How not to date online – learning by (bad) example

I’ve been writing about online dating for a long time and to be perfectly honest, sometimes I get bored. After all, much of it is about the same topics, albeit rehashed and paraphrased to make things more interesting. I often wonder whether there’s still a need in today’s dating world to write about dating profiles, first message writing and other such basics. But time and time again I conclude that these are still important things to cover. After all, it seems that there are plenty of people out there for whom such information is important.

Take this article, for example. TLDR: guy goes on Tinder “to find love”, fails to secure date, gets female friend to help him with his profile, secures date with hot model, is disappointed by her flippant attitude and behaviour and concludes that LA is not suitable for finding love.

So can we take this story and learn from it about common dating mistakes? Let’s take a look at what happened here.

The article was written by said guy, hence an obvious bias towards blaming the girl. But let’s break down what the guy did first.

  1. Signing up to Tinder to find a serious relationship
    I personally know people who fell in love on Tinder and I’m sure many others do. But ultimately, Tinder is a hook up app. Its very nature makes it the perfect app for shallow encounters. It’s much easier to sign up to than more serious dating sites, which makes it perfect for when someone’s freshly broken up and needs to rebound. In fact, the girl this guy is slating did just that – signing up immediately after a breakup to make herself feel better. So while it’s fine to look for love on Tinder, you should also accept the fact that many people on there might not be looking for what you are.
  2. Having  a dating profile that’s an idealised representation of yourself
    I often advise men in particular to get female friends to help write their dating profile, but there is such a thing as aiming too high. If a profile sounds like someone who’s not you and you turn up to the date, expect some disappointment. As I’ve not seen either the before or after version of this guy’s profile, I can’t comment on any particular problems, but the fact that he got no action with his own profile and got a lingerie model contacting him for sex after his profile makeover (only to be quickly disappointed when she met him) makes me think there was a lot there that could be seen as unwittingly misleading or just plain wrong.
  3. Going on a date with a model and being surprised that she’s high maintenance
    I mean, seriously, are you 12? She’s a model. She’s in LA. There is no such thing as effortlessly done up. Not if you’re expect your date to look perfect. Most models obsess about their looks, because they have to – it’s what makes them a living. They are also likely to be very driven and committed to their work, which is what it takes to be a successful model in LA. If that’s not something you can deal with then date someone who’s not a model or an actress or any high profile profession.
  4. Being surprised when your date doesn’t think you match up with your idealised profile
    Many people lie in their dating profiles, but it’s a risk you take that is likely to blow up in your face. Can’t do the time…

 

So all in all, this guy made a few bad dating mistakes and paid the price for them. But is the woman involved completely guilt free? Of course not. Let’s see what her issues are.

  1. Going on dates immediately after a major breakup
    Was the guy so different than his profile or was she simply not really interested because she still had feelings for her ex? It’s all well and good to sign up to a dating site and start contacting people so you can get over someone, but the person on the other side has feelings too. Would this guy have replied to this girl had he known her to be so freshly broken up? I think the answer is probably no. By omitting this important fact from her profile, she was effectively lying too. It’s best to work out your own feelings about your emotional state without bouncing them off other people who could get hurt in the process.
  2. Not respecting her date’s time
    This guy drove a long way to meet her. She kept him waiting for ages beyond their agreed time, which is rude. OK, so she didn’t know he’d made a long journey, because he hadn’t told her, but you shouldn’t take the piss anyway. He might be disposable to you, but he’s a person with feelings and his time is valuable.
  3. Being flippant after having rejected the guy
    In spite of the guy taking offence, there’s actually nothing wrong with letting a date know straight away that you are not interested. I’m not going to say that you should do it every time out of respect for the person’s feelings, because as a woman I know that sometimes you just don’t feel safe rejecting someone outright, or you feel that it would create an unpleasant situation with the other person acting all offended and rude. Still, if someone is brave enough to simply say “thanks, but no thanks”, we should applaud it rather than criticise them. This girl, however, went the extra mile, if we believe the guy. First, she practically started talking about his shortcomings (why? Unless the guy is demanding to know them and you feel obliged, just leave it at “no thanks”). Then, she asked him questions about dating on Tinder. Seriously, tact is a virtue when you’ve just rejected a guy.

 

As you can see, both sides of this story made some bad dating choices, which you can learn to avoid in your dating life. Have you had any dating disasters you’d like other people to learn from? Feel free to comment below.

 

 

 

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The five golden rules for contacting women on dating sites

Hello All

Messaging women on a dating site is not always easy. Competition can be tough, especially if you’re aiming for an attractive woman. Also, the medium can be a bit confusing, with many men being unsure of etiquette, what women want or expect and what constitutes a good first message. Here are the five golden rules to keep in mind when you’re composing your first message to the possible woman of your dreams.

 

(the man in the pic is in no way connected to this piece)

 

1 Have a good profile in place

The first thing a woman’s going to do is read your profile, yet so many men are so eager to get on with contacting women that they don’t put any time or effort into what they write. A good photo is obviously a must, too and you can get away with quite bland messages if your profile pic is attractive enough (humans are shallow, what can I say). If you need tips about choosing a photo and writing a good profile, start here and here and here.

But don’t worry, if a woman likes your first message, she’ll take a chance on you even if she’s not entirely sure about the pics. So…

2  Be Respectful

Different women are going to respond in different ways to different messages, but the vast majority of women prefer to be treated with respect. It’s fine to be a bit cheeky and flirty, but there’s a fine line between that and being rude, creepy and sleazy. Unless you’re on a hook up site, don’t offer sex straight away or ask about what the woman likes in bed, don’t discuss her anatomy in a direct way  and for god’s sake, don’t send any dick pics. It might seem obvious,but apparently it oh so isn’t. So basically “you have nice tits” is out, but something like “fancy a pint?” or some sort of tongue in cheek chat up line can be fine.

3 Pay attention

Look beyond the woman’s picture and have a good read of her dating profile. Apart from knowing whether you’re likely to be her type, it’s going to be a treasure trove of conversation starters. Remember though that if something in her profile stands out as an obvious conversation starter (like “I work at the circus as an aerial acrobat” for example, or “I am 6′ 2”) chances are every man and his dog will have already asked her about it and she’s fed up of talking about it. So try to go for something less obvious and you won’t be as dull as the rest of them.

4 Keep it short

She doesn’t know whether she likes you yet and really, you want her checking out your profile, so don’t write essays. A couple of paragraphs at most, if not less. If you’re finding it hard to be concise, write out a longer message, then read it over a few times critically and cut it down to size. Can’t write two paragraphs? A one liner is all you need to start a conversation.

5 Don’t try too hard to impress

I know it’s hard to stand out as a man on a dating site, but trying too hard to be cool can often reek of effort and backfire horribly. So don’t go on about your fine qualities in your message, don’t waste your time on trite pick up techniques and whatever you do, don’t go for that lame pick up artist tactic of insulting women to get them to respond. Most women I’ve come across actually hate that. You’re far better off just having a good looking, detailed profile and just saying hello than to try and look like superdate.

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Dating online? How much should you outsource?

Computer keyboard and touch pad

Back when I had the time, I used to offer some services to help people with their online dating profiles. The services I offered included helping the client choose the right photo and helping with online dating profile writing. I tried to keep things as close as possible to the client’s own words, seeing as the clients were the ones looking for dates and not me.

I see it as a way of showing people stuff about themselves that they may have missed, so that they could put this information in their profile. There’s nothing wrong with that, much in the same way someone could come in, look at your rather random employment history and make it look really good on a CV. After all, writing about yourself is not easy, even for very outgoing, eloquent people. I know I hate marketing myself, but writing about someone else is not a problem at all for me.

I’ve also seen some services offering to write some opening messages for you, which I think is borderline. On one hand, sending a first message is a daunting task for many, but once a conversation has started, they find it easier to relate. On the other hand…well, it feels a bit unethical and dishonest.

So recently, when someone showed me a wanted ad for a job involving running people’s complete online dating account for them, I was frankly quite shocked. It seems there’s actually work out there for people to not only write your dating profile for you but also to choose and message suitable women for you, flirt with them online and arrange dates for you. Once the date is set, you presumably turn up all briefed about the lady and the conversation you’ve supposedly had and take it from there. Seriously, guys? Really?

For one, any relationship starting like this would be built on a massive lie. You’re not going to tell your dream gal that the person who enchanted her online was some random student looking for some extra cash on the side, are you? Well, you might, but I doubt you’d get very far.

Also, looking at it from the lady’s point of view (I’m assuming it’s mostly guys using this service, but there’s nothing that says women can’t and aren’t using it too), if you’re too busy to bother trying to make your own connections or so bad at talking to women you need someone else to do it for you, what will you do when there’s an actual woman there?

It might seem like an efficient way of cutting through the dating numbers’ game if you’re a busy executive, but really, people don’t like being taken for a ride and if you’re not like the person who pretended to be you, it’s going to turn around and bite you in the ass.
From what I’ve seen, this is exactly what happens and such relationships don’t last. It’s easy to make a very shy, lost person look outgoing and confident online, but once you swap over to the real deal, the person on the other side is going to know something is off, or just lose interest.

“But it’s just like traditional matchmaking used to be, just updated for the digital age!” I hear some people cry. Well, actually, no it isn’t. People who go to a dating agency or a matchmaker know the score and they know someone else will be matching them with another person and arranging the dates. People on a dating site assume the person writing to them is the person they will meet later on.

If you can’t bring yourself to do your online dating “work” yourself, maybe dating online is not for you.
Why not use an actual matchmaking service (such as Coffee and Company in the UK) where someone does look for suitable dates instead of you and arrange your dates for you, but everything is above board?

Alternatively, you can let your personality shine at a speed dating or singles’ event.

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Stop shaming women for ghosting men

A few years back, while my father was in hospital being treated for terminal cancer, I briefly dated someone. It turned out the guy had zero interested in asking me how I was feeling (I was spending upwards of 8 hours a day in hospital with my dad at the time), but was nonetheless interested in coming over to sleep with me. After three such dates, I stopped answering his calls and calling him back. My father nearly died that time. I was a mess emotionally and physically. I simply could not bring myself to deal with anything else, especially not a selfish person who didn’t even once ask me how I was and whether I needed anything.

GhostShortly before my father’s death, when he was briefly out of hospital and assumed reasonably OK, said guy called to ask for an “exit interview” and I picked up. I then got told off for having “ghosted” him, even though I had explained that I’d been dealing with some terrible events in hospital. It would seem that while our short acquaintance wasn’t enough to warrant anything as “heavy” as the guy worrying about my feelings, it was plenty long enough for him to be entitled to have his looked after by me, regardless of what was going on in my life at the time. This is the ugly face of self-entitlement, which is sadly remarkably common.

Ghosting, the act of disappearing out of someone’s life without explanation, is also pretty common in online dating and there are heaps of articles online telling you how horrible it is and what a horrible person you are for doing it (such as this article in Psychology today). Such articles are often written by men, although I have seen some by women who claimed to be “gender blind” when it comes to dating etiquette.

Ghosting does feel horrible. I’ve been ghosted in the past by both men I’ve been on one date with and men I’ve known for a long time. I was as disappointed as confused as you’d imagine. Whether you’re a man or a woman, the longer you’ve known someone, the more emotionally invested you are and the more interaction you’ve had with them, the more disappointed and sad you’ll be when they turn out to seemingly not care about your feelings enough to tell you they’re not interested to your face. This is especially true if you’ve had sex with them, because it can make you feel really used.

But we can’t really pretend that there is no difference between men and women’s experience of dating and social interaction, no more than we can ignore the fact that while men do get raped, it’s far far less common than women getting raped.

Women live in a world where complete strangers tell you to smile on the street and hurl abuse to you if you don’t. Where guys are “just being friendly, what’s your problem, bitch?” until you’re friendly back and then they ask you for your phone number and accuse you of having lead them on if you refuse to give it. We live in a world where self-proclaimed “nice guys” feel so entitled to women’s affections by virtue of simply not being openly horrible to them that they write articles whining about being in the “friend zone” (and cut you out of their lives in a huff, of course, once the potential for future sex is out the window). Guys feel entitled to our attention and affection simply because they happen to be interested in us. If we think we might be interested and then learn that we are not, all hell breaks loose.

Women have to deal with this shit ALL THE TIME, yet we are constantly judged for trying to minimise unpleasantness we never asked for. I’ve even seen articles criticising other women for rejecting men by saying they have a boyfriend even when they don’t, in spite of the fact that this is often the fastest, safest way to get a man to walk away without hurling abuse at you or even attacking you. For many woman, ghosting is not “being a coward” and “putting yourself first”. It’s dealing with real fears and real survival issues in the safest way possible.

Yes, ideally, any person you date who does not want to continue seeing you would take the time to let you know so that you’re not left hanging. Personally, I think that’s the most respectable thing to do. However, this also assumes that the person on the receiving end of rejection will be respectful enough to accept it without demanding an explanation, being rude or abusive or offloading their negative emotional state on the other person. And this almost never happens. Women can be as guilty as men of not taking rejection well and using emotional blackmail to try and get the other person to change their mind, but the chances of a woman putting a man in actual danger as a result of rejection are far slimmer than the opposite. That’s why I can understand women who ghost men more than I understand men who do it.

Let’s leave ghosting after actual relationships (a few months+) out of this discussion. A person you’ve messaged online or been on a date with once or seen on the street and fancied does not owe you an explanation as to why they are not interested in you. Yes, it would be nice to get one for your own peace of mind, closure and ego, but that’s on you, not on them. Just because a person replied to an online message you sent or agreed to date you and then decided for whatever reasons that you weren’t a good fit, doesn’t buy you the right to what could turn out to be an awkward, unpleasant experience for the other person.

