Are You Researching Your Date – Or Snooping?

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There are some risks in online dating. For one thing, you don't have mutual friends who can vouch for one of your matches. So you have to rely on a person's profile, your communication over email or phone, and let's face it - a little online background checking - before you agree to meet in person.

Let's say you start with the basics and Google or Facebook his name. This can provide a lot of telling information - including whether or not he's been honest in his profile about his relationship status. (A girlfriend of mine found out via Google one of her online matches was actually engaged to someone else - pictures of him with his bride-to-be were posted on their wedding website.)

If a person chooses to reveal information over social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or other sites, then it's only fair that they expect their potential dates will do a little snooping. But what if you approach all of your dates fearing you'll discover they are dishonest or that they will somehow take advantage of you? After all, you've been hurt in the past. It's entirely possible it could happen again, so you want to find out who you're dealing with.

But sometimes snooping can go too far. What if you feel compelled to scroll through the text messages on their phones while they are in the restroom, or search through their emails? When does some harmless background check cross the line into unhealthy relationship behavior?

If you prefer to do a little snooping to make sure your dates are being forthcoming, you may want to consider the following:

What are your intentions? If you've been hurt before, it's possible that you're trying to protect yourself from being hurt again. Know yourself well enough to acknowledge the unease you may be feeling and where it comes from. If you can have an honest conversation with your date instead of sneaking around trying to catch him being untrustworthy, you will have better success at building a relationship based in trust.

What are your own boundaries? If your date turned the table on you and started checking your text messages or emails, would you be upset? Would you be able to trust her, or feel secure in a new relationship? It's important to know where your own boundaries are and what you're willing to share - and not assume the other person will be ok with a little too much snooping.

Have that difficult conversation. Maybe you're afraid to confront your date about the suspicions nagging you, so you sneak around trying to collect information. Would you feel comfortable going forward with a relationship under these circumstances? Likely not. So the best course of action is to be direct and ask the uncomfortable questions, so that you can have a real conversation about what's bothering you. Being open and honest about how you feel is the only way to build a good relationship.

Chemistry's FREE this May Weekend - 2012

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Starting Friday May 4 2012, Chemistry.com users will be able to communicate for free for 3 days. The free weekend promotion ends on Sunday May 6, 2012.

Chemistry's free weekends are a great time to see how the dating site works since no credit card is required. All visitors need to do to become a member is register and create a profile. Once you have taken the personality test you then can start reviewing the matches that Chemistry will send you. Chemistry allows you to view to the entire profiles of these matches along with the photos. Once you have found one or more matches that spark your interest you can then communicate with them using Chemistry Starters or you can go directly to sending email.

In February just before Valentine's Day Chemistry had their last free communication weekend. To find out more about this popular dating site you can read our Chemistry.com review.

How Do I Know if I’m Really in Love?

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It's easy to confuse real love with infatuation. After all, in the first heady days of romance, you feel like you can walk on air. Your boyfriend/ girlfriend is perfect for you in every way. What's not to love about that? But once it fades and you're left with warm feelings instead of instant fireworks, does that mean you've fallen out of love? Or is there something else going on?

Unfortunately, most daters are quick to judge a relationship based on instant chemistry, and then wonder what happens down the road when the romance isn't so charged and things don't go quite the way they planned. The truth is, falling in love is different from physical attraction or even chemistry. It's about something deeper than that - something that holds on even if you no longer feel the intense passion.

But we're told from the time we're young that there is a Prince Charming, a perfect partner out there just for us. And so - whether we realize it or not - we bring these beliefs with us into our adult lives, believing we deserve and will find the Prince Charming who carries all of these wonderful qualities, with no faults or baggage of his own. This creates a problem - we're constantly comparing the real men we date with the ideal in our minds that is not realistic. After all, you aren't Cinderella either. How can you expect perfection and endless romance from anyone else? Eventually you realize that you don't have that amazing chemistry anymore, and he's not as attractive or charming or wonderful as you thought. So you think you're not really in love or you haven't met the right one. But this isn't necessarily the case.

And if you follow your passion, moving on from one romance to the next as soon as your current love fizzles? This is not an effective search for real love. Passion and romance are only the precursors to a deeper relationship that isn't based on physical connection and chemistry, but rather a deep understanding and a mutual desire to bring out the best in each other. You have to get to a stage of recognizing your partner's faults and understanding passion ebbs and flows. If you're chasing a feeling, you're in love with that feeling, and not the person. Falling in love takes time, understanding yourself, and commitment to seeing your relationship through the more difficult times as well as the good ones.

Most importantly, real love doesn't look for happiness in someone else. Real love is understanding that you create your own happiness. Instead of thinking your partner should alleviate your pain, anger, or hurt feelings, you take responsibility for your feelings and find healthy ways of dealing with them and healing yourself. We all create our own happiness, and the best relationships take this and share it with each other.

How Do You Gracefully Reject an Online Date?

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Online dating can take a lot of time and effort. In addition to posting your photos, writing your profile, and searching through matches, you can get a lot of emails or questions to sort through. It's almost necessary to be efficient.

So if someone emails you and you're not interested, what do you do? Do you ignore the email, sending it to the trash and hoping the person gets the hint and doesn't write again? Or do you respond, apologizing for your busy schedule and trying to delay any kind of initial meeting with more excuses? Sometimes worrying about what to do can take more time and energy than anything else.

Rejecting one of your online matches can be even more difficult if you've already had that first coffee date. Let's say you'd exchanged some emails, and the conversation was pleasant enough. But you just weren't interested - the chemistry wasn't there and you didn't want to go out with him again. Unfortunately, he had a different experience. He emailed you back right away, wanting to set up another date for the weekend, eager to see you again. You left the email sitting in your inbox, uncertain of how to gently let him down.

