eHarmony Launches Bad Date Rescue App

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Everyone's either tried it or seen it on TV:

The date's not going the way you'd planned, so you quickly send a sneaky text to a friend begging them to rescue you. A few minutes later they ring your phone, you pretend it's an emergency that requires immediate attention, and you dash off before your disappointing date can register any objections.

It's a good plan, but what if you can't reach a friend in time to rescue you from certain dating disaster? Thanks to eHarmony, there's now an app for that. With the free iPhone app, aptly named "Bad Date Rescue," you can arrange for downhill dates to be interrupted by phone calls from fictional characters. You can even program the app to make it appear as though any of the contacts in your phone, accompanied by their photo, is calling you.

Bad Date Rescue will call at a pre-scheduled time or via an emergency prompt from you, then, using a pre-recorded message, pretends to be your mom, your boss, or a neighbor who needs your assistance asap. Your mother, who has a thick Dakota accent, needs a little help figuring out one of her more complicated technological gadgets. Your boss needs a hand in the office right away. Your British neighbor is calling to inform you that something catastrophic has happened to the plumbing in your house, and "it's running down my walls!"

If interacting with the pre-recorded message sounds like a stretch of your acting skills, eHarmony offers an alternative "Repeat after me" option. In case it wasn't clear by the name, the app tells you what to say and how to say it (e.g. "frantically"), then praises your expert delivery of the line (I guess that after school improv class back in high school really paid off!).

And just when you think the Bad Date Rescue app has become a kind, generous, and helpful new friend, the recording scolds you for making poor dating choices, lecturing you about how - if you'd used eHarmony in the first place - "you wouldn't be in this mess." Who do you think you are, Bad Dating App? You don't get to tell me what to do.

"eHarmony developed the Bad Date Rescue App as a fun and engaging way to help people get out of a bad date and into a good date," spokeswoman Whitney Standring-Trueblood said.

"Fun" it certainly is. Just be sure you don't crack up mid-call and totally blow your cover.

For more information on the dating site which brought you this app you can read our review of eHarmony.

WSJ Quantifies The Online Dating Revolution

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Everyone knows that online dating is popular, but just how popular is it? The Wall Street Journal decided to investigate the phenomenon, to figure out exactly how web-based American love lives have become.

"One result of the increasing importance of the Internet in meeting partners," says an article published on the 'How Couples Meet and Stay Together' survey, "is that adults with Internet access at home are substantially more likely to have partners, even after controlling for other factors."

In 2009 and 2010, a research team asked a group of over 4,000 participants (including couples who'd met as long ago as 1940!) how they met their partners. They found that almost all traditional ways of meeting people - like school, church, and mutual acquaintances - are in decline:

  • The number of heterosexual couples who met through friends dropped from nearly 40% in the mid-1980s to less than 30% in 2010.
  • From 1960-1990, neighborhood and church meetings accounted for 10% and 7% of romantic partnerships, but both numbers dropped after 2000.

At the same time as those figures were declining, the proportion of couples who'd met online was on the rise. From the mid-1990s to 2010, the number rose from 0 to just over 20%. Bars and restaurants, always popular choices for romantic meetings, maintained steady popularity, becoming even more influential after 2000.

The online dating revolution has been an even greater boon for same-sex daters. The numbers of homosexual daters who met online rose to more than 60% by 2010. Other dating markets who have fewer chances of meeting potential partners in real life, like older singles, have also found online dating to be hugely beneficial.

But the facts and figures may not be as simple as they seem. "Answers to the 'where did you meet?' question could be multiple," notes the WSJ article. "It could be that online daters were taking note of their real-world encounter."

With the exception of couples who met before the Internet era, people without an Internet connection were significantly less likely to be in a relationship than those with access to the Web: 36% vs. 72%. The authors are quick to point out, though, that the numbers cannot be taken at face value. Survey participants who did not have Internet access at the outset of the survey received Internet access, meaning that those who "lacked" it actually only lacked it when the survey began.

The authors also caution that there is no way to be certain that technology is the causal factor in their findings. There is no evidence that online dating has affected the proportion of people finding partners over time - displacement of old methods of partnering up seems to be what the researchers observed.

The Ups And Downs Of Facebook’s IPO

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Facebook's IPO is one of the biggest news stories of 2012 so far...are you up to speed? Here's an overview of the most important details of the IPO, from promising start to disappointing finish.

