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!

Don’t Be a Victim: Tips for Avoiding Scams on Online Dating Sites

The guy casually asking you to float him a loan on a dating site may not be what he seems.

The guy casually asking you to float him a loan on a dating site may not be what he seems.

This week, Naked Security published an article about scammers who target dating site users. According to the story, just last year, scammers stole $86 million from Americans on online dating websites. Most of those who were defrauded of money were over 40 years old and female.

How did the scammers pull it off? They were attentive and communicative, sending sometimes dozens of emails and text messages a day to their targets. They posed as successful businessmen who either had inside tracks to “great investments” or who needed a little loan to get back to awesome wealth. The women, enjoying the attention and totally trusting their “lovers,” sent money. The did it even though they hadn’t met these guys in person.

After the scammers took the money and ran, the victims generally felt stupid and embarrassed. They realized after the fact how wrong it was to trust someone on the internet so completely, to send money without even meeting someone first, etc. But in the moment, when a potential romantic prospect is paying lots of attention, it’s easy to get swept away.

Naked Security offers these five tips from AARP to help you avoid being scammed yourself when using online dating sites:

1. Use Google’s Reverse Image Search to check out the potential lover’s photos. Most scammers will simply steal pics off the internet to put in their profiles, so if the photo they use turns up elsewhere, that could be a major red flag.

2. Google them. Put their name into Facebook, LinkedIn, anywhere else you can think of. See what comes up. If the person claims to be an investment banker at a particular business but doesn’t show up as a member of that business’s staff, he may be scamming you.

3. Make sure your location is kept private if you’re using a dating app or other mobile service. You don’t want someone to be able to track your whereabouts. Go into your phone’s settings to turn off location services for the apps you use.

4. Keep an eye out for fishy emails. If your potential lover sends you a message that sounds at all scammy/suspicious/just plain weird, copy and paste the text into google. The email may come up on other sites warning people of romance scams. These scammers don’t usually craft unique emails every time they try to swipe some dough from unsuspecting victims; that would take too long.

5. Maintain your privacy at all costs. Don’t give away your personal info too soon. Your home address, your workplace, your birthday, even your last name should be kept to yourself until you’re sure you can trust this person. If they refuse to meet in public (or make plans and then always cancel), or if they pressure you for your personal info, run away.

“I’ve never tried this, so here goes…” – 6 Dating Profile Cliches and What They Really Mean

If you’ve read more than one dating profile in your life, you know they can be riddled with the same phrases, platitudes and cliches. Over time, they might even begin to run together, to the point where you don’t even see them anymore. This isn’t helpful for making a profile “pop” to the reader, but as it turns out, there’s an actual message behind most of the cliches you see on dating sites. This article from BBC News explores what lies beneath the phrases that you probably ignore. Perhaps next time you read a profile, you’ll be surprised at what you actually learn.

1. “I’m new to this, so here goes…” This phrase may seem innocent at first, but it’s actually illustrating how uncomfortable the writer is with the online dating process. The writer may even think there’s a stigma to using an online dating site, so by saying “I’m new,” he or she is distancing themselves from what they think is a bad thing. They may not actually be new to this, but they are probably not psyched about it.

"I enjoy sunshine, long walks on the beach, and washing my hair in the nearest creek."

“I enjoy sunshine, long walks on the beach, and washing my hair in the nearest creek.”

2. “Seeking my partner in crime.” Despite a somewhat dark phrasing, this is a lighthearted comment. This person is trying to come across as fun to be around, interesting and not at all needy.

3. “My friends say I’m…” If you see this phrase followed by a list of adjectives, it could suggest that the writer is insecure or doesn’t think that highly of himself or herself. Why would it matter what friends say, especially when you won’t actually know if these “friends” are correct until you know the person yourself? Also, lists of adjectives are pretty weak; instead of saying “my friends say I’m funny,” just write something you’d think is funny. It’s way more effective.

4. “Don’t contact me if you can’t tell the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re.'” Yes, grammar is important to some people. But damn, this comes off as obnoxious. First, dating profiles aren’t a place to throw a fit about a nitpicky thing that bugs you. And second, while the writer may think he or she is weeding out the uneducated masses with a grammar quiz, they may have forgotten that anyone with an education higher than middle school has the potential to know the difference between “your” and “you’re.” Knowing how to use those words properly isn’t necessarily a sign of higher education. Rather, it’s a sign that the person paid attention in 7th grade English.

5. “I’m easygoing.” There’s not a lot of deeper meaning behind this, but it’s so useless as a phrase that you can pretty much ignore it when you see it. Think about it: Does anyone really think of themselves as uptight, annoying or high-strung? Probably not. Even high-maintenance people think they’re low-maintenance.

6. “I have a great, successful life, but I just need someone to share it.” Experts suggest that this person isn’t really trying to brag; rather, they’re trying to make it clear that they’re not needy or lonely. They want to explain that they don’t have any major failings as a human being just because they’re using an online dating site. Deep down, they may be one of those people that still stigmatizes online dating and isn’t completely comfortable.

From Winks to Drinks: Four Tips for the First Date

You’ve met someone online that you seem to really click with. You’ve exchanged messages, shared personal details, and expressed an interest in meeting IRL (in real life). Sometimes, this is the biggest hurdle to online dating: taking the relationship from cyberspace to personal space. Here are a few tips to help you make that leap as smoothly as possible.

1. Don’t wait too long to set up an in-person date. Some people email, text and chat for days, even weeks, before they try to venture into a real-life setting, and by then, the pressure is really on. Instead, if you’ve exchanged a few messages and you seem to be a good fit, set up the date now. Waiting doesn’t help anything except to make the other person think maybe you’re not all that interested after all.

