The dumber – and darker – side of dating

Dating news review: week ended 28 sept 2012:

Sometimes dating sites aren’t all they’re cracked up to be – and sometimes they’re downright dangerous, as this week’s news stories reveal.

First up this week we have the extraordinary story of the principal of an American grammar school arrested on drug charges after he contacted an undercover police officer on a gay dating website. Montague Elementary’s principal, Eric Dean Lewis, was arrested this past week on charges of offering to furnish narcotics and on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell once the 42 year old began to chat with the undercover officer through the dating site, and was soon arrested at a ‘date’ he arranged in order to furnish the officer with unspecified narcotics, sources say.

Say what you want about the American educational system and the sort they allow in to shepherd the nation’s youth on their path towards higher education, at least no one was actually hurt – well, besides the reputation of the California grammar school where Lewis was principal. And lest you think that here at home we don’t have lunatics and madmen populating our online dating sites, think again: this week, news broke concerning how one man from Northumberland has been jailed for the indefinite future after meeting multitudes of women on a dating site only to assault and rape them.

Ultimate ladies’ man, Joseph Oroszlan, began a relationship with one woman he met online, only to have a rather strong reaction to the news that she wished to break off the relationship. So strong, in fact, that he met with her face to face after the break up, held her captive, and raped her not once but twice – only to make contact with another woman on the same dating site whilst out on bail for the initial attack!

Unfortunately, this second relationship ended quite abruptly as well, even though it had advanced to the point where Oroszlan and his new girlfriend had moved in together. Once she discovered the rape and assault accusations, she confronted the man, resulting in an additional rape attempt – apparently because, well, it had worked so well the last time for the bloke, hadn’t it?

Thankfully, a judge recently locked Oroszlan up indefinitely in order to protect the public after ruling the man a danger to the public Under the terms of the indefinite sentence, he’ll be behind bars for at least six years and will be a lifetime member of that exclusive club – the sex offender register.

Nothing like good advice – and this is nothing like it

Dating news review: week ended 21 sept 2012:

Everyone needs a bit of good dating advice from time to time, and there’s nothing like it – but sometimes you get nothing like good dating advice as well, like this past week!

One particular online dating service, a particularly low-class outfit going by the name of Shag a Gamer – for, you guessed it, no-strings attached sex with video and computer game players and the women who pretend to love them – has gone to YouTube to launch a mini-series of advice videos for lonely, hapless gamers looking to lose their virginity. The initiative was launched after a Shag a Gamer poll found that more than one out of three survey respondents were still virgins – though the jury is still out on what percentage sport scraggly neckbeards and still live at home with mum and dad.

The videos feature ‘gamer babes’ with dubious credentials giving advice laced with horrible double entendres and gaming puns such as ‘you’re not going to win any trophies by hammering away at any old button’ and ‘sometimes I need someone to overload my buffer.’ This is, of course, both patently offensive to men and women while at the same time pandering to the sweaty gamer virgin demographic, so it’s almost guaranteed to be a hit.

If that’s too much for you, there’s always the other bit of advice from that equates dating to a business relationship, thanks to Dr Cecilia d’Felice, the dating website’s resident clinical psychologist. Dr d’Felice (who must obviously be an expert since she’s got an advanced degree, right lads?) came forward recently with many ‘excellent’ tips on transferring your business skills into the dating world, turning the whole thing into a transaction instead of a romantic encounter.

The good doctor recommended such activities as ‘researching’ things before a date, much as you would undertake research prior to a business meeting. She doesn’t come out and say you should gather information on the man or woman you’ll be meeting with by stalking them on Facebook, but the implication is there.

Other gems such as ‘self-promotion’ and ‘negotiation’ were given dating analogues as well, with Dr d’Felice offering tips on how to market yourself to a prospective mate by showcasing the sides of your personality you feel are required to seal the deal, and how to gently and subtly steer the date and towards ‘your desired outcome,’ whatever in the world that may be. It’s a better tactic to take than Shag a Gamer with their blatant sexualisation, but it’s closer to Glengarry Glen Ross than it is an actual date.


Must men and women be at odds in every relationship?

Dating news review: week ended 14 sept 2012:

The old saying goes that behind every strong man, there’s an even stronger woman – but why does there have to be an adversarial arrangement in every relationship?

The Battle of the Sexes is nothing new, but this time it’s taken a new tack when it comes to how men and women get along, according to a panel recently organised by the Evening Standard. In news that could certainly shake up the status quo, one journalist said that when the relationship is reversed, there’s not a stronger man behind a strong woman in the limeight, but a ‘beta’ man behind every ‘alpha’ woman.

