You Had Me At Your Hashtag: Dating Through Social Media

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It's not destined to be a classic like "You had me at hello," but "You had me at your hastag" has a certain ring to it, don't you think?

If you answered "yes," you're not alone. I'm not sure what the new black is this season in fashion, but I do know that social media dating is well on its way to becoming the new online dating.

Think of it this way, says Bianca Bosker in the Huffington Post: "traditional online dating sites offer the internet equivalent of a speed dating session," while "social networking sites are the cocktail parties of the web." On a dating site, you're focused on presenting a very specific side of yourself. When you concentrate that hard on meticulously-crafted self-representation, you lose the spontaneity of dating in real life.

On a social media site, your personality has a greater chance to shine. Instead of trying to appeal to someone you think is your ideal match, and feeling pressured to fall in love, a social media site is just about sharing your interests and connecting with like-minded people. It's much more like finding love offline - it all happens when you least expect it.

The options for dating via social media are endless.

Take Ashley, who told HuffPo that she courted her latest love on Twitter.

Or Danielle, who tried to track down a man who caught her eye through a particularly witty and scathing review of a Chinese restaurant on MenuPages.

Or Rayco and Nuria, a Spanish couple who met on Instagram following a sticker giveaway for fans of the app. They continued the conversation on Facebook, then began video chatting using Apple's FaceTime, and now plan to move to Barcelona together.

"Online dating to me is not online dating anymore," says Julie Spira, author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating and a professional online dating coach. "It's social dating and it's a social experience."

The Internet is the second most common way for couples in America to meet, said a 2012 Stanford University study, and social sites are increasingly becoming responsible for making those matches. A paper from Oxford University reported that less than 10% of couples met on social networking sites prior to 2000. Now that number has more than doubled, to 21%.

Of course, there are pros and cons to both approaches. Social media services are free, unlike many online dating sites, and boast millions more members. They also offer a serendipitous, algorithm-free experience that more accurately mimics offline dating. On the other hand, social media sites don't offer the pool of guaranteed-to-be-looking-for-love singles that online dating sites do.

For now, it looks like social media sites may slowly be edging out the competition. "We live a lot of our social lives on Facebook, Twitter and sites like that," says Laurie Davis, the founder of online dating consultancy eFlirt Expert, "so since dating is inherently a part of our social life - it only seems natural to find love that way as well."

To find out more on how the individual Social Networks like Twitter and Facebook are used for dating you can visit our Social Networks Dating category.

Dating Around The World

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Over the last couple of weeks, the Internet has been bubbling over with discussions of travel and dating. Would you travel to meet a date you met online? Would you use an online dating site to find no-strings-attached fun in a new city while traveling?

It turns out that traveling might be a boost for your love life, if you're looking for something specific in your dates.

For instance...

If you're prefer your dates big and beautiful, HuffPo says these are the best cities to date in:

  1. Ogden, Utah
  2. Whittier, California
  3. Metairie, Louisiana
  4. Medford, Oregon
  5. Spring, Texas
  6. Glendale, Arizona
  7. Montgomery, Alabama
  8. Carrollton, Texas
  9. Concord, California
  10. Torrance, California

OurTime.com, a dating site for singles over 50, identified the top 10 cities for plus-sized daters by analyzing the behavioral data of its users to find the location of the site's most popular users who self-identified as "big and beautiful."

If you're looking for interracial dating, try your luck in one of these states: California, Texas, New York, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Missouri, Indiana, Arizona.

The data comes from InterracialDating.com, which surveyed its members to find - surprisingly - that political affiliation is not a good predictor of interest in interracial dating. 10 of the top 20 states for interracial dating have historically voted Republican over the past 5 presidential elections.

If you're gay and searching for a May-December relationship with benefits, SeekingArrangement.com recommends dating in these cities:

  1. New York, New York
  2. Chicago, Illinois
  3. Los Angeles, California
  4. Houston, Texas
  5. Beverly Hills, California
  6. Atlanta, Georgia
  7. Dallas Texas
  8. Toronto, Canada
  9. Las Vegas, Nevada
  10. San Francisco, California

The SeekingArrangement.com study found that the average gay sugar daddy is now 39 years old, has an annual income of approximately $215,482.39, and has a net worth of over $6 million.

