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Online Dating: Match Me If You Can

Online Dating: Match Me If You Can

Postby smix » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:23 pm

Online Dating: Match Me If You Can
Consumer Reports

URL: http://www.consumerreports.org/dating-r ... f-you-can/
Category: Personals
Published: December 29, 2016

Description: Dating apps and sites are growing more popular, even among baby boomers. But can they really help you find someone special?
You can do almost anything online these days: Check a bank balance, buy shoes, choose a mattress, order a cab. So when Roberta Caploe was ready to start dating again after a divorce, she didn’t ask her friends to fix her up or feel the need to frequent bars or health clubs. She signed up for JDate, an online dating site for Jewish singles. “All kinds of people are doing it,” says Caploe, 54, a publisher who lives in New York City. “It was—unbelievably—not a crazy experience.” Online dating has certainly lost its lonely-hearts stigma. Just look at how many people seeking dates or mates are flocking to matchmaking sites and apps. According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 15 percent of American adults have used online dating sites (web-based platforms like Match.com) and/or dating apps (location-based smartphone apps like Tinder). Participation by those 18 to 24 has almost tripled since 2013, and boomer enrollment has doubled. In fact, people over 50 are one of the fastest growing segments. “It’s a product of the growing normalcy of using social media apps,” says Moira Weigel, author of “Labor of Love: The Invention of Online Dating” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016). “Our real-life and online identities are more and more interwoven.” Because of this cultural shift, online dating sites now have unprecedented reach into our lives. They are gatekeepers to a massive population of potential partners; they control who we meet and how. Collectively, we spend huge sums of money on matchmaking, not to mention all the time and substantial emotional investment. But do these sites really work? Are they safe? Are some better than others? Reams have been written about online dating, but as far as we know, no one has put the sites to the test. So Consumer Reports decided to survey almost 115,000 subscribers about online dating and their experiences with it. Given that we usually rate products (like refrigerators) and services (like banking), this is new and fairly unusual territory for us. But as we explored the possibility of taking on this investigation, we discovered that 20 percent of our subscribers are either divorced or have never married, and might benefit from what we found. Our survey included many people who at some point had used a dating website or an app, as well as a subset of 9,600 respondents who used them in the past two years. The more recently active group rated specific sites. Our findings tell an almost contradictory story. On the one hand, the numbers indicate that these sites are helping people find mates. A whopping 44 percent of respondents who tried online dating said the experience led to a serious long-term relationship or marriage. That kind of connection rate would shatter Hall of Fame records, at least in baseball. But the responses from the more active group suggest they’re highly frustrated. They gave online dating sites the lowest satisfaction scores Consumer Reports has ever seen for services rendered—lower even than for tech-support providers, notoriously poor performers in our ratings. What’s going on? Well, finding a mate can be arduous and exhausting. “I was on a date with a guy who turned out to be a convicted felon. Another guy claimed to be 38 but was at least 60,” says Kate, a 33-year-old government analyst from Washington, D.C., who has used OKCupid, eHarmony, and Tinder. “Sometimes I will go on a date to see how bad it’s going to be.” The fact is that online dating is, well, complicated. There’s a whole range of difficult human emotions to contend with: insecurity, disappointment, rejection, maybe heartache. Not to mention it’s a ton of work. “Sometimes there is nothing that clicks whatsoever,” says Julien Nguyen, a 30-year-old software designer from Austin, Texas, who has used Bumble and Tinder. “Sometimes whatever chemistry we had just fizzles out.”
The Limitations of the Modern ‘Meet’ Market
Perhaps being in the market for a mate can’t be compared with using other services. Michael Norton, Ph.D., a professor at the Harvard Business School who studies consumer behavior, thinks so. Online dating is different from shopping for, say, a sweater, he explains: “Once you decide on the sweater you want, you can get it. But with dating, the sweater has to agree, too.” Another reason for the low satisfaction scores may be that “most dating sites have some misalignment between profit model and user experience because they are financed through subscription fees or advertising,” says Scott Kominers, Ph.D., a junior fellow in economics at Harvard University. In other words, there’s no incentive for them to make the experience speedy. If you find your life partner on your first date, the site doesn’t make much money off you. Our survey found that among respondents who stopped online dating, 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women said they did so because they didn’t like the quality of their matches. Perhaps that’s why, among those who said they had used multiple dating sites, 28 percent had tried four or more. But our research also found that online dating, however painful and time-consuming, often does produce the intended result if you use it well—and persevere.
What Makes a Site Successful
