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?

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.

Considering online dating? Here’s a tip: be proactive

If you’re thinking about using online dating to find that special someone, dating experts say you shouldn’t just rest on your laurels once you’ve got your profile set up – be proactive and get yourself out there.

If you’re going to go through the trouble of signing up at one of the many dating sites that have proliferated in the UK, taking the time to carefully construct your online profile, sitting there and waiting to be inundated by invitations out to dinner, you’re barking up the wrong tree – or you’re just barking. There’s little point to jumping through all those hoops if you’re just going to sit there; you need to look through that site for people you feel you may be compatible with, and actually reach out and touch someone through a virtual message – not one of those electronic pokes or winks, but an actual fingers-to-keyboard message.

You most likely will not get altogether that many responses, and that’s fine; that’s why you’re doing this over the internet and not down at the local pub on a Friday night. The anonymity of the website offers you a bit of a cushion for any rejection you might encounter, so feel free to be yourself and don’t take it personally if you never hear back from someone you fancied – there’s a shedload of people out there looking for prospective mates over the internet, and the more you look, the higher the likelihood is that you’ll find someone that you ‘click’ with.

Edinburgh-based site adapts to increased tech usage

One online dating service based in Edinburgh has been fast to adapt to the increased amount of technology, such as social networking sites and smartphones, being used by its members.

The dating site, Cupid, founded by Bill Dobbie, a Scottish entrepreneur, has been growing by leaps and bounds since June of 2010, when it was first listed on the junior Alternative Investment Market.  George Elliott, the chairman of the company, told investors that the firm was currently looking into several new tech-based opportunities that could lead to an increased market share in the ironically cutthroat dating site sector.

The company, which has several niche dating sites under its umbrella, has been performing well, with its shares hovering at around 200p. This may be a significant drop from its June 2011 high of 260p, but it’s still more than three times higher than their initial 60p listing price.

If you’re a dating site aficionado, there’s a good chance you may have already looked into one of Cupid’s many offerings. They’re a worldwide company, with dating sites in several different countries such as Brazil and Germany, and also offer niche dating experiences for many types of love-seekers, such as single parents or members of the LGBT community.

The company has plans – undisclosed as of now – to spend some of the massive amounts of dosh it’s been raking in to improve website infrastructure and diversify their products. Industry analysts say that this could almost surely mean that smartphone apps for its more popular dating sites could be currently under development, or that more wide social networking integration could be on the horizon as well.

Have £60k a year to spend on a dating site? Me neither.

In what can only be a sign of the coming apocalypse, there are men willing to spend £60,000 a year on the ability to gain access to a super-exclusive dating site – because finding a date for the weekend is obviously more important than feeding the homeless for months.

If you were in need of proof that the nation’s rich and powerful are completely out of touch with reality, look no further: Secret Diamond Club is here, offering access to the dating profiles of women desperate to find themselves someone who can afford to drop £60k on something as frivolous as a dating site.  The women who sign up need to pay as well, with the maximum price hovering at around £30 a year (though it’s rumoured that particularly attractive women need not pay nearly as much).

The nation’s celebrities, millionaires, and top businessmen now have a club just for them when it comes to finding their next future ex-wife, and not a moment too soon, as there’s nothing worse than a lonely, bored man with money to spend and an obvious lack of scruples.  Apparently signing on to the Secret Diamond Club is much less frowned upon than cruising up and down back alleys looking for a Julia Roberts look-alike, as the filthy rich can now find their very own “Pretty Woman,” it seems.

The massive initiation fee for male clients is allegedly a good thing, as the ability to purchase such a membership acts as proof-positive of the member’s financial solvency.  This is doubtlessly a massive relief to all those women out there that are just dying to meet a rich man they’re at least marginally physically and emotionally attracted to in order to see if they can’t milk that cash cow a bit more.

New survey tests the waters for both men and women

A major UK dating site conducted a survey this past March in order to test the waters for both men and women when it came to their hopes, desires, and other online dating habits, with some interesting results being published recently.

Men overwhelmingly feel positive about joining a dating site, indicating that they feel they have absolutely nothing to lose.  Meanwhile, women say that they can select their relationships with more care and exert more control over their love lives by using an online dating site, also a very positive shift in looking at their online dating experiences.

However, a picture is still worth a thousand words.  17 per cent of men and 14 per cent of women say that it’s ‘a big turn off’ when they come across a user that doesn’t have a picture included in his or her profile, and both sexes agree that the best way to see if they’ll relate to someone is if they have interests in common as listed on the other person’s profile.

