The good news: You've met someone terrific on a dating site such as Match or OkCupid and are officially off the market. Congratulations. It’s time to take down your profile.

The bad news? Your online dating service might be unwilling to accept that it's over between you.

Of the 2,500-plus complaints about dating services the Better Business Bureau received in 2015, many were about how difficult it was to cancel the service.

According to the BBB, some consumers with auto-renewing accounts complained that they didn't understand the steps they needed to take to cancel them. Others said that even when they took the right steps, they were charged anyway.

Here's what to do from dating website sign-up to breakup, so things don't get awkward:

Read the Fine Print First

Almost all pay dating websites will auto-renew your membership unless you request otherwise. When you sign up for a dating service, look at the payment page’s fine print for information on what automatic payment cycle the service uses and how to pay month to month if that's what you'd prefer.

Rather than breeze through it, take a few minutes to read the terms and conditions you agree to. Make particular note of any information on membership expiration as well as payment and cancellation requirements that seem important.

Many sites do not normally send members reminders before their credit cards are charged. To avoid problems in the future, write down the date your contract started on and note the minimum enrollment period and the cancellation window—often 48 hours.

When you cancel, you may have to call the company to guarantee that your request is received. If your credit card is charged in error, contact the site’s customer service department. If you can't get satisfaction there, lodge a complaint with the BBB.


Want to know what more than 9,600 Consumer Reports readers who've used online dating services think of them? See the results our 2016 Online Dating Survey.
 

Decide What to Do With Your Profile

Whether the site is free or paid, when you begin the formal cancellation process, you may be asked if you want to hide your profile or delete it entirely. It's worth thinking about.

If you hide your profile, people can't find you through a search, but your preferences, profile text, and other information will be saved in case you ever decide to reactivate your account. (Warning: If someone messaged you through the site or app while you were an active user, your profile will continue to be visible to them.)

Deleting may be a better choice for anyone who wants to avoid old would-be suitors. But if you hide your profile and eventually decide to resume using it, you'll probably need to update your photos and other information. 

Beware Becoming a Zombie

"Zombie profiles are not fake profiles but rather real but inactive ones still floating around in the dating website or app ecosystem,” says Scott Kominers, a lecturer in economics at Harvard University who studies online dating.

If you become frustrated or grow bored with online dating and simply stop using the service without formally quitting or deleting your profile, you can become a zombie yourself. That means people may still be able to see your profile, which could be uncomfortable if you have a new significant other who stumbles upon it, for instance.

The zombie problem affects active daters, too. If you send a message to someone you found intriguing, you might not hear back because that person hasn’t logged on in six months—not because he or she isn't interested.

To avoid falling for a zombie, try filtering your matches by activity level—for example, by searching for people who have logged on within the past two weeks—something many sites allow you to do.

To avoid becoming a zombie yourself, make sure you go through all the steps to deactivate your account.