You can find the right person more effectively by choosing the right site, which means determining the demographics it caters to and figuring out whether a large or niche site will best serve your needs. Our survey found that OkCupid and Tinder, both free, were more popular among millennials than Generation Xers and baby boomers, who were both more likely to use a paid subscription-based dating website or app. And we found that the free sites generally did marginally better than the paid ones, presumably because they offer a better value. “You’re generally going to be best off starting your search on the ‘Big 3’: Match.com, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish,” says Scott Valdez, founder of Virtual Dating Assistants, which helps people write their profiles and then manages their accounts. “Those are among the most popular dating sites in the world, and when you’re fishing, it just makes sense to drop your line in the most crowded ponds.” That’s generally true unless you have a particular guiding factor, such as religion, race, or politics, in which case you can go to a niche site like JDate or BlackPeopleMeet. Kate, the government analyst, has started using Tastebuds, a site based on music preferences. Many dating sites rely on matchmaking algorithms the same way that Netflix uses them to recommend movies. So if you live in the Denver area, you’re a single heterosexual man in his 50s who loves to travel, and you don’t believe in astrology, your matches may reflect women who have similar interests. Apps like Bumble, Grindr, or Tinder use things like your location and sexual preference. Tinder is set up more like a game, where you swipe left on photos of people you’re not interested in and right on ones you are. If the interest is mutual, you can send messages to each other. Because these apps are based on proximity and users don’t have to fill out lengthy profiles, many of them have a reputation for promoting hooking up rather than creating lasting relationships. But that can happen on any site, says Laurie Davis Edwards, a professional dating coach and founder of eFlirt in Los Angeles, which helps clients navigate the dating world. “It’s a myth that some sites are better for relationships while others are more for hookups,” she says. “There are people of different intentions on every platform. It’s more important what your intention is, and approaching the technology with that mindset.” And even the best matches can’t account for that most ineffable of things: chemistry. Joseph Lynn, 50, was matched with a woman who seemed perfect. “We met for dinner and there was no spark between us,” he recalls. “She said, ‘You’re really a great guy. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I feel like I’m having dinner with my brother.’ I was about to say the same thing.” Disappointment, clearly, is almost unavoidable. Our survey found that among those reluctant to try online dating, 21 percent of women and 9 percent of men said it was because they knew someone who had a bad experience. Veteran online daters become adept at realizing when a match is going nowhere. When Marc Riolo, a retired 67-year-old in Washington State, started online dating in his late 50s, “a lot of the women seemed to be shopping for a husband, just sizing me up,” he says. “I felt like I was being interviewed for the position of husband.” It’s no wonder you often hear that people will do a few months of online dating, grow frustrated, then take a break for a few months. But persistence paid off for Riolo: He’s been dating a woman he met on Yahoo Personals for the past 9 years. “She didn’t have an agenda; we both just wanted someone to do things with,” he says. They live separately but spend about half of the week together. “Our friends say we have the perfect relationship.” Vince Manfredi, 61, who is divorced and works in marketing in San Diego, found that deception is all too common. “I went on a few dates with someone who claimed to be a professor,” he recalls. Where that person taught and what subject kept changing. “Finally I pressed it and found out it wasn’t truthful, and that bummed me out.” Edwards has sensed a pattern of untruthfulness. “Baby boomers are most likely to lie about age,” she says, “while Gen Xers are most likely to fib about their income.” Manfredi wishes the sites would offer verified information about users. But that runs counter to another user concern: privacy. Among those singles in our survey who hadn’t tried online dating, one in 10 said they’d like to give it a shot but had concerns, describing themselves as private people (50 percent), and worried about data and information security (48 percent) and scams (46 percent).
How to Protect Your Privacy
They’re not alone: Many of us are wary of the marriage of technology and our love lives. Weigel points to real-life concerns, like the data breach in 2015 of the extramarital affair site Ashley Madison, which revealed user details including email addresses. “Or I think of professor friends on Tinder who are afraid they’ll see their students,” she says. Most sites offer common-sense tips on how to protect yourself, including not sharing personal contact information right away and going on first dates in public places. And if someone asks for money, don’t send it. The FBI says Americans lost more than $82 million to online dating fraud in the last six months of 2014. Success in online dating requires a realistic idea of what the sites can offer and the patience to go on lots of coffee dates. “They’re made for meeting people,” says Christian Rudder, a co-founder of OkCupid. “They should be called online introductions, not online dating.” When Caploe got back into the dating game, she tried to keep the whole endeavor fun. “It wasn’t, ‘Now I need a man to make my life complete.’ Some people look at online dating as a second job. That was definitely not me.” Her first-date strategy was to pretend it was just a business meeting, “which made it easy to go and just see what happened.” There was the time a man messaged her on JDate and she responded that she couldn’t get together because she was having lower back pain, “which is a total baby boomer problem,” she says now, with a laugh. When they eventually met in person, she thought he was 10 times more attractive than in his photos. “We went to a gallery. We hung around in Central Park and he bought me an ice cream,” she says. “And that was it.” Today, 15 months later, they’re still going strong.



