The common downsides of the free online dating service

There are one or two things you should watch out for if you opt for a free dating site, which make their money mainly through advertising. There is often little left in the pot to stretch to on-site security and vetting of sign-up members as a direct result. You should never give out any sensitive information on dating sites, anyway, but on free platforms this goes double as the person to whom you’re chatting may not have been checked out at all. Things are getting better, but until there is a uniform minimum level of dating site security, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Another ingenious way a few free dating site webmasters have found to top up their income (these are the exception, not the rule, we believe) is by selling their ‘list’. That list being anyone who has signed up for their dating site since they started up or as long as they can legally hold on to that information. If they’re immoral enough to sell their list, it is also likely they’ll plead ignorance to any charges of holding on to your data past the legal time limit.

This may be of little consequence to you now but, in a few years time when you’re perhaps with a partner who was unaware of your dating site history, it may cause a whole load of hassle between you and your partner when you start getting bombarded with e-mails asking if you’re still ‘up for a one-night stand’, or whatever you disclosed to the site in the past.

And if you’re looking for long term relationships based on in-depth compatibility studies, you’re best off looking to upgrade to a paid matchmaking service who have gained their brand and reputation by being able to deliver whatever it is you’re looking for (there are different horses for different courses). You may only encounter people who are only using the free service for a bit of fling, chat or giggle and not in it for a serious, long term commitment, so it’s best to be aware of the site’s inclinations before you expend time and energy on a lost cause from the outset.

So, in a nutshell – free dating’s great for learning the ropes and a quick scout of who’s dating in your area, but not exactly secure and populated, in the main, by youngsters getting the hang of online dating and perhaps not into relationships seriously enough to go the extra mile and stump up a few quid to find a partner online with whom they’re truly matched.

Valentine’s Day – is anyone that bothered, this year?

The fourteenth of February is rapidly approaching. If the date’s not ringing any sudden bells and you’re in a relationship, either offline in the real world or with a virtual partner in an online dating capacity, you may want to check what next Tuesday stands for. This may save you picking up an earful down your handset, your private message inbox going quiet for a few days or letting a potential partner down most terribly, on the most romantic day of the year. But, to be honest, from what I’ve read so far online this year, no one in dating land is looking forward to Feb 14 at all. Is this usual?

This is my first year writing in online dating land; I truly expected to find articles galore embedded with 22-font (or foot) bold pink text, love hearts and fluffy bunnies bordering every page of every blog and dating site, but that’s just not the case.

Does Valentine’s Day really hold such dread for singletons that the only people to comment on the occasion are those harping on about how they cannot see the point of declaring their undying love for someone special on one day when true love should flourish in a relationship every day, from the minute one half of a couple awakens until they both curl up and go to sleep all cuddly together every single night for the rest of their lives?

If that’s the common belief of how long term relationships work, held by those looking to spark perhaps their first serious time around the block via their dating site platform, I’d suggest notching up a few short term relationships first if it’s that feeling you’re looking for. Make the most of that ‘loved-up’ emotion, getting plenty of Valentine’s Day gifts and looking forward to buying them instead of agonising over the ‘what to get this time?’ question that comes with being with someone for fourteen and a half years…and certainly don’t take down the old dating site membership, just yet.

In my personal experience, I have to go with the flow – Valentine’s Day works great for those just starting out on their first real relationship or if it’s early days in a new partnership. But if you’re single with little prospect of hooking up with someone from the office, bar or dating site, or if you’re married or living with someone who you’ve been seeing for as long as you care to remember, it does all seem like a lot of effort (and expense, keeping card shops, florists and chocolatiers in business) for the reward.

Still, there’s over a week left, folks. Try something new, join our dating site – your perfect partner could be waiting online for you, now, big fluffy bunny, box of All Gold and soppy, 22-foot card waiting to be posted. It may be the year that Valentine’s Day does kickstart your love life. What are you waiting for? With all my love xxx ????

