Online Dating: No More Dangerous Than Dating Offline?

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Take that, online dating critics!

While some are busy striking fear into the hearts of online daters everywhere, others are busting stereotypes wide open.

Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration, but a new study from the Crime Victims Institute at Sam Houston State University is still worth a look. The report compares the dating safety and victimization rates between traditional relationships and online relationships. Is meeting someone online really more dangerous than meeting someone offline?

The answer, according to Molly Smith, one of the doctoral student researchers involved in the study, is no. Regardless of how people meet, the rate of victimization appears to be very close. All daters should be cautious and keep their wits about them, no matter the scenario.

Maria Koeppel, another doctoral student researcher who worked on the project, worries that daters have let their guard down now that online dating is socially acceptable. Even though it is now mainstream, Koeppel warns, singles should always remember that it's important to think of safety measures when going on a date with someone they met online.

"As society is becoming more technology based," she says, "education about online dating, as well as continued information about traditional dating, needs to be stressed to high school kids and even preteens. She suggests that educators could even consider incorporating a segment on the subject into health classes, teaching students about the potential dangers of online dating.

Koeppel also offers advice for college students: "Just be smart when going into dating situations or trying to find someone to date. Don't put yourself out of your comfort zone. Many dating situations in college tend to be fueled by alcohol or drugs, so be smart."

And here's the real surprise: according to the Crime Victims Institute study, online daters actually tend to have slightly lower rates of victimization than traditional daters. Smith believes online dating can be less dangerous because people pay more attention when dating on the Internet. Online daters are naturally more cautious than those who date offline.

"People who seek out potential partners on the internet seem to exhibit higher levels of caution and utilize more protective measures," Smith explains. Many who use online dating sites also tend to talk to their potential partners "for a longer period of time prior to meeting them in person, thus making them more aware of potential 'red flags' that might arise in a face-to-face situation."

Maybe Facebook Can’t Beat Online Dating After All

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The more tech-savvy among you have no doubt heard the uproar surrounding Facebook's Graph Search. Even the less tech-savvy have probably heard it - the uproar was just that big.

Here's why: Graph Search offers personalized results like those from a search engine, but contextualized and drawn from specific data culled from your social circle. It's even capable of understanding natural speech, instead of relying on keyword searches. Couple that with the "Pay to Message Strangers" feature Facebook also announced, and you've got...a dating site?

That's certainly what the online dating industry feared. Before Graph Search had even launched, industry experts worried that Facebook would be the death of online dating.

Lucky for them, there may have been nothing to worry about. "I used graph search and it showed me people who meet my criteria," said OkCupid and Match CEO Sam Yagan, "but that didn't mean I wanted to date those people." Traditional dating sites use painstakingly crafted algorithms to pair up compatible couples, but Facebook lacks any strategy for determining compatibility. Graph Search can find you users who also love Tom Cruise movies, but it can't actually figure out if you're a good match.

Aaron Schildkrout, co-CEO of HowAboutWe, found the whole idea puzzling. After you find someone you're interested in, then what? Do you friend them? Do you pay a fee to send a stranger a message? It all feels awkward, and decidedly unlikely to lead to real connections.

Sean Suhl, cofounder of Let's Date, agrees with Schildkrout's assessment "I would feel awkward about contacting a stranger or friend of a friend on Facebook for romantic reasons because not everyone on Facebook is there to meet people." On a dating site, you can rest assured that - barring a few exceptions - everyone's there to meet future dates.

But that's not to say Facebook is a completely lost cause when it comes to online dating. It's already one of the most common ways people meet and hook up online. Dan Slater, author of Love in the Time of Algorithms, says "We all know that people have already been using Facebook for dating, and that Facebook is the biggest online dating site in the world, even though it doesn't think of itself as an online dating site."

So what is Facebook, exactly? Is it a place to meet new friends? Is it a tool to keep in touch with old friends? Is it the newest (and maybe the most powerful) dating site to join the fray? Maybe it's all three.

Dating Sites Reviews New Theme

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Returning visitors may have notice a change with DatingSitesReviews.com ... we have replaced our old website template with a new one. Improved variations of the old theme has been used for almost 10 years now by us and we thought it was time to change the look of the site and modernize a few things.

Besides the complete new look we have also added social networking tools to make it easier for our users to Facebook like, Plus One and tweet about the reviews, news and information offered.

We are still tweaking things here and there so, if you spot anything that looks out of whack please let us know.

Enjoy!

Choosing A Mate: There’s An App For That

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When you want to travel, you turn to TripAdvisor for reviews of hotels, flights, and vacation rentals. When you're looking for a new book to take poolside this summer, you read Amazon's reader reviews. When you want a romantic restaurant for a date or a good movie to see with your family, you ask the users of Yelp or Rotten Tomatoes for their advice.

It was only a matter of time before someone started asking: "Why should dating be any different?"

A new crop of apps and websites is popping up to close the gap between online dating and your favorite review sites. Why take your chances with date, when you could read the thoughts of other "users" first? Just think of all the trouble you could save!

A site called ExRated is leading the pack. ExRated's mission is to "empower singles by giving them character reviews of potential dates, and allow them to express themselves through multiple choice reviews designed to help them realize what went wrong in the past and how to make the right dating choices in the future."