We’re all used to seeing ourselves in the centre of the universe, but sometimes we have to accept the fact that, well, not everyone we happen to meet is going to share this view. Even the most heteronormative people often start off as poly on dating sites, going on a few dates with a few different people before they settle on one. Once a person has decided you’re not the one, they are not likely to want to make any sacrifices for you.

How many people would actually accept a simple rejection message without trying to make a conversation of it? Most normal people would figure out a person is ghosting them after a few days of trying and failing to get in touch. It may be bad manners, but it’s not a mortal sin. It’s just a few days of wondering, followed by the unpleasant dawning realisation. So an outright rejection message would be cleaner and give you those couple of days back, but the trade of is either a direct rejection with no explanation (again, you’re not owed one) or direct negative criticism. Most people don’t react well to negative criticism.

The truth is, most people are secretly angry at the other person for rejection them, but won’t admit it to themselves. Instead they’ll be overly angry at the person for “leaving them hanging” (ghosting), or, if they do get a rejection message, breaking up with them on the wrong medium (You’re breaking up with me on Facebook/WhatsApp/text message???), not giving a reason or ghosting them after they insist on not taking no for an answer. Yes, you might be the person who’s going to be happy with a clear “no”, but if you are, you’re pretty uncommon.

Until people, especially men, learn to accept rejection at face value without feeling entitled to an explanation, a conversation or a second chance, I refuse to judge women in particular for taking the safe, easy way out. Sometimes it’s better to let the man on the other side come to a slow realisation away from us, rather than confronting him with potentially dangerous rejection.

In the meantime, whether you are a man or a woman, if you think you are being ghosted, you can either stop trying to make contact and see if the other person reappears on their own after a while or you could simply send a polite message saying that you think you are being ignored and if so, good luck, otherwise “feel free to contact me when you are less busy”. Sometimes just being honest and disarming yourself can bring out the honesty in another person. Sometimes it doesn’t, but then at least you’ll have a reason to write the other person off.

[Ghost image by Marisali]

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Dude, nobody wants to see your penis – common misconceptions about your crotch

One of my fondest memories of my work as an online dating moderator was getting into the office on a Monday morning, making myself a nice cup of tea and then sitting down in front of my computer for a fun hour of going through the new crop of pictures our users have uploaded to their profiles over the weekend. More often than not it would be penises. Lots of them. Often, it would actually be the same penis, uploaded rather a few times, creating an almost Andy Warhol-esque spread.

Self portrait - Just another head shot

You see, our sites were set up so that only photos approved by moderators such as myself would appear. Whenever a user uploaded a photo, it actually had a message about moderators needing to approve it. But I suppose that’s a bit difficult to read when you’re trying to keep yourself erect while pointing a camera at your genitals. So our budding photographers just kept hitting the upload button thinking something had gone wrong with the previous five, ten, 15 uploads. Cheers, guys, for my Monday morning view of your crotch!

Of course, on our sites people like me suffered so other women wouldn’t have to (though we didn’t moderate private messaes, obviously, so female users could get lucky there). But any woman dating on pretty much any dating site would have had her fair share of unsolicited, often unwanted dick pics.

So what’s the deal with dick pics? Men who send such pics are not exactly thinking it through, so would most likely think it’s silly to delve into deep psychological analysis of the phenomenon (such as this one on Psychology Today). There is actually no shortage of articles based on interviews with men who send unsolicited penis pics and, really, it’s not that complicated.

I’ve taken the liberty to look at the reasoning given by men and give the female response below.

 

Sending a dick pic because you think a woman might want it

If you get your sex and relationship education from porn films, you might think women would be delighted at the sight of your genitals once you’ve established a friendly back and forth. After all, porn stars only need to turn up with pizza at the swimming pool to get the sexy party started.

The truth is, most women are not like that. Most women, even very sexually liberated ones, usually need to meet you in person first and decide whether they actually want to go to bed with you, before wanting to see the goods on display. Seeing a man’s naked penis is a much bigger deal to most women as it is for you. Don’t assume a woman wants to see your junk. Generally it’s best to wait for the woman to actually ask for a picture, which women would gladly do, if interested. If you really think she might be interested in one, always ask first. Be aware, though, that some women might find it creepy that you’re even asking at this stage, even if they’ve been flirting with you online, or even in person.

 

Sending a pic because you would love to get unsolicited boob or vagina pics

I’ll let you in on a secret – on gay sites it’s pretty much all penis action all the time. You men love getting unsolicited naked photos, it seems. But here’s another secret – women generally don’t. If she doesn’t know you, she doesn’t want to see your genitals. Not in the park, not in the toilet and not online. There are laws against exposing yourself in public, you know. This is why they’re there.

Think that by sending an unsolicited naked photo to a woman you’ll get her to send you one back? Think again. Unless she’s expressed interest in seeing you naked, she’s most likely to run away screaming.

 

Sending an unsolicited dick pic because you know some women like them

People go on dating sites for different reasons and all people are different. On hook up / sex dating sites you may well find women who respond favourably to unsolicited naked photos. Hell, even on a large dating sites there are bound to be some woman who’d think “oh wow, that’s hot” at a surprise picture of your dick. But 99% of them won’t. They will find it a distressing, troublesome experience that might put them off online dating. Is that the effect you want to achieve? Probably not. Don’t risk it. There’ll be plenty of time for naked fun once you’ve established an actual interpersonal connection.

Sending an unsolicited dick pic because you’re an asshole who likes to harass women

Let’s not pretend this doesn’t happen. Some men might think they are doing it cause “it’s funny” or cause “I’m drunk”, but they might actually be aware of the fact that they are upsetting women. Like any form of sexual harassment and rape, it’s not about sex but about power. Maybe it’s about feeling inadequate, maybe they want the attention, maybe it’s even about getting back at “women” for rejecting them. If you’re that kind of guy, you know women don’t want to see your penis and that’s why you’re doing it. One day you’ll look back and realise you were trying to hurt women and be ashamed of what a giant douche you were. Either that or you’ll graduate to full blown rapist.

Having looked at literally thousands of dick pics men have uploaded to our site, I could never tell whether men were uploading them because they were so proud of their penis or to counteract feelings of inadequacy in regards to its shape and size. Most of the ones on display weren’t really all that, so I tend to lean towards the latter, though male pride in one’s penis can often be misplaced. I sort of hope only nice people come to my blog so hopefully this won’t actually apply to you, dear reader. But if you’re the sort of dude who likes to cyberbully women, do you find the thought of male and female staff judging and laughing at photos of your dick offensive? If so, I suppose that’s the price you pay for shoving unsolicited penis images in people’s faces. I suggest you get some sort of psychological help before your taste for harassment escalates and you find yourself flashing little girls in the park and getting arrested.

 

Do you send dick pics for other reasons? Have you got any more special insights into the mind of such amateur photographers? Feel free to comment below. Please, though, no dick pics. Nobody wants to see your penis.

 

 

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Guest post: 5 Tips for First Date Success

First dates are known for being quite painful at times, but regardless of their uncanny ability to destroy a perfectly good Saturday evening, they are a necessary evil if one wishes to ever get to the loveliness that can be second and third dates. Although dating someone new is always going to be a nervy endeavour, by following these 5 helpful tips you can help ensure a pleasant enough date, without pressure and awkwardness, even if you aren’t spending it with your soul mate.

 

Always Focus on the Positive

 

Nobody has a good time if it is filled with whining and complaining. Be sure to only comment on the positives in your life and your company is sure to follow suit. Smiles and positivity not only make a great first impression, but they are also contagious.

Just as important as acting positively, is thinking positively. Leading up to and during the date try and just be excited to meet a new person and not have premade expectations. Having a pessimistic attitude can really make time drag and you are likely to overlook any positive attributes the other person has brought to the table. Even if someone is not what you were expecting, having a positive attitude about the situation can lead to a fantastic time, and you may meet a friend for life.

 

Properly Prepare Before the Date

 

It is crucial to prepare yourself before dating someone new. Try and learn some basic information about your companion, maybe from mutual friends or their social media profiles. Knowing a few things about them could help decide what activities to do on the date, or provide conversation opportunities while spending time together. Maybe even consider consulting a psychic for some clarity, and to see if there is any possibility or if they have advice on how to make the most of this particular date. Your psychic should be able to give you some guidance on what type of person you’re likely to end up with, so you should certainly use this when looking for potential partners online to narrow down your search. Whilst they won’t be able to tell you your soul mate’s name, they will be able to give helpful clues as to their personality, and maybe even their job or their interests. It is also important to properly prepare yourself physically. You should try to put your best foot forward, making a solid impression by dressing sharply and being well groomed.

 

Have Appropriate Expectations

 

Always remember to keep your expectations in check. People sometimes have illusions of grandeur, and hyping your date up in your mind beforehand will only leave room for disappointment on your end and put unnecessary social pressure on the other party. It’s important to understand that it is only a first date, and this time is for getting to know one another. You should not arrive expecting to be swept off their feet, or assuming their date will be the love of their life.

 

Go Dutch

 

By splitting costs on any meal and activities, you keep the tone of the date friendly and easy-going. There are no unspoken assumptions or expectations when each party is paying their own way. It is also a great way to end a date with no expectations if it has not gone well – nobody owes anybody anything.

 

Pre-plan your Escape Route

 

Despite our best efforts some dates are just…well, awful. Before venturing off on a first date with someone new be sure to have an emergency escape route already planned. Plan dates early enough in the evening to be able to have plans for later on, and be sure to mention them previous to or at the beginning of the date.This way if you’re having an awful time you have an end point to look forward to, and if a great time is being had you can invite them along.

Consider having a pal call or text you part way through the evening to check in. If the date is particularly painful you can take that opportunity to pull the plug.

 

Provided by Derek Acorah’s Psychic Ether, providing online psychic reading experiences as personalised as though provided traditionally face to face.

Guest post: Why Online Dating Is Your Friend After a Breakup

If you just broke up and are thinking of getting back in the dating game, then online dating might just be the thing for you. There is always a little hesitation after a breakup to meet someone new after coming out a big relationship. With online dating you don’t really have to hesitate because unless you are completely ready, you are not forced to meet anyone. You can just flirt around and have fun before even going on an actual date.

One of the most common pitfall after a breakup is losing hope in yourself and in relationships. You feel like you will never find “the one” and you are doomed to be single for the rest of your life. But just creating a profile on an online dating site will give you a lot of perspective. Its one thing to tell yourself there’s plenty of fish in the sea and another to actually experience it. When you are on a website with millions of other singles searching for a partner, it’s hard to feel like you will never find someone for you. Just surfing an online dating website will help you realize the odds are in your favor.

Of course, you should have the proper mindset before you actually start dating someone. One bad date can make you start craving for your ex and start thinking about getting back with them. The truth is, you are bound to go on a few bad dates. And that’s completely OK. You should not look at dating as something you should do to finally be in a relationship again. Sure, that’s why you are doing it. But if you think of it as an experience, you will have a lot more fun going through the good, bad and ugly of dating.

Another reason why online dating after a breakup can be beneficial is because you are probably a little rusty with your pick up skills after being in a relationship for a long time. With online dating, you increase your chances of meeting people interested in dating and getting someone to actually go out on a date with you. It’s much easier to learn how to make an attractive dating profile than to learn how to approach people at a bar.

Online dating can help you jump head first into the dating game again. You just need to have the right mindset and remember that you should not go into a relationship unless you are completely over your breakup and are ready for one.

Kevin Thompson has helped thousands of people with breakups. He writes about breakups and getting your ex back at unbreakup.org.

Tips for mature online daters

Looking for love can be daunting whatever your age, but it can be especially tricky when you’re over 50. You might find it hard to meet potential partners or to find someone who shares your values and view of the future – or perhaps you simply lack confidence.

For these reasons, online dating, on sites like eHarmony.co.uk, has grown in popularity among mature singles. It enables you to find compatible mature singles and get to know them at your own pace before meeting. Here are some tips and advice for the mature online dater.

Make sure you’re ready

 

First of all, it’s important to know that you’re actually ready for a new relationship. Have you had enough time to reflect and get closure following your divorce or split? Are you ready to move on and have a life with somebody else? If you still find yourself dwelling on your previous relationship and going over everything that went wrong, it may be a sign that you still have some issues to work through.

 

Choose your dating site carefully

 

There are many dating sites to choose from, so it’s important to pick one that best suits you and your needs. Are you looking for a casual relationship or something long-term? Most over 50 daters should choose a site that specialises in mature dating.

 

Be honest

 

Be honest about yourself on your online dating profile. It’s no good posting a picture of yourself from ten years ago or describing yourself differently to how you actually are. If you do, you’re sending out the wrong message and may attract people you’re not compatible with.

 

It’s also important to state exactly what you’re looking for in a potential partner and relationship. If you’re looking for long-term commitment, say so – it’s important to attract the right person.

 

Be safe

 

Online dating is perfectly safe, so long as you take the right precautions. Before you meet your date, it’s a good idea to have some video chats with them. This way you can get a better idea of what they’re really like.

 

Also, it’s important that you tell a friend when and where you’re going on a date and when you’ll be back. Always meet your date in a public place, and don’t disclose any personal information on your profile or in private messages.

 

So, if you follow all these tips, you should have a safe and successful online dating experience. Many older couples meet on mature dating websites and go on to have long-term relationships. Happy dating!

