Online dating, you’re doing it wrong

I’ve written a lot about which pictures not to pick for your online dating profile, but if you need any more proof as to why people might think you’re a little bit off, then I have some fine examples for you right here. The word on everyone’s lips is “why?!”

First up, here’s a little page from Buzzfeed, collecting 27 cases of men most ladies would not want to meet dating online. The sad thing is, some of these guys don’t actually look half bad. If only they’d not chosen their words and pictures so damn poorly…

But before you start talking to be about how sad and clueless straight guys can be, I give you another recent discovery. This one’s a blog by an anthropology student collecting pictures from gay dating sites and apps where the subjects are posing in front of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. Why? I hear you ask. I don’t know. But it happens often enough to feed a whole blog and makes you wonder whether these people are ignorant, want to appear cool or just don’t care.

Single woman in your late 30s / early 40s? You most likely can’t have it all.

It’s funny how your opinion about stuff changes as you get older, isn’t it? Here’s another article I saw about a woman in her late 30s trying to find the husband she’s always dreamed of and, so far, failing. This particular woman explains how she found a man who was “perfect on paper” but left him because there was no real passion there and has gone back to the drawing board, looking for a man to tick every possible box.

Now, when I was in my 20s, I’d be completely understanding of this and tell this lady to ignore everything her family and friends are saying and carry on with the search. Nowadays…Well…Now I think women should think carefully about what’s really important to them in life. I look around me and I see a lot of women in their late 30s or early 40s who are so determined to have it all that they can very easily end up with nothing, at least for a while. Now, to be clear, I’m not actually the sort of person who thinks a woman is defined by having children and that starting a family is the right choice for every woman. I’ve seen many woman discover the hard way that the romantic notion of family life is not exactly what they expected and my own personal views about bringing children into this overpopulated, violent world are somewhat less determined by my hormones or my desire to clone my own genetic make up.

Everyone has a vision of the perfect relationship, the perfect family, the perfect happily ever after. It’s never quite like that, whether you have children or not. So for me, it’s a perfectly valid choice to say to yourself that you’d rather not have a family than have it with the wrong person and you’d rather keep searching for the perfect guy than to settle for someone who’s not your perfect soulmate. It’s also perfectly fine to say you don’t want to have children at all, but would like the focus of your relationship to be the feelings you and your partner have for each other.

Also, let’s keep in mind that now that the world (parts of it, anyway) is moving away from puritan religious values, we’re beginning to understand that the Catholic-style version of perfect love is, frankly, not realistic for most people. The majority of people in the west engage in “serial monogamy”, which comes far more naturally to most than the vision of eternal coupling. In fact, most people in the world engage in some form of polygamy (whether it’s cheating, open relationships or “emotional cheating” – the annoying term for what is basically having normal human urges and not acting on them). It makes you wonder whether there is such a thing as a lifelong soulmate at all. The answer to this, I believe, is a positive one. Some people do find a partner they’d like to be with for life. On the other hand, cases of genuine, lifelong “soulmatism” are actually relatively rare. It’s a lot more common for people to stay together because they believe they have to or ought to.

So, unlike what I thought in my 20s, nowadays I look at such articles as the one above and women who write or identify with it and I say – grow up, ladies, it’s crunch time.
Your deadline approaches and, like it or not, as women we do have a deadline beyond which we are no longer fertile. I look around me and I see children whose parents are going to most likely die when said children are still way too young (because if you have a child in your 40s, you’re going to be in your 70s by the time he’s 30), the result of people holding off having kids while they have their career and choose the perfect partner. Not the end of the world, but not ideal either. Still better, in my honest opinion, than deciding to have and raise a child on your own (i.e. sperm bank rather than say, adopt one) “because you want one of your own”. And no, I don’t have anything against single mothers at all and most single mothers don’t start off intending on raising a child on their own. They end up in that situation and do the best they can for their children. On the other hand, I think that it’s not the ideal situation for a child, so knowingly choosing to place a child in a non-ideal situation before it’s even conceived because you want to experience motherhood is, to me, a very selfish decision.

If having a child is the most important thing to you to you and you’re getting to the point where you may not be able to have one, then yes, you may have to bloody settle. Sure, as I’ve said before, don’t go for someone who repulses you or bores you to tears, but do accept that you may not find prince charming in time for your perfect baby shower. Also, keep in mind that even prince charming may lose much of his charm after your baby comes out anyway. The way I see it, if you can’t stop thinking about your own needs and desires and keep wanting to have it all instead then either you don’t want children as much as you thought you did (which is absolutely fine, but you should come to term with this) or you’re just not ready to have them. Let’s be honest, chances are, you and most people around you will not have the happily ever after relationship you’ve envisioned. Hell, most women in their 20s won’t have it all either. They just have a few years before they have to face that realisation. People change, life changes and relationships change. You may as well decide what’s important to you and get ready to compromise and take risks. Be it risking not having a family (or adopting one later on) for the sake of finding someone truly compatible for life or settling for a relationship that’s likely to not last forever for the sake of having a child. You could also seek out alternative parenting arrangements with gay couples or men who want a child but not a relationship. Not ideal, but then again, what is? You most likely can’t have it all, but it’s OK. You just need to come to terms with it.

Funny online dating cycle. Can anyone relate?

Here’s something I’m sure many of you will be able to relate to. Huffington Post reports on one blogger’s “online dating chart”, showing the cycle she goes through with dating on OKCupid.

I’m sort of thinking… If you keep going through the same cycle, why not change it? Change your dating site, do stuff that doesn’t involve online dating to meet guys… Or maybe start by not turning to online dating during times when you’re feeling low and desperate. You generally tend to meet better matches when you’re feeling good about yourself and about being single. Just a thought…

Should Google stop running dating ads?

The National Association of Victims of Human Trafficking Advocates (an American organisation) says Google should stop displaying all online dating ads until it can be sure none of them point at fronts for human trafficking. I’m sure Google is not keen to part with all that money (lord knows there’s loads of money in advertising online dating), but I’m also sure it doesn’t want to support slavery. I’ve seen quite a few Adsense ads in my time that reeked of mail order bride of the worst kind. In fact, this was one of the reasons I never signed up to Adsense in the first place, because it doesn’t give you the freedom to reject ads. There were all kinds of ads appearing on my site that were obviously aimed at Western guys with am Asian women fetish and I didn’t like the language and pictures used (nor the sites they pointed at). But can Google really filter out the baddies and should all reputable dating sites suffer if it can’t? It’s a tough one. I’m sure Google is working really hard already to ensure it complies with legalisation. An article in Search Engine Land wondered whether something can be done similarly to the way Google handles the healthcare sector, requiring advertisers to go through a certification process. The author mused whether the US could learn from the UK, where there is an association of dating sites (an organisation that is hardly the seal of approval it may appear to be from outside, not because it’s dodgy or anything, it’s just not quite as official as it may appear). Maybe Google should just treat this highly explosive area of advertising even more seriously and put even more resources into actual human vetting of new advertisers. Having worked as a moderator I know mistakes can happen even when you have whole dedicated teams working on something, but when actual human lives are at stake, you can never be too careful. I’d rather see advertisers denied until they can prove they’re legit than all those horrid ads for sex slavery fronts.

Stalker app gets withdrawn

Seriously? They couldn’t see this coming? The “Girls Around Me” app, an app that draws info from Foursquare and tells guys which girls are in their area right now, has been withdrawn after complaints. BBC news tells the story, which should really be of no surprise to anyone but the nerdiest of geeks.

