Welcome to the Online Singles Blog.

Featured

Online dating is hard. We’re here to help.

Visit this spot for tips, tricks, news, and other tidbits useful to those trying to navigate the murky waters of online dating. More people than ever are meeting their mates online, using everything from online personals and forums to giant dating sites to small, niche online communities. Whatever your interests, whatever you like in a partner, whatever floats your boat, it’s out there.

Five Tips for Approaching (and Conquering) Online Dating

Know what you're looking for even before you start.

Know what you’re looking for even before you start.

We’ve given tons of tips in our blog about how to be a successful online dater. We help you take a good profile pic; we point out what NOT to do on a first date. We even suggested some niche dating sites for people with specific interests. But in a general sense, just how can you turn online dating into a successful endeavor? Amy Webb did a month-long experiment to analyze successful dating profiles, and she shared her results with the world (and now, we’ll share a few of those with you).

  1. Know what you want before you start (make a list and everything). It’s hard to find the perfect mate if you don’t even know what you’re looking for in the first place. If you want someone who has kids, have some idea how many kids and how old/far apart they are. After all, there’s a big difference between someone who has one ten-year-old kid and someone else who has five kids ranging from 6 to 16! Write down what really matters to you, what you seek in a partner, and what your dealbreakers are. Be honest with yourself; there’s no reason to settle here.
  2. Figure out the sites you like best, and join more than one. For the most success, belong to at least a few sites. Keep in mind that paid sites like Match.com tend to be successful for long-term relationships (they tout their high marriage rate in their commercials), while free sites like Tinder are more hookup-friendly. Watch your budget, though; paid sites can nickel and dime you for all the features they offer, so do your homework and figure out what you really need each site to provide for you.
  3. Keep it short, and don’t be funny. Don’t use your profile as a place to ramble on about yourself. Stay short and to the point, and don’t try to be funny. Webb suggests that humor doesn’t translate well to text, especially dating profile text, and sarcasm often falls flat. Instead, be earnest about who you are.
  4. Don’t fixate too narrowly on your own interests. Say there’s a TV show you love. I mean, you LOVE it. If you spend too much space in your profile talking about that show, you could turn off potential matches who might not appreciate your show the way you do. Instead, mention a few of your interests, maybe keep it more general (“I really enjoy sci fi TV” instead of “I’m completely in love with Star Trek, especially Commander Data”) so you can create a potential “in” for those who might be attracted.
  5. Keep your language positive and upbeat. Webb found that profiles that use words like “fun” and “happy” got more love, so don’t use your profile as a place to dump all your issues, your pet peeves or your hangups. Stay as positive as possible, smile in your profile pics, and try to describe things that genuinely excite you. What would your ideal day look like? Let some of that joy show!

The Long-Distance Relationship: Can You Do It? Four Things to Consider

With most online dating sites, you can choose how far from your current location you want to look. That way, the results you find are usually near you, and a long-distance relationship (LDR) is not an issue. But sometimes, things can change. You might:

  • Start looking further and further from home just to see who’s out there;
  • Meet someone while you’re on a trip, which means that, when you go home, you’re not geographically close anymore;
  • Meet someone close to home, but then something happens that moves one of you away (job offer, sick relative, etc).
"What do you mean, you're seeing Beth from Accounting??"

“What do you mean, you’re seeing Beth from Accounting??”

In short, no matter what you do, you might find yourself staring down the barrel of an LDR, either right away or sometime down the road in a relationship. When that happens, it’s not necessarily the end of the world; many people have successful LDRs. I myself have had two, one of 9 months and one of 1.5 years, and they both worked out very well (still married to that last one). But in order to make an LDR work, there are some things you really have to consider beforehand.

 