Being single is not a contageous disease

So, yeah. This girl was sick of being treated like a social leper just because she’d been dumped after Christmas. It’s not the best time to be without someone, Valentine’s Day, but that’s only if you’re constantly reminded about the fact that you are single and not dating. All of the friends you’ve been sociable with recently as part of a couple are finding your company hard to deal with when you turn up without a significant other on your arm.

It’s not like you’ve lost your wallet or your purse, is it? If you go for a meal sans beau, it’s not like you’re going to do a runner just because you’ve only got one bill to pay for. Okay, you may have to dip into your purse a little further than the rest of the party as you’ve had no one nagging you along the lines of ‘Don’t you think you’ve had enough, dear?’, but if that’s the only price, you can live with it. And so should they. But they can’t, and that’s the real issue.

The subject of your being single can be the elephant in the room, sitting in the seat opposite you where, up until recently, sat your partner. You can almost hear your girlfriend kick her fella as he’s about to ask you if you’ve had any luck on your dating site? or have you heard from ‘x’ since the split?...
…where x is the ex, obviously.

As well as your friend may have batted your corner for you over dinner from the ignorami, you know deep down that’s because she wants to check out the health and temperament of your dating welfare herself, when the two of you are on your own. It may be that you all met on your dating site and she’s itching to tell you about the guy she’s been chatting to on your behalf or, worse (if the friendship’s only recent), she could want to introduce you to a guy she had a lot of fun dating
…which then begs the question: why aren’t you still with him, then?

However, you do tend to find that a bathroom stall apart is as close as your dating friends want to get. Remember, this is leprosy and it spreads. Your happy-couple friends do not want to catch what you’ve got, no sirree!

And so it comes as no great surprise that, as the coats go on and your coupley friends are all heading back to one of their homes to talk ‘people-in-love-with-each-other’ talk, your best buddy asks what time your taxi home’s booked for…
…you make one last excuse to nip to the powder room and order that cab either screaming or crying, it could go either way.

Being a singleton is not a disease, but only to other singletons. To anyone in a relationship you are unclean. This Valentine’s Day, if you can’t meet up with someone off your dating site between now and then, remember to pop a bell around your neck, just to let everyone know you’re comin’! And how…

Leading dating site targeting long term singles

Match.com are looking to revolutionise the way hopeful singles view their site by launching groundbreaking marketing to advertise its MatchAffinity.com long-term relationship aspect.

In a recent article here on dating.org.uk, we revealed how Match.com’s current dating site membership didn’t view ‘marriage‘ as part of the success story as much as that of its fiercest competitor in the dating market place, eharmony. This is a timely move by Match as its rival has just launched its own TV campaign, only last week, featuring British couples. It’s about time these corporations realised that UK dating represents a different target market than other global dating site communities.

From the start of next month, their ‘Going the distance’ campaign will bring real-life documentary clips filmed this month to our TV screens as part of the dating sites long-term relationship drive.

This will incorporate Mike and Alanna out on the road, complete with TV crew, as they seek the answers from genuine couples into their beliefs into the secrets that have kept them together for so long.

Get involved on your facebook app

In another move that sees the dating site world getting ever closer to social media, anyone who downloads the facebook app dedicated to this campaign can prompt the couple. Singles, more than ever, are drawing upon their constant use of social media platforms to get closer to other lonely hearts; Match.com have been exceptionally smart in leveraging this obsession to help promote this series of real-life ads.

UK online dating predicted to grow to £150M in just two years

Katie Sheppard, head of relationships in the UK and Eire, believes that singles who the company are trying to attract through this campaign would rather see real-life people than hand-picked actors. There is a very real association from the prospective audience, for which the creators of this revolutionary dating site campaign should receive the due plaudits.

This particular brand within the company’s portfolio really does drill down into hopeful singles details when they are completing their dating site profile. In an attempt to grow their UK dating market share, which they believe stands at between 50-60%, Katie believes the best way to do that is by letting the people who contribute to the “hundreds of success stories…every day” tell the story themselves.