To be fair, I never understood why anyone would want to check in anywhere online anyway. It’s practically doing big brother’s work for him (it? them?). Let the government (and the stalkers) work for their money if they’re so keen to know where I am. If you check in online using Facebook or Foursquare then you shouldn’t be surprised if your privacy gets invaded. After all, you’re kinda giving up on your privacy by giving everyone your private information for free. But this app…well…

When I was working for Allegran (online dating company), we got contacted by a company offering the technology to allow people to check in and find the users who were physically near them. This was before foursquare and before all the current apps. There was a debate among our directors as to whether we should use them. In the end, one of the directors simply asked us girls in the office whether we’d want to use such an app. We all said the same thing, and quickly: STALKERS!!!

The decision was made to let other companies iron out the creep outs, stalkerfests and eventual lawsuits before joining the party. The men, by the way, thought the app would be a great idea, but in online dating, nobody cares about what men think. Men wouldn’t want to join a site that only had other men dating on it, unless they were gay men and women wouldn’t join a site that got them stalked by weirdos.

So there you have it. Women may not actually like having all kinds of guys knowing where they are and popping up uninvited. Yes, I’m sure a lot of it is to do with privacy settings and can be fixed by tightening them up and only sharing your location with close friends, but privacy settings are hardly ever set to be pro-user by default, are they? Unless the user in question is an exhibitionist or his/her friends are stalkers, then we’re doing fine.

Guest post: Best Foods to eat on a date in spring

Guest blogger Rick Walker is back with another post, this time about food and spring dates.

Various foods come in and out of season, so there are many delicious delights to eat during spring. What food you eat on a date is important because it shows the other person a reflection of your personality. For example if one sits there nibbling on a carrot and some salad leaves, it demonstrates that the person is health conscious whereas if someone eats a burger and loads of chips, it displays that they love their food as much as they love life.
Smooch.com has revealed the best foods to eat on a date in spring. Tantalise your date’s taste buds this season with strawberries or lamb. Lamb is a very popular main course in spring and strawberries are ideal for a romantic, saucy dessert. Casseroles are not just for wintertime and a spring chicken pot is packed with light vegetables; whereas springtime spaghetti and meatballs is great for warmer weather.
A healthy light meal is salmon which is scrumptious with asparagus and baby potatoes, and a warm salad with meat is ideal for a lunch date. Goat’s cheese is a favourite springtime food as well as risotto, jacket potatoes and hearty lamb burgers. And spring fruits like cherries and apricots make cooking a treat at this time of year. If you are going on a first date, make sure to tuck your chair as close to the table as possible to avoid getting food down your shirt and a major no-no is talking with your mouth full of food.
Spaghetti is a good meal but it can result in slurps and mess, and spinach and corn on the cob are not so great for getting in-between your teeth. Food can be a universal language which you can converse about over your date; so don’t be afraid to share your love of food.

Dating sites selling user profiles. Dodgy!

I know it’s sometimes difficult to think of the individual user when you run a dating site or work for a dating company. When I worked in one, we used to often think of things in terms of trends, statistics, demographics. When we started a new site, we’d sometimes populate it with suitable people from our database and email them to say they got a new account set up. Sometimes we’d even give them a trial subscription to try it out. Some people complained, but most only complained because they didn’t realise the new website was also owned by us and thought we’d sold their details on. We figured, these people already have us our details, so they might like to try a new site where they can meet more people, especially if they can try it out for free. I still don’t see anything inherently wrong with that. There are also a few companies that run white label dating sites where the whole business model is based on providing new websites in the “family” with an off the shelf database to kick things off. But when you start selling your users’ data to the highest bidder, well, that’s just plain nasty.

Check out this article about this worrying trend. I won’t call it a new trend, because it’s been going on for years. It’s just that now someone’s caught on and is spreading the word.

New UK documentary about dating and relationships seeking case studies

I got contacted by the assistant producer of an upcoming UK documentary about women who date younger men (they’ve not used the word “cougars”, which I like!). If this means you and you’re interested in talking about your experience, then see their message below and get in touch with them to discuss.

Their call out follows:

Are you a woman in a relationship with a younger man? Are you also the main bread winner?
Perhaps you are a woman who prefers younger men?
If so, you are part of a major growing trend in Britain.
We would like to speak to couples & singles, both men and women, willing to talk about the good and bad aspects of their experience of this.
Please contact us with your daytime contact number by emailing us at relationships@redhousetv.co.uk or call us on 0203 189 3412.

Guest post: Honesty is the Best Policy with UK Date Sites

I’ve recently started accepting guest posts so I’m happy to introduce my first guest poster, Rick Walker. Here is is post about the importance of honesty in online dating.

It seems you have finally made the choice to throw the single life out the window in favour of finding someone to share your life with through online dating. Making that decision is the easy part. Selling yourself by making yourself look desirable through a good online profile is the part that people have the most trouble with. You want to make yourself look good but not too good. In other words, in the end you are going to win up meeting the person who choose you, with any luck.

Because of this the best policy is to make sure and use as much honesty as possible. Don’t pretend to be into things you are not and certainly never show only the “good” headshots. Show pictures that depict what you really look like, and not just at night or in low lights! If you are looking for a real UK date then make sure you understand that you had better show the real you. Otherwise you are wasting your time and that of the lad or lass who happens to be allured by your trumped up profile and unrealistic pictures.

Once you have provided a realistic picture of yourself both through photographs and details about yourself then you will need to specify what you are looking for in a prospective date. When looking for a good date the UK is as good a place as any to look but take care not to let yourself look like a psycho by stating things like, “Must never lie or cheat” or “must like cats.” This says a little too much about you by making someone assume you are picky or demanding. Of course you don’t want to come right out of the box looking like you are an obsessive freak who insists on everything being your own way.

Rick works for the online dating industry and enjoys writing about his experiences with online dating. He is passionate about sharing his tips and advice with other users.

Some ideas for spring dates in London

It’s spring! The sun is shining and if you’re suddenly feeling more in the mood for love, then you’re definitely not alone. You can totally cash in on the nice weather by getting out in the sun with your date and doing springy things.

Personally, I love a picnic in the park and considering the whole financial crisis thing, it’s also the perfect way to save some cash. You could stock up on sparkling wine, cheese, nice bread and even posh dips for a lot less than you’d pay for a meal at a nice restaurant and have a truly relaxed time outside.

You can turn your park experience into something more active (or comical) by doing all kinds of random things like boating (which is random enough to be ironically cool), rollerblading (endless potential for hilarity) and, my personal favourite – feeding the ducks with endless slices of stale bread, which requires no special skill but shows that you care.

But before you head off into the great unknown with the great unknown you’ve picked up on a dating site, you might also want to check out these lists of great al fresco dining options in London and the UK plus London’s and the UK’s best pub gardens.

If you’re looking for something a bit more informative, then you can opt for something inoffensive like a short walking tour (in London, there are loads of new ones gearing up for the Olympics), or, if you and your date are into fitness, why not try this crazy thing?

Relationship and dating insights from Glamour Magazine

Glamour recently published a couple of interesting surveys. First, there’s the UK Guy Survey which asked men about their dating, relationship and sexual habits (including the opening question which is the charming “which of these places have you masturbated in?”). Frankly, there was little in it that is groundbreaking or comes as news to anyone who’s either a man or has dated a man, though I did like the fact that most men (85%) find women who reply to texts quickly to be efficient, rather than desperate.