After abundant speculation and much anticipation, Facebook finally filed paperwork for an initial public offering on February 1, 2012, the same week the massive social network celebrated its 8th birthday. The S-1 revealed that Facebook had an estimated value of $100 billion and was hoping to raise $5 billion dollars, which would have made the company about four times as valuable as Google when Google went public in 2004.

Facebook filed with Morgan Stanley as lead underwriter, while Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and others took secondary positions. Shares were planned to hit the market in May 2012, but rumors soon began to fly that the IPO wasn't living up to the hype. Investors were skeptical about Facebook's prospects, as the site's ad revenues hadn't kept pace with its user growth. An investor poll conducted by Bloomberg found that 79% of investors, analysts, and traders thought that Facebook's $96 billion valuation was too high.

Facebook amended the S-1 filing several times, each time painting a bleaker picture of Facebook's future. One of the largest problems facing Facebook was the site's mobile versions. Facebook has yet to find a way to capitalize on its smartphone-based users, so the more users who check Facebook from their phones, the worse Facebook's average revenue per user (or ARPU) gets. Users are increasingly accessing Facebook from their mobile devices, meaning that Facebook's revenue is sinking.

After all the hysteria, the IPO's debut was anticlimactic. On its first day as a public company, Facebook's stock closed at $38.23 a share. That's down from the opening trading price of $42, but up from its IPO price.

Many theories attempt to account for the IPO's disappointing performance. One suggests that it's NASDAQ's fault, for failing to the stock until 11:30 am EST, 30 minutes later than planned. Another theory places the blame with GM, which pulled its advertising from Facebook shortly before the IPO because it wasn't working. Others say that Facebook was overvalued, or that investors are now weary of social media stock.

Whatever the reason, the rocky IPO cast doubts for many on Facebook's second-quarter revenue potential, and the doubts continue. After all the rumors and hype surrounding Facebook's IPO, what was billed as one of the biggest stories of the year became a non-story. There was little to tell, except that Facebook had underperformed.

In the weeks following the IPO, Facebook stock fell as low as low as $25.52. It is now around $28, but its future is still uncertain.

To find out if this social network can be a good way to meet new people for dating, please check out our review of Facebook.

The Dating Games: Match.com’s Dating Olympics

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eHarmony did it, and now it's Match.com's turn to take on the Olympics. Inspired by the global games, Match conducted an international challenge of its own to see how singles from around the world stack up. Match surveyed over 3,000 singles from six countries - the US, the UK, France, Australia, Japan, and Canada - to learn more about each nation's unique take on the dating game.

Some countries, despite being separated by thousands of miles and massive bodies of water, proved to be remarkably similar in their dating habits. Other results revealed stark differences in cultural dating norms. Here's a look at the podium lineup:

  • The gold medal for most dates was awarded to the United States. 77% of American singles reported going on two or more dates in the past year, followed by Canada (71%) and the UK (67%). Australia came in last place, with 46%. Better luck at the next games, Australia!
  • The US also scored highly in the "Boldest Women" category, but Canadian ladies ultimately took the gold. 63% of Canadian women and 62% of American women reported taking the lead and asking men out on dates.
  • The gold for "Independent Thinking" went to France, where 74% of French singles said that their friends' opinions don't factor into their dating choices. In second place, after a wide gap, was Japan at 47%. North America came in at the opposite end of the spectrum, with 70% of Americans and 68% of Canadians reporting that friends' opinions are very important when it comes to choosing a mate.
  • The award for most egalitarian went to the UK, at least when it comes to finances. The majority of women in the UK (52%) said they offer to split the check 50/50 on alternating dates, far more than women in any other country. The ladies most averse to picking up the tab reside in France, where 27% of respondents said they would never pick up the check while on a date (they were followed by Australians at 20% and Americans at 17%).
  • Australia took home the gold for most PDA-friendly nation, where 22% of survey participants said the more PDA, the better. Other nations may be more reticent, but all expressed approval of low-key PDA, like hand-holding.
  • The French continued their winning privacy streak by earning the gold for "Least Likely To Kiss And Tell." 35% of French singles said they prefer not to share the details of their dates with friends, while a whopping 92% of US singles said they'd be happy to spill the beans to their friends.
  • Japan brought home the top awards for love and commitment. 82% said they believe in love at first sight, compared to more skeptical nations like the UK, where 58% reported believing in the phenomenon. Japanese singles are also the most likely to shack up after less than a year of dating (59%), with the US (34%) and Canada (31%) picking up the rear.