 

Suits you Sir? Online dating for professionals

There are fifteen million single people in the UK currently. If you’re one of them and don’t want to be, the question you must be asking yourself is why can’t I meet the right person? Chances are you are one of the growing class of professional people who just don’t have the time to meet anyone. If you’re a professional looking to meet a special someone, online dating for professionals has to be a credible answer.
Increasingly we are all working longer hours. The 9 to 5 for most professionals is a thing of the past. Many of us are at our desks or in meetings by 8 in the morning, we will perhaps snatch a coffee at some stage, and will eat a sandwich at our desks, sprinkling crumbs into the keyboard while valiantly trying not to drip salad cream down our shirts. Leaving before 6 is unusual and we have to add a long commute into the mix. We go home and do more work, or attend to chores, before collapsing in front of the TV and then dragging ourselves to bed. Sound familiar?
Approximately 15% of people meet their partners through work but if you are a professional you may feel that flirting with colleagues is unseemly. At the same time however, you would like to meet someone who has similar career aspirations to yourself, or is at a similar stage of their career, or at the very least understands that holding down a professional job is demanding and exhausting. For this reason you may well want to turn to an online professional dating site and there are plenty around!
Have a look at the various online dating sites for professionals that you can find, and see which one attracts you most. Once you have identified a good one take the time to fill out the profile in as much detail as you can. Make a date with yourself so that you have the time to do it. If you’re seriously pushed for time, then remember that you don’t have to complete it all at once, and if you absolutely can’t do it, you can pay a freelancer to complete it for you. Either way it is worth investing time and/or money in a good profile. Because it will do a lot of the initial groundwork for you by attracting people to you. Professional online dating sites allow you to meet accessible people and the profile helps to narrow down the focus.
When you’re completing the section of your profile that outlines what you are looking for try not to be too selective. High expectations are fine, but you may be single precisely because you’re not casting your net wide enough. Open yourself up to new experiences and new people. Don’t dismiss them just because they’re a little larger framed or short in the leg than you’d ideally like. If you have chemistry online and the first phone call goes well, then they have to be worth meeting. It’s just a drink after all.
In terms of scheduling a date, if you live locally try meeting for a coffee at lunchtime or a quick drink after work. It doesn’t have to take long; you’re just testing the water. Show interest by arriving on time and asking lots of questions. Be yourself and be confident. There’s no reason not to be.
Once you have met someone you click with you really ought to make the time to see that person, because you can’t keep a relationship going for very long by text message. If you can’t do that then there really is no point in pursuing a relationship at all, is there? Add into the mix that you don’t have any leisure pursuits or any interests and it’s a no brainer. You might need to sit back and take a look at your work/life balance! However, if you commit yourself to playing the game, you’ll find that online dating for professionals is a mainstream solution to a growing problem; give it a go!

Looking for dating sites specialising in online dating for professionals? Try these!

  1. Parship– Don’t fear their lengthy sign up process, this site has some quality people dating on it.
  2. Lovestruck.com – If you’re urban and you know it, you’ll love their no-nonsense approach to professional dating.
  3. Love and friends – A UK only dating site aimed at professionals. Draws a very good crowd, though can be a bit clunky.
  4. Guardian Soulmates – UK site frequented by liberal, cultural professional graduates

What are the rules? There are no rules! Getting in touch again after the first date

Online dating can be fabulous fun allowing for lots of flirting and fantasy, so what happens when you’ve finally summoned up the courage to meet up and you’re not sure about how or when you should contact that person again.
In recent years there has been a ridiculous spate of dating rules that seem to originate in the USA. These suggest that you have to wait between three and six days to get back in touch with someone after you have had a date. These rules suggest that if a man calls or texts the same night as the day of the date, or the next day, then he is too eager and therefore desperate. Really? Who makes this stuff up?
If you have been online dating, then obviously the pair of you are already pretty good at communicating and have been in regular touch for a little while at least. If the man then has to wait six days to get back in touch then that’s seriously out of the ordinary for you folks, right?
Let’s stop playing games here for a second, and jumping through hoops like our American cousins do. Fact number one is that it is incredibly daunting for a guy to contact the woman in any case, so why stretch out the pain? Let him get it over with. Fact number two, it is really hard to be a woman waiting for that phone call. Put her out of her misery!
Regardless of how people meet, through online dating, speed dating, at work, wherever, on the whole women are pretty unlikely to contact the guy. It’s old fashioned but it’s true. It is still expected that the man will do the donkey work. This is unfortunate given that it’s the twenty-first century and we all think we’re post-feminist. Bollox. We’re still hanging three steps behind, ladies! I know it’s a radical thought but there is no harm in a woman contacting a man, and if he doesn’t like it, well that tells you something about his character too, doesn’t it? And perhaps even more radical, if you got along really well on your first date you could always close that one by arranging to see each other again, then and there.
So given you have been online dating, and that you’ve had your first date but you haven’t organised a second date yet, and given that that either of you can actually contact the other at any stage you choose, what should you say? Keep it friendly but cool. Ask if the other person arrived home ok, or if’s the start of the day, just wish them a lovely day. Communicate in the way that you have gotten used to when dating online. Leave a message online for old time’s sake.
I’d recommend that you keep the first follow up phone call short and sweet. Make sure you feel and sound relaxed, and that you have something to ask them: ‘what have you been up to today?’ and something to tell them: ‘I did such and such last night with Sam.’ This shows that you are interested in the other person but that you still have a life and other friends. You are interesting. Don’t gush about how wonderful your first date together was, or they were, be restrained and just be yourself. If you are going to ask for another date, ensure you have an idea in mind of something fun you can do together, otherwise you’ll drive each other mad by not having a clue.
So, at the end of the day there are no rules to dating, and any that you come across online or in books are just arbitrarily constructed by people trying to make a quick buck. You need to do what feels right for you when it feels right to you. You only need to be guided by your date, not by what anyone else says. If you have met the right person it will be right for them too. Remember, it’s a complete waste of energy worrying about when to get in touch after your online date. You only have one life, so grab it, and him or her, with both hands!

Ten Signs that He or She is not the One

Ten Signs that He or She is not the One
Online dating is a really fun and easy way to get to know someone, but at some stage you are going to have to bite the bullet and meet up with that person in real time. The fact is that no matter how well you have managed to get to know someone through an online dating site, eventually you will have to face the reality of who they actually are, and unfortunately, your suitors may not always match up to your expectations. Here are ten tips to help you decide whether s/he is the one or not!
If they take too long to respond to your messages and you get worked up about it, then ditch them. The fact is, the longer it takes a person to get back to you after you have texted, phoned or emailed etc., the less likely they are to be interested in you. People who are interested in you, behave as though they are. They ask about you, they are concerned about your wellbeing and they want to spend time with you. If you have been online dating with someone who emailed you twice a day for two weeks and then suddenly they email you just once in three days, something is amiss, and the most likely reason is not that they have been busy but that that they are simply not interested in you. Walk the walk.
They start to annoy you. You start to get annoyed by certain things they do or certain aspects of their personality or looks. When you’ve been dating online you don’t get to see the tics, but once you meet in the flesh, the crooked front tooth or halitosis can be a complete deal breaker. It may be shallow but it’s a fact of life. Deal with it.
The other person is secretive. They don’t like you to see who’s calling or texting them, or they claim to work away from home for a few days per week, or they have a job they can’t tell you anything about because they’ve signed the Official Secrets Act, or they have a disabled parent so you can’t phone them at home. It’s all BS. Run!
You can’t be yourself. You have built yourself up online to be their idol; you’re a Prince or Princess Charming. Now you find that you can’t fart, blow your nose, smoke, eat or cry in front of them. This is not a goer!
You think you can change an aspect of their personality or how they look or behave. You can’t. This person is not right for you. Move on.
You’re not a priority in their life. While you were dating online they wanted to know all about you and what you were doing. Now, out in the real world you find that most of their plans do not include you. S/he tells you what s/he is doing at the weekend and there is no space for you and no invite. Next!
You don’t feel special. The person that you bring into your life should help to make you feel good. They are your wing person. They care about you. They are supportive. They buy you sweet gifts, they text you daft messages and write silly poems. When you are with them you feel nurtured and that you are their number one. If that isn’t happening, if they are too busy ogling someone else, or they put you down, either to your face, or in public, you need to head on out and do not turn around!
You don’t get a chance to meet their family and friends. If you are not a part of their whole life then you’re on a hiding to nothing. Taxi!
Your friends don’t like them. Dating online is an intensely private process that you do alone, although you may have mentioned to your friends that you had met someone. When your friends meet your new partner you will sense fairly quickly whether your friends like your new mate or not. While it is not always the case that your friends are right by any means, it is worth taking into consideration what they say. If it isn’t just jealousy and sour grapes on their part, think about their perceptions and make amends if you can. Ultimately, however, what you do is up to you, not your friends or family.
No chemistry. Awww! Everything about the other person when you were online dating seemed sensational. Your profiles were a complete match and your messages and emails were full of fun and laughter. Online, they were exciting, interesting and sexy. In person their zip has zapped. You realise you are more in love with the fantasy image of them that you created online than you ever will be in person. It happens. You may even grieve a little for that online love. Be polite and let the real them go and then get back on that website and start the process over again!

Speed Dating vs. Online Dating – which one should you go for?

In our increasingly fast paced world, dating in many ways is becoming progressively easier and more high tech. These days you pay a few gold coins to a website or a dating agency, and before you know it, you can tap into a wealth of hot singles. Well, theoretically at least! It is entirely a matter of personal preference whether you prefer online dating to speed dating, or vice versa, or perhaps you have never tried either, but although you might be wary of one or the other, they both have a lot going for them.
Take speed dating for example. Speed dating gives you a fun night out. It tends to take place in a glitzy and sophisticated bar and you get to dress up to the nines, and take a friend along to provide Dutch courage! Try not to get too nervous or read too much into it; you need to approach evenings like this with a relaxed and fun attitude and take it all with a pinch of salt.
The big advantage of speed dating of course is that you are guaranteed to meet other singles (ostensibly). Everyone is there for the same reason; they are trying to find someone just like you are. You sit at a table and chat to a stranger for a fixed amount of time, usually between 3 and 5 minutes, although occasionally this might be up to ten, and tick a box if you like them. Then a bell rings and the guy moves on to the next table. The organisers take care of the details and email the next day with your matches. Your personal data is never shared with anyone else. You can choose to pursue a follow up date or not.
With speed dating you need to remember that first impressions count a great deal. You really have to be looking your best, and you ought to be capable of making small talk and looking someone in the eye; so if you’re desperately shy, speed dating is probably not for you!
Online dating on the hand is much slower than speed dating and is almost the complete opposite. You set up a carefully crafted profile that presents a face to the world that you are happy to display and you never have to provide spontaneous answers to probing questions. You can take your time to answer any messages and think about how you wish to answer without worrying that you’ll blurt out some ridiculous nonsense that you’ll never live down.
The other great thing about online dating is that unless you’re going to be conversing by web cam or Skype, you can attend to your messages and profile while sat in your pyjamas eating a sherbet dib-dab if you really want to.
Online dating also provides you with a vast array of interesting people all with the potential to date. As far as you know they all want to date you too. But therein lies the drawback. With online dating you can never be sure that people are who they say they are. They can misrepresent themselves, or just downright lie. This might be their job, their appearance, their age or their relationship status. Until you’ve made eyeball contact and gotten to know them you need to use a certain amount of caution.
The other drawback with online dating is that you will have a tendency to create mental images of another person, or even of yourself. Eventually the bubble will burst when you have met and cold reality strikes.
However, at least if you have been getting to know someone virtually you have already broken the ice. Speed dating can be quite awkward especially if you feel everyone else at the event is more gorgeous, glamorous, sociable and bubbly than you are, damn them, or if you don’t hit it off with the person sat opposite you and seriously can’t think of anything to say. It can be quite difficult to make small talk at first but after a few rounds, if you’re not bored of the repetitive process already, you should hit your stride and be able to ask some questions.
Probably the very worst thing that can happen when you’re speed dating is that you get an email from the organisers the next day explaining that you made no matches. In some ways, online dating is a hell of a lot kinder to your ego. If you’re rejected on an online dating site, you can simply message a new person to begin the process again, and reach for another sherbet dib-dab.

Want to have a go at speed dating? Here are some companies running some very popular events:

Grapevine Social

Single Solution

Slow Dating

Urban Social

Dating online: how fast should you move?

I’m often asked whether slower paced online dating is better than fast paced, but I find it can be difficult to generalise. Either can cause issues. On the one hand you may end up in a relationship that is based almost entirely on physical attraction, and on the other you may get caught up in a fantasy world of your own making.
The first thing to consider about moving very quickly from online dating to seeing each other and starting something physical is the old fashioned notion that one or both of you are too ‘easy’. You’ll have your own thoughts on this and no-one has the right to judge, but do consider that there is nothing very special about jumping in the sack with someone straight away, unless of course that’s exactly what you’re looking for; and some people are. But you haven’t built up any emotional bond, so the physical is all you’re left with. A few weeks down the line when you’ve performed every move from the Kama Sutra, what’s left?
Another issue about moving too quickly is that it can smother the other person. If you are spending too much time together there is no breathing space. The best relationships work when both of you are still doing your own thing and seeing other friends and family, otherwise what do you have left to talk about? In fact, you are running the risk of becoming dangerously obsessive if you don’t slacken the relationship reins from time to time, and believe me, that way great pain lies.
The advantage of taking things slowly when you’re dating online is that you are able to get on with your own life and your new friend is a welcome addition. If you’ve been burned in a relationship you’re naturally going to be more cautious, so slower paced online dating will probably work well for you. You can take time to get to know the other person and just have fun chatting and flirting. You need to be careful not to be too slow however, and leave days or a week between messages and emails, because it will feel like you’re not interested at all. You have to give out the right signals. If you are caught up in a situation where you are responding to messages and emails slower than a deceased tortoise, then you really have to ask yourself whether you are interested in continuing to pursue the relationship.
What you need to be aware of is that slower paced online dating, while building a great deal of anticipation, can result in a relationship that has become more of a creation of your own mind, a fantasy, rather than anything that is based in reality. You can build a scenario of a wonderful imaginary romance in your head that can last weeks or months, and then when you meet, the bubble is savagely popped and you can get badly hurt. The problem here is that you spend a great deal of time getting to know someone without really ever knowing them properly. That can only ever come from meeting in person.
Faster paced online dating has the perk that you will speak on the phone more quickly, and then meet up. This has the biggest advantage of all because you will quickly be able to see what strange tics and characteristics the other person has; do they smell, dress strangely or walk oddly? These things are really important because great email chemistry is not the same as great up close and personal chemistry. Words can hide a world of weirdness.
Somewhere in between laborious slower paced online dating and drop your pants faster paced online dating, the magic does exist for you. I disagree with other experts who say there are ‘rules’ to online dating, such as, respond to two emails, get the phone number and then meet or that you should never respond to a ‘wink’ within the first 24 hours. That’s ridiculous. There will be a timeframe that works for you both; take it steady but don’t hold the relationship up unnecessarily. Make sure that you can satisfy both your physical and emotional needs and that you keep seeing the other people in your life. Its trial and error and you will quickly find what works for you!

