Default Pics: Distance and Clarity

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There’s a common trend in online dating profiles - or, more specifically, in their pictures. It’s not unusual to see someone try to sneak in one (or several) old photos - even if those photos aren’t necessarily more flattering.

In fact, you don’t even have to have an online dating profile to see this in action. Just show someone an old (but still post-adolescent) photo of themselves. “Wow,” you might hear. “I looked so young! And cute!”

“I worried about my weight so much at that age,” one might say with a sigh. “And look: I was just fine. I should have enjoyed myself then - if only I weighed that much now!”

Once I was helping a friend compile photos for his online dating profile, and he tried to include a few that were at least three years old. He actually objectively looked much better in the present: he was dressing in more flattering clothes, he was more confident, and his haircut in the old photos seemed dated.

“I feel like I should include these photos to show what I looked like at my best,” he explained. “I mean, I was in the prime of life back then!”

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we automatically assume our older photos are more attractive?

Well, perhaps we fall a bit into a trap perpetuated by the media and society: that younger is better. Unless we’ve undergone a radical transformation for the better, we tend to assume that our younger selves are automatically more attractive, and that we look worse the older we get. Women tend to fall prey to this more than men - many men consider themselves “baby-faced” prior to a certain point, whereas many women might consider that same phase the height of their attractiveness. While it may hold true in Hollywood, that’s not necessarily the case in love.

However, the real factor may be more internal than external. It may simply be that we are less judgmental of our “former selves.” In the present, it’s easy to nit-pick every blemish, every bump, every flaw. We’re also used to seeing our current selves in a mirror image, and seeing ourselves in a photograph - not mirrored - can feel unpleasant and wrong. Once we get some distance, however, we can see ourselves more objectively - and, in many cases, more kindly.

So as you go to choose your default pictures, ask yourself why you prefer the ones you do. Are these photos that really show you in your best light - photos that friends and family would agree reveal the real you? Or are they shadows from a past remote enough that you can actually see yourself clearly?

One in 5 Americans Would Rather go on a Group Date

Dating
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First dates can be tough. When you're meeting someone for the first time, it's typical to feel nervous and self-conscious, especially when you are trying to think of things to say to keep the conversation going. Do you wonder sometimes if it would make things easier to ask a couple of friends along and take the pressure off of you?

According to a new study by DatingAdvice.com, you're not alone in that thought. Twenty percent of those surveyed said they would rather go on a first date in a group than meet someone one-on-one.

Surprisingly, women seem to be embracing this concept more than men. The results show that they were twice as likely as men to prefer a group date for a first date.

Seniors were also more excited about the concept of a group first date, even more so than their younger counterparts. Twenty-four percent of those 65 and older said they would prefer it, compared to only 15% of those aged 25 to 34. Perhaps because group dating seems easier if you're jumping back into the dating pool for the first time after a divorce, rather than figuring out how to go it alone. However, 21% of 18 to 24 year-olds said they would rather go on a group date, which seems to be more typical among college students.

Asian-Americans were the most enthusiastic of the concept compared to other ethnicities, with more than 25% preferring a group date for the first date, compared with only 12% of African-Americans, the group least excited about the idea.

Income also seemed to play a factor. According to survey results, people with higher incomes (between $100,000 and $124,000 annually) preferred group dates, compared with those making $25,000 to $49,999 per year who were 54% less likely to want a group date.

Gay men and women were among the least likely groups to prefer group dates for first dates, at least three times less than heterosexuals.

The study posed an interesting question, because the group date seems to be gaining popularity, or at least the concept of it. Many people, especially those who are below 25 or above 65, seem to be less comfortable with the idea of meeting someone one-on-one for the first time. Maybe it's because they feel they don't have the skills or experience to have a good first date, or maybe it helps take the pressure off when you're trying to create a new life for yourself.

The study surveyed 1,080 participants across America, balancing age, race, gender, etc. according to the general population.

Yahoo Reveals the Top 10 Searches for Online Dating

Online Dating
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Looking for the best online dating site? There are many out there, but how do you know which sites are the ones most people are checking out? After all, you want a lot of choice when it comes to searching for love.

According to website Mashable.com, Yahoo has revealed the top 10 dating sites that people have searched for using their search engine. And surprisingly, OkCupid topped the list (with even more searches than standards like Match.com or eHarmony).

Another surprise? Men seem to be more interested in online dating, or at least, searching for sites and checking them out.

Here's the complete list:

OkCupid. This site tops the list, and maybe because their demographic skews younger and it's a little more engaging with members than some of the classic dating sites. Most of the searches were conducted by men (68%).

Match. This website is almost synonymous with online dating. It's been around a while, and is still going strong. Again, the majority of searches (73%) came from men.

MeetMe. A more casual site for dating and friendship, MeetMe is gaining marketshare when it comes to online dating. Or at least, people seem to be searching for the site. A hefty 67% of men (primarily from Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia) searched for it according to Yahoo.

Zoosk. This popular website touts is algorithms which allow members to "date smarter." Again, more than 70% of its searches came from men.

eHarmony. The go-to destination for those looking for committed relationships, eHarmony has remained near the top of the pack for a long time. Surprisingly, more men (54%) than women were searching for this website.

PlentyofFish. This dating site has a bit of a reputation, but that hasn't stopped people from checking it out. Formerly known for its "intimate encounters" section, POF has recently undergone an image change to focus on matching people with relationship potential.