So apparently we’re all just a bloody pack of wolves now when it comes to men and women living together. Does it have to be a relationship that means one person has to put themselves in a domineering position over the other, or can you actually date someone and have a relationship rooted in equality instead of conflict?

Whether you’ve been just dating for a few weeks or if you’ve been together for years and years, the best relationships tend to be when there’s more equality than there isn’t. It shouldn’t be about which one’s the alpha wolf or the beta wolf, as we’re not animals – well, we are but we go about wearing clothes and we’ve given up on the whole ‘walking on all fours’ bit, and if you’re in a relationship that you feel may be relegating you to a second fiddle position, you need to go and take steps to resolve that.

However, if you live in Bideford you may be out of luck if you’re looking for relationship counseling, as a charity in the area is scrambling to find a new home. Formerly operating out of Bideford’s TTS House, relationship charity Relate can no longer offer relationship counseling once a week on Wednesdays for three hours at a time after the building closed.

Relate representative, Veronica Beckett, said that long-time users of the service have had to travel to Barnstaple for now in order to continue their counseling for now until Relate finds a new location. The charity is in urgent need of a new site in Bideford in order to prevent people from having to travel, and as they only had two days’ notice before the building was shuttered, they were caught out and are hoping against hope to find someone willing to provide a free private room with attached waiting facilities.

New ways to solve an age-old problem

Dating news review: week ended 7th sept 2012:

Well, it’s been a bit of an interesting week when it comes to dating and relationships, as two new approaches to the age-old problem of finding your soulmate have come forward.

It’s never easy finding that someone special if you’re looking; there’s a lot of fish in the sea, you have to kiss a shedload of frogs before finding your prince, and all those other rubbish sayings. Well, if you’ve lost patience with the whole online dating routine, here’s some news for you: you can pay £15,000 to a new headhunting agency to find you your soulmate, satisfaction guaranteed – just don’t forget you’ve got to pay VAT.

The weighty price tag means that most individuals using this service have some serious money to burn. It must be nice to be able to just kiss goodbye to the equivalent of a brand new Vauxhall Astra on a dating service for the super-rich; most of us have to use more plebeian sites that don’t charge the cost of a new motor in order for the chance at love and happiness.

Still, good on you if you can afford that kind of money on your love life. Lend us a tenner until the end of the week, won’t you, mate?

Back in the real world, where the real problems are, there’s some good news: older Brits are starting to turn to online dating sites in a way to combat loneliness in their golden years. It can be tough after your kids have all flown the coop and you’re left in a big empty house, so it’s only natural to consider finding a bit of companionship that doesn’t include watching television every night alone.

Some might find it a bit shocking if Mum (or even Grandmum) is out looking for love in the untamed wilds of the internet, but it’s the 21st century, so come off it already. You don’t suddenly stop wanting to spend time with someone simply because you grow older, and it’s especially hard on single parents after their children are grown and out on their own: for all the years they put up with you and your cheekiness, they deserve a break, and who are you to say what they do in their own time now that they’re not changing your nappies and making sure you’re off to school on time?

Nothing like a few wrong myths to ruin a perfectly good date

Dating news review: week ended 31 August 2012:

Seems there’s nothing but bad news for people who like old folk wisdom when it comes to dating this week, as more than a few old tales have gotten turned on their head recently.

First up, it looks like gentlemen may prefer blondes, but not by that much to be really statistically significant. New research into the old relationship myth conducted by a dating website found that the difference between men who choose blondes over brunettes was a paltry 3 per cent – so yes, this marginally means the myth is true, but barely so and not really to the point where there are shedloads of forlorn brunettes sitting at home and crying into their perfectly coiffed hair every night. None more so than Kate Middleton, who recently revealed her hair and skincare secret (aka rosehip oil).

But I digress…

In actuality, the biggest revelation from the survey had nothing to do with hair color at all – 27 per cent of men said they prefer women with an overall attractive figure, with ‘curvy’ women being the most sought-after. Seems that Marilyn Monroe would have been popular with today’s lads no matter her hair colour!

Next we found out this week that not everyone is looking to start a sordid office affair with you if they sign an email with an X. New research indicates that more often than not receiving an email that’s been ‘sealed with a kiss’ is nothing more than a desire to appear friendly, believe it or not, – some even sign emails to their bosses with little X’s – though there was a strong minority that still interpreted a long line of kisses as a flirtatious come-on.

