The Evolution Of Online Dating

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Once upon a time, in a galaxy that now seems far, far away, online dating was considered the last refuge of the hopeless. It was something to be ashamed of, a final resort for people who had exhausted all other opportunities for finding love. (And secretly, we didn't think they'd be able to find it online either.)

Oh, how the tables have turned. Online dating is now the second most popular way for couples to meet, surpassed only by meeting through mutual friends. It's part of a daily routine for millions of people - wake up, read your email, check Facebook, answer messages on your online dating site. It's even starting to feel like the people who haven't tried online dating are in the minority.

According to Harry Reis, a professor of psychology who coauthored a 2012 study on online dating called Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science, the switch likely happened because the Western world experienced a transition in the way it approaches romance. Prior to the rise of online dating, it was difficult for adults to meet each other once they'd moved on from high school and college. Online dating offered a fresh take on connection.

"Online dating is definitely a new and much needed twist on relationships," says Reis. "The Internet holds great promise for helping adults form healthy and supportive romantic partnerships, and those relationships are one of the best predictors of emotional and physical health."

Online dating was a natural progression. In this hyper-connected era in which we spend a good portion of our lives on the Web, it's no surprise that we find ourselves drawn to online dating. Dating sites provide a sense of security, and unprecedented access and information.

When you log on to a dating site, you feel confident that that (most) everyone you see is looking for a date, and you're able to extract large amounts of information about potential partners immediately, before you've ever even spoken. On top of that, most dating sites help you narrow the field further using detailed search metrics and complex matching systems.

That sounds pretty futuristic and space age-y as-is, but online dating is already beginning to evolve into something else. With more people using the Internet on mobile devices than desktops or laptops, the world of online dating is starting to blend into traditional dating to form the latest craze: mobile dating.

Apps like Tinder and Swoon streamline the dating experience by eschewing long profiles in favor of simple processes to browse and select dates. And unlike standard dating websites, these mobile apps connect you with dates in your immediate area, making dating's newest direction easier and more relaxed than it has ever been before.

eHarmony: 10 Things That Don’t Belong In Your Online Dating Profile

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eHarmony is one of the biggest dating sites in the biz. 438 eHarmony members marry every day in the United States, making the site responsible for nearly 4% of U.S. marriages.

Granted, that data comes from a 2012 survey conducted for the site by Harris Interactive, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. eHarmony clearly has a good thing going, and they must have learned a thing or two about finding love online over the course of their 10+ year history.

The eHarmony blog recently tackled the topic of profile-writing strategies to optimize interest from potential matches. These were their picks for the 10 things you should never write in an online dating profile:

  1. Never dismiss online dating. It's a classic "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" thing. If you want to meet a date online, it's probably best if you don't start things off by insulting online dating and the people who try it. Just sayin'.
  2. Never lie. You're bored of hearing this one, so I'll keep it short: your lies only last as long as the conversation remains online. As soon as you're face-to-face with a date, it's obvious that you're shorter, older, a different weight, etc., so don't bother pretending otherwise.
  3. Never list what you're looking for money-wise or baby-wise in a relationship. I have to (partially) disagree here. Sure, money is probably a conversation better left for a future date, but if you are a parent or it's important to you that you're a parent in the future, I vote for putting it in your profile. There's no point in wasting time with dates who don't share your plans re: children.
  4. Never use your profile to write about the ex. Treat your profile like a first date. Your ex is not an appropriate topic of conversation in either situation.
  5. Never whine. No one's looking for a pessimist to add to their life. Complaining about singlehood, previous relationships, and your bad dating experiences is not going to win over potential matches.
  6. Never ramble. Your profile should be complete, but it should not be a dissertation on your life. Keep it concise and interesting, and make sure you leave some discoveries left over for when you're actually on a date.
  7. Don't be too vague or use too many clichéd phrases. You enjoy having fun and spending time with your friends? Wow, what a coincidence - so do I. And so does everyone else on the planet. Yawn. Fill your profile with details that actually reflect you as an individual.
  8. Never divulge too much personal information. We're talking contact info, place of work, home address...anything that identifies you and your whereabouts so specifically is just begging for a stalker.
  9. Never indulge the inner narcissist. Be clear about what you want in a partner, but phrase it nicely. Ditch the sentences about what you 'deserve.'
  10. Never leave things blank. It makes a bad first impression. If you can't put the effort into filling out your profile, what kind of effort are you going to put into a relationship?