ExRated users can search a date's name to see their rating, from 1 to 5 stars, and any reviews that have been posted. Becoming a member is free - all that's required is to write a review of an ex. If a review of the same person already exists, you're automatically linked as friends to the review's writer. If that's not one of the most interesting ways to build your social network out there today, I don't know what is!

Or maybe you're not interested in dishing on an ex. Maybe you're on the rebound instead, in which case you need this aptly-named site: On The Rebound. Here's how it works:

  1. You choose a love interest who's single on Facebook.
  2. On The Rebound analyzes their Facebook relationship history.
  3. The site lets you know the perfect time to ask them out.

Or maybe you want a more social experience than statistics and a rebound rating. In that case you may be looking for Lulu - a "database of men, built by women, for women" - or its guy-centric companion app, LuluDude. Lulu users can read and write reviews of the men in their lives, which are pulled from a variety of tools, questionnaires, and fun features.

On LuluDude, men can get general feedback about where they stand compared to other men. They can find tips and insight into the mysterious world of women, or they can upload their own photos and enlist their female friends to give their ratings a boost.

There really is an app for everything.

Keeping Your Ex out of Your Online Life

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Maybe you've stalked your ex's Facebook page from time to time looking for evidence of a new girlfriend or to see how much time he spends partying with his friends. Perhaps you've also gone through your Instagram pictures to try and relive those old memories of when you were together. Or maybe you've wanted all evidence of him to just disappear, but pictures and comments still keep cropping up unexpectedly when you're reading Facebook posts from your friends or updating your status.

Break-ups are hard, but getting over your ex emotionally and physically is now just one part of the equation. Thanks to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we also have to think about how to erase those memories from our digital history.

There are a few things you can do to be more proactive in letting go of your ex's social media presence. It just takes some tools and a lot of courage. And of course a good app to help you actually do it. (There's an app for anything, right?)

An app called Killswitch allows you to identify your ex in your lineup of Facebook friends when you download it. Instead of you doing the emotional dirty work, the app sifts through your timeline history and relevant posts and deletes them. So, mission accomplished with no regrets. (And if you happen to get back together, the app also has a reversal mechanism which saves those files in one location.)

You can also unfriend him. This will keep him out of your Facebook interactions going forward, but you still might need to clear him out of your history. Just stay clear of your timeline and delete the pictures that you've posted - delete the items you have control over.

Refrain from mentioning him online. I know it's tempting to list all of the things he said or did that were hurtful, or share with your friends what a player he was, but don't. Your ex isn't up for a public discussion/ dissection over Facebook. For one thing, this won't help you move on - it will only convince you to spend way more time thinking about him than you should.

One last helpful approach is to take a leave from Facebook for a few weeks, until you feel more centered after a break-up. While it might be difficult to stop posting or reading about your friends, keeping your Facebook account at bay will also prevent you from stalking your ex's page. If you don't want to go cold turkey, then find another social media space that he doesn't use, like Pinterest. There are plenty of options out there if you want to get distracted.

2012 Singles In America Report: Sex, Romance, And Marriage

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As the largest and most comprehensive national study of Americans' romantic lives, Match.com's annual 'Singles in America' report gives unprecedented access to the minds, hearts, and bedrooms of American daters. The report covers everything from the ways technology and the economy affect our dating habits, to the ways our concepts of romance and commitment have evolved over time.

This year's Singles In America report tackled the topics of sexting, long-term love, and the myths of marriage. Amongst other things, the study found:

  • Sex doesn't end at the altar. 41% of married couples had sex at least once a week in 2012, and married people - of both genders - think about sex more frequently than single people do.
  • Sex isn't the only thing that survives after marriage - romance does, too. More than 80% of married men and women say they would marry the same person again if they had the opportunity. 76% of men and 73% of women say they are still very much in love with their spouses.
  • Marriage also continues to survive, despite many thinking it is an outdated practice. Over the last three years, singles' optimism about marriage has steadily increased (76% in 2010, 78% in 2011, 90% in 2012).
  • Singles are sometimes better communicators. Single men (66%) and single women (68%) are more likely to discuss concerns around intimacy than married couples. 20% of married women say they would do nothing if they were unsatisfied with their sexual relationship, compared to only 11% of single women.
  • Singles may also be more generous lovers. 97% of singles say it's more important to satisfy their partners in bed than to be satisfied themselves.
  • Sex is important at any age. 30% of singles over the age of 70 and 25% of singles in their 60s say more sex would make them happier. In comparison, 28% in their 20s and 27% in their 30s say the same.
  • Old traditions die hard. Nearly half (48%) of men say they want to be introduced to a date's parents before becoming exclusive. 35% of women agree that they want to meet a date's family before taking any major steps towards commitment.
  • Marriage is not the end of your social life, despite what you may have heard. Singles and married people actually have considerably similar social lives: 52% of singles and 46% of married people go out 1-3 times per week. Married folks say having an independent schedule is the only thing they really miss about the single life.

For more data from the Singles In America study, click here and to find out more about the dating service that released this report you can take a look at out Match.com review.