Want to move fast? Some sites where people generally take things off the site quickly are Lovestruck.com, MySingleFriend.com

Feel like taking things slower? You’ll most likely feel at home with Parship.co.uk or eHarmony.

Online Chat on Dating Sites

Recently there has been an explosion in chat rooms dedicated to online dating and there are dozens, nay, hundreds to choose from. One of the biggest advantages of using the chat room technique to find a special someone is that you can draw from an extremely large user base. There has to be someone, out there, online, that you can forge an attraction with, surely? There are chat rooms for every possible sexual persuasion and flavour combination that you can dream up. LGBT? No problem. Over 40? Absolutely fine. Christian? God yes. Only fancy men wearing aprons? You got it. Just Google what you’re after and you’ll find something. (OK, I may have lied about the men in aprons website).
First off, you’re going to need balls of steel to find the chat room that is right for you. If you try out some of the free ones you are instantly going to be put off by the number of eleven year old boys practicing their swear words and using what they perceive to be seriously arousing chat. Ugh! Just close that tab and head on over to somewhere else. If you are registered with any of the larger and more established dating sites then their chat rooms are going to be a much better place to start, so I would recommend using their facilities for chatting. There are some good free sites, but one I visited used a pop up the second I went into chat offering me soft porn. Goodbye!
Once you have found somewhere that is relaxed and offers a more mature and reasonable level of online conversation then you’ll probably find that you’ll enjoy it. In a decent online chat room you are going to be able to mingle, chat and flirt with singles from across the globe. Feel free to join in the flirting and innuendo – it’s expected!
What is really interesting about online chat on dating sites is that if you meet someone who uses words well, then that in itself can raise their attraction for you. You may fall in love, just a little bit, with their writing and language. And why not? Someone who expresses themselves well through their language may well express themselves well elsewhere. Just saying!
One of the real advantages of chatting on an online dating website is that if you’re shy, out of practice or notoriously bad at talking to, or flirting with, the opposite sex then an online chat room can provide you with the perfect forum in which to practice your skills. You can go at your own pace and take risks. You’ll grow in confidence and if you spend a while chatting with someone and then meet them later, at least the ice is already broken. If you’re not confident about your looks, online chat allows people to get to know you first and like you for whom you genuinely are.
There are of course, a number of challenges for you to look out for. Online chat is easy to use and you cannot trust everyone. Some people cruise from chat room to chat room and they may have something to hide; they may be married, they may be crazy. Take everything with a pinch of salt until you know better.
Some of the biggest advantages of chatting online are: that you do it in the comfort of your own home; it’s easy; and it’s safe as long as you protect your personal information. Plus you can flirt as much as you like; be daring or demure, a goblin or a princess. You get instant replies to questions and can build a great rapport with someone who sparks that initial attraction.
Online dating using chat rooms can be genuinely exciting and great fun. You may have to shovel a lot of muck before you find your diamond but you’ll laugh a lot in the process. Be prepared for the frustration of immature users cramping your style and people telling great big porky pies! Schedule an evening of chat as an entertaining treat when there is nothing on the TV. Relax with a cup of tea or glass of wine and your favourite snack and just join in the fun. You never know who you might meet!

Here are some popular dating sites that offer chat and video chat and often have special offers and free trials:

match.com – still the most popular dating site in the UK. Use chat to set up dates and get a quick idea of who you’re talking to, but beware of people who want to use it for online sex.

Cupid – a big UK site which has also branched out into other countries: Ireland
The US
Canada

Australia
New Zealand

Like on match – you’ll find some users are keen to use the chat system for more than just getting to know people, but it’s useful nonetheless.

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DateTheUK – another big UK site where chat is a very popular feature.

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DatingDirect.com – a long established site with an active chat community.

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OKCupid – a popular free dating site.

Posted by ODB Staff

How mature singles are finding love in the UK

If you’re above the age of 60, dating can seem a daunting affair. You might have been out of the dating world for some time, whether you are widowed or alone due to divorce. Dating when you’re older may feel scary, but finding love is just the same at any age. These days, there are plenty of ways to meet your match. Here are some ways you can find your way back onto the dating scene.

Take up a hobby

Join a club or class which focuses on an activity you enjoy. Classes are a really good way to meet people who share your interests. This will put you in great standing for a good relationship. Whether you enjoy sports, reading or the theatre, you’ll be able to find a class which will suit you.

Be spontaneous

If you’ve just come out of a long relationship or a marriage, you may be feeling like you’re in a rut. Long-term couples can become too accustomed to each other to the point where they lose sight of what they want. If you try something you’ve never considered before, you could give yourself a new lease of life.

Use an online dating site

In recent years, dating websites such as eHarmony have shot up in popularity, and new profile matching features make it easier than ever to find a mate.

It is no longer unusual for older people to find new love online – for more information about how to get started, visit this page.

Try a matchmaker

Another way to meet a potential match is to visit a local matchmaking service. Matchmaking services have been around for a long time and provide a personalised way to meet your perfect mate. Potential matches are hand-picked by staff and dates set up according to your personal preferences.

Take a trip

Holidays for singles are offered by many cruise lines with group activities and flexible trip plans for any individual. Groups can be organised by age, giving you the best chance to meet singles in a similar position to yourself. The best part is that you may get to visit a place you’ve never been to before while searching for love.

Be patient

The world of dating may have changed somewhat since you’ve been married or in a long-term relationship. There are many different ways to meet people, particularly with online dating services. Ask advice from those around you and pay attention to your wants and needs. Though times have changed, you’re still just as likely to find happiness.

5 types of date to avoid when looking for love in Canada

The first date is an all-important milestone in a nascent relationship. Get it wrong and there may be no recovery. Because neither partner yet knows that much about the other, the first date must provide the space for a bond to be created. Too many make the mistake of assuming that their choice of activity or venue will speak for them, so that they don’t have to.

1. Nightclub

Nightclubs are loud, brash and usually filled with slightly/very drunk people. None of these things are conducive to a good first date. If your prospective partner has expressed an interest in dancing, for example in their eHarmony Canada website profile, a better choice would be a class in a specific form of dance – say, swing. If neither of you have done it before, the learning experience can be fun and a good way to break the ice.

2. Family event

While being proud of your family is a positive attribute, forcing someone to meet them on a first date is a bad idea. For one, it presumes that you are forming a long-term relationship, which isn’t what a first date is about. Secondly, meeting someone else’s family can be intimidating. A first date is nerve-wracking enough without the prospect of having to impress parents or siblings. Similarly, it’s wise to avoid involving friends in first dates. These things come later, once a secure bond has been formed.

3. Remote cabin

While it may seem romantic on paper, whisking someone away to a remote destination can cause unease on a first date. After all, neither partner knows a great deal about the other. Also, the isolation places a lot of pressure on the couple to generate their own entertainment. This can put an unnecessary strain on the budding relationship. The ideal first date requires a little outside stimulus to help the couple through potentially awkward moments.

4. Cinema

A trip to the cinema forces couples to be silent, which isn’t a great way to spend a first date. The darkness and the requirement to stare straight ahead are also major barriers to communication. If you’re not a great talker and can’t stomach the prospect of an intimate dinner date, one piece of dating advice is to find an activity that allows for both entertainment and conversation. Daytime dates are good options in this case, as they open up a lot of outside activities. These don’t have to be exceptional – a visit to the local farmer’s market can be all that’s needed.

5. Extreme sports

While a little adrenaline is good, too much isn’t. Unless your date has expressed an interest in a particular extreme sport, don’t inflict what might be a frightening experience on them. If you must suggest a participatory sport, choose something relatively tame and uncompetitive such as bowling, crazy golf or ice skating.

I think someone I know is being scammed online, what do I do?

Sometimes, you suspect someone close to you is being scammed on an online dating site. It could be a relative or a friend looking for love who’s come across something he or she think is going to be the next love of their lives. When they tell you about it, though, it doesn’t quite sound right. Something makes you suspicious. Maybe you can’t even put your finger on it. If it’s a parent, this could be particularly tough, because you might end up feeling like you are being overly suspicious of anyone your mother/father like.

Because I’ve written a few posts about scammers on here, I have a few pages with hundreds of comments, each talking about a different scammer. Women exchange stories and have found these pages very useful when trying to decide whether the person they are talking to is a scammer. But for these women to get here, they have to have had the initial suspicion to Google the guy’s name. Sometimes, though, people come here because someone else has fallen for a suspected scammer. If the person being scammed doesn’t suspect anything at all, it’s harder to convince them that they are being scammed. Here are some tips that might help:

1. Be very tactful – this is a delicate subject. The person you’re trying to save may actually be in love with the scammer. You need to break it to them gently, rather than be forceful.

2. Don’t make them feel stupid – scammers are pros and they’ve perfected their method over the years. People who are vulnerable or new to the Internet may appear silly to you for having fallen for the scam, but without prior knowledge of how things work, these scams can actually look like the real thing.

3. Act quickly – the more involved the person becomes with the scammer, the harder it’s going to be to extract them and the more painful it’s going to be for them.

4. If your relative/friend tells you they’ve started dating online, a good way around the problem is to give them a lecture about scammers before they even start communicating. Tell them the telltale signs of a scammer (you can find some here and here) so that if a scammer does contact, they will be able to spot him straight away. This method is also good as a way to avoid having a conversation with them about any specific person they may be talking to. It might make them suspicious enough to search for more info themselves.

5. Perform the checks on the scammer yourself – Google their name for one, which may show you all you need to know.

6. If this person has contacted your friend/relative via an online dating site and still has a profile there, contact the dating site customer service department. They may not admit that this is a scammer (to save face), but the profile will be taken down quickly, as they will be able to tell it’s a scammer from just looking at it. You should be able to use this as proof.

Getting your dating profile to fit the site you’re on is key

I’ve written here before about the need to tailor your dating profile to your “audience” (which in this case means the person or people you would like to meet), but what I’ve noticed a lot of people do is write one profile and then use it on several sites. Now, there’s nothing particularly wrong with this. It can take a lot of time to hit a winning formula with your profile and most people hate writing about themselves. So once you get a good dating profile together you tend to feel that your troubles are over and now you can just plonk that on any number of dating sites you fancy trying and it’ll do the trick. But dating site vary quite greatly not just in the type of crowd that hangs out there and what they’re generally looking for, but also in conventions and the sort of house style, if you will. For example, if you go on a site like Lovestruck, you’ll find profiles geared towards busy London professionals who are generally keen to take things offline quickly, meet for lunch or a drink after work and generally not spend too much time reading lengthy profiles online. Try to use the profile you’ve come up with on one of the personality testing, take it slow, long term relationship NOW websites and you may well stand out, but in a bad way.

You want your profile to stand out, you want it to appeal and attract and most of all, you want it to represent who you are, but you also want to stay enough within the limits of the site so as to fit in and not put off people. This means that you should start by running a search as if you were the person you want to meet. So if you’re a straight guy, you run a search for guys, if you’re a straight woman, a search for women. Then start looking at the profiles you see. What do they mostly have in common? Are they short or long? How many paragraphs do people tend to write? This is probably the amount they’d be willing to read. In general, people who write longer profiles are ones looking for more serious relationships, as they have the inclination to dedicate more time and effort to their profile. But write too much and you end up appearing desperate and lonely when compared with other, shorter profiles on a site where most people keep things concise. Your best bet is therefore not to stray being a paragraph more than the general profile length consensus. This is where you also learn how to avoid cliches. Everyone thinks their witticisms are unique and entertaining, but read a 100 profiles and you’ll end up reading the same stuff over 50 times. Learn from others’ mistakes and know what not to put in your profile.

Online dating codes: reading between the lines

People are always saying that online dating is a lot like searching for a job. I agree. A dating profile, in a sense, is much like a CV and job ad rolled into one, even though nobody will expect you to include information about your past relationships or give references for exes (can you imagine how funny that would be?). Even if you’ve never tried online dating, you’re probably quite familiar with the job search and application process. Job ads have codes – things that any experienced job searcher would be able to see and immediately know what type of potential employer the job was posted by. Similarly, online dating also has codes and reading between the lines can save you a lot of time and hassle later.

What do I mean by codes? Well, if you were searching for a job and saw an ad that asked for a “hardworking person” who’s “not all about the money”, you’d probably suspect the job is badly paid and that the employer expects you to work long hours regardless. If you saw a job ad asking for a “high calibre candidate”, you’d know a significant amount of experience and expertise was required for the job.

Likewise, online dating has different types of codes that imply certain things about the person whose profile you’re looking at and the type of relationship they’re looking for.

Online dating codes that describe people

Words like curvy, BBW, cuddly, more to love, etc. are often used by overweight people to describe themselves, especially women. On the whole, those are pretty self explanatory.

Online dating codes that describe requirements

No strings attached

Looking for fun

Webcam chat

These are all code words for wanting casual sex (webcam chat more often than not means net sex). Sometimes it can actually mean the person is already attached but wants something on the side as well.

Online dating codes people give you without realising

Sometimes people will give away more than they intend, which I see as nature’s way of warning you off people who are blatantly not ready to date again.
Beware of any man going on about how he expects women to pay their own way and be financially independent (cheap) or anyone going on about how they hope you’ll “prove them wrong” about all men/women being bad (too much baggage).

