Top dating tips from myself

cup face

During Future Everything I took part on Chattr. My instant thought was to share some gems I’d learned from dating.

But after reading Trueview’s blog I started thinking heck I could easily share some pearls without upsetting anyone.

Now I have to point out that I am still single and therefore this means all my tips obviously have not worked. There also more for fun that anything and shouldn’t be taken seriously… I’m also sorry to say a lot of the recommendations Katerina made on the trueview blog.

  1. Email and Chat first
    There is a stereotype that most people chat too much online and actually getting to meet face to face is a novelty. I know where it come from a little but there is no harm in finding out what kind of person your interested in. Email is good and chat is even more interesting as you can get a sense of quick wit and canned answers.
  2. For the first date go for a coffee shop or quiet bar
    Tea, coffee, wine or even cocktails. But don’t get drunk! The first date is about getting to know the other person and to find out if your interested enough to go on another date. Try to go somewhere quiet and not busy. Ideally if you can find somewhere which also does food then that’s useful for natural progression (more on this soon)
  3. Don’t go on a dinner date!
    Dinner dates can be super painful… Everything from who pays on the first date, to being bored senseless or hangout with a homophobic nutter is up for grabs. For goodness sake if its the first date keep it real, however if the date progresses that way, then fine go for it. Some of my best dates have been following a coffee/tea date which has transformed into a dinner date.
  4. Don’t over do it but don’t under play it
    “be yourself” yes but do at least try… Be honest and functional, first impressions do make a difference I can’t lie (anyone who says it doesn’t is telling fibs and can not be trusted 🙂
  5. Bring money or credit
    Don’t you dare turn up with no money expecting the other person to pay even if you will pay them back next time. Who says there will be another date. If you did that to me, there wouldn’t be another chance.
  6. Use public transport and meet somewhere near public transport
    Nothing worst that going somewhere well off track and then missing the last train home to find yourself stuck in Leeds train station at 02:30. Public transport gets around the whole, “shall I drop you off?” Drinking while driving and puts a natural end to date.
  7. Always have a backup plan
    Yes thought the place was open, you didn’t know shes allergic to caffiene or is vegan. Go somewhere with a couple of credible choices. The biggest screw-ups have been when I’ve gone somewhere I don’t know and didn’t have a backup.
  8. Don’t lie and try not to be rude
    If something you don’t like comes up, let it slide and remember you don’t have to see this person again, ever. Likewise don’t lie, you want the person to make a good estimate about you and your personality. Hard to do that if your covering up your true personality.

Next time I’ll have to do my good places for dates…

Why you should never pay for online dating 101

match.com - Make Love Happen

I have said it many times but never really wrote about it in detail…Why you should NEVER pay for online dating

Check out BBC’s Adrian Goldberg’s show recently and the news item

Customers of one of Britain’s largest online dating companies have voiced concerns that they may have been lured into paying subscriptions by potential dates who did not exist. Men who signed up to a number of sites owned by Cupid plc complained to the BBC’s 5 live Investigates programme that flirty messages they received as free members rapidly tailed off when they became paid-up subscribers. Cupid plc said it did create staff profiles, but only for “the express purpose of monitoring the site for quality assurance and moderation purposes”.

It categorically denied the company sent communications in order to tempt free members to pay subscriptions.

The messages are generic in nature, only appear when your not a subscriber or membership runs out and don’t reply when your signed up and a member? Not only that, many people have experienced this on many dating sites including cupid.com or in my case speedater.com. I say one thing not putting myself in a difficult position… Ockam’s razor.

From online dating insider

But let’s get one thing straight, many dating sites have engaged in sketchy practices when it comes to growing their user databases. This is an industry-wide issue. Cupid LLC is just the latest to find themselves in the media’s crosshairs. Similar allegations have been made against Yahoo Personals, the Match fake profile lawsuit, Spark Networks and other sites over the years.

