When Seeking Holiday Fun

Holidays
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The holidays are upon us. It can be a stressful time, but with it comes a fair bit of revelry - holiday parties, New Year’s celebrations, vacation time. For many, it represents an end to a stressful season and a time to blow off steam.

It’s also a time of year in which many turn to online dating with renewed vigor. We’ve already discussed that one should carefully weigh whether the holidays are personally the right time to start dating; let’s assume that the holidays are not extra stressful and that one simply wants to take a bit of their extra free time to write a great profile and start lining up dates. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still aspects of holiday dating to watch out for.

First and foremost, there’s alcohol. Alcohol exists year-round, but holiday celebrations are particularly cheer-heavy, from spiked punch and eggnog to champagne. Add in the holiday revelry and you have a recipe for rash decisions. Many might focus on the “upsides” - lessened inhibitions leading to more immediate “connections” - but they don’t always think of the possible downsides, like embarrassing speeches you don’t intend to make or a miscalculation leading to a vomit-filled evening. For some adults, the holidays are their equivalent of a college Spring Break. Try not to make the same mistakes the kids do.

It’s also important to weigh your motivation for online dating. Are you actually looking for the potential of a long-term relationship, or are you looking for someone to be with on New Year’s Eve? If it’s the former, the holidays might make it harder to sort through the party noise and find someone who wants the same. Similarly, a date at a holiday party might not be the way to really get to know someone and determine whether you’re compatible. If you’re just looking for someone to party with, that’s fine too - just make sure your motivations are clear, so no feelings are hurt.

The holidays can be a time to unwind from the stress of the year, and maybe even reevaluate priorities and create new beginnings. While signing up for an online dating site can certainly be such a new beginning, there’s no rush or rule that says you have to find love immediately. While holiday fun can be a blast, just make sure you’re signing up for the type of fun you want - all the better to start the new year off on the right foot.

5 Ways to Handle a Holiday Break-up

Breaking Up
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The holidays are a time for joyful gatherings and tidings of good cheer, right? Well, not for everyone.

It's also the time of year when many hearts are broken. In fact, most break-ups occur around the holidays. The hurt can be devastating, whether you were part of a long-term couple or even if you'd just started dating and suddenly were abandoned with no explanation or reason why. But no matter how deep and lasting your ties, breaking up over the holidays when everyone around you seems happy and thankful can be a bit overwhelming. You might be tempted to hole up in your room and not come out until January second.

While this move isn't practical, broken hearts do have to be treated with care. Instead of pasting on a smile and going about your holidays as though nothing is wrong, I suggest you take care of yourself by doing the following:

Pamper yourself. Remember that birthday coupon for a massage you got a few months ago? Now is the time to use it. If a mani/pedi is more your style, then make an appointment. Treat yourself to a new hairstyle. You get the picture. Do something for yourself - whether it's relaxing or lifting your spirits.

Call an old friend. Sometimes it helps to reconnect with someone you haven't spoken to in a while - someone who was your best friend or confidant at another time in your life. Find out what's going on with him/her, and share your own story. It can help to talk with someone who has seen you through good times and bad, and loves you for exactly who you are.

Make plans with single friends. Maybe you've been hanging out with a lot of couples, but now is the time to connect with single friends. They can be a great boost, especially if they are really social and get you out of the house and doing fun things. Try not to spend your time downing cocktails and bashing exes - instead, give a toast to your friendship and being there for each other.

Exercise. Sometimes, nothing helps a broken heart like a few extra endorphins. Something about exercising can clear your head, help you focus, and also miraculously lift your spirits. So instead of vegging out in front of the TV all weekend watching romantic comedies, try going for a run at the gym or ice skating at a local outdoor rink. Just get moving.

Give thanks. This might sound cheesy, but it works. Make a list of everything you currently have in your life that you're grateful for. It can be something as small as the banana nut muffins you ate for breakfast or as big as having your sister in your life who always has your back. Reflecting on the good things you have right now really helps put things in perspective and guides you out of heartbreak.

The Top 10 Best Mobile Dating Apps in 2013 (Part III)

Reviews
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Every year, Julie Spira and the team behind Cyber-Dating Expert release a list of the best and newest mobile dating application available. This year's 4th annual list couldn't have come at a better time. A recent Pew report on online dating and relationships examined the impact of mobile dating to find that it is rapidly stealing the spotlight from web-based dating services.