What other interesting codes have you come across?

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Dating: to compromise or not to compromise?

Here’s a dating thought for the day. There’s often talk of how fairytale romance (think Disney) has made us have unreasonable standards when it comes to love. Little girls are taught to wait around for Prince Charming and many of us grow up feeling like we’re missing out on something amazing, always looking for the perfect man or woman and feeling vaguely disappointed by the reality of our relationships.

So the answer to that? We’re told compromise is a must, that nobody’s perfect (including, of course, us) and that we need to accept the fact that there is no Prince Charming. All good, important stuff, but here’s the thing. Take this backlash to the extreme and what do you get? Another fairytale! In this fairytale, the beautiful prince is trapped in a frog’s body. You kiss the frog (i.e. compromise) and it turned into your wonderful Prince Charming, giving you the ultimate happiness you desire.

Now, I’m not disputing the fact that relationships often involve compromises, especially the ones you want to last. I’m also not disputing the fact that a significant number of happy couples would never have gotten together had they not compromised on things they once thought mattered.

What I’m saying is that it’s important to know when to compromise your standards and when to hold out. The mere act of compromising won’t be your magic key to unlock the door to ultimate happiness.

In matters of love, you should lead with your heart and your body and not with your head. That is, unless all you want is a child and you’re willing to make your love life nothing more than a business transaction to attain said child.

If you don’t fancy someone and there is no chemistry between you, don’t force it. My experience of talking to couples who got together even though they didn’t fit each other’s “type” has taught me that there was always some sort of spark there that made whoever it was who was uncertain at first give their partner a chance anyway.
If you feel that you have to ignore your heart or your body because you feel that you ought to be in a relationship for some reason or other, then you’re onto a loser. All you’ll get at the end is the same frog you started off with.

As much as some online dating sites would like you to think that your intuition and instincts fail when it comes to forming happy, long-term relationships, let’s not forget that people have been loving each other for thousands of years.

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5 things you can do to make your Facebook accont online dating ready

Most people have Facebook accounts nowadays, though in my experience, even the most avid Facebook users would shy away from using the site for strict online dating. When it comes to hooking up with complete strangers, rather than friends of friends, people still prefer the relative anonymity of dating sites. But let’s face it, the Facebook / online dating crossover isn’t just about the things you do by choice. Once you reveal enough about yourself to your new online beau or belle, they’re going to be rushing to Facebook and checking out your profile. Some may even ask you for your Facebook details, making it hard to refuse. This opens up a whole can of worms, from having your Facebook profile embarrass you with bad photos to giving personal information out to someone who may turn out to be a freaky stalker. You want to make sure your Facebook is ready for this onslaught in every possible way.

Here are 5 things you can do to make this integration smoother.

1. Watch your profile pic.

You’ve gone all out with your dating site pics, showing off your best side, but your Facebook pic is a blurry, unflattering shot of you pulling faces while drunk at a party. FAIL. No matter what you do, your Facebook profile pic will be seen by anyone looking at your profile, so if you’re trying to get dates, make sure it’s also up to scratch.

2. Make everything private

You can make most things on your Facebook profile private to anyone who isn’t already your friend or your friends’ friend. You then have the choice of who to share your information with, rather than the choice being forced upon you. Just go into your privacy settings and make sure nothing it set to “everyone”.

3. Control your tags

You don’t want last night’s drunken hen or stag night shots popping up on your profile when you’re trying to charm your future husband or wife. Luckily, Facebook lets you decide who can see these in your privacy settings. Choose “only friends” or even “only me” and the problem is solved.

4. Stop random people from searching for you on Facebook

In the “connecting on Facebook” section of your privacy settings, you can control who can search for you on the site. Setting it to everyone means any random person can look you up. This may mean more friends from your forgotten past, but it could also mean people you don’t know very well can look up your profile. If you reduce the permissions to “friends of friends” you may well lose out on some friends (like Facebook tells you), but you may win more peace of mind.

5. Make a special group for your online dating friends

It may be more convenient for you to add your new online dating buddies to Facebook than continue chatting to them on the dating site, especially if they seem fun and friendly. If you do, consider creating a new friends group and adding them all to that. This way you can control what they see more easily (for example, the aforementioned tagged photos) and collectively avoid them on Facebook chat if you’re not up to being sociable with people who are not close friends. The various privacy options all have a “custom” option, where you can hide stuff from a particular person or group.

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Cyberstalking and scamming on social networking sites

Recently, more and more people have been commenting on this blog and saying they’ve met scammers on Facebook, pretending to be British or American soldiers stationed abroad. It seems social networking is turning into a battle ground as well.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, a recent study has revealed that social networking sites have overtaken dating sites when it comes to stalking. Cyberstalkers can target complete strangers on social networking sites such as Facebook and the victims can be both women (60%) and men (40%). Unlike real life stalking that’s often the result of a past relationship or an actual acquaintance, cyberstalking does not depend on the victim having more than a casual acquaintance with the stalker. Sometimes, the stalker can be a total stranger.
Unsurprisingly, cyberstalking has overtaken real life stalking. After all, it’s easier to do and you don’t actually need to know the victim…

This cyberstalking can involve repeated unwanted messages or it can involve serious intimidating and even death threats. It would seem the Internet is the choice of weapon for weirdos who think the anonymity it offers puts them above the law or under the radar.

You can read the Guardian article about the survey here, which offers advice on what to do if you’re being cyberstalked.

But I’d like to offer a different sort of advice. Websites like Facebook are notorious for compromising your privacy in all kinds of ways you’ve never even dreamed of. If you want to protect yourself from stalkers, consider taking the following steps when using Facebook:

* In your privacy settings on Facebook, avoid using the “everyone” setting for sharing anything such as your status updates, photos, etc.. Show as little as possible of your profile to strangers.

* In your “connecting on Facebook” settings (also in the privacy settings), you can decide whether you want everyone to be able to send you a friend request, message you, see your friends’ list, etc. It’s up to you how private you want to be. If you’re happy just being in touch with your friends and their friends, you can stop anyone else from every contacting you or adding you as a friend.

* I know people love all these checking in services, but personally I think they suck. The right to privacy is something that was bought in blood from big brother totalitarian governments. Now whole generations are happily broadcasting their whereabouts to the world without giving it a second thought. Apart from the businesses themselves, the only people who care about the fact that a person’s checked in at a supermarket or a petrol station are obsessives and stalkers. Seriously. I say avoid using these services completely, not just because they’re compromising your privacy but also because any tiny benefits they could give you are totally outweighed by the benefit to the businesses involved and the fact that they are using you for free advertising. Your privacy is precious so don’t sell yourself short.

I know a bar that offers people a free drink if they check in there 15 times. I’d rather stick with a paper punch card or, a radical thought, buy my own drink and maintain my privacy (and dignity). No free drink is worth advertising to the world where I am at any given moment 1984-style.

If you must use these services, for example, Facebook’s one, make sure you limit who can see your check ins (also in the privacy settings). I suggest limiting this to your friends only and choosing your Facebook friends wisely.

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5 rules for writing a good first message on an online dating site

Most people turn to me for help with their online dating profiles, but one question I keep being asked is what makes a good first message. I thought I’d write a post about it to give a clearer idea, though obviously these things are pretty individual. There’s generally no one size fits all solution when it comes to love. At the end of the day, if you’re not the other person’s cup of tea, you’re going to have a hard time getting through, even if you write like Shakespeare.

So here are 5 handy rules for writing your winning first message:

  1. Make it personal
  2. Both men and women like to feel special. Sending everyone you come across a generic message may save you time, but is likely to also get you fewer responses. By making a reference to the particular person you’re contacting – asking a question, saying you like something in their picture or a particular thing in their profile – you’re more likely to get their attention. Of course, there’s nothing that says you should write a completely new message each time. You can use a generic message as a base, as long as you add a little bit of uniqueness each time.

  3. Be polite
  4. Unless you’re dating on a sex site where anything and everything goes, keep it clean. You never know what the other person is looking for, so until you do, don’t make any assumptions. Coming on strong or being graphic or physical is more likely to put people off than anything. Beware of doing things like telling women you contacted them because you liked their chest, for example (yes, people actually do this). This is why sending messages when you’re drunk is never a good idea.

  5. Be casual
  6. You may think you’ve just found the man or woman of your dreams but coming on too strong too soon is likely to make anyone run away. To begin with, keep your message friendly but non-committal. Saying you liked someone’s profile (remember, be specific) and would like to get to know them is cool. Telling them you think you’re in love with them straight away is likely to make you look like a stalker or a scammer.

  7. Make it of a reasonable length
  8. And by reasonable I mostly mean not too long. While sending just a “hi” is usually not enough, writing volumes and volumes of text in your first message is more likely to get people to run away screaming than a boring, single word message. A single cheeky sentence, a single paragraph or, at most two or three is all that you need to make contact. If you want people to have easy access to information about you then put it in your profile. There’s no need to repeat any of that in your message as well. Simply tell the person to check you out if he or she is curious.

  9. Have a hook
  10. This one is somewhat related to making things personal, but involves thinking ahead and making life easier for the person you want to talk to. A hook is something to lure the other person into entering or continuing a conversation with you. Asking questions is usually a good hook – the person is invited to answer the question, so short of giving you the ultimate clue and ignoring you, they’re likely to say something. For your hook, you could comment on something you saw on someone’s profile and ask them a simple question about it (“Where did you live in China? I taught English in Shanghai for 6 months!”) or you could even ask a silly question without doing much else. This way, the other person already has a reason to contact you and an easy way of finding what to write. Using such hooks is also a good way to get a conversation going once it’s started, but be attentive to times when the other person loses interest – messages would get shorter, sometimes turning into single sentence responses to your questions and nothing else. A conversation involving shared interest will most likely have the other person sharing the same amount of information as you, as well as providing their own hooks.

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5 first date location ideas

A dinner and a movie is no longer the default date scenario it once was. Frankly, when it comes to having first dates with people you meet online, there are a few more factors you need to consider.
You want your date to be somewhere public and safe (and is a dark cinema the best place for it?), you want to be able to speak to each other comfortably so you can get to know each other and, let’s not forget this, you want to be able to bail if the going gets dull. The net is full of overly creative ideas for first dates to amaze and wow you, but what’s good for a romantic second date with someone you’ve already established you fancy may be well over the top for a casual meeting with someone you may find incredibly not for you. In my opinion, you want the setting to be pleasant, but not to take centre stage. What you really want is something that will serve as a comfortable background, allowing you to interact effectively.

So here are some realistic suggestions for first dates with people you’ve met online.

  1. A bar or a pub after work
  2. In the UK, this is probably the most common first date. I realise that in the USA, inviting someone out drinking may make you look like an alcoholic to the vast majority of people, but in the UK and Europe bars and pubs are like cafes and restaurants – no big deal. The “after work” part is handy if you’re in the same town, not so handy if you live hundreds of miles apart and need to drive out to see each other. It does make it more casual and means you can excuse yourself should things get boring. Just replace “pub” with “cafe” or “diner” as appropriate. Choose somewhere comfortable where drinks are within your price range and there are enough corners where you could sit and have a quiet conversation. If you want a place with music, make sure it’s played at a conversational volume so you don’t have to scream to be heard.

  3. A coffee in the afternoon
  4. Nothing says “casual” like the afternoon. This is a good option even if you live far away from each other. You just head out, meet in the day time and then head back. If you really want to, you have the freedom to continue the date into the evening and night as well, but if you don’t you can leave and you’ll still have your night free to go out with less boring people.

  5. A quick lunch
  6. If you live in the same city or work in the same area this is a great option. It’s casual and it already has set times that are not even defined by you. If your date is dull you have the perfect
    excuse to leave and if it’s great then you can arrange to meet in more romantic circumstances later. If you leave further away from each other, you can move the lunch to the weekend in much the same way as the afternoon coffee option.

  7. A gallery or a museum
  8. If you’re into this sort of thing, then this is a great option for a date. You’ll get plenty of time to talk and learn about each other’s character. Unlike films, lectures, concerts and other loud, passive date locations, a gallery is quiet and invites instant debate. Don’t go if the concept bores you to death, though.

  9. A market
  10. Be it a food market, an antique market or just a general market, taking a stroll through one with your date can be a fun and varied first date. While here you can stop for some food or a coffee or even a few drinks in a pub if you’re in the UK. There are plenty of opportunities to talk and get to know each other when you’re checking out some stalls.

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5 things you shouldn’t do on a first date

First dates can be stressful, but they really needn’t be. When meeting someone off a dating site for the first time, most people nowadays opt for a casual meeting, rather than a full blown, romantic restaurant date. But no matter whether you’re going for a meal or for a coffee or a beer, there are still things you need to watch for that could easily make the other person not want to see you again.

I’ll ignore things to do with physical appearance as I’ve already written about those in this blog, but let’s talk about behaviour today!

  1. Don’t be late
  2. To be clear, every rule has exceptions, especially when it comes to love. This one in particular can be forgotten in cases when you’re off to meet someone in another city and get terribly lost. For more normal dates in your own city, though, there is no excuse. Being late to a first date can make your date think you don’t care about meeting him or her. While being 5 minutes early or right on the dot can seem a bit nerdy, being more than a few minutes late is going to set you off to a really bad start. That feeling of “oh my god! Have I been stood up?” is not going to put your date in the mood for love, that’s for sure. If you find that you might be late, text or call the person to say so at least 5 minutes before the time you’ve arranged, so that they know you didn’t ditch them.

  3. Don’t split hairs over the bill
  4. This is especially for the guys, as there’s always that discussion about whether guys should pay and some guys get twitchy about it. For the record, I personally think on a first date people should split the bill, but even then you could still screw things up by going over every little thing your date had ordered and pointing it out to her. If you want the woman to think you’re super nice, offer to pay for the whole meal (and follow through if she doesn’t insist on paying). If you’re sharing, just go halves or, if you had more expensive stuff, offer to pay more. No one like’s a cheapskate.