I’ve heard lots of stories over the years of how dating sites will do some pretty ridiculous things to achieve enough customer density to get people to stick around long enough to (re)monetize. Some choose to buy fake profiles during the launch process. I think most would agree that this is a terrible idea. Other use automated messaging of different sorts (email, IM, chat). This has been going on for a decade. The truth of the matter is that like any industry, there are always bad actors that will do anything to grow their businesses.

Its worth pointing out Cupid.com is Cupid.LLC which has nothing to do with OkCupid.com, which published many reasons why you should never pay for online dating a while back then removed it.

No matter if its fake profiles sending emails, fake users, fake whatever. The nature of the sending and receiving messages when a subscriber or not, works to keep you on the site and extract money…

Is online dating all its cracked up to be?

Black Mirror series 2

Off the back of my blog post about online dating… Imran added a little more context by pointing at some more related stuff by Dan.

There was quite a few things I wanted to talk about when reading “A Million First Dates” by that guy again

The positive aspects of online dating are clear: the Internet makes it easier for single people to meet other single people with whom they might be compatible, raising the bar for what they consider a good relationship. But what if online dating makes it too easy to meet someone new? What if it raises the bar for a good relationship too high? What if the prospect of finding an ever-more-compatible mate with the click of a mouse means a future of relationship instability, in which we keep chasing the elusive rabbit around the dating track?

And therefore, cue the obvious paradox of choice point

The Paradox of Choice, the psychologist Barry Schwartz indicts a society that “sanctifies freedom of choice so profoundly that the benefits of infinite options seem self-evident.” On the contrary, he argues, “a large array of options may diminish the attractiveness of what people actually choose, the reason being that thinking about the attractions of some of the unchosen options detracts from the pleasure derived from the chosen one.”

Although I’m a massive fan of choice and I have problems with Schwartz’s conclusions in the book, I can see what Dan is getting at. Theres a feeling that if it doesn’t work out you can try again easily enough. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this amount of choice has made me less likely to make things

At the selection stage, researchers have seen that as the range of options grows larger, mate-seekers are liable to become “cognitively overwhelmed,” and deal with the overload by adopting lazy comparison strategies and examining fewer cues. As a result, they are more likely to make careless decisions than they would be if they had fewer options, and this potentially leads to less compatible matches. Moreover, the mere fact of having chosen someone from such a large set of options can lead to doubts about whether the choice was the “right” one. No studies in the romantic sphere have looked at precisely how the range of choices affects overall satisfaction. But research elsewhere has found that people are less satisfied when choosing from a larger group: in one study, for example, subjects who selected a chocolate from an array of six options believed it tasted better than those who selected the same chocolate from an array of 30.

I think the comparison of chocolate and dating is a weird one. I guess if your treating dating like picking chocolates, then somethings wrong? There is a aspect of the grass is greener on the other side but I think its a maturity thing…

As online dating becomes increasingly pervasive, the old costs of a short-term mating strategy will give way to new ones. Jacob, for instance, notices he’s seeing his friends less often. Their wives get tired of befriending his latest girlfriend only to see her go when he moves on to someone else.

I don’t know if this is true but I certainly felt my parents shifting about on the other end of the phone when I talk about the last date I went on. When I would mention a woman’s name from week to week, they would sometimes say “oh you’ve mentioned her a few times.” and if I mentioned her name more than a few times “oh she sounds pretty serious?”

Also, Jacob has noticed that, over time, he feels less excitement before each new date. “Is that about getting older,” he muses, “or about dating online?” How much of the enchantment associated with romantic love has to do with scarcity (this person is exclusively for me), and how will that enchantment hold up in a marketplace of abundance (this person could be exclusively for me, but so could the other two people I’m meeting this week)?

This one is very interesting… I have to admit date after date you do loose a certain amount of excitement. The weird thing is depending on how things came about would change my level of excitement. For example meeting women through plenty of fish was not that interesting, mainly because I found them quite young and sexually motivated. OKCupid was a little more mixed but I’d admit it wasn’t like the first few months.

But its not just online dating… A lot of my other dates have been through speed dating and likewise the excitement has died down.