For more on this dating site you can read our review of eHarmony.

Study: How Mobile Technology is Changing Dating

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Mobile technology may be changing how we date, according to a recent study by popular dating websites ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com. Texting is fast becoming the preferred method of communication in relationships, including asking someone out for the first time or even for breaking up.

The study found that approximately one third of men (31%) and slightly more women (33%) find it easier to ask someone out on a date via text rather than making a phone call. Also, 55% of singles feel their mobile devices make it easier to meet and get to know people they may be interested in dating. And 64% of singles feel the quality of relationships with those they are dating or interested in dating has improved due to their mobile devices.

The study notes that mobile devices make it easier to break up, too. More than 50 percent of singles said they would consider breaking up with someone they were casually dating via text and an incredible 24% would consider ending an exclusive relationship that way.

Technology has been a part of dating for a while. Online dating started as a novel idea that gained popularity over time. Mobile technology has provided us with even more access to meeting people and dating, since our phones travel with us. We can meet a friend at the bar, open a mobile app and see if there are any other singles at the same bar that we might be interested in dating. You have so much information at your fingertips, and you can communicate via your phone. So it makes sense that daters are gravitating to their phones to connect with more people.

The study found some other interesting results:

  • Seventy-eight percent of singles expect to communicate within 24 hours after a good first date. And after a good date, a majority of the men and women surveyed agree it doesn't matter who initiates the next communication.
  • Don't be coy. Forty-six percent of singles have become upset with someone they are dating over their text response time, with more women (52%) getting upset than men (40%).
  • Texting is the most frequent form of communication, particularly for those ages 21 to 26, who report texting several times a day before going on a date (50%), during a casual relationship (43%) and during an exclusive relationship (62%).
  • 96 percent of singles keep phones out of sight during a date. But, somehow, 67% still find a way to check their phones during a date.

The study surveyed 1,500 U.S. singles between the ages of 21 and 50.

Is She Looking for a Fling or Relationship?

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When you're online dating, sometimes it can be hard to tell what a potential match's relationship goals might be. Is she looking for a fling, or something more substantial? Many people don't reveal their true intentions in a dating profile, but they do provide some clues.

New research by The University of Texas found that when a woman is looking for a fling, she tends to talk about herself in her profile. But if she focuses on the traits she desires in a man, she's likely looking for something more serious.

For the study, researchers asked single women to record video profiles for an online dating site. After the video was recorded the women were asked questions about their relationship goals. They discovered that women who talked about the kind of partner they wanted were more selective, whereas the women advertising themselves were just looking to have fun.

Following are a few more tips to help you recognize what her relationship intentions are:

She's completed a profile. Most women who are serious spend a lot of time answering questions and writing profile descriptions, compared to those who aren't. The more thoughtful she is in her approach and the more she shares what she wants, the more likely she is looking for a relationship. If she leaves a lot of blank spaces, chances are she's not so committed.

She's responsive. Many people set up online dating profiles just to scroll through pictures and see who's out there. If you notice she hasn't checked in for a week, or she responded to your emails and then abruptly stopped, then chances are she's not really invested in finding a new relationship (or she already found someone else). However, if she's engaging you in digital conversation, respond in a timely manner. It means she's interested.

She pays for the site. Yes, there is a difference between daters who sign up for the free sites compared with those who are willing to shell out some dough. When you pay for online dating, you tend to be more serious, because let's face it - it's easy to meet people for free. (This is especially true for women---they get all kinds of emails when they sign up for free dating sites.) But if you want to meet a quality match who is also willing to pay (a.k.a. find a real relationship), then you're best bet is to pay for it.