The research study pointed out that this friendly connotation begins and ends in the UK, as other English-speaking countries are much less familiar when it comes to an innocuous kiss. Our “slightly” Puritanical cousins across the pond in America would be absolutely mortified to receive a missive dripping in X’s, as the accepted custom in the US is to only include such terms of endearment with your closest of loved ones and family members.

It’s a bit odd to think that our ebullient, sometimes even overwhelmingly loud former colonists are so scared of a bit of harmless affection in an email. Let that be a lesson to you if you’ve ever got to correspond to a work colleague across the Atlantic: unless you want to confuse them and make them incredibly uncomfortable, leave off the X’s.

Unless you fancy their accent over Skype. In that case, go ahead and flirt away – but don’t expect long-distance dating to be easy!

Does office romance start by accident through an email?

If you’ve ended up dating someone from the office because he or she ended an email or text with flirtatious little X, you’re not alone, according to a recent survey.

In fact, more than half of office romances have started with an X at the end of an otherwise innocuous little X, according to the online dating site that conducted the research study. But is it wise to always assume that someone’s coming on to you that way?

There actually is a chance that a colleague at work is simply being friendly when they end an email or a text with such a punctuation. Sealing your message with a kiss is oftentimes used as a way to indicate a desire for intimacy, but it’s not always sexually motivated, believe it or not – sometimes it’s just a way to promote a casual friendship in an office environment.

In the employment world where you can get binned for violating sexual harassment rules, you need to be careful you’re not slapping little X’s all over an email to someone who’s going to take offence at what they see as an unwanted sexual advance. You could end up in quite a bit of trouble – or at best end up in a rather embarrassing situation – so it’s better to keep things a bit more professional in official correspondence, regardless of whether or not you fancy the other person.

And you need to be very careful when you’re addressing people from other cultures in an email or text as well, especially since the majority of Brits are relatively relaxed about putting an X in an email. You can confuse or embarrass an American colleague quite easily by sealing your email with a kiss, as our cousins from across the pond usually reserve such displays of affection in an email to a family member or loved one!

Looking for that first kiss? Not on the first date.

Hope you’re not looking for a kiss goodnight on the first date, as new research says you’re out of luck until at least the second – you’ll just have to wait!

Love at first sight seems to have faded into myth and legend, at least in the current dating community; it takes an average of 14 dates for a profession of love, the new study revealed. The elapsed time is around seven weeks of dating, with an average of two dates a week.

This is all well and good, but let’s get down to the interesting bits, shall we? It turns out that most new couples have sex after two weeks of dating – roughly four dates, which is about a week before you do the introduction to friends thing and about four weeks before you bite the bullet and bring your new girlfriend or boyfriend round to meet mum and dad.

So what does the data tell us, really, besides that we’re more willing to have sex with someone than we are to introduce them to our friends? Well, it seems that romance is dead, or at least it’s become completely predictable.

There are always instances of two people getting together in a whirlwind romance, tying the knot after only knowing each other for six months and living happily ever after. Of course, there’s just as many stories of people getting divorced another six months of married life not being all it’s cracked up to be, so maybe the whole ‘slow and steady’ approach to dating is a better one after all?

Revenge: a dish best served by a dating website profile?

Apparently they do things a bit different in the regions: one parish council chairman grew so incensed with a rival that he signed her up to a dating website against her will!

Councillor Marilyn Ray had been a thorn in the side of Douglas Staples, since the two had changed roles for chairman. Staples had been inundated by Freedom of Information requests from the 65 year old Ray, even though she was just a villager at that time, winding up the man so much that he signed her up to a dating site to flood her e-mail address with would be sexagenarian suitors.

The council chairman’s scheme came unraveled recently, leading to a restraining order following an harassment charge. He’s also now facing £700 in legal costs and court fees for his behaviour.

Of course, Mrs Ray wasn’t exactly a pleasant person to Mr Staples, as they had a falling out after she inundated him with more than 70 complaints over a period of five years. Then, after her retirement, she was a constant fixture at meetings as a villager, taking copious notes and lodging more complaints until Mr Staples decided to sign her up for some online dating – perhaps under the incorrect thought that finding a little love might calm her down and get her out of his hair, but it looks like that plan backfired.

Listen, lords and ladies: only sign yourself up for dating sites, not your nearest and dearest friends and enemies. It just doesn’t work very well as a revenge technique, especially after you get dragged before the magistrate and are publicly shown to be about as mature as a 12 year old boy.

