Reader’s Choice award best dating blog 2012 shortlist 3-5

As promised, we conclude the review of the short-list drawn up for this year’s best online dating blog, after looking at two of the five, yesterday. Those two being 31 dates in 31 days and Checkmate Magazine, the ‘Science Now’ publication for IvyDate.com’s intellectual singles.

Next on the list, we look at a blog hosted by a lady who’s been in all sorts of online dating reviews and panels, recently, Julie Spira. Her blog, Cyber Dating Expert, has made the Reader’s Choice nominations final five, which she is obviously thrilled about. And, to be fair, she has worked her way up through rank and file in the media industry from radio, blogging (obviously) and several TV shows where she has guested on numerous chat shows. Described in one write up as a ‘Renaissance’ figure and advertising a whole host of famous faces, most prominently Joan Rivers, who have endorsed her book ‘The Perils of Cyber Dating’ (you wouldn’t have guessed, would you?), Julie’s exposure to media and the perils of advertising have stood her in good stead, shaping her keen understanding of all the pros and cons you need to incorporate or avoid like the plague to promote your self and your dating site when you get to unearth a little bit of knowledge about your market and which channels draw in revenue. Good night, Seattle, we love you, indeed.

Next up we have eFlirt Expert. This is an online dating consultancy. I’m speechless. People actually pay for someone to write their profile for them. Just for normal dating sites! I can understand with the high end dating sites, where money is literally no object and you expect your $1,000 per month to fetch that genuine extra touch of class, both in service and the level of potential partner one would expect to meet for shelling out four-figure sums, but for a normal dating site? I’m in the wrong job. However, I must be in the minority; there are press articles galore about this dating consultancy and they do offer a package on everything. For $39, you can even get advice on how to chat up someone on Twitter. I am absolutely gobsmacked that singles would actually pay for that service. Swiftly, moving on, before my brain boils…

…the fifth of five, we have OkTrends by OkCupid, a bit of a close-to-the-bone (really) blog that is fragranced and peppered with real gritty commentary, painting pictures with words that would have been banned in the early nineteenth century, the artist possibly having their hands cut off for bad taste into the bargain. There are plenty of surveys, though how many are based on hard fact, like the fact that Twitter users are more likely to masturbate daily than everyone else or that they are so used to shortening their URLs that their relationships are likewise castrated – well, they’re a bit hard to swallow. But, there are some genuinely good dating site usage figures, tips, treats and guides that are written by someone with a rather black, ‘poke the fickle finger of fate at you’ side to their humour. Yes, I have signed up to their RSS.  One dating site that will genuinely keep me glued to my screen, I’m sure.

So, that’s it – your top five dating site blogs for this year’s readers choice award. Vote wisely; I know which box I’ve put my X in.

Dating expert heads up pre-Valentine’s media panel

Los Angeles’ largest digital networking organisation association, Digital LA, is to invite a renowned online dating expert onto its Love Goes Digital panel on the eve of the most romantic day of the year. Julia Spira, celebrated author and regular talk-show panel guest on all things to do with love in cyberspace will join others on the discussion, to mull over the mechanics that have made her synonymous with the industry.

Digital LA, whose newsletter reaches an audience of 30,000 across the social media network, is an association for the digital media arts by the digital media arts, showcasing, through its regular panels and ‘mixers’, the very best in a respective niche to help those at the start-up end, giving those individuals and companies just getting their foot on the first rung of digital media ladder their very own moments to shine, too.

Julia is perhaps the ideal guest for this particular discussion as, not only does she hail from a whole host of industries prevalent within the media industry, but she also knows a thing or two about using the new platform to her own advantage, as she has done so successfully in the past, using the Internet to promote and make a best seller of her book: The Perils of Cyber-Dating, a retrospective detailing the romance of the ever-hopeful quest for ‘The One’ using online dating.

The founder of Digital LA, Kevin Winston, was very clear about what the discussion was set to achieve and why the panelists chosen were the perfect vessel to carry their message off. Within the world of online dating, there are ‘capitals’ – cities whose off-line dating influences have helped shape the way dating sites have grown and become platforms to be embraced, rather than feared, as was once the case. LA is just one of those cities and to have so many experts in the field gathered together on the eve of such an important day in the romantic calendar is testament to its legendary status, along with New York (in this humble writer’s opinion, the global capital of online dating) and London.

Spira’s place on the panel is more than justified; with a nominated blog, best-selling book, a coaching track record in online dating hardly rivalled and now a recently completed screenplay, she is perhaps the best example of a cog that works well between the two subjects of online dating and digital media. Should make for an interesting show.

Falling in love and following up on first dates – when’s ok?

Okay, so you’ve read and digested everything there is to know about how you should attract, achieve and behave on a first date and it’s paid dividends (see tag #datingguruuk if you need a recap). The night has gone perfectly, you’ve not embarrassed yourself or your online dating partner (now your offline beau) and there were several hints that you both wanted to see each other again. Fantastic – you can’t beat a bit of bully, can you?