Meanwhile, in the US, Boston women have been found to be the unhappiest of US daters in a Glamour survey, sponsored by match.com. Boston was also found to be the US city with the highest percentage of men who expect to get laid on the first date, although the percentage was still not particularly high – just 14%. Boston is a student town, so you have to wonder, really. Is this an indication that more guys in Boston are after casual sex? Sleeping with someone on a first date shouldn’t really indicate that you’re not looking for anything serious, but many people have this stupid idea that women who’d sleep with you on a first date are not marriage material. Ho hum. I guess until we know where Boston women stand on the sleeping with someone on a first date issue, we won’t have an answer, plus, as I said, 14% is not really such a high percentage, when you think about it.

A great and inspiring article about women and sex over 50

I have to share this interview on Huffington Post giving insight into what the sex life of a successful, confident 50something woman is. It’s an interview with Cindy Gallop, who shares information about her love life and views on female sexuality over 50.

With all the crap out there making women feel like they’re increasingly old and past it with every day that goes by, it’s so wonderful to read about an actual, working alternative to both ageing related self-hatred and traditional dating and relationship models. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that even though the article talks about an older woman having sexual relationships with significantly younger men, the word “cougar” wasn’t mentioned. I cannot hate that word enough. Seriously.

I both love and hate that in this world, sometimes just being yourself and living out the life that’s right for you can be a radical act of rebellion against society (or, if you want to be softer about it, an act of active re-education). I wish society was more accepting of just letting people be. Maybe if more women follow in Gallop’s footsteps and be true to themselves as they go through life, things will slowly get better.

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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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Please stop trying to spam my site

Seriously. I’ve just had to remove 100 attempted spam post from some lame dating site I won’t mention by name because I don’t want to give them any publicity.

Seriously guys. I don’t know if you’ve outsourced your link building to some cheap ass company or whether your own SEO guy thinks this is cool, but seriously, a 100 comments of crappy spam? Yeah, that’s gonna get you very far in this business. Oh yeah and I pre-moderate every single comment on this blog. Nothing goes up unless I personally approve it, so give this shit up. Now.

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Should women settle “before it’s too late?”

Found this article on the Jezebel site, talking about whether it’s good advice to tell women to “settle for a man who loves you more than you love him, even if he bores you”. It was a really good read (go, read it!) and the conclusion seems to be that no, it’s not good advice at all, for a variety of reasons.

I tend to agree (and have written about this issue in the blog before), though I would say, it very much depends on what the woman wants out of life at that point in time. For some women, making a home, having children and being a part of a relationship are more important than finding the perfect relationship. If a woman is in in her late 30s with seemingly no better prospects than a man who’s “good enough” who can give her most of what she want (i.e. a caring relationship, children, etc.) and make her happy enough in an every day sense, then I wouldn’t tell her to ignore him in favour of someone else she may or may not meet. Yes, if you stop looking you’re (probably) less likely to find the perfect man and I do resent the advice mentioned in the article that makes women doubt their own feelings, but a woman’s freedom to choose also sometimes involves realising that what’s in front of you can be better than what you could potentially have by virtue of being available. Also, some women get to the stage in their lives where they feel having and raising a baby is what they need to be happy, rather than a man who excites them every day of the week. You may disagree with it, it may not be the right choice for you, but the truth is, for many women, it is. The truth is, there is risk in giving up what you have (or what you can easily get a hold of) for something you may or may not one day get. And while I would encourage any woman who feels in her heart that she shouldn’t settle to follow her heart and go looking, I would also say that you shouldn’t feel that you are failing yourself and your dreams if you choose to settle for someone with whom you can have a comfortable life, raise children and generally be content. Dreams change. Priorities change. It’s OK to be happy with what you have without constantly striving for something better because pop culture and TV adverts tell you there’s more that can be had out of life.

What I do resent in this sort of “settle for less” advice is the dogmatic approach that assumes all women would prefer being with someone who bores them to being alone and trying to find someone more interesting. That and the incredibly derogatory underlying assumption that all women have to offer suitors are their looks so you should “act now, before it’s too late”.

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UK mobile dating apps – online dating sites that offer dating for your smartphone

With so many iphones, android phones and even (shudder) windows mobile phones around, it’s hardly surprising that mobile dating is becoming as popular as traditional online dating. Online dating sites have been offering mobile apps to stay competitive, with various levels of sophistication. This is great news for people who are often on the go and don’t want to spend hours in front of a computer. With mobile dating apps you can use dead time to browse profiles and send messages, making the whole experience much simpler. Mobile dating apps are usually free, though if the site isn’t, you’ll need to be a paid member to use them.

Here are some handy ones to keep in mind if you’re after UK mobile dating apps:

match.com – As you’d expect from one of the most famous dating sites, Match do a mobile dating app suitable for iPhones, Android phones and Windows mobile phones. You can do practically everything via the app – get profile alerts in real time, send and receive messages, send winks, check out profiles, etc.. The app is downloadable from the Match site.

Lovestruck.com were one of the first sites to offer a mobile app and they have apps for iPhones, Android and Blackberry – perfect for busy professionals on the go. Lovestruck are all about the busy urban professionals!

eHarmony UK offers a handy mobile up to registered users. Once you’ve signed up via the main site, you can start using the mobile up to receive alerts and matches and to communicate with those you’ve been matched up with.

ChristianCafe.com Have had a useful mobile dating up for a while with everything you need to date on your mobile. It’s available for Android phones, iPhones, etc..

OKCupid offer a fun app where you can endlessly browse pictures and profiles, send and receive messages and get profile alerts.

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Valentine’s Day 2012 events in London and beyond

There are some fun things happening in London and around the country this Valentine’s Day. If you’re single and looking for stuff to do, while not join in and have a laugh? I know it’s a day where a lot of singles enjoy wallowing in self pity or doing the whole bah humbug thing, but there is another way!

First up, I’ve noticed this event on the 12th, that’s run by MySingleFriend.com. It’s basically a food walking tour where you can take in some sights and get some info about the Brick Lane area, have some great food and meet some of the cool people from MSF.

The bonus? If you scroll down the page, you’ll see a few more interesting Valentine’s Day London events you could sign up to. Somewhat different than your average speed dating event!

And if you’re in the general Brick Lane / Shoreditch / Bethnal Green area, you may also be interested in the Valentine’s Love A-fair at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club from 12:00 – 18:00. It’s the perfect place to get cards and retro gifts, as well as get done up retro style for your big date night.

Here’s the Facebook event page.

For official singles’ parties and speed dating events in London and the rest of the country, try the big companies.

Speed Dater have two London singles’ parties on. One massive one for people up to 40 years of age and a smaller one for people up to 55.
They also have events all over the country – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Guildford, etc. on V-day itself and around. Some have sold out of women’s places, but all have spaces for men.

Also try SlowDating and SingleSolution for more events on and around Valentine’s Day all over the country.

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Are you and your date compatible? Here’s a fun test to try

I first found a version of this so-called psychological test online about 6 years ago. I think it was supposed to be some Jungian thing, but I actually have no clue who came up with it. I’ve been reminded of it recently and of the fact that it can be quite a fun way to get to know new people. I reckon it would be a great thing to use on a first date to see if you and your date are on the same page. The answers to these questions tend to change many times throughout life, depending on where you are, your mood and one’s changing outlook on things, so they are never set in stone, but they can certainly be quite telling. I wouldn’t go basing whole relationships on this test, but you’ll be surprised at how accurate it can be. Try it on yourself first, before scrolling down to read the answers. Obviously, there are no right or wrong answers, although there may well be answers someone could give that would make you think you’re not entirely compatible.