And who was victorious in the most competitive event of all? The gold for "Hottest Singles In The World" went to...everyone. Participants from every country surveyed overwhelmingly voted their own singles into the top spot.

To find out more about the service which brought you this survey you can check out our review of Match.com

MissTravel.com On ABC 20/20

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A lot of travel stories are about bad in-flight meals, sub-par hostel accommodations, and confusing cultural mix ups. But this travel story is about a couple who joined MissTravel.com, met for the first time in Cabo San Lucas, and fell in love.

Their story was featured on ABC 20/20's "Vacation Confidential" segment, alongside an interview with the site's founder and CEO, Brandon Wade. ABC is the first to document one of "the newest and wackiest vacation trends" via a reality travel dating show that isn't too far off from its travel-and-romance hits "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette."

MissTravel.com claims to be the first online dating site to blend travel with romance, by bringing together generous singles looking for travel companions with attractive singles who cannot afford to travel alone. The idea is proving to be a popular one: more than 100,000 members have joined and over 50,000 trips have been planned in the 3 months the site has been live.

MissTravel.com has stirred up its share of controversy with critics who have compared it to a travel escort agency, but Brandon Wade is on the defensive. "Most people are uncomfortable with the idea of taking any kind of risk," he said during his interview with ABC, "so they choose to look at all the things that could go wrong with MissTravel.com, meanwhile ignoring all its potential for greatness."

Sibel and Steven, the couple featured in the segment, are bound to agree. Sibel is a 27-year-old from New York who signed up for MissTravel.com with minimal expectations. Shortly after joining, she received a message for Steven, a 31-year-old financial planner from San Diego who was looking for company on his upcoming trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Sibel says she found the idea of joining a man she'd never met on a trip abroad daunting, but decided to give it a go after days of talks on Skype and over the phone. They met for the first time at Villa Marcella, a beachside mansion Steven rented out for a whopping $2500 a night. It was a weekend full of indulgences - dips in the Jacuzzi, fine dining, a private yacht, snorkeling, horseback riding, massages - and when it came to a close, Sibel and Steven kissed each other goodbye and returned to their homes.

A few weeks later, Steve traveled to New York to visit Sibel, and a few weeks after that, she traveled to San Diego to spend a weekend with him. The first success story of MissTravel.com is still being written: Sibel and Steve found what they were looking for on MissTravel.com, and the couple is still dating.

The Olympic Games, eHarmony Style

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The summer Olympics are finally here and in honor of the worldwide event, eHarmony has put together a few games of its own. To capture the spirit of the 2012 London games, eHarmony surveyed 2,012 men and women to find out exactly what games are being played in American love lives. The results of the Dating Games 2012 can be found in infographic form here, and here's the condensed version:

  • Rules are made to be broken, and the 3-Day Rule is now a thing of the past. 71% of men and 73% of women say that waiting three days before returning a phone call or following up after a date is "ridiculous."
  • That being said, playing hard to get is still in style, and women aren't the only ones who do it. 41% admit to intentionally being coy to maintain the mystery and up the attraction ante.
  • Pickup lines get a bad rap (and yeah...a lot of them are terrible), but 44% of women say they actually like pickup lines. As long as you stay away from the especially bad ones, they might give your love life a surprising boost.
  • Remember when looking up your date online was considered taboo? It's now becoming the norm. Nearly half of men and women admit to Googling dates before meeting up for the first time. Performing an amateur background check when meeting someone online isn't a bad idea, but be careful not to go overboard. If you don't save some of the getting-to-know-you process for the actual dates, you won't have anything to talk about!
  • These days people text so much that I've started to wonder why mobile phones still make phone calls at all, but apparently I've underestimated daters' love of the phone chat. Over 75% of men and women say they prefer a phone conversation to a text message.
  • Speaking of rules that are meant to be broken, The Rules are also meant to be broken. Faking popularity by appearing to be busy when you really aren't is no longer the popular thing to do. 89% of men and 77% of women say they would be happy to go on a same-day, last-minute date if they were available. In other words: no more pretending to have a date when they only date you actually have is with a pint of Ben & Jerry's, your sofa, and the latest episode of The Bachelorette.

Let the (dating) games commence!

To find out more about this popular dating site you can read our eHarmony review.