And its funny that I met Laura under totally different circumstances…  Also funny I met Sarah in a non-dating situation. Both I met through the medium of the internet but not via online dating… Could there be something about online dating which is slightly self destructive, for some of us? (I do know people who met and are very happy now)

If things didn’t work out with the lovely Laura, I would go back to online dating but I’ll be honest and say I was kind of fed up of it. I have met some good and very bad woman. Some of them I’m still friends with, but there is no way I feel compelled to go back to that. The notion I personally wouldn’t be as committed isn’t true in my own case. There is nothing pulling me back to that lifestyle.

It could all make a great episode of Black Mirror, endless searching and never being contented. But in reality life isn’t that complex/simple. Thoughts of love overwhelm the brain and we soon forget what it use to be like being single…

Welcome to Love in the Time of Algorithms

Imran sent me a link to this book titled Love in the time of algorithms which instantly I instantly liked…

Love in the time of algorithms

The description is exactly what I would write if I was to publish my own thoughts instead of talking about it and doing it. Actually this post pretty much sums up what I think the book is going to cover

“If online dating can blunt the emotional pain of separation, if adults can afford to be increasingly demanding about what they want from a relationship, the effect of online dating seems positive. But what if it’s also the case that the prospect of finding an ever more compatible mate with the click of a mouse means a future of relationship instability, a paradox of choice that keeps us chasing the illusive bunny around the dating track?”
 
It’s the mother of all search problems: how to find a spouse, a mate, a date. The escalating marriage age and declin­ing marriage rate mean we’re spending a greater portion of our lives unattached, searching for love well into our thirties and forties.
It’s no wonder that a third of America’s 90 million singles are turning to dating Web sites. Once considered the realm of the lonely and desperate, sites like eHarmony, Match, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish have been embraced by pretty much every demographic. Thanks to the increasingly efficient algorithms that power these sites, dating has been transformed from a daunting transaction based on scarcity to one in which the possibilities are almost endless. Now anyone—young, old, straight, gay, and even married—can search for exactly what they want, connect with more people, and get more information about those people than ever before.
As journalist Dan Slater shows, online dating is changing society in more profound ways than we imagine. He explores how these new technologies, by altering our perception of what’s possible, are reconditioning our feelings about commitment and challenging the traditional paradigm of adult life.
Like the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s, the digital revolution is forcing us to ask new questions about what constitutes “normal”: Why should we settle for someone who falls short of our expectations if there are thousands of other options just a click away? Can commitment thrive in a world of unlimited choice? Can chemistry really be quantified by math geeks? As one of Slater’s subjects wonders, “What’s the etiquette here?”
Blending history, psychology, and interviews with site creators and users, Slater takes readers behind the scenes of a fascinating business. Dating sites capitalize on our quest for love, but how do their creators’ ideas about profits, morality, and the nature of desire shape the virtual worlds they’ve created for us? Should we trust an industry whose revenue model benefits from our avoiding monogamy?
Documenting the untold story of the online-dating industry’s rise from ignominy to ubiquity—beginning with its early days as “computer dating” at Harvard in 1965—Slater offers a lively, entertaining, and thought provoking account of how we have, for better and worse, embraced technology in the most intimate aspect of our lives.

Its not available till Aug 15th but is available to pre-order if you so wish

I’ll be keeping an eye out for this one and hopefully if Dan does a book tour or something I can rope him into doing something in Manchester which has the 2nd biggest singles population in the UK behind London. Maybe it can be a special #smc_mcr event or maybe a return to prestonsocial with something more solid?

The obvious thing would be to do a relationships 2.0?

Its not the first time I’ve seen Dan’s name come up, he wrote this critical piece about dating algorithms. Which is one of the pieces,  which got me thinking about dating sites and are they actually doing what they claim to be doing? His articles reads similar to my own blog if you go by the titles alone. Just need Onlinedatingpost and Datinginsider for a full house? Anyone know how to contact any of these people?