It was no surprise to see that men are more comfortable taking the initiative when it comes to striking up a conversation over the internet.  28 per cent say they sent more than 15 messages over the past 6 months, which is much less than the anywhere from 4 to 8 that 23 per cent of women said they sent in the same period of time.

Women say that the best trait to have in a possible mate is honesty.  Men, meanwhile, prefer that you laugh at their jokes, as having a good sense of humour is top on their own list when it comes to love.

Online dating sites shake themselves up to remain fresh

It’s been nearly twenty years since online dating began, and now these dating sites have evolved to keep themselves fresh and relevant, shaking things up by providing apps, online games, and even the occasional offline event in order to keep their match-making successful.

The popularity of online dating sites simply can’t be understated.  The biggest players in the dating site world have been around for decades, with millions of instant messages sent in between men and women looking for love.

However, it’s not just instant messages or texts when it comes to online dating anymore, with the biggest players in the dating site market diversifying to incorporate a wide and varied range of opportunites to find the guy – or girl – of your dreams.  One of the largest online dating sites has taken a page from the massively successful online gaming sector, creating two-player online games to aid people in making online connections.

Other companies have been cutting the internet cord when it comes to working with its members to find the perfect match.  One such dating service allows members to choose from a selection of real-world dates that interest them, such as a bike ride or a hike, and others respond in kind, naturally matching people with like interests together.

This focus on facilitating a real world experience is new, and something that traditional dating sites have largely avoided, the dating website’s founder said.  Most have instead placed a heavy emphasis on expressing online identities – something that has led to countless horror stories when someone’s online profile doesn’t match who they are in person.

You’ll need to be fit for success with new dating site

While it never hurts to keep fit in order to attract that special someone, a new dating service is coming to the UK that makes it not only a good idea but compulsory.

Men and women looking for a good workout can get together soon in order to overcome physical challenges together, thanks to an Australian firm called Fit2date.  The new company will be launching next month with 2-hour long Mega Meet workout training sessions in London, Bedford, and Chelmsford, and hopes to build on its success down under, where there have already been 12 Australian Fit2date member marriages – and 4 children!

Erica French, from Sydney, the dating site’s founder, said that she never thought that the idea would be so successful.  The woman, who met her own soulmate at one of her own training groups in 2010, originally developed the service for busy singles who had little time to socialise or work out – and decided to combine the two in such a way as to maximise the return for people looking for both a good workout and a chance at maybe finding that special someone.

All the Fit2date exercises require two people to do properly, unlike your typical gym visit where you can simply pop in your iPod ear buds and drift off into your own little world, French says.  Instead, you’re not only encouraged to engage, but to excel, it’s a requirement, and you can avoid all those awkward questions you normally have to fumble through in a strictly social dating situation – and you already know you’ve got the goal of keeping fit in common.

Music soothes the savage… heart?

The saying goes that music can soothe the souls of the most savage of beasts, but it’s probably a safe bet that no one ever thought that this applied to singles looking for love.

Digital music service Spotify, which supplies streaming music to users while allowing all their Facebook friends to see what rubbish taste they have, has recently teamed up with a pair of dating agencies in order to bring music lovers together.  It’s a bit of a time-saver, honestly, as most people have to soldier on through the painful first date, hoping that your potential partner doesn’t have a collection of Wham! albums in their flat (or perhaps hoping that they do – it’s a free country, after all), as the dating services will look at your Spotify history and match you with someone that has compatible taste in music.

Spotify’s platform director, Sten Garmark, commented on the new development by saying that music preference is one of the most common ways to start a conversation upon meeting someone for the first time, whether you’re simply making friends or if you’re looking for more.  No one wants dissonance in a burgeoning relationship after all, and when she likes Iron Maiden but he prefers Celine Dion, it’s probably better to just give it a pass and move on to the next pairing.

Truth be told, using music tastes as a way to match up prospective mates is nothing new, as dating sites have been doing it for years.  However, the automation that Spotify offers makes it painless for both end-users and dating site developers alike, as there’s no mucking about by ticking countless boxes or filling in forms – and you’ll be sure to be matched with someone who’s got the same poor taste in music as you do for once.

Online dating is quite normal

An increasing number of Canadians are finding love in cyber space.