And that’s a share of a pretty big pie; market analysts Mintel predict that, by 2014, the gross income of UK dating will represent a cool £150M. If you want to be a part of the online dating success story, search our top dating sites for compatibility in minutes.

Stay in control of your online relationships

Whatever dating site platform you choose and however you opt to use its facilities, always remember this one thing: you’re in charge of the relationship!

Most dating sites will ask for a certain amount of information from you when you sign up. If they are asking you for details about yourself you’d rather keep private, then don’t go with them – there are thousands more on the Internet from which you can choose, the best five, according to our specific algorithms, you can find on our home page, dating.org.uk.

There are, in essence, two types of dating site: those that let you search for your perfect match online and those that matchmake based on the data you input on their sign-up form, which is generally longer and more in depth and personal, for obvious reasons.

A lot of the top dating sites, usually those that require a paid membership to utilise their best features, recognise a new single’s rite to a certain amount of privacy; they will give you the choice of what information you want to share and that which you don’t.

As dating numbers continue to rise, the owners of long-established sites recognise that there is more and more competition every day. Many of the newer sites springing up combine the best features of social media with the basic software that runs the traditional dating site.

Not that the multi-domain, million-plus membership sites see the newer ones as competition – there are the odd one or two, such as Badoo that do take the world by storm but they are the exception that proves the rule, the rule being that it takes massive, concerted effort and time to build a reputation and customer base to put you in the premier league – but what keeps those at the top ahead of the game is moving with the competition and filtering their innovations into their own sites.

Again, there are exceptions. Some sites know what they’re out to achieve, have a golden rule an stick to it, no matter what. It is these businesses that are genuinely surprised by the newcomers but, with the added finance of being well established, are expert in launching advertising campaigns to retain and even grow the membership that they have set out to capture.

The upshot of knowing what each and every dating site you check out does is paramount to your online dating success. As reported in our article earlier today, every successful dating site is only judged by its membership as successful by what that actual member is looking for by joining it.

If it’s long term relationships you’re looking for, let that be your guide. Only respond to members who are looking for the same.

Should you just be looking for a fling or want to get to know people in a new town and have no consideration for marriage or anything like as committal, use a dating site that perhaps doesn’t profess to rate marriage as its primary function. Use that type of site for what you’re looking for and don’t be persuaded otherwise.

Social media and dating sites, or a combination of both, have become a very real part of singles every day lives. Just make sure that you’re fitting them into your life when you need to, not let them be running your life for you.

The golden rule – when it comes to finding your perfect partner, you do the choosing, no one else!

How do you define ‘success’ on your dating site?

A two week study into the way ‘success’ stories used their dating sites has revealed that, of the biggest names in the online dating industry, its users define achievement in very different ways.

The iSchool, Drexford, investigated 20% of each of OkCupid, eHarmony and Match.com’s claims to fame couples over a fortnight in an attempt to get to the bottom of a very real dating site mystery: what do users hope to achieve when they sign up to an online dating site and how do they choose the dating site based on their requirements.

In essence, their are three categories of success to choose from, each ranging from the short-term of purely meeting a single on the dating site of their choice and taking the relationship off screen to begin a successful courtship.

The second rating was the much more committed step of having someone propose to you, based on a relationship that has begun online.

And the third and most exclusive assessment of the success story was the big one – the act of two people who have met through one of the dating sites actually tying the knot and joining each other in wedlock.

meet the judges

The trio who took on the responsibility of ploughing through the information were Rachel Magee and Christopher Mascaro of Drexel’s iSchool, part of the curriculum at the College of Information Science and Technology there, overseen by Dr. Sean P. Goggins.

how do we choose our dating site?

Taking a random one in five of the success stories from each of the dating sites from a fortnight in Spring 2011, the team made some interesting insights at what was classed as a successful experience.

Using ‘marriage’ as the yardstick, the report revealed the 84% of eHarmony users success stories were about wedlock, just less than half of match.com’s tales referred to tying the knight and only 23 of OkCupid’s members considered marriage the key to a successful experience.