Ask your new friend the following questions:

1. What is your favourite wild animal and why?

2. What is your favourite domestic animal and why?

3. What is your favourite body of water and why? (things like the ocean, rivers, ponds, springs, lakes, etc.).

4. What is your favourite food and why?

5. What is your favourite flower and why?

6. What is your favourite tree and why?

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Answers and meanings

The wild animal is how the person sees themselves and the why is the qualities they value most in themselves.

Domestic animal is what they look for in friends.

Body of water is their attitude towards love and sensuality

Food is their attitude towards sex.

Flower is the way they see spirituality

Tree is their attitude towards life.

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Blah blah evolutionary psychology blah blah (or: another book defending non-monogamy in men)

Vicki Larson, writing in the Huffington Post interviewed Dr. Eric Anderson, author of a new and “controversial” book that talks about how monogamy is wrong for men, who need to be having sex with different people to be happy. The non-monogamy thing becomes a hot debate every once in a while and while I’m all for opening it up again and again, I’m kinda fed up of the whole evolutionary psychology bull that comes with it and seems to put men in the centre of the need to have different partners, while women are assumed to be more into picking a partner that would care for the children. Then again, I’m also fed up of hearing about how men cheat because their brains are programmed to make them spread their seed and women cheat because they want to breed with alpha males but have the betas look after their young. I’m not saying this book says this last bit, by the way. I’ve not read it so I couldn’t tell you for sure. It’s just that whenever the non-monogamy debate is raised it’s all men men men and, frankly, we’ve already had the school of man-only polygamy being the norm (and in some countries it still is) and focusing on it from a pseudo-scientific angle seems dangerously close to the school of thought that claimed the female orgasm doesn’t exist – it completely ignores the fact that many women experience the same urges and have the same psychological needs as men when it comes to relationships.

In the conservative society we live in (and conservative it is, even though it pretends to be liberal) saying that men need to stray to be happy may be controversial, but it’s certainly not groundbreaking or new. It would be nice, just for a change, to have a broader debate about the whether monogamy is suitable for either men or women. I suspect, though, the answer to that is a little bit more down to the individual, which would paint a much more complex picture than going on about how men need to get off with other women all the time to be happy.

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What do men’s mags and rapists have in common?

A new UK study has found that the language used in men’s mags is surprisingly and frightfully similar to the language used by rapists to talk about their victims. Obviously women have been complaining about this sort of thing for years (and often branded “feminazis” for saying it), but you’d think men themselves would be able to easily tell the difference, showing the feminists they’re totally overreacting to the whole issue. After all, rapists are evil, whereas men’s mags are harmless fun, right?

Well well well…

It seems men themselves can’t tell the difference between a rapist and an article in FHM. So now a Middlesex Uni study showed some men quotes from FHM, mixed up with quotes from something called “The Rapist Files”, a collection of transcripts from interviews with convicted rapists. All the men had to do was say which quote came from where. They failed miserably. You can actually test yourself with a few quotes here, to see how you’d do.

Then there was a follow up study, where men had to grade each quote according to how derogatory it was to women. FHM quotes actually came out as worse than the stuff rapists say.

Now, people who know me know that I have absolutely no problem with non-PC and even offensive humour, but when you’re a magazine publisher and the stuff you publish is actually seen as worse than the stuff a convicted rapist would say to justify sexually assaulting a woman, then you have a serious serious problem.

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Bad first date. Worst post-date communication

This post first-date email is doing the rounds on the net right now and is possibly the perfect example of what NOT to do after a first date with a woman. Nobody quite knows whether or not it’s real (though it at least appears to be real on the surface), but speaking both as a dating professional and a woman, I can tell you such men really do exist. Basically, this investment manager guy went out on a date with a woman. The date, according to the woman, was absolutely horrible. Then the guy texts and leaves messages for the woman, which she never replies to. The man then goes and sends here a terribly long, freaky email which you can read here.

Note to guys who think that’s acceptable behaviour – if the woman didn’t reply to your texts, she’s sure as hell not going to reply to your strange and detailed rant. She’s just going to run away and, if you’re unlucky, she’s going to put it up on the Internet like this woman did. But, what struck me most about the email “Mike” sent “Lauren” is that “Mike” has obviously spent some time reading about body language and subconscious, non-verbal signals to the point where he considers himself an expert on the matter. The fact that he accuses the woman of leading him on using what are generally accepted to be subconscious signals is pretty precious too, but this should be a lesson for anyone who spends too much time hunting for signals and not enough time paying attention to how the date is obviously going badly. Nobody owes anyone anything after the one date so just accept things and move on. Save the 1000 word rants for your breakup with the woman who actually dates you more than once.

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The meaning of love according to children – so cute!

If you want a little “awww” moment, take a look at this. It’s quotes from a bunch of kids talking about the meaning of love as they see it (often as a result of looking at their parents’ marriage or the way their grandparents are with each other). Some of it is pure poetry. I’m not even sure if it’s real or not, but who cares? Love it!

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match affinity free trial 2011 (December)

I just noticed the matchaffinity 3 day free trial is still on for December 2011. You need to use a special link to access it, though and sign up through that link. If you haven’t signed up to the site yet, then use the link below to go to matchaffinity and get the trial. Make sure you read the small print to see how you can cancer before being charged, as I assume you need to put in your credit card details to get the trial.
If you have already signed up and not paid, use the link below to access the site and click on the “already a member” link at the bottom right of the page and maybe you can still get 3 days for free.

To get the 2011 free trial:

Go to match affinity using this link

Follow the instructions on the screen.

Let me know if there are any problems or issues with this trial.

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Trouble ahead for same sex marriage in Scotland

I thought Christianity was meant to be a religion of tolerance. Words can’t describe how annoyed I get when I read stuff like this. Seriously, people, if you don’t want to marry someone of the same sex then don’t, nobody’s forcing you to do it. But to fight for the denial of rights to people who are in love and want to make a commitment to each other in this day and age is seriously unnecessary. I just hope the Scottish parliament goes ahead with the plan anyway.

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UK speed dating and singles’ events in December 2011

Here’s a quick run down of speed dating and singles’ events companies that are holding events across the UK in December. See my post about singles events and speed dating in London for info about London events in December.

December actually starts tomorrow and these parties seem to be selling out fast, so if you’re keen to go speed dating this December or to attend a bowling night, lock & key party, a Christmas party or any other specialist singles’ event, I suggest you get your tickets early before other hungry singles get there first.

Speed Dater are the UK’s biggest organisers of speed dating events, lock and key parties and singles’ parties. They have events all over the UK, generally in trendy / semi-upmarket bars and venues with a few events at more upmarket places, as well as special events like bowling nights, cocktail parties, etc.. They have plenty of parties all over the place in December, including big Christmas parties and a massive NYE party in London. They cater for quite a few age ranges, as well as having events for professionals, international professionals, Asian singles, Muslim or Christian singles, etc.

Here’s what they are offering in December:

Speed dating in Aberdeen, Bristol, Cambridge (4 different events), Newcastle, Reading and St Albans.
Speed dating, singles parties, lock & key events and a big NYE party in London

There are even more cities covered in January, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester.

SlowDating have similarly good coverage, similar (or lower) ticket prices and also use trendy bars and venues. They only run speed dating events as far as I can tell. They are running a lot of parties in December, but they are selling out fast.

Cities where speed dating events are happening include:

London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Norwich, Brighton, Oxford, Sheffield, Liverpool, Nottingham, Reading, Swindon, Exeter, Glasgow, Southampton, Bath, Birmingham, Bournemouth and Plymouth.

