Dealbreakers: How To Choose Some (And Stick to Them)

If sharing a laptop in the park is incredibly important to you, be sure to stick to your guns.

If sharing a laptop in the park is incredibly important to you, be sure to stick to your guns.

When you’re navigating the waters of online dating, you encounter a wide variety of people. Some, of course, are fake people (bots), but you can probably spot those. They’re the ones that keep flirting with you in chat even when you reply with things like, “Seriously, if you’re not a bot, say ‘no bot’ right now, dammit.” But many of the people you meet online are real, genuinely interested, and full of their own quirks, personality traits and habits.

Not all of these quirks and habits will suit you, of course. Some things will just not be compatible with your own life or personality, no matter how cute the other person is or how well they spell. For many people, smoking is a major dealbreaker; for others, things like religion, children or political opinions can ice the interest. So how can you figure out what YOUR dealbreakers are?

Start by looking at your own interests. Are you heavily religious? Do you really, really care about politics? Do you want kids someday? Are you a drinker, a smoker, a recreational drug user, etc, and either way, do you have strong feelings about these things? Think about the many beliefs and interests that are truly important to you, and then think about how you’d feel if you spent time with someone who was diametrically opposite to those things. Does it feel like it would be a punch in the gut to spend time with someone who says they’ll vote for Trump? Does the thought of kissing a smoker turn your stomach? These are visceral reactions that you can’t ignore. Trust your instincts on things like this, BEFORE you have someone standing in front of you to test your resolve. And figure out which are more important than others.

Second, don’t apologize for your dealbreakers. You are entitled to your own desires in a relationship, and that’s nothing to be sorry about. Some people might get annoyed with you, even hostile, if they find out that something about them just doesn’t jive with you. But that’s nobody’s fault. Different people don’t always mesh, and there is no reason you should have to feel obligated to change yourself, alter your beliefs or suck up an uncomfortable situation just so the other person can feel better. Be true to yourself and honest with others. That doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible on a myriad of other things — after all, compromise is vital in a good relationship — but when it comes to true dealbreakers, compromise is usually not a good idea.

Last, be patient. In the hunt for a perfect mate, it’s easy to make excuses, rush through the process and overlook red flags in order to be in a relationship. But dealbreakers almost always come back on you. For example, if you’re a guy who doesn’t want kids, and you start seeing a woman who does, don’t think that you’ll be able to “bring her around.” She probably thinks the same about you, and in the end, if you’re both solid in your desires for/against children, you’ll both be in for a world of heartache. No matter how pretty she is, how much you fit together in other ways, how great her laugh is…. in the end, a dealbreaker is just too big to skip over. There are many, many other potential dates out there, some of whom WILL fit the bill for you, so take your time and don’t rush it.

Going from the Web to the Real World: Three Tips for Meeting In Person

So you’ve found someone on a dating site that you actually click with. You exchange some winks, some flirts, some chats… Yep, definitely a match. So now it’s time to plan the first in-person meetup! After all, that was the point of making an online dating profile in the first place, right?

Is your date already planning this outcome? If so, trust your gut and run.

Is your date already planning this outcome? If so, trust your gut and run.

Getting ready for the first in-real-life meeting can be stressful. Where do you go? What do you do? Most people know that they should plan the first date for a public place (it’s safer on both sides that way), but beyond that, what’s the best option? Judy Cole of Men’s Fitness had some tips for guys looking to plan the first face-to-face experience with a new flame, and really, these tips can apply to guys OR gals.

