Monthly Archives: June 2012

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Lizard cures loneliness, “Gaggle” girls claim dating’s dead, and who’s still single in Silicon Valley

I'm just using him as a pillow

Parthenowhaa? Apparently some resourceful lizard known as the whiptail has figured out how to have it all – yes, even kids – without having a man in her life. Good news for lonely hearts who find themselves isolated in the Sonoran desert.
(via The Guardian)

In an unsurprisingly antiquated-feeling address to a congress of private girls’ day school operators in the U.K., the snooty Head of said association opined, “It’s not just about finding a husband who does the Hoovering and makes the dinner. It’s about finding one who really understands it is important for you to thrive and do well in whatever you choose to do. They should be cheerleaders and take pride in their wife’s career as they do in their own.” Umm – I know these are girls’ schools and all, but should that not at least be “partner?” Yikes. What year is this again?
(via The Telegraph)

Yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of the striking-down of anti-miscegenation laws in the remaining 17 (all Southern) states that still had them on books, thus preventing inter-racial marriage. Richard and Mildred Loving – the Virginia couple whose illegal 1958 marriage brought the issue (and their case) all the way to the Supreme Court – are paid tender tribute by one-half of one of millions of couples who have benefited from their bravery in Ebony magazine.

Do we live in a post-dating world? According to the authors of the new book The Gaggle, women should all be taking advantage of “the group of men in your life who you may not be dating.” Must be easier than it sounds.
(via The Village Voice)

According to a recent poll, 1 in 4 Canadians has tried online dating. Look to your left – your right – the person ahead of you – down at your shoes. How are we supposed to even tell?
(via The Vancouver Observer)

Geek lovers, take heart – just because Zuck’s off the market doesn’t mean you can’t still get as lucky as Priscilla Chan. The New York Times has thoughtfully provided a round-up of Silicon Valley’s remaining eligible millionaires for your convenience.

Online Dating Basics: What’s in a (screen) name?

It’s the first thing a potential partner sees, before they’ve even clicked on your profile. It’s got to be good. So why are so many of them so bad?

No one old enough to remember The Sopranos (never mind The Godfather) wants to read that MobBoss4Ever is interested in taking them on a date. What if they give you a kiss at the end of the night?

RUthe14me007 has either feebly conceded that that six other people on the same dating site have already posed this hopeful question and doesn’t care – or decided to toss in a common Ian Fleming reference as an afterthought. (Possibly at the risk of alienating those who don’t care about the difference between shaken and stirred, or know a lazy allusion when they see one.)


We’re all capable of recognizing bad screen names. How do you make sure yours isn’t one of them? What does it take to create a good one?

1. Be witty. If comedy is part of your charm arsenal – and wordplay in particular – then by all means, come up with a clever name. Lines from films/tv, works of literature, songs or other pop culture references are acceptable – but try not to date yourself, or choose something indelibly associated with a cheesy character. No one wants to meet therealRonBurgundy, really.
Really. They don’t.

2. Be memorable. Long strings of digits or acronyms stress people out. You don’t want someone struggling to remember your profile. It’s hard enough keeping the passwords straight for three different social networks and two online dating sites. Why confuse people who may be too busy to commit complicated equations to memory? Type in your desired screen name. If every reasonable variation on it is taken, and you’re looking at adding numbers or letters, you may want to let it go – for it was never really yours, was it?

Oh look, REDNECKRAMPAGE69 wants to meet me! How enticing!

3. Be appealing. It’s tempting to resort to self-deprecation when putting yourself out there. While LoserInLove might be a name to which everyone else can relate, why make that negative association with your profile? If it’s the dark, rueful laughter of self-recognition you’re after, why not call yourself I’llDieAlone?

4. Be accurate. Don’t reveal your real name – certainly not your surname – but try to pick a persona that relates in some way to the content of your profile. Incorporate your interests or ideals, or a favourite activity. Don’t make it too broad – there are enough SportsGuys out there already. Choose something that resonates with you, or is likely to pique the curiosity of others. Refer to your passion or your job rather than your hair colour or your pet. A nuclear physicist will attract more appropriate partners with a screen name like AtomSmasher than they would with KittyLover.

5. Be smart. Or at least, look smart. Make sure everything’s spelled correctly. If Nietzchefan is already taken, don’t choose Neitzchefan instead. Avoid cutesy spellings. No adult looking for the real thing spells love l-u-v. Cut that out immediately.