UrbanSocial specialise in speed dating events, singles’ parties and wine tasting parties for singles (also the occasional beet tasting singles’ events and singles’ cocktail parties).
The speed dating and singles’ parties event are similarly priced to the other companies, but the wine tasting events are slightly more expensive. Over the month of December they have events in London, Brighton, Norwich, Scotland (Edinburgh, Glasgow), Wales (Cardiff), Northampton, Leeds and Milton Keynes.

SingleSolution cater particularly to “well educated professionals” and offer speed dating and singles’ parties all over the country. In December you can attend in London, Aberdeen, Brighton, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Guildford, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Norwich, Reading, Oxford, St. Albans and Windsor.

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What are the top dating and relationship deal breakers for men and women?

Ever wondered what the top dating and relationship deal breakers are for men or women? eHarmony actually asks its users exactly that question as part of its personality matching process and they’ve released the data. I came across a post on the Detroit Free Press site listing the top 10 of each. Handy if you want to know what to avoid if you’re looking for a long term relationship or marriage.

It seems both men and women (on eHarmony at least) see lying, cheating and rudeness as the top three deal breakers, in that order. Infidelity follows at number 4 for women and is, interestingly, number 6 for men, preceded by poor hygiene and mean-spiritedness. I am at a loss as to how infidelity and cheating differ on this particular scale. Could it be that cheating at cards or cheating people out of money is further up the list than cheating on your partner? Ho hum. Men will surely be encouraged by the fact that poor hygiene is only number 7 on the list of women’s turn offs and being overweight isn’t even in the top 10. Women, on the other hand should note that excessive weight is the number 9 male turn off.

See the full list here.

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London speed dating and singles’ events December 2011

London is one of the best places in the UK to go speed dating or enjoy singles’ parties, lock and key parties or even bowling or wine tasting events for singles. Seeing as December is usually big on parties anyway, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to you that the last month of 2011 is jam packed of opportunities to hook up with eligible Londoners. I figured I may as well write about some of these parties here, as I keep getting asked about party options.

Below are some dates to keep in mind, including classic speed dating, more standard parties and some more creative options. You can find out more about the companies that organise these in my post about UK singles’ events companies.

December 1

Speed dating event for graduate professionals at Firefly for singles aged 24-38, £23.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 2

Speed dating event at Firefly for singles aged 21-31, £21.95. (organised by Speed Dater)

Wine tasting event at the Flame Bar for singles aged 24-38, £35 (organised by UrbanSocial)

December 3

Speed dating event for graduate professionals at The Warwick for singles aged 24-38, £23.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

Bowling night for singles aged 24-40 in Bloomsbury. £25.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 6

Speed dating event at the Carbon Bar for singles 25-37, £22 (organised by SlowDating)

Speed dating event at Anexo for singles aged 25-35, £21.95, (organised by Speed Dater)

December 7

Mixology / cocktail party at Revolution for singles aged 24-38, £29.99 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 9

Christmas Cocktail Party at Alibi for singles aged 24-38. £39 (organised by UrbanSocial)

December 10

Singles’ party at The Union for singles aged 41-62. £16.99 – £19.99 (organised by SingleSolution)

Merry Kissmas singles’ party – lock & key, speed dating and photo wall at the Abbey Bar for singles aged 24-40. £13.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 16

Speed dating event for graduate professionals at the Bond Club for singles aged 24-38, £23.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 17

Speed dating event for international professionals at The Warwick for singles aged 24-38, £21.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

Christmas party at the Punch Tavern for singles of the 36+ age range, £19.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

Singles’ party at the Abbey for singles aged 25-47. £19.99 (organised by SingleSolution)

Speed dating event at Kanaloa for singles aged 21-31, £21.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 20

Speed dating event at Anexo for Graduate professional singles aged 24-36, £23.95, (organised by Speed Dater)

December 22

Free Christmas / cocktail party at the Patch Bar for Lovestruck.com members and their single friends. I’m not sure if you have to be registered as a Lovestruck member to attend.

December 28

Speed dating event at the Dover St. restaurant and bar for singles aged 32-42, £21.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 29

Speed dating event at the Dover St. restaurant and bar for singles aged 38-50, £21.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

New Year’s Eve Singles events

See my post about 2012 NYE singles’ parties and speed dating events in London for more information.

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Did threesomes really destroy Demi Moore & Ashton Kutcher’s marriage?

Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me to find an overly-generalised, simplistic and nosy article on a site called “Hollywood Life”, but when I was surfing the web for dating-related articles, I couldn’t help but read the “experts views” about whether having threesomes destroyed Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s marriage. The answer, apparently, is yes and there follows a bunch of conjecture about said relationships which is somewhat derogatory to say the least.
Apparently, “cougars” (oh how I hate that term) like Demi will often turn to having threesomes to make their men happy (cause after all, what sort of man would be happy with an older woman, right?) but find that those will lead to “twosomes” not involving them, resulting in the end of the marriage. So we’re back to the age thing, it seems.

But are threesomes really that bad? I was getting pissed off at the article’s stance, but the end of the post does include a quote from one expert who admits to knowing people for whom threesomes work as a regular thing and I personally know plenty of people in open relationships for whom there are clear and comfortable rules and no jealousy, so I’ll let that one slide, but seeing as the norm is still monogamous relationships, maybe we should talk instead about the reason why normally monogamous people would want to invite someone else into their bed.

Feeling insecure or bored is not just for older women, you know. When people have been together for a while, they may sometimes want to experiment and that experiment may lead them to realise the relationship is over. Threesomes, therefore, are more likely a symptom, rather than a cause, so sweeping that desire under the carpet to “save the marriage” may result in exactly the same unhappy ending. Relationships where threesomes work are always ones where the partners are honest with themselves and each other about their needs and willing to cater to their partner’s needs when expressed. At other times, threesomes are indeed a stepping stone on the way to breaking up, as people try to hide their dissatisfaction or insecurity from their partner or themselves.

Moore and Kutcher were together for six years, so maybe their love had simply run its course. Who knows what would have happened if the age gap was smaller, but do we really need to go over every minute detail of their relationship and make sweeping generalisations about “cougars”? Apparently so.

You can read the Hollywood Life piece here.

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New Years Eve singles’ parties in London 2011 / 2012

December is approaching and with it comes party season. There’s no better time to attend a singles’ event and if you want to meet London singles, then you’re in luck. There are a few big events coming up for New Year’s Eve which you can get in on right now. In fact, if you’re quick you can still grab yourself an early bird ticket and get a very reasonable deal.

SingleSolution are having a big (200+) party at the Slug & Lettuce in Westminster. It’s aimed at professional singles, 29-50 and tickets currently cost £30 (and will rise to £40 soon).

SpeedDater are having a big party for professional singles aged 24-40 at Jewel (St Paul’s branch) and you can get tickets for £25 right now.

If you’re thinking of starting the new year by meeting and greeting fellow London singles, then book while everything is still available and cheap.

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Should you state your political views in your online dating profile?

Politics are a sensitive issue, obviously. So when you’re trying to land yourself a date, a marriage or a relationship, should you talk about yours openly in your personal description or dating profile? Dating sites vary in their offerings when it comes to giving you the choice of listing your political leanings alongside things such as favourite music or whether or not you smoke or drink. It would seem that this is because the vast majority of people choose not to disclose their political views when dating online. In fact, recent research quoted in The Big Think has found that only 14% of online daters disclose their political views in their profiles. But considering the fact that most married couples share political views, you have to wonder why more people don’t put this in their profile. Even people who don’t see politics as an important activity (i.e. don’t particularly like debating politics with their partner) prefer to be with someone who shares their overall political views, so why don’t more people state theirs? The answer seems to lie in the fact that people are keen (desperate?) to find a partner and want to attract as big an audience as possible to their dating profile without forcing any difficult issues. Apparently, the less desperate you are to find someone, the more likely you are to express your political views. Older people are also more likely to express these views openly.

