A New Look For Plenty Of Fish

POF (Plenty of Fish)
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Well, well, well...Plenty of Fish is really determined to make its reputation makeover a success, isn't it?

The site announced a new look on its blog over the weekend:

The header looks much more modern now. Is this the first of many cosmetic changes? Stay tuned.

POF has never been my cup of tea, but my curiosity was piqued enough to take a look. The changes aren't huge - it's more of a subtle nip/tuck than an entire facelift - but they're a step in the right direction. The new site looks cleaner and more modern than older versions, an adjustment it's needed since forever.

Why did it take so long for POF to join the modern era of dating? No idea. Does it still have a long way to go? Undoubtedly. But am I happy to see them inching towards becoming a dating site I might actually consider using? Of course.

It all started a couple of months ago when POF CEO Markus Frind announced plans to refocus the mission of the dating site. "In sticking with my vision that POF is all about Relationships," he wrote in a message to customers, "I'm going to make a bunch of changes to ensure it stays a relationship-focused site." Three modifications were implemented:

  1. Any first contact between users containing sexual references was banned and automatically not sent by the site.
  2. An age requirement went into effect, allowing users to contact people +/- 14 years of their age only.
  3. The Intimate Encounters section of the site was removed.

Admittedly, I was skeptical. Plenty of Fish was one of the first dating sites I ever explored, and it was nearly enough to turn me off online dating for good. I wasn't interested in the people POF seemed to attract, and I couldn't stand the look of the site. It was cluttered and ugly - nothing like the sleek, clean, easy-to-navigate competition.

And now? Well...it's hard to shake the old feelings about POF completely, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. The new look is definitely an improvement. It's clearly still Plenty of Fish, but it's a better-looking version that seems to be designed for the more serious dater. And it sounds like more aesthetic tweaks are on the way that might make it even better.

The question is: will a cosmetic makeover, combined with Frind's changes to the workings of the site, be enough to bring POF on par with dating's major players?

For our full review on this dating site you should take a look at our Plenty of Fish page.

4 Reasons to Say “Yes” to a Second Date

Dating
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Our dating lives are primarily driven by chemistry. We search for that elusive instant spark, and if we're not feeling it within the first few minutes of the date, many times we check out mentally and emotionally. We dismiss a date without even trying to get to know him.

There's a big difference between a good date and a good relationship. While a man might appear funny, charming, and sexy at the beginning, later on you might find him to be non-committal, a player, or otherwise not relationship material. The only way you can find out if someone is good relationship material is through actually getting to know him.

Most people are awkward and a little unsure on the first date. And if they get the vibe that you're not into them, then the awkwardness intensifies. He will either try to oversell himself to compensate for your lack of interest, or he'll withdraw. Neither of these scenarios means that you will be more attracted to him. But have you given him a real chance? Probably not.

Instead of writing him off, take a step back. The majority of women say that they married a man who they weren't at first attracted to - which means that they gave someone a chance even if he didn't blow them away from the start. And then they found lasting love.

Following are five reasons to say yes to a second date:

He's not your type - and that might be a good thing. If you tend to be attracted to the same type of man but it hasn't yet worked out for you, isn't it worth it to date someone totally different? You might find that the men you are typically attracted to are great daters, but lousy partners. You can't know whether someone will love and respect you until you have dated and gotten to know each other. Real, lasting relationships take time to build. And when you're with the right person, it doesn't fizzle out. It only gets stronger.

The first date was fine, but not exciting. If you found a first date to be just okay, that he was "nice enough," then consider giving him a fair shot and agreeing to a second date. Remember: you aren't dating him exclusively - you are still meeting men. But giving each of your dates a fair shot means that it's important to take your time and see how things unfold between you. Finding love requires patience as well as perseverance.

It can't hurt. This goes without saying. What's the harm in agreeing to a second date? Maybe it will go nowhere, but maybe he will surprise you.

Chemistry doesn't mean long-term potential. I know people will disagree on this, but there is too much weight placed on instant attraction. What matters more is someone's honesty, respect for you, and kindness - none of which can really be assessed on the first or even the second date. It takes time. Isn't it worth it to get to know someone who possesses these qualities?

Match.com Introduces Offline Game Nights

Match.com
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The trajectory of online dating has been interesting, to say the least. When online dating services launched, they were the future - a whole new way of meeting people that was conducted entirely over the Internet.

Now that the vast majority of us are comfortable with the idea of online dating, the industry is changing again, and this time it's moving offline. The new trend in online dating is in-person events that forego using the World Wide Web entirely. The latest of these social gatherings is an offline game night hosted by Match.com.

Match is no stranger to online dating innovation. The 18-year-old company introduced Stir, an offline events program, in May 2012 and has since hosted more than 2,850 mixers with more than 225,000 singles in attendance. Around the same time, Match also introduced an online games feature that offered singles a new way to get to know each other.

The games were designed to be a quick (just one to five minutes) and easy way to engage with new people. The initial seven games included Best & Worst, Food Critic, Romance Rip Off, Name That Dance, Gut Reaction, Drawn Together, and If I Could. Match's recent launch combines the playfulness of the online games with the huge success of Stir events, bringing them together into offline Stir Game Nights in partnership with the board game industry.

Match describes its new foray into offline events as "less about strategy and competition and more about laughing and having fun together." Two types of events are planned. At the first, Game Night Mashups, facilitators will lead participating singles through the games. At the second, Game Night Happy Hours, singles will borrow from a library of games to play on their own. Several publishers have partnered with the dating site, including Buffalo Games, Bananagrams, Blue Orange Games, and Wiggity Bang Games.