Pew found that 7% of mobile phone owners report using a dating application on their smartphone. There's just something about the convenience of dating with a tiny handheld device that's impossible to resist. And not only does it result in meeting more people, Spira says, it also speeds up the process from first communication to meeting in person.

The Cyber-Dating Expert Top 10 Mobile Dating Apps of 2013 list included three new applications and a handful of returning picks, but it wouldn't be a contest without a few entries that didn't make the list. Spira gave special accolades to a rising star and two old favorites who didn't make the top-10 cut:

  1. Coffee Meets Bagel (iOS): Coffee Meets Bagel may be a newcomer to the scene, but it has already won a sizable fan base. Originally a web-based service available in a few selects US cities, Coffee Meets Bagel officially launched an iPhone app in August of 2013. CMB earns points for simplifying the dating process. The service also does an admirable job of maintaining users' privacy.
  2. eHarmony (iOS and Android): Of course, one of the biggest dating sites in the world is also bound to have one of the best dating apps. eHarmony has been responsible for over 1 million people's marriages since their debut in 2000. eHarmony reports that the average mobile user accesses the app, which surpassed the 5 million downloads mark over the summer, 5+ times throughout the day. That's significantly more than the web version, which is accessed only twice a day on average. eHarmony also claims that over 40% of their user registrations take place via their mobile application.
  3. Match (iOS, Android, and Blackberry): No list of the best that online dating has to offer is complete without a mention of Match.com. Match was launched in 1995 and is now available in 15 languages in 24 countries around the world. Paid subscribers have access to the Match mobile application on more platforms than any other dating mobile app. The company reports that more than 40% of user logins come from the mobile app, which can also be connected to Facebook and used to notify users of upcoming Stir Events.

Related Article(s): The Top 10 Best Mobile Dating Apps in 2013 (Part I), The Top 10 Best Mobile Dating Apps in 2013 (Part II)

Why Pausing for the Holidays Might Not Hurt

Advice
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We’re in the swing of the holiday season, and that’s a time when many consider signing up to online dating websites for the first time. Maybe it’s the nostalgia, the emphasis on family, the holiday parties, or the increase in TV movies; regardless, many do consider being more proactive in their search for love around this time.

The problem is that the end of the year is not just a time for holidays. For a good portion of the globe, it’s also cold and flu season. Depending on your job, it might be the busiest, most stressful time of year. It can be a time in which familial obligations are increased - and for many, this also equals added stress. Maybe this is the time of year to squeeze in traveling and vacation.

Thus, it’s not unheard of to sign up to an online dating site, create a profile, start chatting with someone - and promptly get pneumonia, or have to leave for the next two weeks, or be swamped with work and plans with family members.

Granted, this sort of bad timing could happen at any point in the year - people get sick, have jobs that get busy at varying times, and so on. But the somewhat universal experience of holiday nostalgia, paired with the somewhat universal experience of holiday stress, seems to be a recipe for increased, widespread dating frustration.

Does this mean you should avoid online dating during the holidays? Not necessarily. After all, new people are signing up, so it’s a good opportunity to check out fresh faces and send some first-contact emails. But let’s say you know you get run-down every year at this time, or swamped. Instead of plunging into online dating headfirst for the first time, perhaps you could hold off for just a few more weeks; you might feel like time’s a-wasting, but perhaps you’re just giving your prospective matches time to recover from their own illnesses and obligations.

The same logic applies at any point in the year; if you know life is hectic, stressful and you’re physically worn out, now might not be the best time to attempt to meet new people. Instead, work on beefing up your immune system and your profile. Once you make that decision to sign up, it’s tempting to do so at that very moment, but consider: if you’re going to meet a potential match, won’t you want to be clearheaded enough to decide if you’re actually compatible?

PlentyOfFish Acquires FastLife

POF (Plenty of Fish)
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Talk about a power couple. PlentyOfFish, the world's largest online dating site, has acquired FastLife, the world's largest speed dating and singles event company. The combination of POF's massive influence in the online dating sphere with FastLife's global influence (the company currently operates in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK) is a recipe that could have a major impact on the future of the online dating industry.