  5. Don’t make or take overly long phone calls
  6. If your date is boring you, make your excuses and leave, but never just “hint” at it by having your whole social life on the phone while on your date. I know some people will do it even if they’re not bored on the date, but then it’s even worse! Being accessible by phone while on a first date is important, especially for women who may need it for security, but give your date the benefit of your time and attention, rather than make them feel second best.

  7. Don’t be rude or dismissive to service staff, homeless guys, etc.
  8. Even on a casual date, you’re still being somewhat assessed. If you act like a jerk to people around you who may seem less important to you, your date will know you’re a jerk. Annoying waiter? Laugh it off. Presistent homeless guy? Be assertive but polite. Even if you shower your date with attention and niceness on the date, he or she will view your rudeness to others as a really bad sign.

  9. Don’t forget about the safety rules
  10. If you’re a saavy urbanite, you could easily make the mistake of thinking the safety rules are not really for you. But while I don’t suggest you bring a bodyguard with you to your date, the basics should really be on your mind. Always. So meet in an easily accessible public place and make sure you have your own transport to and from the date. Let a friend know you’re going on a date and that they should maybe check up on you later. How much of a checking up is up to you. Some people are happy for a text, some prefer the friend to call half way (to quickly say if they need a rescue from boredom or worse) and some even go as far as to have their wingman sit somewhere nearby just in case or openly bring a friend as a chaperone.

    Either way, it’s better to be oversafe than sorry.

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What to wear on the first date? Advice for men

Hey guys! Stressing about what to wear on your first date with the girl you just met online?
Fear not. Here are 5 dos and don’ts that should prevent any wardrobe malfunctions once and for all.

1. Don’t wear a messy, desperate or offensive T-shirt. “Hug me”? Out. Your favourite T-shirt that’s losing the print and is looking pretty shabby nowadays but you love it anyway? Sorry, out. Also, anything offensive or funny in an offensive way that can be misunderstood to make you a racist, chauvinist or any other type of jerk should be kept hidden till you’ve assessed your date’s sense of humour. Unfortunately, that means no Hipster Hitler shirts.

Do wear a clean, cool or plain T-shirt. I’m all for first dates that require nothing fancier than a T-shirt and jeans. If you want to impress your date with your obscure music or cinema knowledge, now’s the time to bring out your cool hip T-shirt and start a conversation.

2. Don’t wear anything uncomfotable. If you’ve decided to buy some new clothes or shoes for your date – wear them in first. If you’ve gained weight since the last time you’ve worn your going out clothes, then invest in new ones, rather than squeeze into an evening of suffocation hell. If you have to spend your entire date doing your version of the Picard Maneuver you’ll be making your life more difficult for nothing.

Do wear well-fitting clothes. Something that fits your size is always going to look more flattering on you even if that size is a size bigger than you’d like to be.

3. Don’t panic buy yourself anything fancy because the lady in the store told you to. It’ll probably make you feel uncomfortable or end up being completely not what your date would have liked.

Do go in jeans and a T-shirt if that’s what you usually wear. Women who are fashion conscious will normally prefer that to the “wrong” kind of fashion choices. They can always help you dress up in a way they find attractive, but many would shy away if they thought you consciously made a fashion choice they find repulsive. If your jeans are tatty and you want to wear something nice, buy the same kind of jeans but new, rather than go wild with so-called trendy cuts.

4. Don’t wear too much aftershave. There is nothing sadder than a man who smells like he’s just bathed in alcoholic perfume.

Do follow the basic hygene rules of a shower and deodorant. Deodorant is really important, I cannot stress this enough.

5. Do pay attention to your shoes. Women do.

Don’t wear your work shoes you panic bought and have hated for years because you’re scared of wearing trainers. Clean, plain-coloured trainers are your safest choice or, failing that, simple shoes without too many bells and whistles, weirdly shaped toes or tassles. This will make your date concentrate on who you are rather than worry too much about what your shoes say about your style.

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What to wear on a first date? 5 dos and don’ts for women

Meeting someone off the Internet for the first time can be scary for quite a few reasons but picking something appropriate to wear can often seem like the worst aspect of the whole thing. We want to dress to impress, but how do we choose an outfit that will send the right message while also allowing us to be ourselves?

Here are 5 handy tips for you ladies out there that should help you dress for that all-important first date.

1. Don’t wear anything overlty slutty and revealing, unless all you want is a one night stand. Any good stripper will tell you that the hidden is just as exciting to men as the obvious. Some might say it’s even more exciting. You want your date to understand that there is more to you than meets the eye, making him come back for more.

Do wear something understated that makes you look sexy, but without making it looks like you tried to look sexy. Think flattering cuts, longer lengths and colours that are gentle on the eye. A tight jumper that shows off your curves but hides your cleavage is the sort of thing I’m thinking of here (rather than, say, work clothes that are indeed modest but are also dull).

2. Don’t wear too much make up unless you’re a goth or style yourself like Lady Gaga on a daily basis. What constitutes too much make up may vary according to scene and location, but in all cases opt for less, not more.

Do opt for light naturals that highlight your best features but don’t make it look like you made too much of an effort.

3. Don’t wear anything uncomfortable. Those new heels may be exactly what you need to look like a pin up bombshell on your date, but if they pinch your feet to the point where you’re walking funny, the whole effect will be gone in seconds.

Do wear something that makes you feel at your best in both look and feel. Nothing that requires too much attention, hurts you or annoys you in any way. You don’t want to be fiddling with your clothes all evening and looking like you’ve got OCD or running to the bathroom every 5 minutes to fix your hair.

4. Don’t wear your laundry day underwear. You don’t need a shameful secret on your first date.

Do as the French ladies do and dress from the inside out. Regardless of whether or not you’re looking for action on your first date, the confidence you’ll gain from wearing a matching set of sexy underwear will make you feel more confident and in charge of the situation.

5. Don’t make yourself way taller than you are. Research has shown that height is the most common thing men lie about online so you could make an awkward moment even worse by towering over your shorter-than-the-stated-6′ date.

Do wear low heels or flats. This will alleviate some of the potential awkwardness and help enjoy your evening more. If height matters to you, you’ll still be able to tell whether your date lied to you or not and assess the height difference.

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5 mistakes to avoid when starting to date online

If winter, Christmas and the new year’s resolution have made you finally get it together and give online dating a try, then welcome!

Online dating has helped many people find exactly what (and who) they were looking for, so hopefully it will help you too. But there are also many people for whom online dating does nothing at all. While there are many reasons why this could be, here are 5 very common online dating mistakes that would certainly hurt your chances of getting anywhere online.

Mistake number 1: Aiming to fail

Have you joined a dating site because your friends / family / co-workers have told you you should? Are you pretty much convinced everyone you’ll meet online is a loser? Are you still hurting from a past relationship but think you ought to be over it by now?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you could find that you are actually setting yourself up for failure. Not consciously, of course – as far as you’re concerned, you’re really giving it a go. It’s not you’re fault you’re not getting any responses or that the people who contact you are ugly / freaky / weird, right? Well…

The truth is, if you sign up to a dating site without really wanting to or without actually thinking you might get somewhere and find someone, chances are you really won’t get anywhere. If you’re hurting – give yourself time to heal (hint: it usually takes longer than you’d like and has nothing to do with the duration of the relationship); if you’re convinced everyone dating online is a weirdo – get over it or find a better dating site. When you’re ready to do the work, try online dating again.

Mistake number 2: Picking a site for the wrong reasons

Not all dating sites are the same. Before you spend your time, energy and money on one, take a look around. A site that’s worked out for your friend may be right for you or it may not. A site that says it’s fab in a TV ad may be right for you or it may be not. Look at about 4 or 5 different sites before deciding which one to pay. Looking means signing up for free, running searches and filling out any personality tests available. Don’t look only at free sites, they don’t represent the entire industry.

Mistake number 3: Skimping on the profile and pics

I know you want to get on with things, but your dating profile and pictures are so important. If you have a good profile and good photos in place, they could be doing some of the work for you while you’re doing something else. Writing a good profile is also one of those things you should get out of the way early, or you may get lazy later and decide it’s good enough the way it is, with minimal information.

Mistake number 4: Sitting back

Writing a good profile is important, as I said, and it will do some of the work for you, as I said, but you should be doing most of the work regardless. Some of the most popular sites are also the most competitive so run searches, find people you think you might like and contact them. The more you contact the more chances you have of someone nice responding.


Mistake number 5: Keeping it online

Online dating can be really fun when you first try it – like window shopping people. But remember that your ultimate goal is to get out there and date. Sometimes that means erring on the side of less fussy so you can give someone a chance if he / she seems nice and interesting but maybe not very attractive. Sometimes it means looking beyond online dating and exploring all avenues for finding someone. Either way, human interaction in person is far far better and more important than sitting at your PC.

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How long should you stay on a dating site before I give up?

Online dating is not for everyone and it can be a slow, frustrating experience. But what I find is that many people tend to make life more difficult for themselves, by putting much money, time and effort into dating sites that are wrong for them. I’ve written before about how to choose the right dating site for you, but let’s face it – even sites that looked good to us to begin with, may not be right for us in the long run.

Your relationship with your dating site is just that – a relationship. If you’ve made what you think is a good choice, you try and make it work the best you can — by putting on a good dating profile and actively messaging people on the site — but sometimes you just have to admit to yourself that the relationship isn’t working.

Some people will react to this realisation by blaming themselves and others will blame the whole of online dating. In reality, it’s often the site itself that is simply inappropriate. By this, I don’t mean that it’s necessarily a bad site, just not the right site for you and your needs.

Yes, most dating sites have a lot in common (including the common flaws of the whole online dating system), but each one is slightly different. It’s these small differences that can make a big difference to your chances of success.

I have had many clients for my online dating profile help service who came to me thinking their profiles must be incredibly bad, because they’ve had no success.
In reality, some of these people had profiles I would consider above average. In some cases, I believe their bad dating “luck” was as much to blame on their dating site choices as their profiles, if not more (which is why I always include some dating site advice as part of the service as well). A profile that is good enough for a certain dating site may not get any responses on another.

match.com , for example, while a good site that works for a lot of people, is also extremely competitive. I’ve found that men in particular seem to sometimes struggle to get anywhere on this site, but these same men can do very well on similar sites, like DatingDirect.com. Does this mean I think DatingDirect is better than Match? Not as a general rule, no. I think they are both good sites. For some individuals, though, the choice is clear.

So before you give up on online dating completely, maybe consider letting your membership on your current site lapse and go on to try another.
3-6 months should be enough for you to assess a website and see if it’s delivering. By that, I don’t mean delivering the love of your life, but you should be making contact and going out on dates with people who may not be your perfect match but are also not entirely revolting to you.

If you’re very active – running searches and messaging people on the site almost every day — then closer to the 3 month period is probably enough to tell if it’s working. If you’re a bit more casual about things, then I suggest 6 months.

For sites that deliver you matches themselves like eHarmony and Parship.co.uk , I’d say 6 months is the minimum.

Remember, also, that the busiest time of the year for online dating is from around December – January, where a lot of new people tend to join. Sites you seem to have “exhausted” may well turn up some interesting new blood around that time.

Online dating may well not be for you, but before you switch off the PC and go down a different route, do make sure you gave it a good and varied go.

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Online dating advice recap

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the basics of online dating, so I thought it might be time for a quick recap. After all, new people join the world of online dating every day who may not have had the chance to read the old post I’ve written and might not know where to find them.

On the other hand, sometimes I prefer not to repeat myself when I’ve already explained a matter as best I could.

So here are a few links to some of what I believe are my most useful posts on here. For more in depth advice, see my book, Everyone’s Guide to Online Dating or check out the rest of the posts on this blog 🙂

The dating profile

How to write a good online dating profile

Avoiding dating profile cliches

Choosing a photo for your dating profile

Online dating safety

Online dating safety tips

How to spot a scammer

Online dating soldier scam #1

Online dating soldier scam #2

General online dating tips and advice

Find someone before Christmas

Dealing with rejection in online dating

Online dating money saving tip

Another online dating money saving tip

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Online dating soldier scam – men beware!

There are a few very active posts on this site discussing the online dating soldier scam (see related posts below for the list). It’s generally understood that this scam is usually perpetrated by men against women.

I just had a comment (see comment #84) posted on the site from a man who came across a “woman” online who claimed to be a US soldier and reeled off the same sort of bullshit the male scammers use on female victims.

I guess it makes sense that both men and women would be targeted, but I have never come across a female version of this particular scam.

So men, beware. Apart from the more familiar damsel in distress female scammers out there, you may also come across pretend female soldiers.

Luckily, it seems these scammers are as simple to spot as their male counterparts, once you familiarise yourself with their methods.

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What does the Internet say about you?

Here’s something to think about – if you’re talking to someone you met and they know your full name, do you know what they’ll find if they Google it?

Most of us wouldn’t think twice about searching the Net for information about someone we’re curious about, but how often do we take the time to check in with what information is available to people who might want to do the same to us?

The majority of dating sites are not geared towards exposing your full name. In fact, most of them advise you not to use your full name when dealing with their other customers. Sometimes, though, you may meet people on social networking sites such as Facebook, etc. and then all bets are off.

Remember also that if you have a distinctive username that’s often associated with your name or anything that could make you stand out from the crowd when it comes to searching for info about you, people will be able to use it to do some basic research on you.

I think this is something we’re just going to have to live with. But even if the Internet can reveal some stuff about your dark past you’d rather people didn’t know, it’s good to be aware of what’s out there. You might not be able to get rid of it, but at least you’ll know what to expect.

In many cases, you can actually do your own reputation management online quite simply.

For example, if there are pictures of you out there you would rather never see again, it never hurts to email the people who run the site they’re on and ask (nicely) for them to be removed.