What this shows, in layman’s terms, is that the majority of eHarmony’s members use the site for the purpose of finding a life-long partner and that really is the purpose of them joining the site. Match.com’s has a mixed membership, where there is a combination of long-term relationship seekers as well as those who use the dating site for playing the field.

And OkCupid’s membership do not consider marriage as the be all and end all of a successful dating site and judge it by other methods.

In summary, people will join a dating site based on its stories of success that suit the preferences of what they’re looking for. If you want casual, there are sites for it, marriage has its role to play and if people are intent on that, they will determine which dating site offers the best opportunity and there are those in the middle who may be looking for a life-long partner if the Mr or Mrs Right happens to avail themselves.

Whatever your need, try our range of the top five sites we have hand picked for the best on the ‘net for dating.

Get back on track after breaking up 1

Dating can be an arduous task at the best of times; an elite small percentage can just do it, whereas many of us have to build up tentatively, uncertain of how the ground lies, even more uncertain of ourselves.  This is never more true than after exiting a long term relationship.

Whether it is marriage we’re talking or having lived with your ex in a common-law partnership, it has possibly been a while since you’ve been on a date and wonder if you want to put yourself through the mill yet another time, just to be hurt again some way down the line.

Here are a few guidelines to get you back into the swing of things and eliminate some of the issues that may lead you to jump out of the frying pan into the fire…

Time to move on

When you’re on that first date, even if you have been communicating fluently and for a period of time over your dating site forum, it is inevitable that conversation will stall at some point during the occasion.

Do not use tales about your ex to bridge those awkward silences. The first signal that falling back onto that topic will send out is one of pining for your lost love. Can you imagine being with someone on the first date and, the moment you’ve said your piece and they theirs, they start comparing your answers or mannerisms to their recently divorced partner? Not fun – you imagine what they’re going to be comparing next…

Don’t you be the one to make your new partner think that they have to compete on every level with your ex – that’s a sure-fire way to guarantee your relationship ends the moment that first date draws to its natural conclusion, if not before.

Focus on your partner and the date itself

If your date has read the ‘tips for a first date‘ handbook (of which there are thousands online), they will have gone to extreme lengths to get their look just right for the occasion. That’s everything from hair and general attire to the time, setting and location.

Nothing will quite kill the mood and atmosphere if you start talking about what a pain your three year old son Billy was at nursery or why your department at work is not hitting its sales target.

Yes, you may have had the day from hell, but leave it roasting in the fires of Hades and celebrate this moment and the possible paradise to which it may lead.

Continued in Get back on track after breaking up 2

Can you see the real me?

Quadrophenia – the coolest film ever made in the UK, opens with Jimmy riding through the London streets at night on his Lambretta LI150 to a backdrop of Roger Daltery’s coarse vocals warbling the refrain “Can you see the real me, can yer, CAN YER?” then Pete, John and Keith notch up the volume to what is the greatest soundtrack in the all-time who’s who of soundtracks.

For those who have not seen the cult classic it’s about a young mod torn between how he thinks he ought to appear in the eyes of his family, the ‘sawdust caesars’ who are his peers (males and females), his colleagues and bosses at work and the establishment, hence the four faces. Ultimately, our hero crashes and burns, after his constant search for his true self leaves him alone and desperate, especially when he realises that, in order to progress and be socially accepted, there has to be compromise.

Dating site members could learn a lot from James Michael Cooper’s struggles as he flits from one day to the next, never knowing which of the four faces he should be wearing, and very often getting it wrong when he finally chooses which quarter of his quadrophenic personality is most appropriate.

The key is, just be true to yourself. You are, after all, looking for someone who is going to like you for who you are, and not someone you are trying to be. If someone falls for one of your faces that you have trouble wearing, you are only making a lifetime of hardship for yourself, should you take that you into a long-term relationship.