"The direction of online dating is undeniably headed towards a merging of the online and offline worlds, so this is a major move towards changing the way single people meet and interact," said Markus Frind, founder and CEO of PlentyOfFish. He's right. Match.com hosts Stir events. HowAboutWe is founded on the idea of taking online dating offline. And location-based mobile apps that hook singles up for insta-dates with people nearby are more popular than ever.

"PlentyOfFish has always understood the importance of live events," Frind continued. "Currently our users host over 300 events worldwide each month. Now more than ever, we understand the importance of offering singles innovative, new ways of connecting face to face."

FastLife is the perfect partner for the next evolution of POF. FastLife was created by a husband and wife team, Justin and Annabelle Parfitt, in 2002. The site offers two different dating experiences. Evolved Speed Dating events are designed for everyone. Participants just need to register in order to view and book upcoming events that match their preferences. Prestige Speed Dating events are premium events for high income graduates who want to meet other successful professionals. These events are invitation only, and all participants are screened for ID, age, background, and status.

Current FastLife events cater to a wide range of interests, including Fit & Trim, Food and Wine Lovers, University Educated, Tall Men, and Travel Lovers. FastLife holds more than 2,400 events each year that draw a crowd of more than 60,000 urban professional singles and generate annual revenue of more than $2.5 million. Now, as a united front, PlentyOfFish and FastLife plan to roll out singles events across hundreds of untapped US cities over the course of the next year.

This is the first major acquisition for PlentyOfFish, but Frind swears it's far from the last. "PlentyOfFish will continue to grow our reach within the online dating industry," he said. "We want to invest over $30 million in the next 12 months."

The Top 10 Best Mobile Dating Apps in 2013 (Part II)

Reviews
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Since 2008, Cyber-Dating Expert has been a go-to source of online dating advice. With dating coach and two-time author Julie Spira at the helm, the team behind Cyber-Dating Experts helps singles improve their chances of finding love on the Internet and their mobile phones.

The 4th annual Cyber-Dating Expert "Top 10 Mobile Dating Apps" list compiles the best-of-the-best that mobile dating applications have to offer. In a world that's becoming increasingly smartphone-based, Spira and her team say these are the 5 best apps for tech-savvy singles:

5. POF (iOS and Android): POF is one of the largest free dating sites in the world, with over 2 million Americans logging on each day. This is their third consecutive appearance on the Cyber-Dating Expert Top 10 Mobile Dating Apps list. According to comScore, POF has captured 67% of the market share among mobile dating apps in the US, and POF reports that 80% of their members access their service via their mobile application.

4. Badoo (iOS and Android): Since its launch in 2006, Badoo has amassed over 107 million members who speak more than 41 languages in 180 countries around the world. The free dating app, which adds 100,000 new users every day, stands out from the competition by offering the added bonus of uploading video.

3. Zoosk (iOS and Android): Zoosk is one of the most popular dating sites on the web, so it's no surprise the app has also made a splash. It's proved to be especially popular with iPhone users, and is a top 10 overall grossing app in the iTunes store. This marks the fourth time in a row Zoosk has made it onto Spira's top mobile dating apps list. Zoosk keeps earning top marks because it's also a hugely popular Facebook application and is available in 25 languages in over 70 countries.

2. Let's Date (iOS): Let's Date may call itself the Instagram of dating, but its real strength lies in its connectivity to other social networking sites. Users can sign in with Facebook connect, making profile creation incredibly easy. Members can also link to their Twitter accounts for more in-depth profiles and can use the "wingman" feature to share profiles with their single friends via e-mail, SMS, or Twitter.

1. Tinder (iOS and Android): Tinder has a lot to celebrate. It has reached its one year anniversary, it is now the fastest growing location-based mobile dating app, and it is also Spira's top dating app for 2013. Tinder earned the number one spot because it's simple to use, free, and anonymous, and because it has given credibility to mobile dating in a way that no other app has. With 400 million members on board already, and approximately 4 million new matches per day, Tinder is clearly leading the mobile dating pack.

Related Article(s): The Top 10 Best Mobile Dating Apps in 2013 (Part I), The Top 10 Best Mobile Dating Apps in 2013 (Part III)