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 Match.com 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.

 

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

eHarmony security compromised

For those of you feeling safe and secure in your own little world, convinced that no one would bother hacking a dating site after going after one of the largest business-related social networking sites, think again: eHarmony has announced they’ve fallen victim to the same hacker or hackers that compromised the security of LinkedIn and posted th results on a Russian internet forum.

It was confirmed earlier this week that there was a breach of the online dating site. A ‘small fraction’ of the dating site’s users has been affected, according to eHarmony corporate communications representative, Becky Teraoka, but the number of users that might have been put at risk was not specified – though the website did confirm it had reset the passwords of anyone whose security had been breached.

Truth be told, the hackers didn’t break in and abscond with a bundle of raw passwords but a number of ‘hashes,’ which are versions of the passwords that have been encrypted with a computer algorithm.  However, the passwords can be uncovered with decoding software available to anyone for free, with the only thing standing in between a Russian hacker reading your online dating profile the relative length of your password, as longer ones take more time to crack.

Around 1.5 million of these password hashes were compromised, as they were posted on InsidePro, a password-cracking website hosted in Russia.  The same website is also allegedly responsible for the LinkedIn security breach where anywhere between 5.8 million and 6.5 million hashes were purloined and posted, though business networking site has also announced it was changing passwords and informing its members.