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.

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.

New study says you can fake your way to love

Act like you find someone attractive for long enough and you may just develop feelings for the person, according to a new research study, indicating that you might just be able to fake your way to love.

Researchers recently invited people to participate in an an experimental speed dating session to play specific psychological games in order to determine if doing so would enkindle amourous thoughts that weren’t originally present. Speed dating participants were asked to engage in the kinds of behaviour that was suspected of building emotional bonds, such as giving small gifts, sharing secrets, and maintaining eye contact during the event, and the results turned out to be startling.

The normal percentage of people who, after finishing a round of speed dating, wish to see one another once more, was found to be around 1 out of every five. However, the group of speed daters asked to employ the psychological tactics reported a success rate of more than double at 45 per cent.

Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor from the University of Hertfordshire, found the findings ‘remarkable’ in that two people who behaved as if there was an attraction between them developed an emotional attachment. Prof Wiseman compared it to the phenomenon of feeling happier from forcing a smile onto your face. The psychology professor said that while research in a similar vein has been carried out in a laboratory environment with students, this new ‘real world’ test is the first of its kind – and the first time where people actually looking for a love connection were used.

Prof Wiseman says that similar techniques could be employed to great effect, up to and including making two people who have never met before fall completely and maddeningly in love with one another.

Pick your prospective dating partners with care

It may be fun and exciting to look for love online, but you need to keep in mind that there are far too many nutters out there – and that if you let them into your life, you could end up getting seriously hurt.

One particularly fine and upstanding citizen, 36 year old Sean Melville, was recently convicted of raping a woman he met through an online dating service. The incident occurred after a night out in Bathgate, West Lothian, where the convicted rapist consumed  both lager and vodka to excess before he and his victim, a mother of two, to the woman’s home.

Melville soon became belligerent and abusive towards the woman, starting a row because she neglected to fix him something to eat, according to Susanne Tanner, the advocate depute that prosecuted the case in court. The intoxicated man interrogated the victim on whether she had been taking other men to the pub, insulting her and then physically assaulting her by pushing her down on a nearby couch; the woman, who had had quite enough at that point, told the man to sleep in the spare room before going to bed herself.

Unfortunately, this did not dissuade Melville, who followed the 37 year old mother upstairs a moment or two later, demanding sex from her. Ms Tanner then described how the man raped the woman repeatedly throughout the night; the abused woman only reported the rape once she discovered that her assailant was looking for new women to assault on the dating website where they had originally met.

Melville admitted to the rape at Edinburgh’s High Court. The man remains in custody until his sentencing next month.

Use the internet to enhance your dating experience

Just because you didn’t meet someone through the use of a dating site doesn’t mean you can’t use the internet to enhance your dating experience, as communicating with friends and prospective partners has become increasingly facilitated by social networking websites as technology continues to push us towards more interconnectedness.

Nowadays, online dating isn’t limited to just the confines of a particular dating website. Between Myspace, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, you’ve got a myriad of ways to keep in contact with people, and this can actually make it much easier to gain acquaintances and expand your circle of friends than in the past.

Say you meet someone new at a party, down at the bar, or in some sort of other social environment: it’s almost a given that you’ll exchange enough information to find one another on your social network of choice, forging organic social connections that can easily grow into something more than that, if the chemistry is there. Not only that, but there are niche social networking sites for people with specific hobbies and interests, such as fitness, music, or photography, bringing people together in an environment where they already have something in common without having to worry about the stigma of approaching a virtual stranger.

This actually makes it all that much easier to meet new people and perhaps find yourself in a new relationship with one of them. People don’t have the same kind of free time that they used to, and being able to steal a moment here or there to test the waters at your favourite social networking site is much easier than a night out – especially when you’re working like a dog to make ends meet in the current economy; it’s also quite a bit less expensive as well, meaning that there’ll be more money in your pocket at the end of the month that can go towards any number of things.

Don’t believe what you read online, new survey says

While most singletons looking for love through a dating website often read online profiles with a healthy grain of salt, a new survey gives credence to our belief that you can’t necessarily trust what you read online.

Both sexes were found to embellish and sometimes outright lie when it comes to their personal details. Both men and women were found to be highly duplicitous when it came to how fit they were (or weren’t), with many stating that they’re much slimmer than they actually are, while women also tend to exaggerate their bust size as well.

Before you go pointing a finger at the fairer sex for exaggerating their feminine traits, men aren’t exactly blameless when it comes to other areas. The survey found that a large number of men will describe their job in glowing terms instead of what it truly is in an effort to seem more appealing – a dustman becomes a refuse disposal specialist, while someone who works in a takeaway might call themselves an Asian cuisine chef – while some will create a completely fictitious job out of whole cloth to seem more interesting, usually in the film, finance, or healthcare industries.

The research also found men often lie about their wage when filling out an online dating profile, with 40 per cent of survey respondents indicating that they may ‘enhance’ their earnings potential by as much as 20 per cent. It’s also quite common to see men pretend they have a more senior role at their place of employment in order to present themselves as more authoritative as well.