  1. Is this an exclusive, monogamous relationship? The very first thing to figure out when you are distant from your partner is, are we going to see other people? Make sure that the answer to this isn’t taken for granted; talk about it, figure out what each of you wants, and go from there. Don’t just assume that, if you’re faithful, they will be, too, or if you plan to date around, they’ll understand. Hash it out, and if you can’t agree on an answer, it might be best to part ways.
  2. Stay in touch, in multiple ways. You’ve decided to make a go of it, and that’s great. Fortunately, there are so many communication tools to help you! Your phone can call, text, Skype and email, and we recommend doing all of these. Video chats (like Skype and others) are particularly great because seeing each other helps keep the connection fresh. And every once in a while, send a real, snail-mail card or letter. Everyone likes getting happy mail, and it’s a fun surprise.
  3. Keep your friendships and family relationships strong. When you’re in a twosome, it’s easy to get all caught up in the coupleness and let other relationships fall by the wayside, at least for a while. But in an LDR, it can feel downright lonely to watch TV alone, go to bed alone, eat dinner alone. It’s very important (and good for the health of your partnership) to keep your friendships and family connections going. Hang out with your pals… Have dinner with the folks… Go shopping with your sis. A solid foundation of friends and family is vital for ANY relationship (it can’t all just be about the love), and in an LDR, that’s especially important.
  4. Talk about everything, even the little things. You might feel like the everyday minutiae don’t merit discussing because, come on, you don’t get to talk to this person as often as you’d like. But seriously, talk like you see each other every day. Chat about the little wins, the tiny annoyances, the irrational fears. Opening up in a personal, everyday sort of way has a lot of advantages. One, it makes the relationship feel more real (talking like “normal” couples talk); two, it can prevent issues like jealousy, because you can talk out the things that are bugging you; and three, it gives you a chance to REALLY get to know each other, from the big things to the small. Distance can be an issue in a few ways: you might have trouble trusting the other person, and the spans of time between visits can prolong the “getting to know you” stuff and make an otherwise-mediocre relationship seem way better than it actually is. Communicate daily, about any little thing, and it’ll get “real” much faster.

Online Dating Profile Photos – Three Easy Ways to Get Noticed

We’ve talked before about things you should NOT do in/with your dating profile photo, but there are positive things you can do with your photo that will help you get the right kind of notice. Dating profile photos are basically the first impression you give to someone, after all, so how you come across matters a great deal. The folks at eHarmony crunched some numbers and came up with some patterns for what profile photos work and why, so here are a few tips based on their findings that just might give you a hand in catching someone’s eye.

  1. Post several photos to your dating profile. The first and best piece of advice is generally to have more than one photo on your profile. The eHarmony numbers say go even higher: those with 4 or more pics on their profile got the most communication. When you think about it, it makes sense: you can showcase yourself in a variety of ways, from a variety of angles and in various lights, and paint a complete picture of who you are.
  2. Putyour best (left) face forward. Studies have shown that, when people are presented two photos that are similar but show different sides of a person’s face, the photos that show the left side of the face are called more pleasing to look at. As it turns out, the left side of our face shows more emotion. You don’t have to go completely in profile, though; find a photo that shows your face turned just slightly, with the left side showing more than the right. Don’t have a good pic of yourself showing your left side? Take a good right-sided pic and flip it in a photo editing program.
  3. Go for 3×4 landscape pics or portrait-style pics, all at a medium distance.
    Medium distance shows more of who you are.

    Medium distance shows more of who you are.

    Again, this makes sense when you think about it. A medium distance (say, showing you from the waist up) displays your face well but also shows more of you than just your face, giving the potential date a chance to see more of your body type (because like it or not, that matters, and too many people have horror stories about meeting up with someone who didn’t match their self-reported body type). Make sure you shot is focused and well-lit, and don’t crop other people out of pics that you’re in. It just looks bad to do that.

First Date Foods: Six Things You Should NEVER Eat

A first date in person is a great way to get to know someone better. But if dining out is part of your first date plan, be careful which restaurant, and even which meal, you choose. Some foods lend themselves quite well to first dates (or any dates, for that matter), while others set you up for a less-than-pleasant experience.

First, a few GOOD choices for first date food. You might try:

Swiss or not, fondue is a sexy choice.

Swiss or not, fondue is a sexy choice.

Fondue – yes, it has the potential to be messy, but in a fun way. There’s something intimate about a shared pot of hot cheese. And feeding each other is a flirty way to get closer.

Picnic – Sandwiches and fruit under a tree in the park are no muss, no fuss. They travel well, don’t make much mess and give you the portability to enjoy the great outdoors. Cap it off with some cookies!

Appetizers + Dessert – Light fare, finger foods and other small plates provide a lot of variety without the heaviness or mess of larger meals. Then split a slice of cheesecake or chocolate temptation.

Now on to the things you should definitely NOT eat on a first date:

