Online Dating Sites Don’t Have To Tell You Your Date Might Be A Murderer

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As if we don't hear enough about the perils of online dating already, this is the latest news about the potential dangers of looking for love online: your online dating site doesn't have to tell you that your date might be a murderer.

Eric Goldman, a Forbes contributor who also teaches Internet Law at Santa Clara University in California, cautions daters in a recent article on Forbes.com. He begins with the story of Mary Kay Beckman, who met a man named Wade Mitchell Ridley on Match.com in 2011. After dating briefly, Beckman broke it off.

Three months later, Ridley attacked Beckman in her home, repeatedly stabbing and kicking her. Later, it was revealed that Ridley already faced a murder charge in Arizona, where he was suspected of killing an ex-girlfriend with a butcher knife. Authorities also believe he robbed a pharmacy of painkillers earlier in the day. He was sentenced to 28-70 years in prison, where he died in May 2012.

Beckman survived the attack, and believes Match.com should take responsibility for the tragedy. She sued the dating site, but her suit was eventually dismissed.

Goldman thinks the outlook is bleak for suits like Beckman's. "Lawsuits against online dating sites tend to generate widespread press coverage going into detail about the victimization," he writes, "as stories like Beckman's prey on common fears about online dating." But although they generate outpourings of sympathy, they have historically been completely ineffective.

Beckman's suit was doomed from the start, says Goldman, because of a law that says websites aren't liable for user content. Plaintiffs have argued that they aren't suing dating sites over posts, but rather for failing to provide protection from dangerous users, but to date they've had zero success.

A similar case ruled that "all of Match.com's conduct must trace back to the publication of third-party user content or profiles. Match.com is a website that publishes dating profiles. There is nothing for Match.com to negligently misrepresent or negligently fail to warn about other than what a user of the website may find on another user's profile on the website."

Plaintiffs will no doubt continue their attempts to hold dating sites accountable for the actions of their members, and get increasingly creative in doing so, but Goldman believes their efforts are unlikely to be fruitful. "I've never seen a successful 'failure to warn' argument make any progress in working around" the law, he notes.

The best hope is that the websites will care enough about their reputation to voluntarily take measures to protect their members from harm.

Dating Apps for Those Who Need Some Inspiration

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Looking for some new ideas to plan a date? Summer is here, which means there are a ton of activities going on in your neighborhood that you may or may not know about. If you don't know where to find them, then you should be making use of some cool apps out there that can help hook you up. So to speak.

Regardless of whether you're online dating or you already have a significant other, it can be stressful to plan dates. If you try something you've never done before, you never know what to expect. But that's part of the fun, right?

If you're sick of the same old same old but need a little inspiration, or if you want a choice of what to do (even at the last minute), there are apps available to help you out. Every city offers events or places that you might not know about. Check out some of the apps we found, and what they offer:

How About We. This app is available for both singles and couples. If you're a couple, How About We suggests date ideas (like an evening cruise, live concert, or good place for brunches with outdoor patios), and allows you to book in advance through their site. When you become a member, they also offer deals and freebies for future dates.

Sosh. If you live in the San Francisco or New York areas, you might want to check out this app for something non-traditional. Sosh's main focus is to find events or places that are cool and unique. In fact, if a particular event gets bookmarked by too many people, they stop promoting it to users. With over 500 activities, places, venues, and other out-of-the-way interests discovered each weekend, Sosh is a good place to look to try something off the beaten path. Its website claims the app is coming soon to L.A., Chicago, Boston and Seattle.

Goby. Looking for a real adventure? If you have some time set aside for your date, this app is a good resource to help you plan everything from vacations to small excursions to nearby places. Depending on the type of adventure you want to have (hiking a mountain vs. a gallery opening), you can find it. Goby provides a description of the event, where it is, and how close it is to you.

Happy dating!

The Secret To A Happy Marriage Is…Online Dating?

eHarmony
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If I asked what you think the secret to a happy marriage is, what would you say?

Communication?

Date nights?

Spontaneity?