While rejection can be hard, it's a necessary part of online dating. Just be considerate and treat your matches with respect. You have to remember, this isn't a break-up. This is someone you just met, so there are no emotional ties to consider. And think about this: if someone you just met wasn't interested in you, wouldn't you rather know quickly so you could move on?

My suggestion: if someone took the time to read your profile and send you a thoughtful email, it's a good idea to respond. And if you've already been on a first date I think it's necessary. Keep your response brief and polite: "Thank you for your email/ it was nice to meet you, but I don't think we're a good match. Good luck with your search." You don't have to respond with more information than that, or an apology, or an excuse for why you feel this way. You don't want to leave the door open for conversation.

Remember, try not to take online dating so personally. It's a way to meet new people, but it doesn't mean that you'll click, get along with, or even understand most of the people you meet. Rejection is part of the process, so remember to let your dates know how you feel (firmly but kindly). Also, don't get down on yourself if someone else rejects you. It's not a reflection of who you are, it's that you didn't click with a particular person. Take heart and move on.

Is He Interested in a Relationship or Just Hooking Up?

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Sometimes it's hard to read someone else's intentions. So for the most part, you make assumptions based on past experiences. And if you've had a few disappointing dates, or met men who have only been interested in hooking up rather than starting a relationship, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that the date sitting across from you is after the same thing.

Most people are looking for chemistry when they date, and the majority of daters are more interested in finding a long-term relationship than just a casual fling. The problem is, we assume that with the availability and ease of meeting new people, the attention span of any one date is less than zero unless there is something he or she finds really compelling - compelling enough to start a relationship. The problem isn't that most people want to hook up. It's that until they find someone who makes them swoon, they like to keep their options open.

The truth is, a lot of people are looking for connection. Men and women approach it differently - for women, it's about intimacy and shared feelings, but for men it's more visual and physical.

So what does this mean? Does one or the other always have to compromise?

I think the important thing to remember is to know what you want, and to communicate well with your dates. It doesn't take a hook-up to know if someone isn't right for you, so don't feel pressured to go that route.

I was once on a date with a man who I found funny, engaging, and really attractive. We met for drinks and I asked him if he wanted to go somewhere else for dinner (it was only 8:00). He looked at me kind of awkwardly and said, "I think we're looking for two different things." I thought he was acting strangely, so I said, "how do you know what I'm looking for?" He said, "I'm not interested in dating."

That was all it took - he was honest enough to tell me exactly what he wanted, and though I was disappointed, I wanted to find a relationship, not a hook-up. So we said good-bye and went our separate ways. But if your man or woman is not that direct, it's important to be discerning.

My advice is to look for the following signs:

  • Is he sharing anything personal with you, about his life, family, past relationships, etc.?
  • Does he keep looking around at other women?
  • Does he avoid making plans in advance?
  • Does she seem bored or disinterested?
  • Does she make excuses when you say you want to see her again?

Bottom line: trust your gut. If she (or he) seems hesitant, distracted, or unable to make plans, she's probably not interested in anything long-term. And if you're interested in something more than a fling, don't just hook up. Give yourself time to know each other.

Facebook Determines “The Right Time for Love”

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These days Facebook is getting a lot of criticism about their privacy policy, and while I have to agree that the amount of data Facebook collects on its users is staggering and more than a little scary, at least they're now putting it to good use. Enter Facebook Data, a team that "builds scalable platforms for the collection, management, and analysis of data."

Facebook Data recently released a report called "The Right Time for Love: Tracking The Seasonality of Relationship Formation." Using U.S. Facebook data from 2010 and 2011, the team looked at how different times of year affect the beginnings and endings of relationships. They started by examining changes from non-coupled relationship statuses (like "Single" or "Divorced") to coupled statuses (like "In a relationship" or "Engaged"), then compared that figure against the number of changes in the opposite direction.

They found that Christmas and Valentine's Day are both good days to try your luck in love. Far more people paired up on those days than split up:

  • Feb. 14: 49% more new relationships than break-ups
  • Dec. 25: 34% more
  • Dec. 24: 28% more
  • Feb. 15: 22% more

Another big day for relationships shows that most Facebook users can take a joke, even when it comes to their relationships: April Fool's Day. As the fifth biggest day for a net increase in relationships, April 1st saw 20% more relationship initiations than splits. Many were clearly just in the spirit of the silly holiday, however, as the following day was the most extreme day in the other direction. April 2nd saw 11% more break-ups than new relationships.

Looking at the data on a monthly basis, summertime seemed to be the most problematic for relationships. In 2010 and 2011, May through August saw a low point in the daily net change in relationships across Facebook users of all age groups.

The Facebook Data team also found patterns at a weekly level. They discovered a net gain in relationships after the weekend - Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were the biggest days for the announcements of new romances to hit the social networking site. In contrast, breakups were more likely to be reported in the days leading up to the weekend, reaching a peak on Friday and Saturday.

In speculating on why these patterns exist, the Facebook Data team believes that "One explanation could be that people looking for a change tend to end their old relationships in time to spend the weekend with friends or get back in the game with someone new." Another theory is that "breaking up is hard to do, and having a difficult conversation has to wait until the work week winds down." To explain the net gain in relationships at the beginning of the week, the team posits that it "may be a visible echo of the weekend's festivities -- and the new social ties that result."

For information on how to use this social network to find people to date, you can read our Facebook review.