  1. Large amounts of onion or garlic. These two pungent flavors are delicious, but they stay with you for a loooong time after, no matter how many breath mints you eat. Garlic is so strong that, if you put cloves of it between your toes, you can actually TASTE it after a while. Skip the garlic sauces, onion rings and other potentially-powerful flavors.
  2. Ribs and other BBQ with sauce. This is a mess waiting to happen, both for your face and your clothes. And no one finds another person attractive when they’re wearing a protective bib. Try to avoid food that makes you look like a caveman to eat.
  3. Corn on the cob. Tasty as it is, it’s a mess to eat, and you’ll probably still be finding corn hairs and kernels in your teeth hours later. Unless you carry floss with you at all times (and don’t mind using it all night), avoid this side dish.
  4. Super-spicy or fermented foods. Not only are these flavors so strong as to overpower everyday mints (see garlic, above), but they aren’t for everyone. If your date has a more bland palate or simply doesn’t like excessive spice or flavors like kimchi, you’ll be an instant turn-off if you eat those things. Save the exotic options for a later date.
  5. Whole crab, lobster, peel-and-eat shrimp or other crustaceans/shellfish. Most of these have to be eaten, at least in part, with the fingers, and that’s not fun to watch. It’s messy, usually involves bib-wearing (see BBQ, above), and in the end, you’re ripping up a dead carcass for your meal. Sure, it tastes awesome, but the visual is hard to get past. Perhaps on a later date, when you’re more comfortable with each other, you can split a bucket of shrimp and a few beers and laugh about the mess you’re making. But not on the first date!
  6. The most expensive thing on the menu. On the first date, you may be looking to seem like you’ve got it going on. Ordering the top entrée can give the appearance of wealth and/or taste. But seriously, don’t do it unless you REALLY love whatever it is. Your date will be less impressed by the gesture than you think. Instead, give the meal options some thought, perhaps talk about how you’re torn between two (reasonable) choices, and select something that you genuinely like. You won’t have fun on this date if you’re choking down something you don’t enjoy eating!

20 Things You Should Never, Ever Say on a First Date

And now for some slightly lighter fare.

For most people, the do’s and don’ts of first date conversation can vary quite a bit. Some people say never to talk about politics or religion, while others insist that those topics are vital in getting to know if someone is a good match. Talking about exes is generally a no-no, while discussing music is usually safe. Some things, however, fall firmly in the do-not-say category. In the spirit of humor (and just a touch of uncomfortable realism), here’s a list of twenty of those particular no-go comments that should get you kicked to the curb in no time flat:

  • Do you have a photo of your mom? I want to see whether you’re going to age well.
  • What are your feelings on roleplaying as badgers?
  • Mind if I take a quick blood sample?
  • I think Hitler was somewhat misunderstood.
  • You can’t be a REAL gamer unless you play [insert obscure game here].
  • I’m a better driver when I’m drinking.
  • What does your hair smell like?
  • This tie is made of real baby seal pelt!
  • I’m not a crazy cat person. It takes at least 10 cats for that, and I only have 8.
  • I’m pretty sure the moon landing was a hoax.
  • Come on, don’t you read the science? Vaccines cause autism!
  • Want to hear about my kidney stone experience?
  • If climate change were real, it would never be snowing out.
  • You should meet my parents! And look, they’re right over at that table!
  • Well, I’m currently married, but it’s just a green card marriage so it doesn’t count.
  • Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?
  • You sure you want to order that? It has a lot of calories, and you probably don’t need them…
  • I like that shirt on you! It’s a lot better than the one you wore last night when you were sleeping.
  • Sorry to rush you, but I have another date after this one.
  • I’m gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free, egg-free and sugar-free. Also I’m allergic to water, but I take a pill for that.

To Shave or Not To Shave: Do Women Prefer Beards?

Is this attractive?

Is this attractive?

In recent years, facial hair has surged back into style. And we’re not just talking about standard beards and mustaches. A wide variety of lengths and designs are popping up on faces nationwide. From the close-trimmed “I haven’t shaved in a few days” scruffy look to the longer, more hipster, “I wear a beanie with my horn rims every day” look, beards are back like never before. But do they actually make men more attractive to women?

According to some sources, the jury is still out. Many women claim to see beards as manly and sexy, while others claim they look messy, lazy or otherwise unpleasant. A lot depends on the shape of the face wearing the beard, of course, and in most cases, it comes down to each individual beard evaluated by each individual woman. That said, however, studies have begun to give some parameters to the best of beards and their appeal to ladies.

CBS News reported on a study in 2014 that explains some beard science.

“When shown men’s faces, men and women study participants consistently rated the faces with beards or stubble as more attractive than clean-shaven faces,” the article notes. “But beards were most alluring when facial hair was rare, whereas clean-shaven faces gained in popularity when hairy faces were the norm.”

So beards and stubble are good, as long as not EVERY face is beards and stubble. This, the article suggests, could be why beards go in and out of style as time progresses. We go through beard eras, then clean-shaven eras, and each time the cycle repeats when the style is new or rare again. Facial hair, the scientists said, is most attractive when it’s the exception to popular style, not the rule.