"Match.com believes that connecting with new people should be fun," said Luke Zaientz, VP of Events at Match.com. "Over the last year, we've seen it happen time and time again at our Stir events -- whether it's during a game of kickball, trivia, Ping-Pong or at our first wildly successful game night. We're excited to help our members connect over some of the best board games around, from well-known titles to the industry's newest hidden gems."

The full list of participating games includes:

  • Bananagrams: Bananagrams, Zip-It
  • Buffalo Games: Last Word, Likewise!, Chronology, Gotcha!
  • Endless Games: Name 5, Oddly Obvious
  • Blue Orange Games: Spot It!
  • Spontuneous Games: Spontuneous
  • Wiggity Bang Games: Open Up
  • Marbles the Brain Store: Touchy Feely, Splickety Lit, Mind Your Marbles

Stir Game Nights will be hosted at bars and restaurants throughout the summer and fall.

Facebook and Break-Ups

Breaking Up
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Are you addicted to social media? Are you compelled to check your Facebook account when you first get up in the morning? If your digital life is important to you, it might be hurting your ability to move on after a break-up.

Facebook keeps us connected to all the people we don't see on a regular basis, and keeps our pasts ever-present. While it's great to see what's going on with your old high school pal, it's another thing to see your ex posting pictures of his new girlfriend, or changing his status to "in a relationship" before you can even say "broken up."

While I wish we all had the courage to de-friend people who we're no longer involved with, it is a hard thing to do immediately. Maybe we can block a phone number or avoid places where you both used to go together, but tearing yourself away digitally is another challenge.

Following are some tips to help you break-up digitally:

Give yourself a digital break. There's nothing wrong with taking a brief time-out from Facebook, Twitter, etc. If it's hurting you to see his posts every time you login, then you'll be doing yourself a favor. Just take a breather - your friends will be there when you return.

Avoid posting about the relationship on your wall. While you might want the opinion of all your Facebook friends about whether or not your ex is a jerk, please don't post missives on your wall and then wait for people to comment. If you have to share your hurt and frustration with someone, then share in person. There's no need to make it a public forum. It's better if you don't know what his friends think of you, too - likely they will come to his defense. On Facebook.

Delete your relationship status. There's no need to let everyone know you're single, or "it's complicated," or anything else that might cause digital conversation. Just leave it blank for now. If anyone questions you, don't feel pressured to answer.

De-friend if you can. If your ex is always on Facebook, posting about his life, the people in it, or his musings, then you're causing yourself more emotional pain when you keep him as a friend. Even if you both decided in real life to stay friends, everybody needs time to heal when a relationship ends. This means taking a true break. De-friend him so you don't have to get his posts. You can always revisit your friendship status later, when both of you have moved on.

Is Your Date too Controlling?

Advice
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Katy Perry recently revealed to Vogue that her break-up with Russell Brand happened via a text message - one that he sent to announce he was filing for divorce. And while she admitted she made mistakes that contributed to its demise, she also realized in retrospect that Brand was very controlling.

"At first when I met him he wanted an equal, and I think a lot of times strong men do want an equal, but then they get that equal and they're like, I can't handle the equalness. He didn't like the atmosphere of me being the boss on tour. So that was really hurtful, and it was very controlling, which was upsetting," she explained to Vogue.

Katy Perry's experience sheds light on something that many people don't consider when entering into a romantic relationship - that one partner may be too controlling, which leads to conflict, self doubt, and a lot of frustration. But it isn't always obvious when you're in love. You may tend to make excuses for your partner or ignore the warning signs.

So how can you be sure you're not dating someone who's too controlling? Here are a few red flags to consider:

He's inflexible. Does he normally get his way when you are making plans, or is it a joint effort? If he's really considering your opinion and feelings, he will listen and try to come up with a solution that makes both of you happy. If he makes you feel guilty and claims you're being unreasonable most of the time, this is a red flag. Don't ignore it. Speak up and let him know your opinion matters.

He has poor communication skills. Some men aren't very emotionally open, and as a result they feel powerless when they are in love. In order to take back some control, they assert themselves when they should be partnering. If your man doesn't want to discuss issues you face, and directs you instead, it's time to address your concerns.

He's possessive. Does he sulk when you go out with your girlfriends instead of him? Does he get angry when you make a decision without his consent, even if it doesn't involve him? If he makes you feel bad for making choices independent of him, then consider it a problem.

He has no accountability. He places blame on other people, including you, because he isn't willing to look at himself. This is common - we tend to blame other people, circumstances, etc. instead of seeing how we contributed to the problem, and what we can do to change things. If he's not willing to look at himself, then maybe it's time to move on.

eHarmony Free Communication Weekend Aug 15th - 18th

eHarmony
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eHarmony.com and eHarmony.ca are having a free communication weekend that starts tomorrow and runs for 4 days (Aug 14 - Aug 18). This will probably be the last FCW of the summer so if you want to give eHarmony a try, these next few days will give you a chance to not only create a profile and view your matches but send emails as well.

During free communication weekends no credit card is required. Other dating sites during free trials tend to require a credit card before you can continue. eHarmony knows they offer a good service and believes singles who are looking for a long-term relationship shouldn't have a problem finding a match if they follow their process. One thing I will recommend you do is take the time and fill in your profile with the best answers possible. Do not rush it as this is the information the eHarmony matching algorithm uses to select your matches. If you are unsure what to write or select in any one question, usually the first answer that came to your mind is probably the correct one. If you still are unsure you can always skip the question, reflect on the answer, and come back later.

Please note FCW do not include the following features: photos in profiles, secure call over your phone, or skip the guided communication process to go straight to email.

For more on this dating site you should read our eHarmony review and take a look at the user reviews other visitors have posted. eHarmony also had a free communication weekend in July (see Story).