Sadly, if the problem involves, say, an article on the site of your local newspaper talking about something embarrassing you did in public, you might need to be a bit creative to make that disappear 🙂

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Why it pays to have your profile up on dating sites without paying

If you’re in the market for a new dating site to try, especially if you’re completely new to online dating, it’s good to shop around. In my book, on here and when advising clients privately, I always tell people to sign up to a few sites, set up a profile and check out those sites before deciding where to spend your money. This is because dating sites are all slightly but significantly different and you want to make sure you end up paying the one most likely to help you get what you want.

But even after you’ve paid your money, it’s worth keeping your unpaid profiles on the other sites. Why? Well, firstly (and I’ve said this before as well), it’s a good way to assess whether you’re getting more action on a different site than the one you’re paying. If you have a good profile set up, you may well get people messaging you, not realising you’re not a paying customer. At some points, you could be getting more messages on a different site than the one you’re actively on, so you could decide whether you want to give your current site a break for a while and move to actively using another.

Now, let’s be honest, in the online dating industry, there is one thing dating sites like almost as much as paying customers and that’s non-paying, registered customers. That’s cause nobody knows you didn’t pay, so people may see your profile there and pay specifically so they can message you. Once they’ve paid, dating sites don’t really care if their members message someone who’s never going to answer back – they already have money.
So by having lots of non-paying profiles dotted around, you’re helping dating sites make money in a way some people may think of a sneaky. Still, apart from allowing you to have more options, it can also save you money as well.

Dating sites like it when you’re registered, but they stil prefer it when you pay. If you hang around long enough on a site without paying (and I mean more months and years than days or weeks), you’ll start getting special offers and discounts sent to you, trying to make you convert to a paying customer. I just had one from eHarmony.com, for example, offering me 4 months for the price of 3. That’s quite a significant saving, I’m sure you’ll agree. In the past, I’ve had similar offers from Parship.co.uk and match.com .

The moral of the story? It’s best to have profiles on a few dating sites, rather than just the one. The best thing is to have solid, well-written profiles on each so you can get the full benefit of having a presence anywhere where potential dates hang out, but even if you’re feeling lazy doing this could end up saving you
money when you’re ready to move from one dating site to another.

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An important thing to know about online dating soldier scams

As you may or may now know, I have a couple of very active threads on this site discussion online dating scams, in particular soldier dating scams. Here’s a comment one helpful lady identifying herself as LilyRose posted the other day. Please read this one and save it somewhere safe. It gives very important information about the difference between real American soldiers serving in Iraq or anywhere else and dodgy African (or other) scammers pretending to be them to scam you out of money:


Ladies,

I spent 9 years in the U.S. Navy and I can assure you these so-called American soliders are fake and it makes my blood boil that some skanky foriegner is impersonating a soldier!

Listen up! Any soldier over in Iraq, which the way, we pulled our forces out of there last thursday. Only 50,0000 soldiers remain over in Iraq to train the people over there. So, there are no more “combat” soldiers in Iraq.
A real soldier can not have a civilian request leave on his behalf. A real soldier has a military email address that ends in .Gov

A real soldier can use his own cell phone in Iraq or Kuwait or any other country that will get a signal. They do not need a specail phone. They do not need your money. On top of their own military pay, they also get combat pay. There is really nowhere over there for them to spend their money so they are not broke. Do not let these fake african wannabe soldiers fool you and take your money.

Thank you, LilyRose for such a helpful post. Here’s hoping it’ll help many more women avoid being scammed online.
If you’re interested in this subject, please refer to the related posts below for the original scammer-related threads.

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Online dating – who’s responsible for your safety?

I read an article recently in SF Chronicle about security screening in online dating, or rather the lack thereof. Apparently, all the way over in America, a convicted murderer was using match.com to find love. His profile was removed once he was discovered by a newspaper in his area.

Over there, some states are already demanding that dating sites vet their clients in some way. A trend that may spread, with some dating sites already voluntarily doing it to attract the more paranoid of daters.

Would you want to have to go through a background check to use a dating site? Would you want to have to provide a police background check, maybe a financial background check, maybe provide a certificate proving you’re single? Maybe later on one proving you’re healthy (so you won’t die on your partner in a few years) or that your parents didn’t die of anything that may be genetic. But why stop here? As we all know (we do know this, don’t we?) many personality tests on dating sites are not really all that. Why not make members take an in depth personality test proving they’re not likely to ever commit a crime in the future? As we all know, many serial killers have no previous known record, so how would you know? Maybe we should make everyone who wants to chat or date online pay for an appointment with a shrink to figure this one out.

As you can see, I’m not wild about this concept of compromising one’s privacy when all they want to do is date online. You wouldn’t do a background check on anyone who goes to your local bar, so why expect dating sites to be able to tell you everything about everyone on their site? And while we’re on it, why exclude ex cons from finding love? OK, in this case, they’ve chosen the complete extreme end of the scale as an example, but there are many lesser crimes people commit that would also appear on someone’s background check and may not be relevant at all to their online dating experience.

Crime happens. Dangerous people are out there. But do we really need to look up to dating sites to dig into our lives and tell people everything about us in order to be able to happily find love online? wouldn’t it be better to simply shatter that false sense of security by educating people and reminding them it’s a mean mean world out there?

Personally, I’d be happy with dating sites just doing what they’re doing now and fighting scammers and fraudsters (only, you know, doing a better job) and ensuring I remember to watch out for myself. How about you?

The full article is available here.

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Online dating and the World Cup – get in there!

You can try to ignore the FIFA world cup, but chances are that if you are in the UK, you won’t be able to. Signs, flags, big screen TVs and the eternal sound of the dreaded vuvuzelas are everywere and online dating, too, takes its traditional hit, with a small but significant slump during game time.

If you’re not into football, this may be your time to chat up some women, while your brothers (OK, competitors) are glued to the screens waving their little flags. Past experience has shown that competition may be sparser around match times and after victorious England matches, when everyone is out celebrating at the local pub and those not into the so-called beautiful game are hiding at home wishing it all away. What better way to spend your away-from-football time than surfing the dating sites for fellow enlightened souls?

Check the FIFA site for the next England game and you’ll be able to make full use of the relative silence on the dating sites to hit up a whole load of women (or men who are unmoved by football). If (when?) England get kicked out, Brazil may well be your next option to watch out for, as this is where the British turn their affections when denied a victory of their own.

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Global day of action for reporting online dating fraud

I seem to have blinked and missed the global day of action against online scams, but if you’ve been a victim of online fraud of the online dating variety (and, of course, any other variety, but this is an online dating blog) and are a UK resident, you are encouraged to report it to the UK’s National Fraud Authority where each complaint is taken very seriously.

Check out the press release.

This is good news in a way, but the fact that “millions of Britons” are losing a total sum of 3.5 billion pounds a year to online scammers is pretty worrying.

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A useful reference guide for common online dating scams

An Australian online dating company has recently come out with some useful safety tips for online daters, including a very handy reference guide for the ten most common online dating scams. It’s a good site to check out if you want to educate yourself about the dodgier side of online dating.

Australia has been hit quite hard with online dating scams and online scams in general, so it’s good to see people doing something about it (even if it does get their sites a bit more publicity along the way).

Check out the reference guide here.

You may well recognise some things you’ve already seen online, but have you come across any other interesting ones you’d like to share with others? If so, please post them in the comments below and help educate others.

There are a few interesting trends on the matter of soldier dating scams going on right now on my very blog. Check them out here and here.

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Spring clean your dating profile

Yes it’s that time of year again, at long bloody last. The flowers will soon be out, as will the sun and everyone is feeling a little bit like a good, old-fashioned spring clean.

There’s no better time to take a look at your online dating profile and see whether it too needs a bit of a spring makeover. This is especially true if you’ve been dating online for a while (maybe since your new year’s resolution?) or have been losing interest and hope in your online dating adventures.

So think – is your picture up to scratch? Would a fun new picture of you looking at your best make you feel better about putting yourself out there?

When was the last time you looked over the text in your profile? Does it still represent who you are? Have you done anything exciting recently you’d like to include? Is there anything you’ve learned about who you are and who you’re looking for in the course of your search you think would make an interesting read? I mean positive stuff, of course. Nobody wants to hear you vent about bad dates! 🙂

It could also be time to expand your search criteria on sites that run the searches for you, especially if you’ve been online for a while and not getting enough suggestions.

Either way, taking stock of who you are, where you are and what you want to get out of your online dating experience can be a really good thing, even if you decide all is well with your profile and nothing needs updating.

Think of it as a checkpoint on your quest, just at the point where, say, a new year’s resolution may start to flag.

Just like the new year, spring is also a time of new beginnings, so what better reason do you need to help the seeds you planted previously grow into something beautiful?

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Online dating liars – strange new research

CNN ran a weird article recently, about people who lie on online dating sites. The article details research done by a professor in the University of Kansas, looking into people’s lying habits on one “big long-term relationship dating site” (unnamed, but I have my suspicions).
The researcher spoke to over 5000 people and asked them whether they would lie on a dating site and why.

The results seem to imply that those people who said they would lie are the type of people who want to please people and tell them what they want to hear. They don’t lie out of malice, but because they want people to like them.

Both the article and the research seem to blatantly ignore things such as scammers, married people passing themselves off as single and players passing themselves off as serious.
All of these are, sadly, a big part of the online dating industry, which people should be told about and taught how to spot and avoid. Unfortunately, I doubt any of those types of online dating liars would take the time to answer the good professor’s survey and share with us the reasons why they choose to lie and cheat.

On the other hand, we’ve learned that people who are lonely, looking for a serious relationship and willing to take a (most likely lengthy) survey for no personal gain are apparently keen to please. Who’d have thought?

And… get this!

“Online daters shouldn’t be concerned that most people are presenting a false impression of themselves,” Hall said in a news release before Thursday’s phone interview. “What influences face-to-face dating influences the online world, too.”

The fact that the professors conducting this survey tell people that they don’t have to worry about people lying to them online just shows me how out of touch they are with what’s going on out there. The only worthwhile conclusion of this so called “research” is what everyone in the online dating industry knows already and has done for years:

the people who would lie to you online are the same people who’d lie to you in the real world, be they scammers, compulsive liars, cheats or just “self-monitors”, to use a term from the article itself.

Did someone actually pay for this research? If I were paying taxes in America I’d be well pissed off.

You can read the full text of this, frankly rather lame, article here.

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Use Parship for free this weekend!

It’s that happy time again. Forward thinking to Valentine’s day, Parship.co.uk are letting you use their site for free until Sunday. Hurry up and give it a go if you want to see what it’s all about.
On a site that won’t let you view pictures before you pay, being able to see who you’re talking to for free is a big big plus, I’m sure you’ll agree.

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Improving your odds while online dating

Finding love, like any other journey, is a thing of many different paths all leading to the same goal. Some people prefer to leave things to fate, while others work the odds and try to mathematically and statistically improve their chances of finding someone.

There are always stories around of people finding each other on a dating site that, by right, should have never yielded any results whatsoever. You know the deal – a million profiles of horrible people you never want to meet and then wham! The man or woman of your dreams appears, you chat, fall in love… Who’d have thought?

Luck, fate, pure coincidence… I’ll leave the judgment up to you. Such stories, however, are often touted out by dating sites in an attempt to keep people from leaving a site that is simply not right for them.

But here’s the deal. We all have our types, our likes, turn ons, things we find attractive in a person that make us want to get to know them better.
Some of these things can be (or seem to be) quite shallow – a certain body type, a profession, maybe a certain style, level of income, political view, etc.

But as we all know, a person could be 100% right on paper but totally wrong in real life. There’s no predicting chemistry and long-term compatibility is complex. It’s not enough to be of a certain type to be a compatible, long-term partner. So how can you work with this information to increase your chances of finding the right person?

Let’s say for example that you are a biker and have a thing for other bikers. If you were surrounded by people who are not bikers and a biker showed up, you may well find yourself drawn to that person, maybe even convincing yourself you were more into them than you actually are, just because they ticked a box that is very important to you and your choices are limited.

But put that same person in the context of a bikers’ bar or convention and you would be able to be more selective. Maybe you wouldn’t even look at that person in the same way. Instead of glossing over faults because you’re blinded by one part of the person’s character or style, you would be noticing the things you don’t like and free yourself to pick and choose someone based on the qualities that really matter.

your first job while dating online, then, should be to locate a dating site populated by your kind of people. Be that kind a scene, a vibe, a level of income, whatever. You need to put all those seemingly shallow preferences in their rightful place by making them common rather than rare. Give yourself some real options. The online dating world is full of different sites covering every niche possible. There are millions of people dating online. You just need to start narrowing all of these things down to what can really help you along.

Sure, you may meet someone when you least expect it, but you can’t predict. If you believe in fate then you should believe that it will find you regardless of the choices you make. Work to improve your odds yourself and at the very least you’ll know you’re not putting yourself in a position where you risk choosing people for the wrong reasons.

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Dating – don’t just keep it online

Here’s something that might shock you on an online dating blog – if you’re serious about finding someone to love, online dating should be only one part of your dating strategy. Yes, that’s right.

Online dating is all well and good, but limiting your social life to online interaction will do you no favours. For many people, it takes a while before all those profile searches, winks and messages turn into actual dates. So in the meantime you should be looking at additional ways of getting yourself out of the house and into social situations where you will meet new people.

Dating online does take time and I am not suggesting you rush through the profile writing stage or neglect your online suitors, but there is more to life than sitting in front of a computer on a cold winter evening.

Take an evening class, volunteer for a cause that’s close to your heart, find local meetings of people who share your hobbies, political affiliations or musical tastes, etc..
If you are a single parent, there are even events you can go to with your kids, where you could meet and mingle with other single parents. You never know when or where you might meet the love of your life, or the person who’ll introduce you to that man or woman.