Should you grow (or keep) a beard for your online dating profile pics? Right now, beards are very much in fashion, so you may actually stand out more by NOT having one. But in the end, you should opt for a look that best suits your bone structure and your style. Ask your friends and family for their honest opinion. Try a few looks and see what looks best on you. Be yourself, above all else, and that confidence will help you in the long run.

Online Dating and Color: How Hues Affect Your Chances

We’ve talked a lot in the past about how to construct a good online dating profile: what sort of photo to use, what headlines and taglines will get you positive feedback, etc. But online dating goes a lot deeper than the surface. Much like real-world interactions, there’s a psychological element to what we see in an online profile, as well as how we react to it. Much of it is subconscious, but fortunately, there are people who study this sort of thing.

Photo by Hadret

Photo by Hadret

The University of Rochester in New York did some research on color in online dating profiles and found that, when men see a woman wearing red in her profile photo, they are more likely to find her attractive, ask her out and even spend more money on her. A similar study out of France showed that, when researchers digitally changed the color of women’s shirts in profile pics, the photos with red shirts resulted in the most messages sent to the women.

That makes some sense; red is a color associated with love, lust, passion, and other relationship-themed concepts.

What about other colors? James Houran, PhD, a writer for Online Dating Magazine, suggests that blue is actually the best color for a dating profile, as it conveys peace and tranquility, as well as loyalty. We would add that blue is one of those colors that is almost universally flattering (especially turquoise shades, which go well with every skin and hair combination), so it would have a positive impact on most photos. Houran suggests green as a second choice (it’s easy on the eye and conveys a message of nature, fitness, health and wealth) and red as a third.

What color should you probably avoid? That’s simple: yellow. Yellow is not flattering on most people and it’s tough for the eye to perceive comfortably. If a color could be loud, yellow would do it. It can suggest sunshine, carefree fun and other positives, but in the end, it’s probably better to choose another color for your online dating profile outfit.

Keep in mind that the MOST important thing for your online dating profile photo is that you feel comfortable in it. Wear something you like, in a color you like. When people feel positive and confident in what they’re wearing, it shows, regardless of what the color actually is!

What do flowers actually mean? 7 flower meanings to help you date

Before bringing a bouquet of these, make sure you know what you're "saying."

Before bringing a bouquet of these, make sure you know what you’re “saying.”

The tradition of giving someone flowers to show them you like them is one that stretches back centuries. But one aspect of that tradition has fallen to the wayside in recent decades: what the flowers actually mean. As it turns out, flowers speak a “language” of sorts, and the types of flowers you give someone stand for various messages that you want to send.

So how can you decide which flowers to give your date? The first option is the most obvious and skips the flower language altogether: choose a flower that you know they like. If your date’s favorite flower is lavender, it doesn’t really matter that it means “distrust” in flower language. All that matters is that they like it, and they probably don’t care what it means. If you have the chance to give a favorite flower, go that route first as it’s the easiest and should be a win no matter what.

If you don’t know their favorite flower, florist shops and flower markets are a wealth of opportunity. To help you build a bouquet that truly “speaks” for you, the experts at Teleflora have provided a list of flower meanings. Try a few of these if you want to make an impression, but remember: not all flowers go together well, not all are fragrant, and not all last long in a vase. Consult with your florist to get the best expert help in creating an arrangement that is memorable AND meaningful.

On with the flower meanings:

Sunflower: These large, bright blooms once cultivated for their seeds and oil stand for the sun because of their big sunny faces and they way they the turn to follow the light. In a bouquet, they mean warmth, adoration and happiness.

Tulip: These tend to “pop up” in the spring, and while each color of tulip has its own personal meaning, the general meaning of a tulip is grace and elegance.

Rose: This one is pretty obvious, but like the tulip, each color means a different message. Roses in general stand for love, but also confidentiality. Red roses are love and passion, yellow are joy and friendship, orange are desire and enthusiasm, white are innocence, purple are enchantment, and pink are admiration and gratitude.

Daffodil: This is another spring bloomer that signals the end of spring and the start of prosperity. Daffodils in a bouquet stand for happiness, but be careful to give more than one flower at a time. A single daffodil traditionally means misfortune is coming.

Lily: Lilies have been around, and meaningful, since ancient times. They usually mean innocence (especially white lilies), and they are very common at funerals, suggesting that the person who has passed is innocent again in the afterlife. Like other flower varieties, Lilies mean different things when the colors change: pink stargazers mean wealth, white stargazers are sympathy, and Peruvian lilies mean devotion and friendship.

Gladiolus: This is a big, bold flower with sword-like leaves and long stalks of blooms. It’s a powerful statement in any bouquet. Gladiolus means strength, integrity, and the idea of the recipient piercing the giver’s heart with passion.

