy. It really is a consumer issue worthy of our attention." said Margot Gilman, money editor for Consumer Reports.

Overall, respondents preferred free sites like OkCupid, Tinder and Grindr over paid sites like Match and eHarmony, in part because of the value.

The now infamous infidelity dating site Ashley Madison, which was one of the most expensive, was also the lowest-scoring online dating service, with a score of 37. (A score of 100 indicates respondents were completely satisfied; 80 was very satisfied and 60 was fairly well-satisfied.)

Still, many users found the sites frustrating. In fact, when compared to other consumer products, like cars, computers and credit cards, online dating services received the lowest satisfaction scores Consumer Reports had ever seen, Gilman said.

"Unlike shopping for a bank or a refrigerator, in the case of online dating, the refrigerator has to like you back," Gilman said. "There is a different level of exposure to disappointment and that's captured in the poor overall scores."

Once considered taboo, online dating is now a socially accepted and booming multibillion dollar business that continues to grow. More than half, or 53 percent, of single people have created a dating profile, according to Match's recent Singles in America study, which polled over 5,000 single men and women in December.

Today, 40 percent of singles have dated someone they met online, while only 25 percent met a first date through a friend.