You’ve done the ‘text me when you get home safely’ bit, if you’ve not dropped them off or got them a cab back home (if not, why not!?) and you can go to sleep easy – if you can drop down off cloud nine to actually get into bed, obviously. But when’s the best time to follow up? Should you be on their case first thing the next morning? Is leaving it the traditional three days too long, given how hyper-connected we are, both socially and with our love lives?

For those of you old enough to remember a time before e-mail, mobile phones and online dating, the ideal grace period was three days. That was, of course, when homes only had one telephone, a man came around to light your gas lamps, you used to have a bath in front of the fireplace on a Sunday night whether you needed one or not and it didn’t half get cold on the WC in winter when you had to go in the outhouse.

I can categorically tell you that, based on one dating site’s survey earlier in the year, the ideal follow-up time is now one and a half days and not the traditional three, from when the height of social media activity was a party-line phone shared by one and all in different flats in the same block.

Don’t be overly keen – give them chance to breathe, but don’t take too long, making them think you’re not into them. If you’ve been out Friday night, then Sunday dinnertime’s the perfect time to see if the second date is still on the cards.

And talking of overly keen – one last tip for would be offline daters, if you’ve only just progressed from the online dating scenario. Do not rush your opposite number into a relationship they may not be ready for, for a whole host of reasons (remember, they’ll tell you why in good time).

Nothing is scarier than someone developing an all-enveloping crush on you after you’ve only met once or twice and there is little else I can think of more likely to put someone off meeting you again than a relatively new love interest constantly mithering you that you should.

As we aspired to in the first #datingguruuk article this week, love is like a flower and will blossom naturally given the correct bedding and by allowing it to bask in the sunshine. Smothering someone will crush any desire they have to be with you. Let them breathe and give them time to respond – you will only come across as desperate if you keep texting and leaving voice-mails and pm’s on your dating site!

So that’s that – we’ve come full circle in this mini-series designed to help out us poor Brits who are crap at UK dating! And all this advice, you could have paid through the nose for from a relationship expert in EST, USA. And we’ve given it you free – aren’t we just the best!?

Here’s looking forward to your company in February; I’ll let you know where to send my card to. Love always, dating.org.uk.

Relationship experts and their roles on dating sites

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll have seen a growing number of articles relating to high-end dating sites and the fact that the singles who sign up for these ‘all-in-one’ sites rely heavily on a relationship expert to take care of their every dating whim for them.

Okay, from the various write-ups in the media surrounding the increased interest well-to-do singles have in online dating of this stature, I guess there has to be a little more to it than what all the glossies have been printing. I mean, you’re not going to pay over the odds for dating advice that someone is going to print in the press for free, are you?

And you’re not going to part with four-figure monthly dating site fees (in three-month subscription chunks, I hastened to add) for information that some relationship coaches are giving away for free, surely?  You ARE?!?!

And that, I suppose, is really the key – the difference between me and those 6-figure city slicker earners who think nothing of blowing £12,000 a year on a dating site subscription because they’ve not got the time to research and digest that which, with a little research and patience, is waiting in cyberspace for zip, just an e-mail subscription away.

And relationship expert, dating coach, lifestyle guru – whatever moniker you want to attach to them – they’re all out there, dangling the carrot with free pdf downloads to get you to sign up in the hope that you’ll one day go on and buy one of their products off of them. Providing you’ve got the time to read, interpret (for an English audience – the majority are American, as you’d guess, with the rest badly re-written copies in a language that starts off close to English in the first paragraph to draw the reader in but then soon descends into gibberish to avoid the plagiarism checkers) and then learn how to act upon the information, you’re quids in!

So, purely in the name of delivering quality dating advice to you, my loyal readership, that the dating royalty in London, New York and Miami pay through the nose for, I’m going to give the rest of January over to what I believe is the closest we’ll get to expert relationship advice, for free!

So, in totally English fashion, let’s start with five articles looking at where you’re going wrong, why you’re still single and why you’re coming back time and again to dating sites to find ‘the one’.

(article series tag: #datingguruuk)

Start dating as you mean to go on – drop the fibs

So, yes – welcome back to the #datingguruuk series, taking a sneak peek for free into what the mega-loaded singles from the dating capitals of the world pay a fortune for every month. Yep, it’s only a peep – I’m not going to offer to call you up for a fifteen minute ‘get-to-know-you’ session (it’s true – if I’d lived in US EST zone, I’d have got one!). But that just shows why eHarmony have felt the need to completely revamp the ads for their UK dating sites compared to those in the US. We do look at dating in a totally different way to our American cousins. Oceans apart, geographically and in our love lives, it seems. Anyway, before I board that Titanic, as promised, why we’re so useless at dating:

Have you been to Amazon recently and seen how many books there are about dating? 14,100. That’s just under the tag dating. Then there’s the ‘for women’ (6,500+), ‘for men’ (a similar 6,500+) – there’s even a selection of 20 titles for dating the undead! The state of UK dating must be pretty awful if we’re buying guide books in love on the off-chance that a lycan or succubus is gonna drop by!