Carnation: This is another bloom with a long, long history, and also a choice of meanings that vary by color. White means pure love, but dark red means deep love. Purple should be avoided (it suggests your date is flighty or erratic), but pink is the more significant (though not date-friendly, probably) color of carnation, as it means a mother’s undying love.

Now you can build a flower arrangement for your date that speaks a language all its own!

 

 

Five First Date Ideas That Could Help You Get a Second Date

So you made a connection with someone online. You both swiped right, or you caught their eye with a witty profile or great pic. Now that you’re planning a first-date meet-up, where do you go?

If you want to stay together as long as this couple, the first date is an important start.

If you want to stay together as long as this couple, the first date is an important start.

First, do NOT go to the movies, unless that’s something you both really, really want to do. A movie is a terrible place to get to know a new person. You sit in the dark, in silence, for 2+ hours, not looking at each other or communicating much at all. Movies are a great “I’m already comfortable with you” venue, but not so much a “still getting to know you” venue.

Also, do not do anything involving either of your families. No one wants to be hit with “Hey, I know we’re just meeting in person for the first time, but my family reunion is this weekend, and I’m sure Grandma would love to meet you at the same time that I do!” Families are a lot of pressure and a lot of distraction, and they can also make you seem a tad clingy (or nuts) if you already want to bring your parents/grandparents/extended great-uncles into the mix. Keep it just the two of you for at least the first few outings.

One last don’t: Don’t go somewhere competitive if you’re a super-competitive person. If you tend to get angry when you lose at mini-golf, do not take a new date mini-golfing. Same goes for batting cages, go-karts and anything else with a competitive element. These things are all fun with someone that you know well, someone who knows not to take your pouting too seriously if you lose, but for a new person, competition can be a recipe for disaster unless you’re sure you can take the high ground and lose with dignity.

So where SHOULD you go? A lot depends on your personality, your budget and your local options, but here are a few ideas that we’ve put together in case you’re struggling for a creative date that won’t break the bank or exhaust your date.

  1. Hit up an aquarium. Giant fish tanks are soothing and beautiful, and you can still carry on a conversation with someone else while you enjoy them. While some people have an aversion to zoos (seeing animals in captivity can be unnerving), aquariums are almost universally enjoyed by those who like to stroll around, take in the scenery and maybe learn a thing or two. The lighting is low, which is flattering for everyone. Plus there are bonus points in it for being outside the realm of “normal” (read: boring) dates.
  2. Take dance lessons. I don’t mean dragging your date out dancing to a place where you know what you’re doing and he/she doesn’t. I mean find a local spot that does free or cheap lessons and go learn something new together. Where I live, there’s a little speakeasy bar that does free swing dance lessons on Sunday nights, and it’s a great place for new couples to go stumble and laugh through the unfamiliar steps together. If you have a sense of humor about yourself and don’t mind a little exercise, an outing like this could be perfect. It shows you’re adventurous, willing to try new things, and willing to not take it too seriously if you mess up.
  3. Take a cooking class. In the same vein as #2 above, this gives you a chance to both try something new together, and in this case, you get to eat, too. Local community colleges and rec centers often offer these classes for a reasonable price. You can learn to cook pasta properly, hard-boil a perfect egg, bake a loaf of delicious bread, or create something decadent in chocolate, all while getting to know your date better. Be warned, though: you should check to see if your partner has any food allergies or aversions before committing to this idea.
  4. Enjoy the outdoors, at your pace. Being outside can make most anyone feel good, and depending on the time of year and local climate, there are many great ways to enjoy an outdoor first date. For those who want to take it slow, a picnic or scenic stroll fit the bill. For the more athletic, go for a run or kayak a local waterway. Snow on the ground? Build a snowman together, followed by hot cocoa! Sun beating down? Ice cream at the beach can be a cool choice. Talk it out with your date beforehand and see what they’re up for, and then pick one or two outdoor activities that will give you a chance to get to know one another better.
  5. Go out to eat, progressive-meal style. My parents like to do something they call the “progressive dinner.” They eat appetizers at one place, then move to another place for dinner, and finally a third locale for dessert. This is fun for a lot of reasons: you get to try more than one spot on a single date, you get to mix up the cuisine a bit, and you get different ambiance with each place you go. Perhaps one place has a bluegrass band in the corner, while another is white tablecloths and candlelight. Go from venue to venue for each course you eat, and by the end of the night, you’ve had a culinary adventure with a new partner-in-crime.

Wherever you go on a first date, be sure to include your date’s input in the planning, unless they insist on being surprised. The more on board both of you are with the plans, the better they’ll go. Have fun!