The Big Think article compares this to the fact that most people won’t state in their profile that they want to meet someone of their own race, but end up with people of their own race anyway. No one wants to come across like a racist, which is why people leave this information out of their profiles, while secretly only messaging people who fit the bill.

While mentioning your politics is not likely to make you come across as a bigot (unless your political leanings include bigotry), it would make you come across as actively political, which may well not be the case. Most people are not activists, though most do harbour opinions about the world. If you take the time to write about your views in your personal description (as opposed to or alongside things like hobbies, likes and dislikes) it sends a clear message of the role of politics in your life.

On the other hand, if your dating site allows you tick boxes, pull down menus or compatibility tests where you can quietly state your beliefs without making too much of a big deal out of it (such as on eHarmony), then I suggest you make use of it, unless you’re looking for a casual relationship or sex, or unless, of course, you genuinely don’t mind what your long-term partner’s political leanings might be.

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Sugar daddy parties – is the UK ready?

The Telegraph tells me “Sugar Daddy parties” are about to become a hit in the UK, having established themselves as a “thing” in the US. This isn’t the first time the sugar daddy debate has come up in the UK, where several sugar daddy online dating sites are already active.
Whenever I read about this sort of stuff, I tend to get annoyed about several things. First, it always amazes me that some of the women involved are naive enough to think these sort of “arrangements” are not akin to a form of prostitution. This could be owing to the women’s young age, or the fact that they don’t really want to think of themselves as sex workers, but unless your “arrangement” specifically does not involve the promise of sex from the offset, don’t be surprised if the man who’s paying for your time and company expects to be able to treat you as a high class hooker.

Of course, most women who enter these arrangements wouldn’t dream of stating in advance that they are not intending on sleeping with their sugar daddy. After all, the sugar daddy might choose to go with someone else. Instead, most of the action happens in the grey area between what the man expects to get and what the woman expects to give. With a big of clever maneuvering, a woman can pocket some handy dosh before push comes to shove, without having to actually sleep with her patron, although the much more likely result is some form of borderline non-consensual physical contact before the relationship is severed. So in a sense, while prostitution is an honest trade, these “arrangements” can often end up being deceitful and dishonest. The women don’t necessarily get paid for sex, they get paid for the promise of potential sex, which may or may not materialise into the real deal. So basically, a woman entering such an arrangement can either be a prostitute or a liar, using naivety as an excuse for being either. This is, of course, unless the arrangement is clear in advance on the fact that sex is not part of the deal. I assume this is actually the case with some sugar daddies, who are happy to be seen in the company of young, fit women.

Another issue I have is the hypocrisy involved in the whole morality debate. Personally, I have no issue with what a woman chooses to do with her own body. My issues with prostitution on a global scale is that women are often forced or coerced into the business, but in this particular case, women are choosing to meet rich patrons out of their own free will. If both the woman and the man are clear about their aims and goals in this matter, then I see no real problem with it. On a personal level I may well find such men desperate, sleazy and psychologically damaged and the women calculating, naive or cold, but morally I see no reason why we shouldn’t let them just get on with it.

You can read more about sugar daddy parties here.

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Behold, the female orgasm!

This is so awesome – the female orgasm captured with brain imaging technology. It clearly shows how practically all parts of the brain are activated during orgasm. Apparently only an epileptic seizure activates more of your brain. Scientists hope to use the information gained by this brain scan to help the 25% (!) of women who rarely or never orgasm.

Check out the full article and video here.

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Are you marriage material? Should you care?

For the purpose of full disclosure, I must start this post by saying that I personally really don’t understand the obsession some people have with the actual act of marriage Vs long term commitment. My own personal view of it is that the obsession with the wedding ceremony and what it represents is mostly to do with religion / tradition, sometimes disguised as something else because of family or society pressure.

So when I read articles like the one I recently found on IOL Lifestyle, talking about why men marry some women and not others, it actually takes me some time to adjust to the mindset, which, of course, I have to, as the marriage question is a big deal for most people.

Big enough, apparently, for men to be sharing their lives with women for years without seeing the woman as “marriage material” and for women to be sharing their lives with said men while secretly feeling dissatisfied for the lack of the ultimate declaration of love and commitment.

The article I read references John Molloy, author of Why Men Marry Some Women And Not Others. I’ve not read the book, so I can’t comment as to whether the book itself is as simplistic and as shallow as the article would make me believe, but essentially, what we’re looking at here is yet another one of those guides to women written by men, feeding on women’s fears of being “left on the shelf” and teaching them how to become the “wife material” of their dreams.

The news is, of course, that there’s no news. Men, apparently, prefer women who are presentable, well groomed and can be “taken anywhere” (hence, perhaps, the fact that so many men say in their online dating personal description that they would like to meet women who are “as comfortable in jeans as they are in a little black dress”). And although the article doesn’t say it in so many words, it seems men still don’t like “sluts” – women who are too sexy and flirty or wear clothes that are too revealing. Instead, they prefer women who are “discreet”, “loyal” and “kind”. While the book, or at least the article, didn’t go into factors such as the woman’s level of education compared to the man’s, it did offer the curious revelation that men (Western, I assume) don’t actually like women who cook and clean for them all the time, but prefer those who are “aware of their own worth”. It also suggests that women looking for a husband should start hunting around the age of 28.

So basically, while cooking and cleaning as a full time job may be a thing of the past, the so called big news is that women should be pretty to look at, demure and not too overtly sexually liberated. There you go ladies, your carriage awaits! Do your nails, button up that cleavage and off you go. What a depressing society we live in when there’s a market for a book such as this (and let’s not fool ourselves that there isn’t – chauvinism is as popular among the ladies as it is among the men).

But wait, women can do more to assure a happy marriage – not be too fussy! If you turn down a reasonable man now, you may find yourself single in your 40s and who’d have you then?

Oh, and do push the marriage issue, because apparently a high percentage of women who are married made it clear they expected a marriage proposal.

This last point is interesting, as the article opens with a story of a woman who was co-habiting with a man for years, didn’t push the point and ended up with the man leaving her and marrying another. One wonders whether pushing the issue would have resulted in A. a marriage (as opposed to a quick break up) and B. a happy marriage. As Molloy’s book treats marriage as the point of happily ever after, the form a marriage takes when you’ve molded yourself into the shape of the perfect trophy wife is irrelevant to our current fairytale, but I do agree that women who view marriage as such an important thing should ensure their man knows this at some point.

On the other hand, it also makes me wonder whether all these women who hang on to these men without making any demands aren’t secretly aware of the fact that the man himself is not “marriage material” and are letting things carry on regardless because it secretly suits them.

But that is perhaps a story for another post, because for this book / article, we’re apparently limiting ourselves as women to simply wanting to “land the husband of our dreams”.