JDate. The most popular site for those who are more religiously inclined, JDate has become the go-to source for Jewish singles. Not surprisingly, the most searches came from New Jersey, New York, and Florida, all with more concentrated Jewish populations.

Skout. Mobile apps also figured prominently into searches. Skout is a networking app that focuses on meeting people rather than having specific agendas for dating and relationships. Most of the searches for this site came from men (68%) residing in Texas, California, and Florida.

Christian Mingle. A popular religious-based dating site, Christian Mingle focuses on dating, friendships, and relationships. This is the only site that had more females searching for it, primarily from Texas, California and Pennsylvania.

Tinder. This mobile app was made popular by college students, a sort of "hot or not" version of online dating. With its easy-to-use and convenient set-up, the app has taken off among singles who like to see who's close by and wanting to meet a little more spontaneously.

Surprise! You Could Be Committing A Federal Crime On Your Online Dating Profile

Legal
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If I'm going to be arrested for committing a federal crime, I at least want it to be a federal crime I knew I was committing. Preferably something really badass, like a complicated art heist from a major museum.

What I don't want to go to jail for is my online dating profile, because when all the other prisoners talked about the crazy crimes they got locked up for, there's no way I could say "online dating."

All joking aside, apparently there's an actual chance that you could be committing a federal crime by - wait for it - lying on your online dating profile. Which means basically everyone is now a criminal. Here's what's going down...

Coffee Meets Bagel Is Now Nationwide And Mobile

Coffee Meets Bagel
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There's big news coming out of the Coffee Meets Bagel camp: the free online dating site that provides one match every day at noon is expanding nationwide and releasing an iOS app.

Coffee Meets Bagel launched in New York City in 2012, when three sisters decided there must be a better way to date in the Big Apple. They created CMB based on three guiding principles:

  1. Unless you want to tell others, your dating life should remain private.
  2. Your friends are the best conduits for your dates.
  3. Meeting quality people doesn't have to be so awkward or complicated.

Users sign up through Facebook and receive one match - a.k.a. a 'Bagel' - every day at noon that is somehow connected to them. Members then have a time limit in which to respond with a simple LIKE or PASS. If all goes well, Coffee and Bagel are put in touch via a private company texting line and magical breakfast-y sparks will fly.

Co-founder Dawoon Kang says that with the new iOS app, Coffee Meets Bagel is hoping to find the happy medium between traditional online dating services and the current trend of more casual dating apps. "We want to deliver you a very good-quality match, one that you would expect from subscription services, but with the fun of mobile apps," she told TechCrunch.

Coffee Meets Bagel is full of gamified elements that are bound to work well in a mobile context. Members earn 'coffee beans' in the app when they perform certain actions like inviting friends or filling out information. They can then use the beans to purchase special features, like the ability to return to a missed match or a score and ranking. Coffee beans can also be purchased separately.

After its successful launch in New York City, CMB expanded to Boston and San Francisco, followed by Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. The service is now being released to everyone, but the sisters warn that it could hit a few stumbling blocks along the way. In smaller cities with fewer users, the app may not be able to provide a daily match until word spreads and more local users have signed up.

"As we grow, our member base is going to become a lot more diverse," Kang says. "[We'll] have to refine the algorithm very quickly ... to be able to deliver a personal, relevant match." Coffee Meets Bagel has already made more than 1.5 million matches, so it sounds like that diversity isn't far off.

Alcohol: More Trouble Than It's Worth?

Advice
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Some things just don’t mix well: oil and water, politics and Thanksgiving dinner. And, believe it or not, alcohol and the first date.

There are many that oppose this concept; for example, they might not want to stifle any aspect of who they are, no matter how trivial. Some might want a drink to loosen up and better “be themselves.” Perhaps the reasoning is that they drink socially all the time, and have for years, and thus are confident in their ability to keep it together.

However, no matter how conservative a drinker, or shy, or authentic you are, it might be worth taking a pass on alcohol that first night. First and foremost, even a little alcohol can impair your judgement, and you’re there to assess your compatibility. It’s one thing to get a little silly when you’re already comfortable with your friends; it’s another to get cozier than you might have otherwise. Some even use alcohol to intentionally make their date seem better; all this does is waste time for the both of you. You’ll just have to make the same decision later.

Next, there’s always a bit of a risk when it comes to drinking. Maybe you couldn’t eat that day thanks to first-date nerves, and you’re getting much tipsier, much faster. Maybe this restaurant makes their drinks much stronger than you’re used to. Unfortunately, you might not realize before you’re already drunker than you intended. And while a little alcohol might help you talk more easily, too much could lead to conversations you’d never ordinarily have. Or blackouts. Or vomiting. Not exactly the first impression you want to make.

Then there’s a safety issue. Let’s imagine that someone other than your date put something in your drink. Perhaps if you’re with friends who know you well, someone might notice you’re not yourself and get you medical attention. But instead, you’re with someone who has just met you; for all they know, you’re simply drunk. However, if you aren’t drinking alcoholic drinks in the first place, your behavior would certainly seem out of the ordinary to even a casual bystander.

First dates are fraught with nerves and peril. It’s tempting to stifle a little of that stress with a drink or two. However, before you choose your beverage, you might want to weigh the risks and benefits, and choose or limit accordingly.