Holiday Dating Tips

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The holidays can be a stressful time of year, especially for navigating romantic relationships. If you're single, you wonder how to meet someone new. If you've just started dating someone, maybe you're debating whether or not to ask him to your office party or a friend's holiday gathering.

There are no right or wrong answers, but it's a good idea to take a deep breath and concentrate on enjoying yourself this season. After all, the holidays are a time for us to express gratitude, do kind things for others, and indulge in a little holiday eating. The stress is something we put on ourselves, but recognize that you don't have to. Follow these simple steps for dating during the holidays:

If you're single:

Go out. Accept those invitations to parties, office happy hours, and family gatherings. Even though time is short and we often feel stretched, it's a good idea to make time to cultivate relationships, especially this time of year. Don't put pressure on yourself to find someone special, just meet people, circulate, and have some fun. Open yourself up to new experiences.

Ignore the nay-sayers. There will be friends and family members who ask you about your love life, but you don't have to make excuses or go into detail about why you broke up with your last boyfriend or why you're still single. Instead, if you'd rather not talk about you, change the subject to focus on them, what they're up to - and don't feel pressured to answer their questions. If they keep pushing, feel free to excuse yourself and walk away.

If you just started dating:

Parties aren't mandatory. That is, don't feel compelled to ask your new love interest to go to your office party or to your Aunt Jenny's Christmas brunch just because you're dating. Taking a date could bring up all sorts of uncomfortable questions or make Aunt Jenny think it's more serious than it is. There's plenty of time to introduce him to your family and co-workers after the holidays at your own pace. Don't feel bad if he doesn't invite you to his work party, either. Both of you are allowed to do your own thing.

Gifting isn't required. It's a good idea to talk about gifts before the holidays, and whether or not you want to exchange them. There's no need to put pressure on yourselves and the relationship if you've just started dating, so I say refrain and wait on giving gifts until you've been dating longer. If you're really excited to get him something, don't do it with the expectation that he will give you a gift in return - unless you talk about it first.

Most importantly, enjoy yourself and the festivities of the season. Happy holidays!

How Data Becomes Love On eHarmony

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eHarmony's matching system is one of the most famous in the world. It's an intricate scheme that turns cupid's work into scientific and mathematical formulas by coordinating streams of data to match users with the greatest chance of romantic compatibility. And if that technological genius isn't enough to impress you on its own, it's also turned eHarmony into a very profitable business.

Nearly 33 million users across 150 countries have turned to eHarmony to find love. It's the site's unique approach to matching that draws them in, a system that's so good it's been patented by the company.

It all starts with 200-question questionnaire that's required upon sign up. New members answer questions on everything from their characteristics, to their habits, to their values. When the questionnaire is complete, the responses are run through the site's patented algorithm and turned into match suggestions.

It may not sound particularly romantic, but with 542 people married every day in the US after meeting on the site, eHarmony is clearly doing something right.

"We are different than anybody else," eHarmony managing director Jason Chuck told ZDNet. "We have this huge computational challenge over traditional photo-browsing dating sites. Just that matching system alone puts a lot of pressure on the whole system." Chuck estimates that eHarmony has "terabytes of data" stored in an internal data warehouse in the States.

Beyond the questionnaire, eHarmony also mines data from its users' activity. User behavior like number of photos posted and number of words used in the personal description is used to predict a user's success on the site.

"From that data," Chuck explains, "you can tell who is more introverted, who is likely to be an initiator, and we can also see if we give people matches at certain times of the day, they would be more likely to make communication with their matches."

Even more tools are added on top of that to form a matching process that is almost completely automated. eHarmony can generate matches for a user in just minutes, though it may take longer for some individuals.

eHarmony's matching team - made up largely of technology engineers and data analytics experts - has built an algorithm so precise that it varies from country to country. The algorithm is regularly updated based on eHarmony's user behavior and new relationship research from educational institutions to create one of the most complete matching systems on the Web.

To find out more about this dating service, please go ahead and read our eHarmony.com review.

Facebook Introduces New Pages For Couples

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You know that annoying couple you're friends with on Facebook? The one who's always putting up soppy status updates, cutesy pictures, and stomach-churningly sweet wall posts?

Prepare yourself: they're about to get even more annoying.

Facebook has recently launched a digital version of relationships at Facebook.com/us. If you're in a relationship on Facebook, the new page collects all posts, events, and photos that both you and your significant other are tagged in. It's a one stop shop for all the details of your digital romance.

Reviews are...mixed, to say the least.

"I want to vomit," wrote blogger Jennifer Wright on TheGloss.

Emma Barnett, an editor at The Telegraph, wrote that she's considering breaking up with her husband on Facebook just so she can get rid of the couple's page. "Mr. Zuckerberg: by all means keep giving people new tools -- as you did when you created Facebook," she wrote. "But when you start doing things for us -- the experience is anything but social or remotely positive. You have infantilised my relationship for me with the creation of www.facebook.com/us. Only I should get to do that."

Ouch.

Others aren't feeling quite so harsh about the new development. "There's nothing creepy here, that I can see, just more out of proportion reactions to something new, different and innovative," wrote Justin McLachlan in response to The Telegraph's article. "It's no different, really, than typing your name into Google and seeing your face and other personal details from social networks mashed up in sidebar."

In fact, the new Relationship pages aren't really much different from the Friendship pages that have existed on the site for more than two years. Both are getting a makeover to look like Facebook's more visual Timeline profile. Both show your history with someone else on the site. The only real difference is that there is a direct Internet address - Facebook.com/us - to access the Relationship page.