SeekingArrangement also identified the most promiscuous cities in Europe, for tourists who are interested in a little more than sightseeing during their travels. The cities in which tourists are least likely to get busy with the locals are Edinburgh (Scotland), Naples (Italy), Paris (France), Madrid (Spain), and Hanover (Germany).

Instead, travelers who are hoping to get lucky should add Carlisle (United Kingdom), Prague (Czech Republic), Vienna (Austria), Mykonos (Greece), Barcelona (Spain), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Monaco (France), Paris (France), Dublin (Ireland), and Stockholm (Sweden) to their itineraries.

To find out more about the dating sites which offered these insights, you can read the OurTime review and the Seeking Arrangement review.

eHarmony Homepage Makeover

eHarmony
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About a month ago eHarmony updated their homepage with a new look and feel. Gone is the rich dark blue background and the picture of couples as seen here on the top right. eHarmony has used this general layout and colors with a number of different couple pictures for about 2 years now and has decided to make a change right before the holidays. I think this is a good thing since a number of other popular dating sites are using very similar background colors which I found tended to blend all the sites together and didn't make any one in particular stand out. I find most sites (not just dating) tend to make a fairly major change to their layout once every 2 or 3 years.

In its place as you can see in the screen capture on the bottom right of this article you will find a warmer color scheme that contains lighter blues, yellows and browns. The picture of the person on screen is also larger and appears more down to earth. As you scroll down on the eHarmony website the background changes color abruptly but I think this works as it makes each part of the homepage standout. Along with this homepage makeover eHarmony has also updated their advertising with the same look and feel.

Update: Dec. 4. 2012

It looks like I wrote this article a week to soon. 😊 eHarmony has just updated their homepage again on the US site a few days ago (Canada is still using the older one). The color scheme is very similar to the last update but the message has changed slightly. The title of the page now reads "From single to soul mate" and it then mentions eHarmony's 29 Dimensions of matching. Since Dr. Neil Clark Warren is in charge once again at eHarmony it looks like they want to get back to the core of what eHarmony was founded on. Also instead of one single photo of a person, the homepage now includes 8 to 14 photos arrange like an album with actual eHarmony members. If you put your mouse cursor over the photo a card slides up and includes details of who the person is matched with along with a quote. It looks really good and I think the simpler look will help eHarmony attract more members.

For more information on this popular dating site known for its in-depth matchmaking, you can read our eHarmony review.

In Defense Of Craigslist Dating

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Man Cave Daily says Craigslist is "The Internet's Dating Dungeon." Ok... it's not exactly eHarmony or Match.com...but does it really deserve "dungeon?" Those are pretty harsh words for a site that most of us use in one way or another and would probably be lost without.

Why such a negative take on such a popular site?

Well, for starters, Man Cave Daily thinks Craigslist is only for people who fit this description: "impoverished underachiever with little-to-no self discipline." As a Craigslist user who lives in Manhattan (and therefore isn't impoverished), and whose sole career is freelancing (and therefore isn't lacking in self-discipline), and who regularly travels the world with the living she makes from freelancing (and therefore isn't an underachiever), I object!

I may be using Craigslist to find work or sublet my apartment, and not for dating, but I think the point still stands. Everyone should feel free to enjoy Craigslist and all the wonders - high-brow and low-brow alike - it has to offer.

MCD calls the Craigslist dating scene "freewheeling." I have to agree there. Where we don't agree is the merit of that freewheeling scene. MCD thinks Craigslist personals offer "freedom from the constraints of conventional morality, general propriety or truth" and "allow one to do things that would result in a ban from conventional dating sites."

Newsflash, MCD: People lie and lose track of decency on traditional dating sites, too. And there are some shockingly normal people on Craigslist.

MCD goes on to paint a bleak picture of Craigslist users who are looking for low-key fun and casual hookups, to which I emphatically say: "Who cares?" Let consenting adults who aren't out to hurt themselves or anyone else do whatever they want. If "whatever they want" involves meeting people on Craigslist for "immediate, unambiguous gratification," so be it. More power to them. I hope they have a mind-blowingly good time.

And then MCD throws out this little gem: "Craigslist Personals is governed by shame, need and shameful needs. Face it: if you were suitable for any other dating site, you'd have gone there. You end up on CL because you're too poor or too perverted for mainstream sites." Oh, and you're also "freakishly desperate."