Over drinking and dating don’t mix

Thanks Tim for sharing this on Facebook… Reminds me of this date I had one time, maybe the worst date I’ve ever had.

We met in a bar in deansgate locks (yeah classy I know but I was new to Manchester). I was 5mins late at the very most. When I spotted her, she was sitting at a table alone with 4 pint glasses in front of her. Only one was full and I thought well maybe she was with friends before. It became clear that was the wrong assumption very quickly. Me being me, I couldn’t help but ask about the pint glasses after ordering a drink. She said she was nervous and it helps calm her nerves while starting to slur her words. About 5 more minutes and it was clear she was clear starting to become very drunk.

I did something which I’m not proud of. Went into the toilet called up a friend and got him to call me soon after. Yes just like the movies… (I didn’t know what else to do, and because it was one of my earlier dates, not so long after getting divorced. I wasn’t so outspoken as I have become). The call came through and I must have won an award for that performance. However I do think she would have noticed as she was getting more hammered by the moment.

A few days later, she did text me and I did tell her, I don’t think it was going to work mainly because I’m after someone confident but I wished her luck. I did also say my friend was feeling much better after his accident and he was glad he could rely on me (therefore continuing the lie).

From my experience drinking and dating only works to a certain extent. Once you over step the mark, things can go wrong very quickly. Knowing your limits and sticking to them is essential unless you want to sleep around (and frankly a lot of people do… join pof.com) Beer googles applies to wine and cocktails as much as beer. And think about how your coming across to the other person… Who wants a leechy leery drunk as a partner?

Social dating grows…?

Online Dating Insider had a post about a new generation of Social dating sites…

Social dating, you’re either building a social dating site, you’re on a social dating site, or you don’t know what it means and don’t care.

The friends of friends effect is pretty powerful and to be honest the generation behind me are already using Facebook for social dating. Which begs the question what do the likes of social dating sites such as TheCompleteMe and LikeBright. Bring to the already crowded party?

Is online dating passing its prime?

Hand painted online dating ad on my block

One of the most under used parts of OkCupid.com is the journal part.

The journal is like a mini blog for each user on Okcupid, very few people use them but the ones which do generally receive more attention. So its handy to reveal more about yourself, if your not like me linking to there own blog etc.

I tend to use the journal to write about online dating, which is a kind of meta (writing on a dating site about dating sites) but its great for getting opinions from others OKC users. Of course you also great journals from other users too.

One such user published a journal post titled, is online dating passing its prime?

When it was new but past the stigma of being for losers I recall a lot of people going out on online dates and not hating them. I could be projecting but it seems most of my friends seemed to have a bit of fun from online. Now all the blogs and stories and journals are filled with either banality or dating misery. Bad dates, inflated expectations, laundry lists, a consumer mentality, the numbers game, cut and paste messages, perpetual disappointment, deception, no substance. All of these things seems to be the experience of many who online date. I’ve known people, good decent people, who try a couple of dates and remove their profile because it is a lot of work for little payoff.

OKC made a huge mistake by phasing out the journals because that was actually a really decent way to interact with other people. You got to know people, good and bad, over time and sometimes indirectly. It seems much more sophisticated than the typical online dating ritual.

The post goes on but I sent a message to the user sympathising with the thoughts about the online dating and Match.com’s plan to remove journals and other non core stuff from the site. I proposed the idea that social dating (which you could argue Okcupid is a part of) is growing and that kind of fly’s in the face of the old idea of online dating. That user then suggested it might be a generational thing.

I think there is a generational thing going on that is creating a gap for the 30-50 crowd. Those in their early 20s seem to be using Facebook for everything (dating included). But I don’t see too many in their 30s for contacting people who they don’t know well for dates. The other thing is that Facebook isn’t really geared for singles as its purpose isn’t meeting other singles.

Could be right… hopefully this is the kind of discussion we’ll have on Thursday 12th July at the next Relationship 2.0 event.

