Members can constrain their interactions to the online space, or they can arrange a date to meet in person.A great diversity of online dating services currently exists (see Comparison of online dating services).This model also allows users to switch between free and paying status at will, with sites accepting a variety of online currencies and payment options.
It is possible that the mode of online dating resonates with some participants' conceptual orientation towards the process of finding a romantic partner.
That is, online dating sites use the conceptual framework of a "marketplace metaphor" to help people find potential matches, with layouts and functionalities that make it easy to quickly browse and select profiles in a manner similar to how one might browse an online store.
Once a profile has been created, members can view the profiles of other members of the service, using the visible profile information to decide whether or not to initiate contact.
Most services offer digital messaging, while others provide additional services such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards.
Online dating services also differ widely in their revenue streams.
Some sites are completely free and depend on advertising for revenue.
In Eastern Europe, popular sites offer full access to messaging and profiles, but provide additional services for pay, such as prioritizing profile position, removing advertisements, and giving paying users access to a more advanced search engine.
Such sites earn revenue from a mix of advertising and sale of additional options.
Because online dating takes place in virtual space, it is possible for profile information to be misrepresented or falsified.