4 Online Dating Myths That Are Holding You Back

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Is it just me, or are friends really bad at selling online dating?

First they say "Oh, you should totally try it! Online dating is a great way to meet people!" Then they follow it up with "This one time, this awful thing happened to me..."

They get you all pumped up about online dating only to tear you right back down again with a horror story of a fake profile, creepy message, or incredibly awkward date. And now we've got a constant barrage of warnings coming from the media to contend with (Scams! Con men! Catfish!), too.

With that cloud of negativity hanging in the air, it's a wonder anyone ever ventures to dip a toe in the Internet dating pool. I can't even remember what finally convinced me to do it - I'd just had enough of the crazy rumors and wasn't going to let anything scare me out of it.

I'm glad I took the plunge, because it turns out that there are a lot of totally bogus myths out there, and online dating is actually a lot of fun. If MythBusters tackled online dating, this is what the episode would say:

  1. Online dating is not just for 'old people' who are divorced and lonely. Not even close. Online dating these days is an indispensable tool for meeting people from all walks of life. Young, old, middle aged...single, separated, divorced, attached...everyone is logging on to meet romantic partners, casual hookups, and new friends.
  2. Online dating isn't just for weirdoes, either. Yeah, you might encounter a weirdo or two (just think of it as added entertainment value when you do), but most of the men and women on dating sites aren't. It's easier than you think to identify the nuttier profiles, and if you look hard enough you might even find someone who's the same kind of weird as you.
  3. People who date online aren't just after sex. Maybe you are, and that's ok. There are plenty of sites that cater to casual encounters. But if you're not, don't let those sites scare you away. There are also plenty of people online who are looking for love and long-term relationships. Just be sure to choose a site that's designed for what you're looking for.
  4. Meeting someone online isn't embarrassing. Was it cozy beneath that rock you've been living under? It's 2013, and we're totally over the online dating stigma. In fact, I have friends who lied and said they met online because they were too embarrassed by how they actually met (shh...don't tell them I told you). How's that for a switcheroo?

And this is what it looks like when you blow up a computer, because no MythBusters episode is complete without an explosion.

Will ‘Lots Of Fakes’ End Online Dating Disappointment?

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You think you may have finally found the one: that one special online dating profile that will take you off the market for good. You've been talking for a couple of weeks, falling for each other's taste in music and mutual love of LOLcats, and now it's finally time to meet in person.

As the big day arrives, you find yourself flooded with emotions. You're happy. You're nervous. But most of all you're excited to finally say hello to the wonderful person behind the computer screen.

Until they make an excuse and cancel. Or they don't show at all. Or they show, but they look nothing like they did in their pictures.

Most people on online dating sites are genuine, but let's face it: some are not, and the Catfish phenomenon is sending online dating right back to the dark ages when everyone was afraid to do it. Dating sites are doing their best to weed out the fake profiles and the scammers, but the margin for error is high. There has never been a good way to determine whether you're wasting your time online...until now?

Enter 'Lots of Fakes,' a new website and app that claims to take the guesswork out of online dating. Lots of Fakes allows members of all the major online dating sites to create reviews of other users they've had experience with.

"The goal is to bring a certain level of accountability to online dating," says Daniel M. of FlashInsight, Inc., the company responsible for Lots of Fakes. "It's a very simple tool that can help people navigate the treacherous waters of meeting people online. For example, if you spent a week talking to someone only to find out they are married, or posted inaccurate photos, why not share that information and save someone else a week of their time?"

Why not indeed?

Using the tool is incredibly simple (and it's all for free!). Anyone interested in getting the dirt on a date can search reviews by username and website. Those who want to leave a review enter the username and website, mark the date as either REAL or FAKE, and leave a comment to describe their experiences. Reviews can be searched and created online at LotsofFakes.com, or on the go using the Android and iOS apps.

The database is entirely user-generated, meaning that it started out empty and will build organically over time as more and more people participate.

Do you think date reviews are the next big thing? Would you consult a review before going out with someone new? Would you leave one?