  1. Go on a real date. This seems obvious, but many people who meet for the first time after an online connection do it in super-casual places, like Starbucks. Treat this like a date with someone you already know in real life. You don’t necessarily have to pay for a whole meal, but choose a decent restaurant, a classy bar for drinks, or a pleasant al fresco lunch spot. Make it feel like you care about the effort your date put into getting ready and meeting you, because they probably DID make an effort.
  2. Watch for telltale signs of trouble. On a first date, it’s easy to ignore or completely overlook red flags in the other person. Watch for things like a date who asks too much about how much money you make, doesn’t look or seem very much like her online profile, or is already planning several dates down the line. My brother recently started dating a new girl, and in under two months, she was talking about what their wedding would be like. That’s a huge no-no, and when it happens, you have to be ready to split. Don’t lie to yourself about what your dealbreakers are or what you’re willing to put up with: a red flag is a red flag. Even if it’s nothing in particular that bugs you about the other person! Our gut feelings are often a great indicator of something being just not quite right. Follow your instincts.
  3. Know how to get out safely, if you need to. Women are told this a lot, but it applies to men, as well: Aside from meeting in a public place, you should know where the exits are, tell people where you’re going, and have a plan to get out if things get hairy. Sometimes, that means having a friend call you partway through the date in case you need an excuse to bail. Again, this isn’t a negative thing for either side of the meetup. This is a safety thing. Meeting someone in person when you’ve only known them online is a risk, and even though the vast majority of first dates from dating websites go fine, it never hurts to be prepared.

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.

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.

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.

Seven Niche Dating Sites for VERY Specific People

Yes, you can find dating sites for workout buffs, but these sites are even more niche than that.

Yes, you can find dating sites for workout buffs, but these sites are even more niche than that.

It’s almost impossible to count all the dating sites out there. Many of them are general and boast millions of members, but others are extremely specific: They cater to a narrow member base, those who have something in common that really matters to them. What these sites lack in population size, they make up for in passion, at least where their niche is concerned. So is there a niche dating site that’s right for you? Here are some specific (and often surprising) niche dating sites that actually exist. (site info courtesy of a great article at The Frisky)

1. 420Singles: This is a dating site designed just for those who like to indulge in cannabis. Whether you live in a state that has legalized marijuana or not, whether you smoke a bowl daily or just try a bit in a while (or even if you don’t smoke but support those who do), this site is for those like you. 420singles claims to have 53,000 members with more added daily.

2. Trek Passions: If Sci Fi is your thing, Trek Passions is for you. You don’t have to be a fan of Star Trek; the site also caters to fans of Star Wars and other sci fi TV shows and movies, as well as those who prefer their science fiction in literary form (Douglas Adams anyone?). Trek Passions is good for finding both friends and dates who share your love of the final frontier. Smoke us a kipper, we’ll be back for breakfast.

3. Gluten-Free Singles: Celiac is nothing to mess with. If you’d like to meet singles who eschew gluten, whether because of celiac, gluten intolerance or just dietary choice, look no further. You’d be surprised how delightful it can be to dine out with someone who orders from the same menu. Gluten-Free Singles was a finalist for the 2014 “Up and Coming Dating Site” award.

4. Punk Match: You aren’t mainstream, so why date that way? Punk Match pairs you with potential partners who are as punk as you are. If you grow weary of the options on ordinary dating sites and want someone who shares your individual spirit and anti-establishment tendencies, this could be the site for you.

5. Equestrian Singles: Many children love horses. So do many adults, as it turns out. Equestrian Singles lets you meet potential mates who share your love and passion for all things horse. Whether you ride English or Western, whether you prefer the thrill of the steeplechase or the peace of a trail ride, visit this site for other horse lovers.

6. Positive Singles: In this day and age, having an STD doesn’t have to carry the stigma it once did. If you’re one of the millions of people living with a sexually-transmitted disease, Positive Singles is a reminder that you’re not alone. Whether you have HIV, HPV or HSV, this site lets you meet others with similar diagnoses so that you can date without worry. No need to fret about when to “drop the bomb” on your latest love interest or whether they’ll lose interest in you afterward. This dating site takes the stress out of being positive.

7. Alikewise: Just saying “I like books” isn’t enough. There are so many genres, authors, styles and themes in the literary world that a shared love of literature is no guarantee of a match. That’s where Alikewise comes in, pairing book lovers with others who share their specific reading interests. Whether you prefer Asimov or Austen, you can share your passion here.