Every new person you meet, even if they are only friends and nothing more, will extend your social circle, making it possible for you to connect with even more people. Make sure you take the time to remember people’s names, take down their details and keen in contact.

keeping socially active in the real world, as well as the online world is a good way of keeping busy and happy, so that you’re in the right state of mind for dating. While socialising with a large number of people and keeping in touch may seem quite daunting if you prefer a quiet life with a few choice friends, it really does make it easier to meet new exciting singles.

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Online dating news for this week

A busy week in the world of online dating! Here’s a quick newsround of what’s been happening.

eHarmony UK have another Free Communication Weekend. It’s on now until Monday. You know the score – you can go through the comms process for free and communicate with your matches. Obviously better if you already have matches, which sometimes takes a while (as the site needs to match people to you).

In other news, there is now an iPhone app that lets you look up a potential online dater (or offline one, undoubtedly) and find out stuff such as whether they have a criminal record, their marital situation and their financial worth. I believe at the moment this service is only for Americans, but I’m sure it’ll spread here quickly enough. The full FT article is here while Intelius, the company that makes the app is here.

The whole thing seems a bit big brother, but if it gives people more confidence when dating online and make life more difficult for liars and rapists then I say bring it on. Of course, some things can never be discovered by trawling public records, so users of this app should beware of developing a false sense of security.

I am not so sure about finding out people’s net worth, myself, but I think services like this one are the symptom and not the cause. We do live in a society where such materialism is seen as the norm. The need to know how much money someone has was always there. The only difference is that now we seem to have more tools at our disposal that can actually give us the answer.
Financial equality between partners is an important factor of compatibility for many, but an obsessive need to find out about how much someone is worth before even going on a date with them… That’s something I don’t think should be particularly encouraged.

To finish off, another bit of analysis from OKCupid with some interesting charts and graphs but no great news for anyone who’s ever used online dating or worked in the industry. Apparently, men choose women according to their pictures (and choose the prettiest ones to message), while women also seem to message men they don’t find quite as attractive. And in other news, a large continent was discovered today in the Western hemisphere and was named “America” by the intrepid explorers. Interesting times indeed!

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Dating profile: faking it won’t make it

A strange thing happened to me the other night. I was on a bus going home late at night and got chatting to a couple of young guys who had started talking to me.

As it happens, one of the guys was having a relationship dilemma and I ended up giving him some dating advice. I won’t get into specifics, but the situation involved a new relationship and some recent baggage that could potentially get in the way of things working out.

This has got me thinking. when I give dating profile advice, my role is to help my clients present themselves in the best way online. Although I do try to explain my commentary in a way that would make it clear why some things are not right for a profile, it is not my role to provide psychological therapy or counselling.

For people who learn about the makings of a good profile from a book or online, there is even less online dating support when it comes to taking things beyond the profile.

The truth is, with the right advice and support it’s not very difficult at all to come up with a profile that portrays you as someone most men or women would want to date. But if all those things you take out of the profile were originally put there because of your state of mind, baggage, fears or bitterness, then the thin screen provided by the profile won’t be enough to carry you through the whole dating process.

So take the advice, take out anything that doesn’t fit in with your “dateable” persona, but before you put each one in the bin, take a good look at it and think about what made you include it in the first place. Perhaps there are things you need to address in your life so you can make online dating and dating in general really work out for you.

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5 things you need to get over if you want to find love online

If you want to get anywhere with online dating, there are a few things you will need to get over. Finding love online is a lot easier if you allow yourself to use all the resources at your disposal. Here are 5 common difficulties you will need to overcome in order to get the most out of your dating experience.

  1. The fear of putting your dating profile out there
  2. If you are generally a private person or have a job where you need to exert some form of authority, you may well not like the thought of your dating profile being out on the Internet, where anyone can find it and read it. This is something you will simply need to deal with. In the majority of cases, the only people who would be able to see your dating profile are people who are also dating on the same site you use. If you’re all in the same boat, then you have nothing to worry about, right?

    Be aware, though, that some dating sites do let the search engines index their users’ profiles. If you have a very unusual name or use an uncommon phrase in your profile someone might search on, your profile may appear in people’s searches. To see if your dating site does this, put the site’s name into Google, together with a very common first name like “John”. Then start looking at the results. If dating profiles show up, it means yours could as well. If that bothers you – use another site.

  3. Feeling ripped off by having to “pay for love”
  4. Nobody likes paying for stuff that should be free, especially with the current financial climate. However, running a good dating site is a full time job for a lot of people and the money needs to come for somewhere. Even free sites get their money by shoving advertising in your face, so you end up paying in some way even if you go for a free site.
    Sure, some sites seriously take the piss and charge way too much, but that isn’t to say all dating sites that charge you money are out to seriously rip you off. Accept the fact that you may have to pay some money for quality and do your research, so that you feel you’re getting your money’s worth in terms of service and features.

  5. Being embarrassed about getting a second opinion about your profile / photos
  6. Showing your dating profile and photos to your friends can be embarrassing, but getting a second opinion from people of the opposite sex can make all the difference to the results you get online. If at all possible, do share. What you learn about the way other people see you can be quite illuminating and useful.
    If you don’t know any suitable people who can take a look at your profile, you can always ask me!

  7. Feeling embarrassed about getting a second opinion about potential dates
  8. If your friends are in any way supportive (and if they’re not, why are they still your friends?) it won’t hurt to ask them to help you vet your potential dates if you are unsure. They may be able to see things you can’t, especially if you have a history of going for losers or turning down potential gems. If your friends are any good, they’ll be happy to help you find someone!

  9. Being “too cool” to let people know when you go on your first date with someone you met on the Internet
  10. Yes, nobody likes feeling like a teenager checking in with mom, but this is a good habit to get into, especially for women. You can choose how safe you want to play it. Even simply mentioning to a friend that you will be going on a date with a stranger is better than nothing. Some people actually arrange for a friend to call you and see if everything is OK at some point during the evening. This may seem excessive 99.9% of the time, but wouldn’t it be a lifesaver in that all-important 0.01%?

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How to spot an online dating scammer

The big online dating “season” is just starting, which makes this a good time to talk about online dating scammers.

I get a lot of people asking me how to spot a scammer online and the truth is, spotting a scammer is at once very difficult and very easy.

Back when I used to work as a moderator, it was my job to spot scammers before they even got a chance to try and scam someone by looking at their profiles, and sometimes the messages they tried to send. Some scammers are easy to spot like that.

They’d be dating on a site set up to accept only people in the UK, but their profile would say they were in Africa (so how did they get the number of a UK credit card, the only type of card they could use to sign up?)

Their pictures would be obviously posed pictures taken in a studio of very attractive women or pictures blatantly scanned from a magazine (grain showing).

Their profiles would be a collection of adjectives (“I’m happy, loving, caring…”) that were sometimes pretty bizarre and obviously taken from a dictionary without being fully understood.

Some would go on about being “God fearing” and ask for money straight away, or even try the Nigerian money scam in their first message!

So yes, these scammers are easy to spot before they even make a move, but obviously not all scammers are that obvious and stupid. Today’s scammers are often far more adept at being indistinguishable from decent people, until they make their move.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that once they make their move, scammers are really easy to spot. This is because scammers want your money, so sooner or later they will make some excuse and ask for money. Sometimes they will work you for a while – weeks or even months – before asking for money, but sooner or later they will. Usually without ever having met you in person.

Unfortunately, by that point, their would be victim is already emotionally invested in the situation, which makes it harder to come to terms with the fact that you’re dealing with a scammer. This is why it’s important to remember that if someone asks you for money so early on, it’s a bad idea, regardless of whether or not they are a professional, known scammer. The best thing to do is refuse and move on.

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5 alternative ways of using the Net to meet people

Online dating sites are certainly the most direct way of meeting other singles online, but as much as online dating professionals hate to admit it, they are not for everyone. If you’ve given online dating a good try and have decided it’s not for you after all, then it’s time for a bit of lateral thinking. You can still use the Net to meet new people, for both friendship and romance. It may not be as direct as going on a dating site, but for many people, that is actually somewhat of an advantage.

Going out there and meeting people is the best thing you can do if you want to get yourself a shiny new relationship. So think of this as a way of making your social schedule busier and getting you out and about. You go out, you meet people, you meet their friends and their friends and so on and who knows where that might lead?

Now, I’m not suggesting you go out there and plaster an equivalent of your dating profile on every communications medium you find, but if you want to recreate the more “natural” way of coming across the right people in the virtual universe, then you’re in luck.

The Internet is full of alternative ways of expanding your social circle. Here are 5 of them:

  1. Social networking sites
  2. These make for the obvious choice for many people and range from the big sites like Facebook and Myspace to more interest-specific sites, as well as those sites specifically geared towards meeting up in the real world (like meetup.com).
    At first, the online dating industry was worried these free socialising sites would take over and put all dating sites out of business, but this never happened and dating sites retained their appeal.
    But while it’s true that the majority of people use sites like Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, rather than date, these sites are still worth a go.
    On Facebook, there are quite a few dating applications that let you use the site as a dating site (Zoosk, for example). Also, using such sites to expand your social circle, find out about meet ups and events and meet exciting new friends-of-friends can be very useful indeed. Try searching for your interests/hobbies and looking in the “groups” and “events” sections to see what’s around.
    If you are already signed up to a social dating site, it won’t hurt to set your status to “single” and check out some of the dating applications available. You don’t have to turn your Facebook profile into a dating profile to make use of them, either.

  3. Forums
  4. If you’re interested in finding someone who shares your interests, you could do worse than joining and participating in a few forums related to your hobbies and interests. Sure, it’s not a dating site, so there’s no guarantees people there are single, but it’s a good way to meet new people and get out of the house occasionally. Local forums are better for this purpose, of course, so you can have a chance of participating in a monthly meet up without having to buy a plane ticket.

  5. Mailing lists
  6. Similarly to forums, these are a good way of connecting with like-minded people online. Usually, there are list-related meet ups and events and depending on the list you’re on they can be regular. Plenty of Yahoo and Google groups exist as a cross between a mailing list and a forum.

  7. Communities and interest pages
  8. Searching the Web for “[insert your interest/hobby here] meetup” (or meet or any related terms) could bring some results, as well as scouring the pages of sites like craigslist.org or gumtree.com for local events (or organising your own). There are many groups that meet up once a week/month/whenever that may have their own page up but are a bit behind on joining the social media revolution, so may not appear on social networking sites just yet.

  9. Online gaming
  10. Although mutli-player gaming is often a lonely, couch-bound activity, I know of a few people who met and fell in love while playing online games. If gaming is your thing, maybe it’s time to make a bit more effort to get to know the people you’re playing with. Beware of hairy bikers pretending to be nubile young women, though, unless you’re into hairy bikers).

What other methods have you used online that were helpful to you? Were there any you tried that were unhelpful?

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5 things you can do now to get a boyfriend / girlfriend by Christmas

Summer is definitely over (unless you live in the Southern hemisphere), the nights are drawing in and, while Christmas seems a long way away, it’s really only about 3 months away.

If you hate being single during the holidays and are looking for romance, rather than just a casual fling, now’s the time to start thinking about preparing your lovelife for winter.

Here are 5 things you can do right now to get started:

  1. Attend a singles’ party
  2. Strutt your stuff while you still have your beach body on and you can still show off some skin without freezing or looking unwell. There are plenty of parties to choose from all year round, including wine and beer tastings, poker nights and even singles’ holidays (so you can get away from winter when things start getting nasty). See my previous post about singles’ events for more info.

  3. Kickstart your online dating career
  4. If you’re not already dating online, now’s the time to start if you want to give yourself plenty of time to find someone. Looking at at least 5 different dating sites will give you a good idea as to what’s out there. You don’t have to pay for all of them, but setting up a free profile will help you gauge the level of response you get.

    Are you already dating online? How’s your dating site working out for you? It might be time to check out a few other sites -things could have changed since the last time you looked!

  5. Prepare your dating profile for winter
  6. This is a good time to spruce up your dating profile, add some up-to-date pictures, write about exciting things you’ve been doing over the summer, etc. Of course, this is an on-going job – a profile is forever a work in progress.

  7. Plan ahead to make yourself feel desirable through winter
  8. Winter is traditionally a period of less exercise and more comfort food. If this sounds like you, then why not beat the New Year’s Resolution rush and start early? Whatever it is that makes you feel sexy and desirable – joining a gym, attending a yoga class, taking up martial arts – get yourself into the habit of doing it now, before the worst of the weather sets in.

  9. Find things to get you out of the house and socialising
  10. Of course, it’s not all about how you look. More often that not, confidence comes from how you feel (though most of us tend to feel good when we believe we look good). This time of year is great for starting a new hobby or attending an evening class, a book club, etc. These are all good ways of meeting new people, learning a new skill or developing an existing one. Apart from introducing you to new social groups, learning a new skill is a great confidence booster – especially if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do and never thought you could.

    Even if you can’t afford to attend an actual class in your area, there are usually places where you can advertise for skill swaps (try gumtree.com for ideas, remember to always meet in a public place!) or find out about free meet ups for like-minded people (meetup.com).
    You can also try MakeFriendsOnline, a dating site that is built around having its members arrange free, regular meet ups.

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Online dating: How long should the first message be?

Back from my holiday and catching up on my reading. OKCupid have just come out with some interesting figures on message response rates and the length a first message needs to be to get a good response.

Nothing particularly new in the figures (at least not to anyone with a basic understanding of the industry), but it’s good to see everything in numeric form.

Basically – women are twice more likely than men (just about) to get a response when they send a message, but they’re better off sending a shorter message – about 50 characters.

Men should put more effort into writing longer messages – 200-300 words was deemed best.

It seems women like to know a bit more about the man before deciding whether to reply, so men need to do more to stand out from the crowd when approaching women.

Men, on the other hand, don’t need so much text to make them decide to reply to a woman’s message, so saying too much can actually work against you, making you appear overly chatty.

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