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When dating online, women prefer slightly overweight men

The Vancouver Sun recently published an article with some interesting online dating statistics and recent research. It makes for some interesting reading. Apart from stating the obvious – that men on online dating sites prefer women who are skinny and shorter than they are and that women prefer men who are taller than they are and wealthy, it did point out the interesting fact that men who are slightly overweight tend to get more replies from women. I wonder if it ties in with that bit of recent research that showed women are happier in serious relationships where the man is the heavier one? Or could it be that being slightly overweight is some sort of subconscious signal that the man is financially stable?
Either way, these figures are good news for men (go on, have that doughnut!) and somewhat bad news for women worried about their weight.

There are a few others interesting bits of statistics in the original article, including the answer to the age old question – how many people lie in their personal description.

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eHarmony alternatives (UK)

eHarmony UK is an extremely popular site and many people do very well on there. On the other hand, no dating site is suitable for everyone. Whether you’ve tried eHarmony and didn’t like it or you just don’t like the concept of the site, below are a few alternatives you can try if you are in the UK.

But first, a bit about eHarmony itself. eHarmony may be a good dating site for you if:

  1. You’re looking for a serious relationship
  2. You like a somewhat slower pace of online dating
  3. You want a dating site that does all the matching / searching work for you, rather than having to browse thousands of profiles yourself
  4. You don’t mind filling out a lengthy and detailed personality test truthfully
  5. You don’t mind paying a bit extra for your monthly membership (although you can always safe money using an eHarmony promotional code)

With this in mind, here are some other sites worth trying.

Parship.co.uk

Selling points: strong compatibility test, great customer care

Boasting a very well-researched personality compatibility test, Parship is aimed at people looking for serious relationships and has a similar pace to eHarmony. Just like on eHarmony, you can’t search for your own matches, but the site delivers them to you. Photos are blurred until both parties are comfortable sharing them. This site attracts educated professionals.

matchaffinity

Selling points: You can search for your own matches as well as get them sent to you

The personality compatibility testing site from match.com is aimed at people looking for serious relationships. The personality test is simpler and shorter than the others, but you can search for your own matches as well and move fast or slow, which gives more control.


OKCupid

Selling points: free, great personality test, alternative people

This free site is only worth using if you’re willing to spend days answering hundreds of personal questions. Otherwise, you’ll get an eyeful of scammers, spammers and timewasters. If you do take on the full might of its personality test, though, you may well love this site. Their matching system is superb and you can move at your own pace, whatever it may be. Note that this site is not solely aimed at people looking for serious relationships.

It’s worth mentioning the fact that match.com itself also has a simple matching system based on a personality test. If you want to pay standard online dating prices, search for your own matches but have some sent to you as well, you might want to give it a look as well.

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An interesting article about lesbians in India

Having recently been in India, I’m still quite interested in how relationships and dating work there. It’d been 15 years since I was last there and I remember reading in my guidebook then about the fledgling gay scene (lesbianism was never discussed then) and how, even though physical contact between men is far more accepted in India, once it it seen to go beyond friendship, things are not tolerated. So I was quite interested when I saw this article about lesbians in India. It seems things have somewhat moved on a bit since the 90s, though there is still a long way to go. In a country with arranged marriages, people living with their parents till a very old age and heavy expectations on producing heirs, I’m frankly amazed and impressed some people dare to be openly gay. Here’s hoping things will keep getting better for the Indian LGBT community.

Read more about this fascinating scene here.

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matchaffinity free weekend now on

matchaffinity is having a free weekend againm starting today, Nov 4th and ending on Sunday. Sign up to the site now and you’ll be able to contact your matches free of charge all weekend. on matchaffinity you can search for your own matches or have them sent to you after you complete the personality test. So basically, if you’re quick, you could be communicating people this weekend already. If you’re looking for a new site to try, then this is a good opportunity to see if you like this one.

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Arranged marriages Vs free choice – a brief note from India

It’s funny how your work follows you wherever you go. I used to watch detective shows on TV and joke about how convenient it was that the detective would always get caught up in some sort of mystery, even while on holiday, visiting family or friends or just going about their daily business. Since I got into the dating industry, though, I’ve found that it’s pretty much impossible not to end up talking about dating and relationships sooner or later. At the moment I am actually in India and it only took 2 days before I found myself having a conversation about love and marriage with my Indian tour guide in Delhi. He’s in his early 30s, married for 4 years, one son (2) and expecting another baby. His marriage was arranged by his parents. I asked him if he loves his wife and he said he didn’t know. I asked him if he was happy with her, he said he said so so. He did, however, say that when he saw her he immediately agreed to marry her. I told him the whole concept seemed incomprehensible to me, which it is, but I must say I’ve heard all kinds of stories about arranged marriages in my time and they weren’t all bad. If anything, people I’ve spoken to and others stories that have been related to me show that many young people in India and elsewhere are actually quite happy with the concept of arranged marriages. I’ve also been told of a more modern compromise that’s been doing the rounds here, where single women are introduced to several men by their parents and can then choose between them. Many people here say that you can actually learn to love a partner you’ve been married to by your family. On the other hand, I also gather that divorce is on the rise in India and that there are all kinds of sad stories of people in love with one person who are practically forced to marry another.
At the end of the day, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this concept, but the picture I get from speaking to people here is that the arranged marriage love life is no more or less diverse and complex than the Western one.

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OKCupid shares users’ personal data with other companies

I actually think OKCupid is a really good dating site. It’s also free to use, which means they need to make their money by other means. Still, I was quite surprised to read about how they sell user information to external companies that then auction that information off to advertisers and who knows who else. Dating sites often do stuff like this (especially free ones) but in this particular case, some of the info sold on is bound to make people rather annoyed. This is according to a recent privacy study highlighted in the WSJ. The original article came out on Tuesday and made some very seriously scary claims. It said that apart from the “usual” (but still scary, if you’re one of those people who think the Internet is private and secure) information like user ID, gender, age and zip code, OKCupid also shares relationship status and “drug use frequency”. Since them, there have been a few clarifications made, but if I understand all the crossed out bits and non-crossed out bits in the article, things are still a tad creepy.

Two companies buy data off OKCupid. One gets the relationship status and drug use info and one doesn’t. The one that does, something called Lotame, claims it doesn’t use the drug frequency info, which begs the question of why they buy it in the first place and why OKCupid sells it to them.

Of course, considering the fact that this follows recent debate about whether Facebook tracks you online even after you’ve logged out (which it supposedly doesn’t) this is not going to go down well at all. I guess the most you can say for OKCupid is that it’s not alone. Apparently 45% of the top 185 websites in the US share some sort of user info with others. Happy surfing!

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PerfectMatch.com discount code

Less than a month left to save 50% on one month’s membership to PerfectMatch.com. If you want $30 off (standard membership is 60%) then sign up and pay before October 31st.

To make use of this offer, sign up to the site through the link below.

Go to PerfectMatch.com now and get 50% off.

Note: This is a USA site. It’s very big in the US, but I’m now sure how big their membership is in other countries.

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Scottish men least sexually satisfied in the UK, says survey

I may be a bit of a cynic, but I always snigger slightly when I see a survey that has a whiff of something cooked up in the PR lab. First, there was the recent one conducted on behalf of Pfizer (who just happen to be the people responsible for viagra), which found that European women were most turned off by bad breath, followed by erectile dysfunction and flatulence. Now, there’s a new survey that’s come up on behalf of Bayer Health, who also make a pill aimed at curing erectile dysfunction. This survey takes things a step further and suggests that while Scottish men are the least sexually satisfied, they’re also least likely to go and talk to a doctor about it.

The solution is, of course, to go to your doctor, which is fair enough. Getting treatment can really help and people would do well to get over the embarrassment involved. For all I know, Scottish men really are the worst out of British men for hiding their sexual problems and it’s important for men to know they’re not alone.