Give your online persona a name that embodies at least two of these five characteristics, and any contacts you make will be much more likely to result in actual profile views. If you’re still confused, I’m offering a special summer screen name consultation – I’ll take a peek at your profile and produce 5 available names for $25. I’d be happy to help the first ten people who contact me. Don’t let your hastily-concocted combo of letters and numbers, cringe-inducing joke, or unintentionally suggestive first name – yes, I’m talking to you randy1974 – compel someone to delete your message before they’ve even seen your picture.

Ask Anne M.: Do good dates come to those who wait?

"Message me. Adore me. OBEY!"


I recently joined a dating website, and my best friend and others assure me the best approach is never to make the first move. Not even a wink. What are your thoughts about a woman making the first move in an online dating environment?

ANNE M. responds:

Wow, New to the Game, that’s strange advice. I’d be curious as to where this sage wisdom is coming from. The happily married? Someone who’s never online dated? Let’s set aside traditional patriarchal gender roles for a moment (I’m no big fan of them anyway). If this sit-back-and-wait approach had any value, how would gay men and lesbians ever meet each other on dating sites? As my very smart (and happily married) friend Elisa says, “You want something? You go get it. Online dating is passive and remote enough without imposing arbitrary rules of engagement.”

I couldn’t agree more. When you do so, you risk never hearing from the type of people you really want to meet. If just staring at a particularly appealing profile yielded results, no one would need my services. People who are serious about meeting someone take action. I know it’s hard. Society doesn’t encourage women to be romantically assertive. Regardless, for the sake of potentially emboldening shy types everywhere – regardless of gender or sexual orientation – I will share the following observations:

1. Simply knowing that someone finds you attractive makes them more attractive to you. Maybe not in the same way – at least not at first – but it does tend to at least pique one’s curiosity about a person to find out that they’re into you. Because even if you thought they were a total social write-off before you had that information, you now know one rock-solid truth about them: they have excellent taste in you. (For those of you who love studies as much as I do, there is research to back up my assertion.)

Online dating is passive and remote enough without imposing arbitrary rules of engagement.

I remember once getting a rose in high school, through some student-council sponsored exchange that delivered stems to lucky recipients in their home rooms on Valentine’s Day. The guy who’d sent mine was someone I knew by name only – he was a little older and we shared a class because I was fast-tracking to graduate early. He was smart, presentable, friendly and well-spoken, but had previously made no impression on me. Yet that day in class, I couldn’t help but notice all sorts of things I’d never seen before. Like his really nice arms, and really blue eyes… and although it didn’t turn into a great romance, I did go out with him a few times. That never would have happened had he not been confident enough to express his interest.

2. Men are surprised, but not unpleasantly surprised, when a woman makes the first move. If you visit any of the numerous forums in which men discuss their online dating woes (and believe me, they are agonizing about this stuff just as much as you are) you will find that most of them report very few females initiating contact. But almost all of the men weighing in on the topic suggest that they’d love it if that happened more frequently. Nearly universally they express that unless there’s something really wrong with the sender’s profile, they would respond to the message at the very least. When I used to work for a high-end matchmaking agency, male clients were always thrilled if I told them that the woman I’d matched them with wished to call first (rather than the other way around).

It might also be a useful empathy-building exercise to try messaging someone who hasn’t sent one to you first. Because isn’t that the huge (and potentially humiliating) risk a man takes every time he initiates contact with you? The absolute cornucopia of information that is oktrends has even mined okCupid user data to identify some of the most effective things to write in a first message, if you’re stumped.

3. Online dating is supposed to be fun. Why not try something different? You’re able to make moves on the Internet that would be difficult to pull off in a face-to-face or even telephone conversation. There’s room to breathe, think about things before you write them – particularly if you’re not instant messaging. Embrace the experience. Make the most of it. You’re online because you want to date. Flirt, smile, wink, message. Put yourself out there. Otherwise, you and that great guy whose friends also gave him this nugget of wisdom will keep circling, but never meet.

True or False: “I Just Knew”


"I looked into his eyes and I just knew." Yeah, right.