How Online Dating Works
Consumer Reports

URL: http://www.consumerreports.org/dating-r ... ing-works/
Category: Personals
Published: December 29, 2016

Description: Lucky in love? It's the math that matters.
Dating sites are only as good as their ability to make matches. And how they go about making those matches can be very different. Mike Norton, Ph.D., is a professor at the Harvard Business School who was on the scientific advisory board of OkCupid. “They are all matching on obvious stuff, like age range," he says, "but they vary a good amount on how they consider other factors that might affect compatibility.” Sound vague? It is, intentionally. Online dating companies keep their proprietary algorithms closely guarded. So it's difficult for academics to figure out which ones do best. But here’s what we do know: Companies like eHarmony and Match.com use algorithms based on information you provide (eHarmony’s has a U.S. patent) similar to the way Amazon and Spotify use algorithms to make product recommendations for consumers. In a 2013 article in The New York Times, eHarmony’s senior research scientist at the time, Gian C. Gonzaga, said that the company focused on factors such as the degree of sexual and romantic passion, the level of extroversion, and the importance of spirituality in making matches. OkCupid, which was founded by four Harvard math majors, uses its own questions and those generated by members to make compatible matches based on how much users have in common. The questions are often quirky and can be oddly revealing, like “Do you often find yourself wanting to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?” Location-based apps like Bumble, Grindr, and Tinder use a smartphone’s GPS to find potential mates in a specific radius. The bottom line. Don’t try to game the system. Instead, choose a site or an app based on the approach that makes the most sense to you. And always answer questionnaires honestly.



Craft an Online Dating Profile With Polish
Consumer Reports

URL: http://www.consumerreports.org/dating-r ... th-polish/
Category: Personals
Published: December 29, 2016