If you don't like the page, you're out of luck. It can't be deactivated, but you can control the info that appears on your page using the privacy settings on each post.

"The friendship page respects the privacy setting of each post," Facebook's Jessie Baker told CNN. "This means the person viewing the friendship page may see each post elsewhere on Facebook, like on either friend's timeline or in news feed. You can curate your friendship page by hiding stories you do not want to appear."

What do you think of Facebook's new Relationship pages? Are they a step forward or a step back?

If you are single and are looking for a relationship on a social network, then you should read about how to use Facebook as a dating tool.

LoveGeist 2012-2013

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The countdown to Match.com's 2012 LoveGeist Report has begun!

I was a huge fan of the report last year, so I can't wait to see what interesting facts and figures Match has to share this year. In prep for its official release, Match has revealed a few teasing tidbits of what the 2012 LoveGeist Report has in store.

Match's latest research has shed some light on the infamous post-date text. Singles in Britain, says the report, spend an average of 14 and a half minutes making sure that each text they send to their sweethearts is perfect. That sounds like an insane amount of time to spend on one text to me, but the report says it's time well-spent. Almost a third (29%) of survey respondents admitted that the content of a post-date text could be a dealbreaker, so I guess that 14 and a half minutes isn't so crazy after all!

What's on the list of turn-offs that could make a text a dealbreaker? The biggest turn-off was bad spelling, followed closely by Web abbreviations, like "gr8" and "l8r," and acronyms like LOL and LMAO. Discerning daters also dislike one word messages, emoticons, and "double texting" (failing to wait for a response to your first message before sending a second).

Women may have the reputation for consulting their friends about their love lives, but Match's research shows that single men are 60% more likely than women to enlist a friend to review their post-date texts for a second opinion before sending them.

It's no wonder men feel so much pressure to get the post-text date right: over half of single women surveyed (52%) said the burden of sending the first text after a date rests on the man. In fact, only 16% of ladies surveyed said women should take responsibility for sending the first message.

Come on, ladies, it's 2012 - step your game up!

One of Match.com's relationship experts, Kate Taylor, comments on the post-date text: "In recent years the way we use technology to communicate after a date has made the post-date follow-up more important than ever. Not only do you now need to perform well on the date itself, if your follow-up message isn't up to scratch, then you might be out of contention for a second meeting."

Match offers the following advice on getting the trick post-date text right:

  • Keep it short, sweet, and honest.
  • Send it shortly after the date is over, so the experience is fresh in your date's mind.
  • Perform a spelling and grammar before hitting Send.
  • Play it safe by keeping it clear and simple - humor and sarcasm don't always translate well into text.
  • Forget about the outdated three day rule. In the 21st century we prefer communication to be quick.

For more information on this dating site you can read our Match.com UK review (those in the US should read this review of Match.com).

Facebook Rules After a Break-Up

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Many of us are addicted to Facebook - or at least we try and check it a couple of times a day. And while it's a great tool to connect people virtually, it can wreak havoc on your heart after a break-up.

Instead of using Facebook as a weapon or retreating from your online life altogether to lick your wounds, there are some basic guidelines to help you navigate your social media world to avoid confrontation, unhappiness, and just general bad blood between you and your ex. (Pay special attention if you're in the middle of divorce - your Facebook status updates and comments can be used in court.)

Avoid these mistakes when you're posting and commenting on FB.

Watch those party pictures. Don't post photos of yourself out partying with other girls if you just broke up with your girlfriend. Even if she dumped you for another man. Allow some time and distance first, and don't do it in retaliation. You'll thank yourself once the anger passes. You don't want to come off looking desperate and jealous.

Avoid posting on his/her wall. There's no need to get snarky with comments or blow off steam by posting a rant on your ex's wall. Even if you need to get something off your chest, don't do it in a public forum where your words could be easily misconstrued (as those of a crazy ex). Instead, talk in person or over the phone if you need to air out your grievances. Don't do it over Facebook.

Don't stalk. While it's tempting to see what your ex up to every minute, refrain from looking at his Facebook page. You don't need to question who all of his new female friends are, or see what he did last night. This will keep you stuck in the past, dwelling on him and what might have been. If you can't help looking and have to de-friend him, then do it.

Your wall isn't a blog. Avoid writing all the gory details about your break-up for all to see. They don't want to know all of the circumstances leading up to it, and once it's out there, it's hard to erase. Err on the side of caution and use restraint.

Don't involve your FB friends. They don't belong in the middle of the fight you might be having with your ex. They aren't social media referees. Instead of engaging them in a three-way conversation with your ex, keep it classy. If you want to vent to a friend, that's fine, but take it offline.

Have you tried to use this social network as a dating tool? To find out how you should read our Facebook review.

eHarmony offers Free Communication Tuesday Evenings (Dec 2012)

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In a surprising move eHarmony in the US is offering free communication on Tuesdays. Usually free communication is only offered during special long weekends. Over the next 3 Tuesdays (December 4th, December 11th and December 18th) from 3pm to 11:59pm PST all members of eHarmony will be able to communicate at no cost.

If you would like to try out this promotion (no credit card is required) all you need to do is create a free members account and fill in the profile. This process will take you about 30 minutes to an hour. When you are finished you will then start to receive your targeted matches. You can take a look at your matches and figure out which ones you would like to contact. Then, all you need to do is wait for 3:00pm Pacific Standard Time on Tuesday to communicate with your matches. Free communication events do not include photos, Skip to Email (of the guided communication process) and Secure Call (a phone service).

The last free eHarmony communication event was held in November (see Story). To find out more about this popular dating service you can read our eHarmony review.