Some years ago when I first met my current husband online, internet dating was not so easily accepted. Now, it is not only accepted, but it is seen as the norm.

In the years between 2007 and 2012 the online dating industry more than doubled its cash revenue, from $900 million to nearly $2.0 billion yearly, and had a boost in visitors from 20 to 40 million per year.

With almost 1,500 virtual sites, there is something out there for all singles, which includes farmers, the over-50s, solo parents, religious-oriented, wealth seekers, and so on.

However, it is not only dating sites matching up mates; it is social media as well. What ’s more, how many individuals use Facebook’s relationship arena as a method of getting free advertising? A British study discovered that more than 70% of respondents use dating sites and social networks to seek out love, while 20% used solely social media sites.

Almost 50% of people surveyed by the research firm Synovate think that internet dating is a fantastic way to meet up with their match.

An associate professor in communication of Rutgers University based in New Jersey, who has conducted thorough research on the subject (including the meeting of her own husband online), says that online dating is a great way to be introduced to someone but in the end, a lot of the relationship stuff is developed offline.

Research conducted found that most online dating respondents are generally honest about presenting themselves but some online daters do attempt to present a more than perfect view of themselves so as to home in on potential partners, which is really not that different than job-seekers do to pad out their resumes.

It seems that as these are mostly white lies, survey participants found that lies were really a waste of time as the truth soon emerges at the first date or not much later.

Fatherless children select from “daddy” online shop

A widow recently remarried more than ten years after her partner died in a small airplane crash. In an unusual step, it was her two children that sought out her second husband while surfing a dating site.

Charlotte Morgan, aged 41 years, encountered her new husband, who is 44 years old, after her children picked him out from the online dating site called “daddy shop”.

The retired model, who is now a businesswoman, had stopped trying to meet another man when her husband was involved in a fatal plane collision over Essex.

The ex RAF pilot, aged 34 years, was one of a total of three persons who were killed in the collision between a Cessna 172 and a Yak 50 not far from Harlow, in Essex. in April 2000.

After a decade had passed since his death, the woman, who owned a photographic agency, discovered a new found love, a father-of-one, who was divorced and came from North London.

It took nine months before she became engaged after her children, Zoe, and Will chose from myriads of other possible matches profiled on the online site.

The family, which includes Rose, Mr. Bolam’s daughter, are now residing under the same roof in a medieval farmhouse worth nearly 1.4 million pounds near to Ongar in Essex.

She recalled that she had been out on five dating encounters independently of her children the previous year but there was no real glow in the individuals.

Her son said he needed a dad as he was barely a year old when his father was killed and he did not know what it was like to have a daddy.

The kids chose one person and that in the end became their new father as he just fitted the bill. As Charlotte said, at least they could not claim it was a bad choice later on if things did not work out for them all.

Virtual war provides an avenue for love

Some are referring to the game “World of Warcraft” or WoW as the opening of a new era of online dating. The game’s ten million subscribers are quite comparable with Match.com’s two million membership or eHarmony’s one million.

The average online dating site subscriber allocates substantially less time browsing than Warcraft players do while in battle.

It is not only the statistics that may attract singles, but also the game’s player features encourage the forming of partnerships to take on monsters in a battle. If you try this war by yourself, you will be unable to overcome some of the game’s hardest challenges and you will take longer to get to the endgame and you will not have direct access to the game’s best features.

WoW it appears is an evolutionary feature of modern day love. In essence, WoW is not just a game (even though that was its original purpose) but it is a social networking situation, similar to Facebook and other dating sites.

However, an advantage of WoW as a stage for modern day love is it is also a niche site, bringing together individuals who have a serious fanaticism for gaming. Any two people can “date” once inside the game in a seemingly safe environment due to the virtual characteristics of the communication. It is also not that dissimilar from reality as avatars once playing the game can grasp hands while interacting as people do, bringing together that intimate feeling.

Expressing ones feeling virtually and in a game seems quite obscure but it is a move that is an example of dating experiences that are taking place in the twenty first century.

This century’s generation does not divulge their feelings but instead the role of technology has offered them the chance to exhibit feelings through texts, emails, or in virtual chat rooms and the weapon is one’s own choice.

It does have its worth as the clumsy silences, nervousness and introversion that often emerges with face-to-face communication can often have a negative effect. When these obstacles are obscured, we seek out more that is hidden behind the standoffish email or text message.

The overall advantages of face-to-face communication are numerous but to be take part in a true conversation tests a vital connection.