Description: Tips for improving your odds of finding love at any age
The first thing potential partners see about you is a few lines of text and some photos, so there¬タルs a lot riding on those words and pictures. This reality has spawned a cottage industry of professional online dating consultants who charge for helping you to create the most inviting online persona. We asked Jodi Manfredi of Dynamic Dating Profiles, based in San Diego, to share some of the tips she usually charges $119 for. The purpose of your profile is to get the reader¬タルs attention. You want to make them laugh or at least smile. At the same time, you want to be brief. Keep your profile answers under 400 words, total. To make a strong first impression, do more than use a string of adjectives describing yourself, like “I’m funny, I’m generous, I’m loyal.” Instead, describe your best qualities using anecdotes. Did you go to a developing country to build a water system? I’d write something like “You’ll have to ask me about my trip to Haiti.” That indicates there’s an interesting story and invites the reader to hear the rest. Consider tone. You don’t want your profile to sound like a résumé or to come across as bragging about how wonderful you are. Show that you’re human and humble through a joke, a self-effacing story, or a humorous anecdote. I never recommend lying about your age. A woman I was working with kept telling me how much integrity she had, and how she once gave back an extra $20 she got at an ATM. Later in the conversation, she said she was 56. I told her she had said she was 52. “Oh, I lied,” she said. I told her we should leave the part about integrity off her profile. I give a lot of advice on choosing photos. Use recent pictures, something taken within the past 12 months—no older than that. Everyone needs at least one good headshot, close up. You can enlist a professional photographer, but in my opinion, the best photos are taken by loved ones: kids, parents, a friend. Be sure to include a photo where you’re engaged in an activity you enjoy, maybe out with friends, maybe holding a glass of wine. There are some things to avoid in photos. For example, people like to see your eyes. So try not to include pictures with sunglasses. And be sure to upload one full-body standing shot that shows your body type, so there are no surprises once you meet up in person.



Sweetheart Swindle: Avoiding an Online Dating Scam
Consumer Reports

URL: http://www.consumerreports.org/dating-r ... t-swindle/
Category: Personals
Published: December 29, 2016

Description: Advice on how to use dating sites safely
It’s a con as old as time. An impostor poses as the perfect suitor, lures a victim into a romance, then proceeds to loot his or her finances. And now, with the twist of modern technology, con artists are finding victims through online dating sites and apps. “I know someone who ran into a scammer while online dating,” says Marc Riolo, a veteran of online dating who lives in Washington State. “My friend was messaging with this guy, who said he was an oil executive flying in and out of the country, stringing her along with excuses for not meeting up.” When the suitor emailed her to say he was in jail and needed bail, the woman’s friends felt compelled to step in. “We had to convince her the situation was suspicious. She really liked the guy, but she didn’t send the money,” Riolo recalls. “And then he just disappeared.” But not everyone manages to escape an online romance scam unscathed. According to the FBI, in the last six months of 2014 Americans lost more than $82 million to online dating fraud in situations similar to the one Riolo recounted. What are some warning signs? When someone you haven’t met in person wants to quickly leave the dating site’s messaging apps—and the privacy they offer—to talk by phone or send messages to your email address. Or once you've established an online relationship, the suitor gives multiple excuses to avoid meeting up. Or he or she cancels a date to finally meet at the last minute for outlandish reasons. An ensuing plea for money might involve expenses for family members, medical problems, or a business deal gone sour. In our survey, more women than men (56 percent to 41 percent) reported hesitating to try online dating because of concerns about scams. Monica Whitty, a psychologist and the author of “Truth, Lies and Trust on the Internet” (Routledge, 2008), is working to develop new ways to detect and prevent online fraud, such as software with the potential to identify scammers through the language they use. And AARP is petitioning leading online dating sites such as Match.com and OkCupid to educate its members on how common and devastating—financially and emotionally—these scams can be. In the meantime, there are a couple of easy things you can do to avoid falling victim to a romance scam. Don’t hesitate to search online, using a suitor’s full name, to see whether his or her photos and claims match his or her social media imprint. And take a good look at the photos. Often scammers will use glamorous pictures stolen from someone else with model looks. At the end of the day, remember the old adage: If someone seems too good to be true, they probably are.
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Re: Online Dating: Match Me If You Can

Postby AlisonLBernard » Thu Feb 01, 2018 9:05 am

online dating site is a really good site.
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