Everytime I hear or think about the state of online dating, I think about my lifestreaming dating idea, further expressed when reading this post about the mainstream acceptance of lifestreaming

I really want dataportability for online dating as OKcupid gets bought by Match

Tim Dobson sent me a tweet earlier this today but I only saw it recently because he usually sends dodgy and crap stuff (*smile*). Anyway the news threw me…

OkCupid Acquired by Match.com for $50 Million.

I’m shocked… and to be honest I really want to get off OKcupid pretty soon. But I really want to take my data with me. I’m already considering building some kind of scaper so I can get my data out. The only good thing is…

OkCupid co-founder and CEO Sam Yagan will stay on at the site to run operations.

Sam Yagan also recently said

We Will Not Charge Users Following Match.com Acquisition

“Our goal is that [the acquisition] will have no effect whatsoever,” Yagan told us, saying that no positions will change within the company, and that it will continue full-steam ahead as usual — sans censorship or fees.

Sounds great but is this all lip service? To be honest, as some people have already noticed. A article about paid vs free online dating has been taken it down!

Internet denizens have also pointed out that a popular OKCupid article from last year titled “Why You Should Never Pay For Online Dating” has been taken down from the company’s blog.

“I chose to take that down. Match didn’t ask,” Yagan says, denying that the other site was attempting to censor OkCupid. Apparently, the story was pieced together from public information, and Yagan has learned that some of the assumptions made in it were untrue.

Also, he says, “It’s a common sense thing to do. We’re joining a bunch of new colleagues, there’s no need to have that post.”

There is the google cache of course. And no wonder it was removed… It starts this way…

Why You Should Never Pay For Online Dating

Today I’d like to show why the practice of paying for dates on sites like Match.com and eHarmony is fundamentally broken, and broken in ways that most people don’t realize.

For one thing, their business model exacerbates a problem found on every dating site…

Oi! No wonder it was removed, its a scaving deconstruction of the match.com business model, oh whoops I mean our new boss.

And if that wasn’t so bad enough, this bit will have you in stitches.

Match.com’s numbers are just as grim. They’re a public company, so we can get their exact subscriber info from the shareholder report they file each quarter. Here’s what we have from Q4 20094:

And finally this flow diagram kills it dead. The owners of Match.com must have been having kittens by the point.

Remember, sites like Match and eHarmony are in business to get you to buy a monthly subscription. There’s nothing wrong with profit motive, but the particular way these sites have chosen to make money creates strange incentives for them. Let’s look at how the pay sites acquire new subscribers.

That for me is a clear sign that we’re about to be shafted. Yagan might be right that he was not told to remove the blogs but to be honest the fact he felt that he had to take it down speaks volumes! And its going to be a very bumpy ride down to the bottom, I can feel it now. And I want to get off now.

I want out! And I’m not the only one. I’ll be interested to see what kind of protest the people of okcupid put up. Might be worth starting off a specially branded avatar… Bit like whats been done on flickr before.

Online dating goes a little like this

Me on how to have more sex

According to Stephen Mount, online dating goes something a little like this.

Person A: Hi

Person B: Hi

Person A: What’s your financial circumstances?

Person B: I’m skint

Person A: Bye

In my experience this is certainly not true. It would be interesting to hear where Stephen is meeting these ladies? The only time I’ve ever had someone challenge me about how much I actually earn is when I went speed dating for the first time and it ended up on ITV 1 primetime.

The woman (who I won’t screen shot for her own sake, although I really would like to) who is person A in the following role-play and I’m person B.

Person A: So what do you do?

Person B: I work for the BBC on a special project which I love

Person A: Oh thats a shame, I heard the BBC don’t pay very well

After a slight delay (I was weighing up in my mind how this would play out)

Person B: Well that only matters if your a gold digging ******

Person A: **** ******* ******** ******

Lets say the next 2.5 mins were some of the most difficult conversation you could have with a stranger…

Luckily its only ever happened once and even more luckily it was not caught by the camera for the ITV viewing public, because that would be too embarrassing at the time but ever so funny now.