Love scams can happen anywhere in the world

Malaysia and Singapore are now victims to dating site scams that are inflicting the world over, as online dating becomes increasingly widespread.

Only yesterday, a Nigerian born man was put under arrest by a Malaysian police officer in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. He was extradited to Singapore on the 11th April to answer to a run of internet love swindles.

The man, who is 32, is alleged to have been involved in a number of fraud episodes which they were informed about last year.

He is said to have feigned friendship to women victims via internet dating and networking sites, and formed emotional relationships with them.

He vowed to go to Singapore and, on the arrival day, would make contact with the victims, informing them that he had not been allowed through at the border. At this point he would ask the victims to send some money to specific bank accounts, so he could be released.

The man is expected to be committed in court on the 13th April and it is hoped he will be held in remand for more investigations.

The Commander of the Airport Police Unit issued his thanks to the Malaysian police force, applauding them for their fantastic cooperation and help in detaining this man.

The police have broadcast reminders to members of the public to stay vigilant and be on the lookout for dating scams and to let the police know instantly if anybody makes any attempt to demand money.

The public must be astute when it comes to the receiving of messages on dating sites from strangers who may wish to become friends. A police spokesperson reiterated that it was more important not to hand over any money to a person that one is not familiar with.

There have been a number of problems on dating sites on the internet when befrienders have spent many months expressing loyalty and affection for victims and then turned on them by asking for money and then completely vanishing when they have received an amount of cash that suits their needs.

There have been instances of blackmail when victims have displayed themselves in an uncompromising fashion on webcams and fraudsters have used their wits to extract money.

Customer retention way forward for dating sites

The issue for many dating site owners becomes apparent when they realise the exact nature of the beast they are trying to build. Yes, dating sites are places where singles can now meet online, get to know each other in the chat-rooms and send IMs and private e-mails, but, in order to keep the whole shebang ticking over, it has to be a business that makes the owner money.

Free dating sites generate income through advertising, either on click-thru commissions or companies paying for the advertising space if the page ranks high enough for a given term. Paid sign-ups obviously gain access to greater benefits than a free dating membership and the website owner gets their cash directly through those fees. Either method has its merits, depending upon what you, curious single, want to use online dating for and how secure you want your Internet dating experience to be.

There is no doubt that dating sites that can boast a high, legitimate success rate will go on to use that information in their advertising campaigns. Take match.com, who reckoned at one point that they were responsible for 5% of all marriages in the US. That type of statistic is fantastic if you are looking to attract singles who judge your product, or dating site, by how well it matches with you your perfect partner, if that is indeed the reason you are signing up to online dating.

But this is where the dating site industry differs from many traditional model businesses that offer a service. In the real world, it is taken as read that your business grows by developing relationships with your existing customer base. Relationships thrive on trust, derived from continued good service; the selling aspects get negated as price becomes less of an issue. And generally, unless a major disaster strikes, that customer is yours for life.

However, for a dating site to be recognised as successful, it offers a service that means the two customers who have found love online with each other walk off into the sunset together. For every single success story, the dating site has to replace two customers; in any other realm, this would be a self-defeating accomplishment. This is why so much of a webmaster’s budget goes into advertising to attract new singles to their service and there is that constant quest to find a DCA (dynamic competitive advantage) to get one over on the competition.

But what if there was a way to keep couples as customers after they have began an offline, exclusive relationship? This has to be the way forward unless dating site owners want to continually be regurgitating the same advertising campaign, albeit with updated gadgets. It may well mean changing at least one of the dynamics of the business, but for the sake of a one-time concerted effort to research this aspect and create this aspect of the dating site, even at a reduced rate of membership fee, it is retention of a portion of your customer base that would have never graced the presence of your dating site again. Heck, having someone in your forums and chat rooms who knows the ropes and can advise other singles on the path to online dating happiness is almost like having employees, so it is well worth the effort to at least research your members to see if this is a viable option.

Zoosk has took the bull by the horns in this aspect, with Couple Profiles. It offers a place for people who have met on their dating site but don’t necessarily feel the need to give up their membership to record their relationship milestones. Again, this level of success is a fantastic advert if the target audience judge dating site success by long-term relationships. If webmasters don’t want to continually be chasing two new customers to replace every one success story and yet get membership fees working doubly hard, using those histories to good effect, highlighting couples’ true-life stories, has to be the way forward.