Social media in Russia more anti-social than anything else

Many people have used social media sites as way to start and develop new relationships, but one Russian site has alienated anyone looking for a same-sex relationship.

Social networking is more than just posting silly cat pictures on one another’s news feeds or getting into pointless fights over trivial matters, as many people use it to keep in touch with their loved ones or develop new relationships with prospective partners. Facebook is a favourite for many, and there have been tales of love developing online between two people that have led to a happily-ever-after ending.

However, the leading social networking site in Russia has cut the legs out from under a large number of people looking to simply live their lives by limiting relationship status options to opposite-sex pairings. Gay rights activists have been up in arms at the discriminatory practice, which is technically within the letter of Russian law but still disheartening to not be able to openly acknowledge your relationship preference on a social media site with as many as 120 million active accounts, according to some reports.

The site, VKontatke, has been held up as “the Russian Facebook” on more than one occasion because of how popular it is in the Eastern bloc. However, unlike Facebook, which offers options for same-sex relationships and even marriages, the Russian analogue has been clinging to an outdated way of thinking – especially since there are so many members of the LGBT community actively support VKontatke for their social networking needs.

The Russian landscape has been hostile to gays and lesbians for quite some time, both online and offline. The Moscow Pride Parade held earlier this year featured several disruptive violent incidents that led to arrests being made, and a general feeling of unease permeates the LGBT community, making it hard to openly date and seek relationships out of fear of reprisal.

New show to cater to single songbirds looking for love

A new television show will be airing soon that combines your typical run-of-the-mill dating show with a singing competition for all those single songbirds out there looking for love.

The new show, Sing Date, will begin broadcasting from the middle of August on Sky Living. The new dating experience will have singing singletons perform from their home computers over the internet, coming together to sing duets on a karaoke track before then choosing to go in to the recording studio for an in-person singing date.

Social media is all the rage nowadays, and this new Sing Date show is following global trends in capitalising on the emergent ‘online duet’ phenomenon, where strangers will meet on an online video chat platform and begin singing to one another. The anonymity of the internet tends to lower inhibitions, much like a few pints would down at the pub, and the results are the same: emboldened Brits belly up to the karakoe machine and belt out a few tunes.

Hopefully Sky Living will not bombard us with too many terrible singers, as we can always tune into Britain’s Got Talent for that. It will be interesting to see if people’s voices will match their looks, and whether a wonderful singing voice can act as an aphrodisiac for someone who may be a bit on the homely side otherwise – most people who can sing and who don’t look a mess are usually already in show business somewhere, after all, though there’s the occasional Susan Boyle that slips through the cracks until she shows up on national television.

Current dating advice outdated, new survey says

It’s time to stop relying on old, outdated advice when it comes to dating in the 21st century, according to the results of a survey from one online dating website.

Traditional dating rules such as waiting three days before following up after a date have been declared patently absurd in the current cultural landscape, the survey found, with an almost identical percentage of men and women both finding the old way of doing things quite ‘ridiculous.’ 71 per cent of men and 73 per cent of women remarked that there’s simply no reason nowadays to adhere to rules arbitrarily made up some twenty years ago.

Not only that, but another hard dating rule – feigning popularity if asked out on a date at the last minute – was also put to the torch by the survey. There’s simply no reason for it anymore, according to 77 per cent of the survey’s female respondents, indicating that they would go on a date that same day if they were available, and an even higher 89 per cent of men would do the same.

However, playing hard-to-get is still part of the social landscape – at least to some degree – as both women and men have admitted to playing it cool when going after the object of their desires. Another throwback to older ways of doing things – the cheesy pick-up line – has even made a resurgence, with 44 per cent of female respondents admitting to having a soft spot for the practice, though it usually elicits rolled eyes and a shake of the head in most people.

Your teeth could win you dates – or lose them

It turns out that it was a good idea for your mum to make you brush your teeth before bed, as new research shows oral hygiene plays an important part in the dating world.

A new research study conducted by Arm and Hammer has found that bad breath and yellow teeth have a massive impact on whether you’re going to score that date you want so badly. Researchers discovered that bad table manners on a date and spotty skin were actually less of a turn off than yellow teeth; not only that, but Arm and Hammer also discovered that bad breath was the top of the list as far as biggest turn offs.

Along with yellow teeth and bad breath, unsavoury body odour rounded out the top three least desirable things for your date to have. Men were actually much more susceptible to body odour than they were to bad breath, the research showed, with male respondents reporting that they felt most strongly about dating someone with body odour.