And I’m not one to suggest that the menfolk need a helping hand, but there is a strong selection entitled ‘dating tips for men’, yet they’ve dispensed with a similar section for the fairer sex. I did suggest over the weekend that women know how to get what they want, didn’t I?  Even Amazon are backing me up, there!

Do we need help dating in the UK? Oh, yes.

So, back to my e-mail series from the lovely EST lady in the US and our first fallibility when it comes to striking up a potential relationship: honesty.

Not to make out that we’re a nation of fibbers (rich, coming from the country that tried to convince us we’d landed on the moon, that Elvis was dead and that Iraq were building nuclear power heads – okay, one of them may be true: RIP the king), but telling porkies almost seems to become a habit when we’re in the process of doing our chatting up.

In the context of online dating, it starts with out dating site profile. Studies have shown that there is an accepted tolerance of height, weight, the age of our photo and what we do for a living, where the truth is even expected to be stretched a little.

But it appears that many folk can’t get out of the habit when it comes to dating offline, either. The problem is that when you start with a little white lie, you often find you have to tell another one to get around the original. Before you know it, you’re spinning a whole web of deceit and the only one getting caught up in it is you.

So, the message is clear. Start your relationship as you mean to go on. Be as honest as you can. If there is some bad gunky, use your judgement and wait until the relationship can support its gravitas before you throw it in, but never lie about it! See you over the page; remember: #datingguruuk

You know you’re not doing your dating, but who is?

We have written to some extent about the value of paying for paid dating site services on dating.org.uk/ for some time. The one role that we’ve not significantly considered is that played out by the actual relationship expert.

A recent report by one self-styled matchmaking guru claims to have been present at a session for such practitioners to find that they were the only one present who had any relevant experience in the field, let alone any sort of certification to exonerate the fact that they were qualified thus to perform what was asked of them.

If you are a straight male who is genuinely hard pressed for time, earning enough in a month to feed a small African village for twice as long, do you really want a gay graduate or ageing professor deciding who is your best prospect in the online dating community? What say do you get, as the venerable dating site member, in deciding who takes on your case, other than at the point of sign-up for whichever of the growing number of ‘high-end’ online dating facilities you opt for?

Money talks and those who feel empowered enough by their sizeable income to allow someone else to do their matchmaking for them would, you’d think, move in circles where they expect only the best service for their outlay.  From having a personal assistant who knows how to get the coffee just so (amongst their other duties, obviously) to only buying from clothes shops that get the fit ‘just so’, service is almost expected and only noticed when it’s sub-standard.  Is this message getting through to the top niche of the dating world, delivering a service second to none or are they leaving their clients hanging on because, let’s face it, their can only be so big a market for entrepreneurs willing to part with such commanding monthly fees?

If the recent report is true, those gathered at the recent council of relationship experts included those who done their dating training before the Internet was a force to be reckoned with, was littered with people who had a same-sex orientation and even those who took on the role of cupid only on a part-time basis to fund their passage through college.

In a deviation from our usual path, over the next two days, we will unearth the secrets behind who’s doing your matchmaking for you and once again pose the question: is anyone really suited to find your perfect partner other than you? Look forward to your company.

Who’d be a relationship expert?

Now here’s a job that can either be a breeze or a right royal pain in the ‘arris: the relationship expert.

Don’t laugh – it’s a real job and you can even take a degree in it. What’s more, people on high-end dating sites are paying top dollar to use their service when they sign up to these exclusive dating sites. Talk about taking the hassle out of dating!

Relationship, or dating experts act like a human algorithm, talking to each and every client to assess their individual needs. This can be everything from arranging a bespoke program or, for the more experienced dater, just the best way to get the most successful experience from their facility.

I mean, we’re talking sizeable fees for the big city boys and girls who work hard, long hours and just don’t have the freedom to put the time and effort into their love lives in the same way that they do their high-profile jobs. So, yes, they can afford the personal touch that this type of all-in dating site offers, which is not cheap and pretty much out of the range of anyone who’s not got a couple of thousand dollars spare at the end of every month.

Entry level fees differ, to suit your needs

There are usually different entry levels; if, after the phone call from your dating expert, you think you’re savvy with the majority of the services they offer, then you go in at the low-cost end.

And this is where it gets testing for the relationship counsellor. If you’re absolutely clueless about dating, got a bit more money than (common) sense, these specialists will walk you through every step of the process.

And there is another very real reason that these dating sites make calls. Just because singles have money, does not mean they are automatically safe. In order to enhance their reputation, not only for delivering value for money but also for being secure, you, prior to being accepted by the high end dating sites, undergo a full vetting service. This could include both your criminal record and your credit history being investigated. I’m buggered, then.

But, if you’re paying that much cash up front, as an exclusive member you expect to be safe, both personally and financially. There’s no ‘Oh, I forgot my wallet’ excuses at these first dates.

In the follow up article, the step-by-step process of walking the newbie through the dating routine, high end style.