A recent search in my quest to answer a perennial client question, “How do you know they’re The One?” yielded some predictable results. It appears this very universal – and to those who have not yet known the pleasure, rather pressing – query has provoked very little in the way of academic inquiry. Nobody’s gathering the data, despite an abundance of anecdotal evidence – and much of that is unenlightening, repetitive, and downright useless as a source of information or even inspiration. So many of them also read like love at first sight stories that my natural skepticism kicks in.

Of course, I also remember the two recent studies which found that subjects induced to exchange mutual unbroken gaze for two minutes with a stranger of the opposite sex reported increased feelings of passionate love for each other.

"If I stare at you hard enough, you might just be The One"

In addition, BBC Science reports that New York professor of psychology Dr. Arthur Aron conducted a related experiment in which he “asked two complete strangers to reveal to each other intimate details about their lives. This carried on for an hour and a half. The two strangers were then made to stare into each others eyes without talking for four minutes. Afterwards many of his couples confessed to feeling deeply attracted to their opposite number and two of his subjects even married afterwards.

I’m in no position to conduct my own study currently, never mind publish it – my crack web designer and programmer is still busy making our polls look as pretty as they should. But I am in a fairly unique position to judge the quality of such true-life tales. So I want to hear from you, lovers – particularly those who are currently enjoying smug soul-mate status with somebody special.

But for love’s sake, please don’t tell me “I looked into his/her/their eyes and I just knew.” Because seriously – while that may have been when the moment of realization dawned, unless you were hypnotized, you should be able to recall some of the details leading up to that instant.

What did The One (or as I prefer to style it, The One You Chose) do or say just before you “just knew”? What time of year was it? What were you wearing? What were they wearing? Did you have to pee? Could you smell anything funny? Or did it really just hit you then and there? And if that’s the case, how on earth did you recover from, and cover (or reveal) that realization? Come now – dish the dirt here, or in the (moderated) comments. Give us some hope. Bonus points if you met them online. I won’t publish everything, but I’ll read them all – that’s a promise.

Online Dating Basics: Let’s (not) grab a coffee

"I hope I never see you again."

The classic first date may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and it doesn’t always create a successful encounter. Here’s why:

1. Starbucks has no atmosphere. The tables are too small, often occupied, and tucked away in weird arrangements because the bulk of the café floor is taken up by pop-up “standees” of cds, specialty teas, and cream, sugar and lid stations. The frantic climate created by long lines of java seekers is not one in which you want to be searching for a face you’ve never seen before in real life, either. While these places (and others like them) are popular choices for a first meeting simply because everyone knows where they are, it’s also jarring to enter a busy coffee shop with nothing but caffeine on your brain and encounter a person who stares at you intently upon arrival, with “Are you my date?” written all over them.

2. Not everyone drinks coffee. Or tea. Or hot chocolate. In fact, my own mother will not drink any beverage that is heated to a temperature above that of the average outdoor pool. That’s not to say she (or someone like her) couldn’t order a nice Orangina or something, but who decided that coffee was the ultimate no-pressure, easy escape beverage?

Why does the consumption of liquids at any temperature mean it’s a date?

Unless you’re going to use your tongue to tie a knot in your stir stick and impress your companion, you really could be anywhere.

3. Sit-down meetings feel like interviews. Particularly sit-down meetings with people you’ve never met before. You’re going to be more self-conscious about things like posture, whether your shirt is tucked in properly, whether your gut is hanging over your skinny jeans, what your hair is doing and – if you dare to order a snack – whether there’s something stuck in your teeth. You’re more likely to fidget, and you’re under a great deal more obligation to make and maintain eye contact. All of these factors add to your stress about the situation, and make you behave less like yourself. How is the conversation supposed to flow when you don’t even have anywhere else to look, except at the person sitting opposite you? (That’s if you’re lucky enough to get a table, of course.)

4. It requires no imagination. Seriously, from an evolutionary standpoint: as far as dating style goes, “Let’s meet for coffee” was probably the first great advancement that came along after grabbing your potential partner from behind and dragging her (or him) to your cave. Is that really all you can come up with?

5. There’s still only one exit. Just because coffee dates are traditionally short encounters – especially when there are no free refills on offer – it doesn’t mean beating a hasty retreat if you discover that you really don’t like your companion will be any easier. You’re going to have to meet your “cousin” somewhere in a half an hour no matter what – so why not do so after a walk by the busy waterfront, or a free mushroom identification lecture instead? And if things go well, and you decide to extend the date to another venue, well, you haven’t had coffee yet.