Looks are vital – show a profile photo of a recent you, in a natural pose, not some postulating, sun-tanned image taken on Brighton beach two years ago (watch out for falling GS150 Vespas, if you do!).

Things that make you tick are also totally relevant. To take it to the extreme, not that I understand the motives of either I’ll use in my example, but if you absolutely love foxhunting, it’s in your blood, say so on your dating site profile. Can you imagine if your first date was with an anti-vivisectionist who’d likewise been scant about her interests and she turned up just as you were being blooded?

Jimmy, in Quadrophenia, has a very flawed personality. No, four personas, none of whom were quite right. “Why should I care if I have to cut my hair? Got to move with the fashion, or be outcast.”

Everyone who’s seen the film will know the scene that line comes from – it highlights so many issues. But you ask any mod, or rocker, for that matter – Do you love Jimmy? His humanity reaches out to everyone who has gone through that rebellious, growing stage. I guarantee, only the prudes will say no.

Flaws show your personality – get them out in the open on your dating site profile. Well, if you’re a homicidal maniac, best leave that out and go seek help professionally before looking to date online.

So, when you can sing: “I can see, that this is me, I am the one!” then you know your dating site profile is good to go.

All lines quote from Quadrophenia, 1973, Track Records; © Pete Townsend/The Who

Tech-savvy seniors get the best from online dating

The young generation could learn a thing or two from the ‘baby-boomers’ about online dating. If internet-dating sites want to work their way to the top through recommendation of success, then targeting the senior market would seem the most likely route to accomplish it.

Senior dating is the growth area when it comes to the industry sector as a whole; as it’s all pretty much on the up-and-up, that’s some achievement. To qualify for this category, you have to be aged 55+. Once upon a time, the cheeky young upstarts would class anyone above the age of forty as technophobic.

But, as the internet has become such a major player in our lives over the last 15 years, those forty-somethings who were there at the dawn of the first internet giants, such as Google, friends reunited and MySpace have the internet in their blood as they look towards making the most of retirement.

Given the meteoric rise of dating sites in the last three years as their popularity has grown alongside twitter, facebook and yahoo personals, it is perhaps no wonder that seniors should turn to dating sites to fill their time as they find more of it on their hands.

Where the seniors, and the next biggest growth group, 45-54 year olds, have the advantage is that they have probably already been in one or two long-term relationships before they hit the cyber dating world. When they have to choose the ‘what you would like to see in your search results‘ categories, they can be oh-so specific. They have compromised, they do know what they like and what they are prepared to surrender to make a relationship work – when they find it anew, they pounce.

no hanging about for one senior couple, stateside

There is no greater example of this than a recently documented case from across The Pond, of Andy and Linda, both seniors who met online. Tentatively, it has to be said, at first, but then didn’t hold back after they left online behind and hooked up in real life in a particularly moving tale.

Andy’s wife of 40 years had died of cancer and, following a suitable period of grieving, took to the net to socialise as much as anything else. Given the length of time he’d been married, the awkwardness of dating again meant he “didn’t want to meet somebody in a bar”.

Linda, who expressed that it was “…a hard time for a woman to find somebody,” started e-mailing Andy after she joined the same dating site, not long afterwards. They soon met up in person, that was July 2010. Instinctively knowing it was right, Andy proposed a month and a day after that initial meeting.

It then got hard for Linda, knowing that Andy had lost his first wife to cancer, as she was diagnosed with breast cancer just days after Andy’s beautiful proposal. Linda couldn’t face putting Andy through that turmoil again, but the resilient senior would hear nothing of taking an easy way out and her husband-to-be walked with her every step of the way through surgery and treatment; come September 2010, they were Mr and Mrs Andy Davik and are as happy today as when they first got together.

So, if you think dating sites are only for the young, think again; they come highly recommended from a couple who know best and wasted little time in proving their viability for members of all ages; good luck to the pair of you, we say.

online dating – your contract details, please

An article on a US review site recently reported how akin finding a romantic interest online is to searching for a job. Unlike much of the keyword-stuffed tripe that Google chooses to partner with when you subscribe to its feeds and alerts service for online dating and UK dating (so much for its zero-tolerance black hat policy), this article was insightful, well-written and contained some interesting comparisons.