On the other hand, these surveys are funded by big pharma who want to sell more pills but are prevented from advertising their wares in the usual way (in the USA they can just have TV ads). I just hope GPs are smart enough to not just dish out tablets. Underlying conditions are a serious factor and are mentioned on the NHS site, but so are psychological conditions, which are often ignored.

Barring serious underlying physical conditions (which are pretty common and require separate treatment), I can imagine a quick fix tablet is far more appealing than costly, lengthy treatments involving, for example, going to a psychologist and talking about your childhood issues (after all, the attitude towards mental health in the UK is embarrassingly poor compared to other Western countries). Even lifestyle changes can seem too much when you can just pop a pill. There’s no denying that these pills do work and do help many men all over the world, but as tempting as that can be, I’d like to suggest that if you are in that situation (or a woman who’s sleeping with a man in that situation), you should get over the urge to keep taking pills to fix the symptoms and make a serious attempt at looking at the underlying causes. Being dependent on big pharma for sexual satisfaction should be a last resort, not your first choice.

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VeggieDates – the problem with running white label niche dating sites

With so many dating sites out there, people are constantly looking for better ways of hooking up with people who are likely to be more like them. So the Internet is full of all kinds of niche dating sites aimed at particular crowd. of course, if you’re not working in the dating industry, what you may not realise is that many of these sites that cater to particular types of people with similar religious views, hobbies, lifestyle choices, etc. are actually owned by the same company and using the same database of singles.

For example, many of the dating sites “run” by various newspapers and magazines are actually run by “white label” online dating companies. If a newspaper wants to cash in on the online dating craze, it’s actually a lot cheaper for them to use this white label solution than to write and populate a dating site from scratch. So if you sign up to the site via the newspaper’s branded user interface, you may well meet people who also read your favourite paper, but you’re likely to also meet people who don’t.

But what happens when the people you meet on the site you signed up to are radically different to the ones you were promised? Well, trouble ensues, as can be seen in this recent story about a “vegetarian dating” website run by Global Personals. Apparently people who expected to meet and date vegetarians were not at all impressed when they realised most of the people on the VeggieDates site were not actually veggie.

This is a bit of a poor show, really, because if you have a system set up to work your database into something suitable for white labeling then surely you should be asking your members about their dietary habits and using that info to feed the right people into the right website. I understand that you may want a bigger database than what your vegetarian pool alone would allow, but filling it up with blatantly unsuitable matches is disrespectful to the users. If someone’s going to pay to use a site that’s branded as a veggie site, it most likely means that this issue is important to them.

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The old monogamy debate rages on

There’s an interesting article in the Telegraph about controversial columnist Dan Savage and his suggestion that monogamy may be one of humanity’s greatest problems. Savage, who’s gay, suggests that heterosexual couple should follow the model common among same sex couples and in particular gay male couples where successful long term relationships are maintained without sexual monogamy. The idea that serious, loving relationships can thrive without the imposed sexual exclusivity of monogamy is still groundbreakingly radical and / or intolerably controversial for many people. Savage created quite a stir after making his suggestions in his blog, which ought to be quite surprising in this day and age.

There is no question about the fact that monogamy is not right for many people. The fact that marital infidelity is relatively common can certainly serve as proof. Even those who are faithful to their partners throughout life are not always free of the desire to stray. While it’s true some people remain true because being in a monogamous relationship with the person they love is enough for them, I would hazard a guess that many others are held back not by love but by fear of doing something that is understood to be morally wrong or of hurting their partner – much in the same way some gay men and women in conservative societies choose to deny their true feelings and live “normal” heterosexual lives.

It’s interesting to think about why gay men are more likely to have open relationships, male libido aside. After all, straight men can be just as sex obsessed as gay men and there is no huge campaign for making heterosexual non-monogamous relationships the norm. I often wonder if the fact that gay relationships were traditionally placed outside of “normal” society and the fact that any post-coming out gay man (or woman) have had to go through some sort of personal awakening means people are more aware of their needs and able to live the lives they want to live without having to make allowances for any more pressure from society. But considering the fact that monogamous relationships are a growing trend among same sex couples as well, could it be that gradual acceptance into “normal” society is making gay couples accept or feel obliged to follow in heterosexuality’s footsteps? If so, it is certainly a shame. A certain crossover of relationship values resulting in more personal freedom would be far preferable.

You can read more about Dan Savage’s original claims here.

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Worst online date ever?

Next time you think you’re having a bad online date, spare a thought for poor Leah Gibbs who went out with a guy she met on Facebook only to be used as a getaway driver when he robbed a bookies (gambling shop) for the princely sum of £245. Mr. Right asked to stop at a Ladbrokes on the way to the date, only to emerge from the shop minutes later brandishing a gun and wearing a black bandana. He shouted “Drive!” at the shocked Gibbs.

The young single mother of two was initially arrested, as it was thought she was in on the fun, but was released when it turned out the guy was acting alone and she was merely an unwitting victim.

The world is apparently full of charmers!

You can read more about this story here.

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Use matchaffinity for free this weekend

The matchaffinity free trial may be over, but this weekend you can enjoy the site for free, meaning you can still try it out without paying a penny. If you haven’t signed up yet, do it now, because from tomorrow till Sunday, you’ll be able to not only review your matches but also to send and receive messages from your matches for free. I’m not sure when the next free trial weekend is after this, so make use of it while you can, as it’s a good opportunity to try out the site and see if you like it.

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It’s official: marriage is bad for you!

OK, joke headline aside, apparently while research has now shown that married / cohabiting couples often live longer and tend to give up bad habits such as smoking, now there’s another bit of research that says that apparently some people actually pick up bad habits from their long term partners. In straight relationships, it is apparently the men who are seen as the bad influence. Gay couples just tend to blame each other for promoting unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, eating junk food, etc.

How does this fit in with previous studies showing the opposite? Well, you know, I guess some people go one way and others the opposite way – same as with anything else in life. We all know some people bring out the worst in us and some bring out the best in us.

So if you’re looking to get healthy together with someone who shares your vices, you’d better make sure your potential partner is also keen, or you may find yourself slipping back into your old habits. Of course, if the longevity studies are correct, you may still add a few years to your life just by being married.

You can read more about this new research here.

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Free eHarmony

If you want to use eHarmony for free, you’re not the first. Actually, lots of people come to my site after wondering whether eHarmony is free to use. It isn’t. You can take the personality test for free and “review your matches” (basically, look at people’s profiles the site has chosen for you) but if you want to communicate with anyone, you’ll need to pay up. Luckily, if you’re new to eHarmony, you can try it out for 7 days with a full money back guarantee. That’s basically a 7 day free trial for eHarmony – free eHarmony! If you don’t cancel within the 7 days, though, you’ll be charged the full amount of the membership you chose, so make sure you read the small print!

To make use of this offer, you need to visit the site using this special link that leads to the special landing page.

Visit my previous post about the free eHarmony offer for full instructions and the most up to date link.

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matchaffinity free trial on now

matchaffinity are currently offering a free trial. You can get 3 days for free on the site if you sign up between now and August 22nd.

To make use of this offer, follow this link to matchaffinity’s special free trial promotion page and follow the instructions on there. Seeing as you need to fill in their questionnaire (not particularly a lengthy or in depth one, though still more than you would on a site that doesn’t offer compatibility features), I suggest you do it sooner, rather than later, as you’re going to get no action on the site till that’s done. Unlike other similar sites, though, matchaffinity does let you search for your own matches, as well as receive some to your inbox.

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