Still, having bad breath was seen as one of the worst things to have, as 85 per cent of the survey’s respondents indicated that someone would rather kiss a frog if it came down to it. Not only that, but don’t start thinking about getting a second chance, as 82 per cent also reported that they would decline a second date if bad breath was present.

While the research is an obvious effort for Arm and Hammer to drum up interest in their toothpaste and other oral hygiene products, the research does make the point rather well: nobody wants to be romantically involved with someone with yellowing teeth and horrid breath.

Be lucky in love: keep your online dating profile honest and appealing

You need to keep your online dating profile both honest and appealing if you’re looking to be lucky in love, regardless if you’re looking for some fun or a serious relationship.

Sure, it can be tempting to roll back time by a few years in order to make yourself more appealing to the opposite sex, but this isn’t always the best choice. For most people, age is nothing more than a number – especially when you meet the right person – so being honest about your age will show the other person you’re trustworthy and that you’re committed to an open and honest relationship.

Honesty is an important part of your approach to your online dating profile, but so is your general outlook as well. You need to embrace your positive side and avoid coming across as miserable or negative to potential suitors, as nobody wants to date someone who’s tied up and held back by their own self-loathing.

Even if you do feel miserable sometimes, don’t let this colour how you present yourself in an online or mobile dating environment. Not only that, but don’t inundate a potential partner with too much information on your profile – leave something to the imagination, not to mention something to talk about after the first date!

Keeping your profile honest, positive, and simple has another benefit as well: it gives you less room to brag about your personal accomplishments. Yes, you may be proud about your big, roomy house, your two cars, and your big fat paycheque, but bragging about your success instead of being humble and modest makes you come across as materialistic or shallow.

‘Cougars’ on the prowl, hit back against social stigma

Caroline Flack, the 33 year old woman who dated17 year old One Direction star Harry Styles, caught her fair share of criticism for her ‘cradle-robbing’ behaviour, but an increasing number of ‘cougars’ are proudly declaring their disdain when it comes to dating younger men.

There has been an historical double standard when it comes to dating someone much younger than yourself for quite some time. For some reason, it’s more socially acceptable for a man to date a woman ten or fifteen years younger than him, yet when women do so they are almost universally reviled.

However, the move towards legitimacy for ‘cougar’ dating has been underway for some time, mostly due to high-profile relationships such as the Styles-Flack pairing. Other well-known celebrities, such as Demi Moore and Madonna, have had well-publicised relationships with younger men, which has led to a gradual normalisation of the idea that women can date younger men as easily as men can date younger women.

In fact, 19 per cent of men now say that they would not be dissuaded from dating a woman if she was up to 15 years older, according to a recent research study. However, this seems to be the upper limit, as the lion’s share drew the line at 20 years, with only 4 per cent reporting that a two decade age difference wasn’t a bother to them.

Just slightly less than one out of every three male respondents indicated that they would be comfortable dating someone ten years older than them. This figure increases steadily as the gap narrows year by year, the research findings indicate, with the highest approval rating – that of 98 per cent – was found for age gaps of anywhere from one to three years.

Take the stress out of social situations with online dating

Life is stressful enough as it is even before throwing the possibility of meeting new people for the first time face to face into the mix, but one of the best ways around experiencing that anxiety is to use online dating to break the ice.

Not everyone can be the kind of social butterfly that thrives in an environment filled with strangers – in fact it can be relatively rare to find someone who can ‘work the crowd’ like a talented politician; most of us get at least a few jitters when it comes to interacting with people we’ve never met before. In social situations, like a blind date, this stress and anxiety can be even higher, and it could interfere with you actually making a connection with someone you might otherwise be able to in a less threatening environment.

This is where online dating comes in. By placing a layer of separation between people meeting for the first time, much of the face to face meeting stress is taken out of the equation, allowing you to build a rapport with the other person in a safe environment without any of the pressure on you (or them!) to perform!

You don’t even necessarily have to rely on a dating site to make an online social connection – or at least you don’t have to any more, thanks to the rise in popularity of social networking sites. Facebook, that ubiquitous hydra of social messaging, is an excellent way to forge connections with people, along with other sites such as Twitter, Tumblr, and the new kid on the block, Pinterest, so don’t be afraid to reach out over the internet, as it’s a great way to avoid anxiety and an opportunity to be yourself – and just like your mum used to say, being yourself is always the best way to make new friends.