Match.com Leads Newest Trend In Online Dating: Offline Dating

General News
  • Tuesday, August 28 2012 @ 10:14 am
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The latest trend in online dating may be one that surprises you: offline dating. Yep, that's right...online dating is going retro.

Match.com announced The Stir, the newest addition to its list of services, on its blog in May 2012. Stir events update the classic "singles night" for 21st century daters, with happy hours, cooking classes, wine tastings, bowling nights, dance lessons, and other opportunities to socialize with eligible singles. The guest list for each event is customized using Match's group matching algorithms in terms of age, gender, and interests to facilitate maximum compatibility between guests.

Match's decision to take dating back to its roots seems to have started a trend. "Several sites are bringing people together the old-fashioned way, with singles parties where people can crowd together at bars while consuming alcohol and flirting," says an article in The New York Times. The hope is that offline events will help daters identify compatibility more quickly, instead of wasting weeks or months corresponding online with someone who turns out to be completely wrong when you meet in person.

I'll admit it: at first I was a little confused. Why would I bother joining a dating site if I was going to end up meeting someone in a bar or restaurant anyway? Isn't the point of online dating that the fancy matching algorithms do all the hard work for me? Isn't the whole allure of online dating sites that the science behind their matching systems is supposed to be more accurate than your ability to judge compatibility?

The answer apparently lays somewhere in between the two extremes. Emily Clapp, who spoke about her experience attending an event organized by OkCupid to the New York Times, says that the site acts as a filter, increasing the odds that the other attendees are also single, looking for love, and not too creepy. But, she also adds, "it's a little more random than regular online dating."

Ok, I guess I can see the appeal. And it seems a lot of other people can, too. Match claims to have held a few hundred Stir events every month since May in more than 50 cities. OkCupid has organized about 100 events in New York since July and has plans to expand the service to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and a few other cities in October. Mobile services, like MeetMoi and Grindr, are based on apps that broadcast users' locations for on-the-spot dates or hookups. MeetMoi has also been hosting get-togethers to bring groups of users to the same place at the same time.

Is this the beginning of the end for matching algorithms? Are we giving up on the idea that personality tests and data can accurately predict compatibility? It looks like online dating is in for some big changes in the next couple of years...

For more information on the dating services offering offline events please read our Match.com review and our OkCupid review.

Understanding Facebook as a Dating Tool

Tips
  • Friday, August 24 2012 @ 07:32 am
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Let's face it, there's more than one way to meet other singles. And it usually involves social media.

Facebook has become a really popular way to check out potential dates. After all, it's convenient (how many times a day do you check it?), informative, and accessible. But social media has taken the mystery out of dating - it used to take a while to get to know someone's tastes and preferences, and now you have access to all that kind of information - provided she posts about it. There's no such thing as a blind date anymore if you do your research before meeting!

Because Facebook puts it all out there, you should be aware of your privacy settings and also what you're posting, even if it seems trivial to you. Potential dates could take a comment or photo the wrong way - like if you post pictures of yourself with your girlfriends getting drunk at a bar, or if you make sarcastic and flirty comments to some of your male friends' posts. Sure, it may seem like nothing to you - but to a total stranger, it might be enough to turn them off, or at least to question you.

Following are some ways people use Facebook for dating purposes - so be aware before you start friending your matches!

They see where you go. People use Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare to announce where they're going or where they've been. Unfortunately, it might mean that your matches or potential dates know what you're up to even if you want to keep that more private.

They see what you really look like. Maybe you posted your four best photos on Match.com, but you get tagged on some not so classy ones in Facebook. Don't assume your dates won't find them. If there's something you don't want them seeing, untag yourself or delete it.

They see your friends. Sometimes potential dates will search through your friends to see who else they might find attractive or want to ask out. Harsh, but true. Others will look to see how many guy or girl friends you have, or how often they comment (if they get jealous or curious about you). Instead of friending your matches quickly, I would suggest waiting until you're dating each other before you give each other access to your Facebook pages, just to avoid misunderstandings.

Advice: Don't jump to conclusions. Many people post status updates about the cool things they're doing, but take it with a grain of salt. Many times people's status updates are a lot more exciting than their real lives, so don't make assumptions about how busy someone is or how popular. Get to know them face-to-face first.

To find out more about this social network and how it stacks up when used like a dating service you can read our Facebook review.

eHarmony Launches Bad Date Rescue App

General News
  • Friday, August 17 2012 @ 12:47 pm
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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

General News
  • Tuesday, August 14 2012 @ 10:32 am
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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

Facebook
  • Friday, August 10 2012 @ 01:42 pm
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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

Advice
  • Thursday, August 09 2012 @ 08:47 am
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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

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