2. Pick the right venue. You need to meet somewhere in public for the first time, so you can both be comfortable. Don’t pick someplace trashy or low-brow, like a parking lot or a fast food joint. By the same token, don’t go over the top with a fancy schmancy dinner. Instead, try a trendy bar for drinks, or a fun bistro for lunch. Places like this keep it a bit casual without being TOO casual, and they allow for talking in relative privacy so you can get to know each other better.

A cozy bar is a nice spot for a first date... just watch those drinks.

A cozy bar is a nice spot for a first date… just watch those drinks.

3. Safety first. Women hear this a lot, but it matters to men, too. When meeting someone from the internet for a date, you have to consider your personal safety above all. Meet in person, have a charged cell phone on you, know where the exits are, and NEVER leave your drink alone. Both men and women have been the victims of date-rape drugs and other awful situations, so even if you think you know this person really well already and you can totally trust them, err on the side of caution. It’s worth it.

4. End on a good note. If you like the other person and want to see them again, suggest another meetup before the first one is even over. Something like, “Hey, if you’re free this weekend, I know a great club a few blocks from here.” Then follow up within a day to confirm the plans. If you DON’T like the other person, be straightforward about it. You can say something like, “I’m really glad I had the chance to meet you in person. I’m sorry that I just don’t feel the chemistry that I hoped I would, but I hope you do find the right person!” They might get upset, but at least you didn’t leave them hanging.

If you’re just not sure whether you want to see them again, suggest that you touch base via text or email again soon. You can say something like, “This was fun, I’m glad we could get together. Let’s text later and see how we both feel about doing this again sometime.” Then definitely text the other person within a day or two so they know you weren’t just blowing them off.

Three Tips for a Good Online Dating First Impression: Username, Tag Line and Writeup

Crafting the perfect online dating profile? We can help.

Crafting the perfect online dating profile? We can help.

We’ve covered how important the right dating profile photo is, as well as some great tips for reaching out to other users on dating sites. But when it comes to a first impression, there are even more details that matter, and they start with the smallest of things: your username, tag line and writeup.

According to this article on Oprah.com, there are a few quick tips that will help you maximize your potential for a good first impression. Here they are for you:

1. Your username: Whatever you choose, it’s one of the first things your potential date will see, right before or right after your profile photo. Be very aware of how your username speaks for you. If you’re a woman seeking a serious relationship, a username like “Dcupgal” won’t do you any favors. Similarly, a man looking to impress a wide variety of women may want to steer clear of childish usernames like “420gamerguyy.”

Don’t try to be too clever with your username; if there’s a joke in there somewhere, be sure it’s clear enough for more than just a tiny percentage of the population to get. And finally, don’t try to force a username for yourself if the one you really want is already taken by someone else. “MissMary5693462” is messy-looking and impossible to remember.

2. Your tag line: Many dating sites give you a single line of text to put as your profile’s lead-in, like a headline or status update. This is a chance to catch someone’s eye with your wit, interests or style, right up front. First, remember these can be changed regularly. If you’re looking for something specific in a given week, you can change your tag line to reflect that (something like “Seeking someone to hang at the Shady Mongoose club this week and catch a bluegrass show!”).

Second, try to avoid TOO much cleverness or obscurity in your tagline. Inside jokes are fun when everyone is in on the joke, but those who don’t get it won’t be amused or impressed. You won’t sound smart or educated; you’ll sound pretentious or confusing.

3. Your description/writeup: We’ve talked before about what should go into your writeup, but the style of it matters, too. Break up that wall of text into a few paragraphs, and organize them somewhat. The first paragraph is who you are and what you do; the second is for your interests, pet peeves, etc; and the third is what you’re currently up to, from recent books and movies to things you’d LIKE to do, ideally with a date.

One last thing: Spell check. For the love of Pete, spell check is your friend. Let it help you. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.

Race and Online Dating: Four Things About Racial Preferences Online

Whether we want to admit it or not, online dating isn’t entirely colorblind. The good news is, we’ve made great strides in recent decades as far as racial diversity and inter-racial relationships. The maybe-not-as-good news is, there are some clear preferences that both men and women online daters have where race is concerned. This NPR article explores the details of a study done on 2.4 million heterosexual interactions via the Facebook “Are You Interested” app; four of the key findings are as follows:

1. All men appear to be interested in women of different races than their own.

2. All women (except black women) seem to prefer white men.

3. Both black men and black women got the lowest rates of response to their messages out of all the races.

4. Nearly all men gravitate toward Asian women. The exception? Asian men.

Asian women are preferred by just about all men... Except Asian men.

Asian women are preferred by just about all men on online dating sites… Except Asian men.

Data from OKCupid supports many of these results. For example, OKCupid found that white men receive more replies to their messages from just about every group of women. White women prefer white men, but more interestingly, Asian and Hispanic women appear to prefer white men “even more exclusively.”

As uncomfortable as it may be, the data don’t lie. White men and Asian women clearly have an advantage in online dating when it comes to people of all races finding them attractive. But lest you despair of finding a mate, consider that many experts suspect that some of this data may be skewed. In the real world, the pairing of Asian women and white men isn’t as common as dating sites suggest, which could mean a variety of things. One theory is that there’s some Asian fetishism at play, a sort of “yellow fever” that makes Asian women attractive on screen but more ordinary in real life. Offline may be much different from online when it comes to real matchups.

Whatever the motivations, everyone has their own preferences for what they like. Be true to you!