Thoughtfulness?

Respect?

Acceptance?

They're all good answers, but a new study suggests that the real answer might be something you weren't expecting: online dating.

Didn't see that one coming, did you? (Ok, sure, if you read the title you did...but humor me.)

The Internet has forever changed the way people communicate, work, play, create, and date. 1/3 of American couples now meet their partners online, through email, dating sites, and social networks.

In a survey study of more than 19,000 Americans who married between 2005 and 2012, 5% divorced, 2% separated, and 92% remained married. The couples observed were generally representative of the population, but a few demographics showed a particular inclination towards online dating:

  • Men
  • People in their 30s and 40s
  • Hispanics
  • People who are employed
  • People with higher socioeconomic statuses

Even after accounting for the differences between subjects, the study drew two primary conclusions. The first will surprise no one: the popularity of online dating has increased across every segment of American society. The second comes as more of a shock: marriages that began online were found to be longer lasting and more satisfying for couples.

Lead author of the study John Cacioppo, a psychologist and director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, explains the findings by saying dating sites may "attract people who are serious about getting married."

A sociologist, Michael Rosenfeld of Stanford University, backs up Cacioppo's findings. In his own research, he found that "couples who meet online are more likely to progress to marriage than couples who meet in other ways."

But the study is not without its critics. "It's a very impressive study," says social psychologist Eli Finkel of Northwestern University. "But it was paid for by somebody with a horse in the race and conducted by an organization that might have an incentive to tell this story."

That's right - the study was commissioned by eHarmony, which shelled out $130,000 to pay for the research. Cacioppo has also been a member of eHarmony's Scientific Advisory Board since it was created in 2007.

Is it intriguing research? Yes. But does that sound like a major conflict of interest? Absolutely.

Sure, online dating is a great way to meet a partner with high levels of compatibility and real marriage potential. But is online dating better than offline dating? Survey says: inconclusive.

Baby Boomers And The Senior Dating Boom

OurTime
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Baby boomers may be getting older, but online dating is proving that it will never get old.

OurTime.com is the largest dating community for singles aged 50 plus, which also makes it home to one of the fastest-growing demographics in the market. Boomer dating is experiencing a colossal boom, and OurTime.com is right at the front lines of the action.

According to the 2012 US census, more than 1/3 of the 107 million singles in the country are over the age of 50. But despite their growing numbers and increasing influence, the senior set is a dating demographic that is still largely misunderstood. OurTime is out to change that, with a new set of mature dating statistics that prove tech-savvy singles come in every age.

The 50+ singles scene is made up of a diverse group of daters:

  • The membership ratio for OurTime.com is 45% men to 55% women.
  • 69% of OurTime members are single parents.
  • Nearly 70% have already been married at least once. 54% are divorced, and 15% are widowed. Only 50% of users in their 50s say they're interested in getting married again, a percentage which decreases dramatically once they reach their 60s (8%) and their 70s (5%).

Seniors don't have a reputation for being the most technologically advanced age group, but online dating is proving that they know their way around a computer just as well as their younger counterparts.

  • OurTime members log-on an average of 44 times and view 81 profiles during a 90-day period.
  • 1 in 5 Our Time members users a mobile device to log-on. Their device of choice? The iPad, of course.
  • OurTime.com's membership has jumped 66% over the last two years.
  • Senior dating has been particularly popular in Kansas City, MO, Tuscon, AZ, San Diego, CA, Rochester, NY, and St. Louis, MO.

Here's what singles are looking for in their more mature years:

  • "Nature and Outdoors" is the #1 interest listed on profiles by both male and female OurTime members.
  • For men, sports ranks second and fitness comes in third.
  • For women, family and friends takes the #2 spot and travel comes in at #3.
  • Physical attraction is also an important factor: 87% of singles ages 50-70 say it's a must-have.

"This is a vibrant, growing community of singles that's taking the dating scene by storm," said Dr. Terri Orbuch, relationship expert for OurTime.com, "and rightfully so. By and large this age group is happier, more secure, and even feeling sexier than their younger counterparts. They also are a better judge of the type of person who will make them happy, so it's the perfect stage of life to be looking for love."