Absolutely not, MCD! That kind of sex-negativity is making the world a nasty, judgmental, and much less fun place.

If you know what you want, and you know a traditional dating site isn't going to help you get it, I say embrace the Craigslist personal. Viva la Craigslist revolucion!

To find out more on how to find personal relationships on this site, please read our Craigslist review.

Can You Find Love on Social Networks?

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Online dating is going strong, but another digital avenue people are using to meet others includes something a little more - public.

Many singles are turning to social networks - Facebook, Twitter, and even Yelp to find love. While online dating sites still remain a popular way to connect romantically, people are starting to think outside the box. But what exactly does this mean?

We spend a lot of time online, and especially on social networks. We go to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the like to connect with others multiple times a day - to see what's going on in the world, and to talk about things that interest us. It's only natural to look through friends of friends for potential dates, or to check out the comments people make, to see if there might be a digital connection.

The Huffington Post even talked about Yelp being a place where romantic connections are made, simply because people connected to someone else's writing or the kind of critiques and praises they gave to certain restaurants, bars or coffee shops in their areas.

The idea behind using social networks to meet others, even romantically is this: when you can talk about a shared interest, it's easy to start a casual conversation, flirt, and eventually meet in person. It takes the stress out of dating by - well, taking the dating out of it - like the profiles and awkward emails explaining what you're looking for in a partner.

So what exactly does this mean? Just because someone is on Facebook or Twitter doesn't mean they're single - so are people just taking more chances and asking someone out anyway? Or is it a more relaxed and easier way to start talking and eventually meet up? Is there more risk to reaching out through these social networks, that you might not get someone who's truly interested, or looking, or even honest?

It's true that many people lie in their online dating profiles. But social networking sites don't always accurately reflect information either - like whether or not someone's already married or in a relationship. It's good to find out in person how available they are before you get too involved online.

While social networks make it easier for people to meet, so do dating sites. I think the more avenues you have to meet people, the more opportunities you have to meet the right person. Matching algorithms don't always mean love, but neither does liking the same bands. Sometimes, it's intangible - what attracts two people. So shouldn't you keep an open mind and look at the many ways you can meet, online and offline? Love is all about taking chances.

To find out how different social networks like Facebook and Meetup stack up when someone is searching for love, you can check out our Social Networks review category.

Online Dating Introduces The Wingman

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Online dating has just about everything these days, but there's one thing that real-life dating still has over meeting someone on the Web: your trusty wingman by your side.

Or at least that was the case, until Tandem came along. Tandem invites you to bring that trusty wingman (or wing-lady...we don't discriminate) along on your online dates. No, it's not a covert swingers site...it's a carefully-thought out "two on two meetup site" that hopes to ease the awkwardness of meeting strangers on the Web.

Searching for The One online is usually a solitary pursuit, but a growing number of sites - like Circl.es and Acquaintable - are turning online dating into a social experience. It makes perfect sense, if you think about it...meeting someone new is rarely a solo experience in real life, so why should it be online? More often than not, real life dates happen because we meet someone new through our social circle or while out with friends.

Sites like Tandem are now trying to mimic that social experience by increasing face-to-face interactions and placing the emphasis on meeting new people rather than finding a soulmate. "It's like a casual meetup instead of a direct one-on-one online dating meetup," Tandem founder Will Tungpagasit told the Huffington Post. "People are a lot more at ease when they're with someone they know, and so we wanted to build a site that leverages that."

Every Tandem member signs up with Wings who are trusted friends (which sounds like a great opportunity to avoid filling out your own profile by writing each other's). Finding a date is a three step process:

  1. Invite: See an interesting profile, pick your Wing from your friends, then pick one of their Wings to join you on the date.
  2. Confirm: Your Wing must confirm before the 2 invitees are notified. Then either of the invitees may confirm the date.
  3. Coordinate: An email is sent to all 4 people. Replies go to the group but email addresses remain private.

Tungpagasit suggests that the most effective strategy on Tandem is to join with your most attractive friends. "Maybe someone doesn't think my profile is cute, but she thinks my friend is cute," he explains, "and she thinks, 'Oh, I want to meet that guy. I don't care if Will comes along.' It opens up opportunities for me because I'm not that photogenic, but I'm fun in person. I get an opportunity to win them over with my charm."

Sounds good to me.