Tailored to the US market, this report highlights the similarities between the constant search for love online and also how alike the backdrop to our respective societies have become. Not only in our attitudes to finding prospective partners online but also the plight of each country’s millions who are struggling to juggle the dole queue with finding a love life, as we approach one of the most romantic times of the year.

What do you do – carry on with your dating site’s subscription fee only to find a love online but be unable to buy them a present for Christmas? Should we be having to sacrifice our search for love for the next meal, as unemployment levels rise?

Well, let’s take a look at the points made in the article, then I’ll add my last point which, as a married person, a single person would may be miss.

your online dating curriculum vitae

Okay, first and foremost is the image you’re trying to portray. It has to ring true with the real you, but you still have license to tweak that image to your target audience. For example, if you are trying to work your way up the ladder, which is true in most cases when submitting your CV, successful candidates tailor their persona to the job requirements. If you have a specific ‘type’ of person you are looking to attract on your dating site, modify your profile to your best guess at what that type will be looking for in a partner.

The words – as important as your image. When running through CV’s, especially on agency databases, matches will come up based on the job requirement and what you have included in your résumé. Dating sites, especially matchmaking sites, use similar algorithms to pair couples from their vast dating site databases.

Clichés are not good. Whether you’re looking for a job or a partner, you have to exhibit an element of your personality that will make you stand out from the crowd. How many profiles do you think dating site voyeurs look through before they hit on one, someone they’ve never met, and feel confident or impressed enough to risk approaching them? Recruiters are the same. Their reputation is at stake and must deliver quality over and above anything that the competition fields, to enhance their chances of repeat business, or a second date, in comparison.

The point that the guy from the US missed? The long-term contract.

If you’re in it for the long haul, you will stand a much better chance of succeeding if your abilities, preferences, ambitions and goals are laid out bare from the outset. Once you sign on that dotted line, there’s no point in complaining about specifics later on that didn’t form part of the contract that you don’t like now. It’s your job, your partner, for better or for worse.

Let the real you shine through

Dating profiles are the key to success

If you want a flood of interested parties flooding your inbox with invitations to date, it’s not purely your dating profile photo that needs to be picture perfect. Hobbies, interests and even job history are all ice breakers that could have suitable prospects initiating contact instead of timewasters.

There a thousands of better than average good looking people on any dating site you care to log on to, but what lies beyond those pixels is paramount to you making a go of any desired encounter.

One of the many reasons attributed to relationships not going the distance is when the partnership becomes symbiotic, where one half relies completely on the other to survive. Living in each others pockets is a sure fire way to drown any flame before the flicker truly ignites.

But that’s not to say that that’s got to be the case.

If you are someone who gets plenty of opportunities to date but never seems to be able to follow through, it’s worth asking yourself if you are one of many devoted partners who abandons their own personality to fling themselves totally into your significant other’s lifestyle from the off.

Ask yourself why you got the invitation to meet up in the first place. It is acceptable to make some allowances when meeting up, but partners approached you on the dating website because of your personality, not your ability to mould seamlessly into theirs. Like you, if they are in it for a long-term relationship and are serious about it, they will be making allowances for you, too.

A good yardstick, if you are concerned that you may be giving up too much of yourself, is to ask your family and friends, true friends, if they notice changes in you whenever you start dating someone new.

Do you drop all of your lifelong friends in an instant? Do your other online friends think you have been abducted by aliens? Has your language become different – do you include sayings and terms that you’ve picked up from your partner that you’d never dream of using, in any other context?

If any of this rings true, then give yourself a long, hard look in the mirror. Providing that that person is the one you’ve described on your dating site profile, then that’s the person who people want to go out with.

Retain that element that is you to realise a long, rewarding partnership.