It is clearly OurTime's time to shine. For more information on this dating site you can read our review of OurTime.

Get Ready – A New eHarmony Is On Its Way!

eHarmony
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Watch out, world - there's a new eHarmony in town.

eHarmony has been an online dating staple since its launch in 2000, but it's hardly seen any changes over the last decade. Now eHarmony is finally ready to roll out some much-needed updates, catapulting the site squarely back into the middle of the modern online dating game. In fact, the new site is so up-to-date that it's even optimized for use on the iPad. Now that's hip.

The next generation of the site, code named "Malibu," has been redesigned to enhance the customer experience. The comprehensive remodeling will dramatically change the user dashboard and member profile pages, which will soon take on a magazine-like aesthetic for all members. Instead of displaying profile details in multiple box modules, the new and improved profiles aim to tell a story. Editing pages will also become a more intuitive experience.

Here's another change users are bound to be pleased about: no more third-party ads on the site. eHarmony's new commitment to engaging visuals and readability means that outside advertisements will no longer be seen on the site. The focus will be purely on creating relationships, with no distractions.

A new relationship questionnaire will also be making its debut on eHarmony. The stuffy and intimidating design of the old questionnaire will be replaced by a colorful and image-heavy design that looks more like a game and less like a daunting clinical form. Now that the sign-up process takes half the time to complete, the site has seen a 20% spike in the number of new users who fill out the questionnaire.

With the eHarmony redesign also comes this treat for members: a new, more visual personality profile called "The Book of You." "Our thought is that in order to be ready for that amazing relationship or that amazing person, you really should understand yourself and how people perceive you," Arvind Mishra, the company's VP of product management, told Mashable. The first few sections of "The Book of You" will be available to all users. The later sections will only be available to members with premium subscriptions.

If you ask me, it's about time eHarmony gave their service a makeover. "Our original site was incredibly scientific and incredibly sterile," said Mishra, but the new site will focus on empowering the user. The fresh focus on user experience will bring a human, emotional element to the site that its previous iteration was lacking. eHarmony's commitment to creating lasting relationships is still there, but now it comes with a much prettier face and more enjoyable user experience.

New Study: Can Men and Women be “Just Friends?”

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It's the age-old question: can men and women be friends without any sexual urges or entanglements? This has been a subject of contention over the years, depicted in many movies from When Harry Met Sally to Friends with Benefits.

A new study has shed some light on the subject, affirming that it is difficult for men and women to be friends without any romantic feelings. At least, it's more difficult for men.

Online social dating site Canoodle.com surveyed 1,500 singles to find out where they stood, and while only 27% of women admitted to harboring feelings for a male friend, a whopping 56% of men said they'd want to be more than friends with their female buds!

For those of you wondering whether or not you should make the move and confess your feelings, the odds are in your favor. Sixty percent of men surveyed said they'd successfully turned their friendships into romantic relationships, and women came in with a 44% success rate.

However, if you have sex and then regret it, you may have some problems. Only 38% of women said it's possible to have sex and then go back to being friends. Fortunately, men don't feel the same way. A majority 52% of men said they'd be totally cool with being friends again after sex.

While this study does shed some light on the subject, it is a difficult situation. Most people are afraid to jeopardize a friendship, especially if they have a long history together, or have seen each other through other relationships that didn't last. Would it be better to throw caution to the wind and confess your feelings to your friend? What if he didn't feel the same? Or if he did, what if your relationship didn't work out in the long run?

These are all risks that we take in life. If you have strong feelings for someone, you owe it to yourself (and to your friendship) to address them, because chances are the other person is already aware. It's hard to hide romantic attraction, no matter how discreet you think you're being. It's better to be honest and move forward from there.

If you confess and your friend isn't interested, don't despair. If she's a good, true friend, you will likely stay friends even if you take a little time apart to move past it.

And if you confess and your friend is totally into you too? Even better, don't you think?